The Weeknd has certainly thrown down the gauntlet to his peers in 2022.
The Canadian singer (real name Abel Tesfaye) not only released the new hit album Dawn FM, but also said it was part of a trilogy of releases.
The Weeknd’s rise into the pop music stratosphere has been relatively gradual. The five albums he released in nine years show a singer who gradually finds his voice and his confidence.
Here we take a look at all the releases and where they rank in a tremendous body of work.
1. ‘Dawn FM’ (2022)
The Weeknd released one of the first albums of 2022 this month.
The dreamy and twinkling Dawn FM is not only a career high, but also shows how bold, experimental and daring great pop music albums can be.
The Weeknd’s fifth album sees him straddle the cinematic and retro synth-pop sounds first explored in starboy (2016) at its zenith.
While the production is overall impressive, it’s the fans of the overall lyrical storytelling that will really soak it up.
Where predecessor after hours asked the singer to apply the blowtorch to himself and admit the faults and the wounds caused by his status as “the king of toxic romance”, Dawn FM concerns the wisdom that accompanies this acceptance.
The album is as exuberant as it is melancholy, and proves that The Weeknd continues to wear his heart on his sleeve while keeping his feet on the dance floor.
2. “After Hours” (2020)
Released in March 2020, after hours is considered the first major quarantine pop album of the Covid-19 era.
It’s a brooding collection of devious detractors who talk about the doubts and insecurities one feels when alone.
However, it’s detailed with the pomp of a disco ball and has the startling clarity of neon lights on a deserted street.
Highlights include ranking blinding lights and Heartless, both of which are carried by intoxicating trap rhythms and waves of oceanic black synths. save your tears is also the kind of propulsive new wave pop that The Killers would have, well, killed for.
The press hailed After Hours as The Weeknd’s best album, but we had no idea he was already preparing his masterpiece.
3. “The beauty behind the madness” (2015)
Where previous albums and mixtapes had his low, vague vocals in the mix, resulting in that initial mysterious appeal, The beauty behind the madness That’s when The Weeknd announced himself to the world.
And what better way to do that than with some of the best pop music producers backing you up?
Confidence permeates the album and reaches sizzling levels in the club banger. I can’t feel my face and the silky RnB of Won.
With The beauty behind the madness, The Weeknd began to take his sound in a mainstream direction. It is a trajectory that has had great success, in addition to a failed album.
4. “Star Boy” (2016)
Yes, we loved the album’s self-titled lead single, but other than the brilliant collaboration with Daft Punk, does anyone really remember anything from starboy?
The album joins a long tradition of missteps to come when a former independent artist suddenly finds himself in the big leagues.
After the commercial success of the tablecloth The beauty behind the madness, The Weeknd was a bonafide pop star, but he didn’t seem to know how to creatively harness that influence.
Confusion reigns everywhere starboy, a brash, bloated offering rescued by hit singles, including the charming I feel it coming.
The project was full of wasted collaborations, including Lana Del Rey in Stargirl Interlude and the bland Sidewalks which couldn’t be saved even by a strong verse from rapper Kendrick Lamar.
While starboy didn’t send The Weeknd crashing to earth, it served as a warning that a course correction was needed.
Follow-up releases prove that the message was heard loud and clear.
5. “Kissland” (2013)
It was an intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying start. The first is due to the lyrical subject matter that defined The Weeknd’s career.
While a singer complaining about fame often seems banal, The Weeknd explores relatively new ground like the gnawing alienation and constant dislocation felt by a life of non-stop touring.
The back-and-forth between self-doubt and nihilistic desires of The Weeknd is also explored for the first time in the album’s title track and The city.
However, bogging down the output is a slow production. While Kiss the earth does a solid job of evoking a moody atmosphere, it lacks focus and pep, and certainly did not foreshadow the singer’s stratospheric rise to come.
Updated: January 15, 2022, 7:44 a.m.