The Weeknd reaches new heights with ‘Beauty’
R&B crooner The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, rose to fame in 2011 when he released three critically acclaimed mixtapes. After the release of his single “Earned It,” composed for the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” in 2014, the Canada native became a household name.
Tesfaye’s second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness,” debuted Aug. 28, and it will undoubtedly leave a lasting imprint on the music world.
The opening track, “Real Life,” combines his signature, sultry voice with rock and orchestra-inspired background music. The lyrics are relatable in every way. Tesfaye sings about his own personal demons and how they’ve driven past girlfriends away. The song demonstrates his ability to capture listeners right from the start.
The album includes several collaborations with other popular artists such as British pop-folk singer Ed Sheeran (“Dark Times”) and indie songstress Lana Del Rey (“Prisoner”). Both songs prove that while powerful enough on its own, Tesfaye’s vocal range can perfectly accompany an array of genres. Rap legend Kanye West also helped him write and produce the song “Tell Your Friends.” West’s artistic touch can be heard at the start of the track, which starts off with delicate piano.
The first single off the record, “Often,” is one of the best tracks on the album — released July 31 last year. It spent 15 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. With a funky beat and somewhat unorthodox lyrics, this track proved itself to further put The Weeknd on the map.
“The Hills,” the second single off the album, has a rhythm unlike any other song on the record. The lyrics explore Tesfaye’s experience in a secret relationship: “I only call you when it’s half past five/the only time that I’ll be by your side.” One particular lyric, “The hills have eyes/the hills have eyes,” leaves a lasting impression unlike any other on the record. An allusion to the infamous horror movie of the same name, The Tesfaye describes how he’s being watched by everyone, and every move that he makes is seen by others.
The third single, “Can’t Feel My Face,” led to The Weeknd being nominated for “Song of the Summer” at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards. While he didn’t win, the track will undoubtedly remain at the top of the charts for quite some time. With lighter lyrics and a catchy chorus (“I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, but I love it”) the track reminds listeners of a time when they were happy-go-lucky in love.
Tesfaye’s singing ability is truly shown on the album’s eighth track, “Shameless.” Slower, with a more acoustic background, the song demonstrates what a great range he has. He’s putting his talent to the test, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Stripped down or accompanied by a whole orchestra, Tesfaye can sing like it’s nobody’s business.
“Beauty Behind The Madness,” is raw and real. It’s The Weeknd at his finest.