The Weeknd signs an epilogue for his character on his new album


The Weeknd signs an epilogue for his character on his new album

Abel Tesfaye, the real name behind The Weeknd's alias, released his fifth studio album last Friday, Dawn FM. It was an unexpected launch, revealed days before by a publication in networks, and that it is produced on unusual dates for an artist of massive repercussion. The album, loaded with melancholy and nihilism, seems to anticipate an imminent full stop for his artistic and media figure.

The Weeknd has not always been, as now, one of the most successful artists on the scene. Before starring in the musical show of the last Super bowl, dance a bachata with Rosalía or overcome the record of permanence milestone on the Billboard 100 chart with his single Blinding Lights, Tesfaye had to win the support of the underground. A rise to stardom that has been more gradual than explosive.

The Canadian started uploading music to YouTube in 2009 under names like The Noise or Kin Kane. A couple of years later, he invents his ideal speech: dark and atmospheric R&B tracks, sweet to the ear but with murky stories of endless revelry, toxic relationships and devastating hangovers. One of the first producers he worked with, Jeremy Rose, accused him of having stolen conceptBut none of that mattered as stage partners offered their support.

Between March and December 2011, he released three intoxicants under his own label XO mixtapes, House of Balloons, Thursday Y Echoes of Silence. In addition, he lent his voice to the capital Crew Love from your neighbor Drake On the disk Take care. The Weeknd became one of the protagonists of the incomparable generation of urban artists who debuted that year, anticipating an almost inevitable leap to fame. The path, however, would not be entirely easy.

Tesfaye is the son of an Ethiopian political refugee couple, and his adolescence in Toronto was not idyllic. In his biography he cites a decided taste for excesses, including petty theft to pay for the party. Substance abuse also seemed to be normalized as part of his creative process until recently. His path to stardom does not garner particularly dramatic headlines, but neither does it portray a perfect profile, chiseled to the taste of the general public.

One of the characteristics of his character, from the beginning, has been his aversion to promotion. Artistically born in the middle of the internet explosion, he has communicated with his fans especially through the networks. He has never been very inclined to give interviews to the mass media and in his public appearances he has always been distant. It may be one of the reasons why its undeniable commercial success has not had a proportional reflection in terms of industry awards, and for example with the Grammys it maintains a bad relationship.

His romances have been famous, so he has had to face the continuous harassment of the paparazzi. Among his best known partners are the model Bella Hadid or the singer and actress Selena Gómez. Recently it has been speculated that he could be maintaining a relationship with Angelina Jolie, a rumor that for the pink press "confirms" with the lyrics of Here We Go Again, one of the songs from his recent album.

If Drake was the initial driver of his career, the French duo Daft Punk can be considered a crucial element in his rise to stardom, but The Weeknd would need two more albums to find the perfect formula. After collecting your first mixtapes in Trilogy, in 2013 his first official studio album appeared, Kiss land, well received by critics and the public but too continuous in terms of sound.

Two years later one can already speak of an artist fully integrated into the mainstream. On his 2005 album Beauty Behind The Madness presents collaborations by Labrinth, Ed Sheeran or Lana del Rey, busts the charts with singles like The Hills or Can't Feel My Face and even places Earned It on the soundtrack of Fifty Shades of Grey.

But they would be topics like Starboy or I Feel It Coming, along with Daft Punk, those who mark the overwhelming present of Tesfaye. On his 2016 album, Starboy, is closer than ever to one of his idols, Michael Jackson, with a more danceable and catchy proposal, which lightens his usual melancholy with funk rhythmic guitars, synthesized voices and gliding keyboards. Although in songs like Party monster the unrepentant pimp was still recognized, The Weeknd had climbed a rung and was not going to get off it.

In 2018 he parked with his EP My Dear Melancholy, the search for hit, but it was only a feint. In After hours, released in 2020, allowed a consecutive trio of hits the caliber of Blinding Lights, In your eyes or Save Your Tears to show that that role of Barry White of the 21st century was a perfect fit for him. It is true that a certain irony was beginning to be seen: in videos and performances, he appeared in a colorful red suit, white socks and his face deformed by surgery or made up as if he had just been beaten up. It seemed like Tesfaye wanted to take her character to the extreme.

His intention has been demonstrated with Dawn FM, tenebrous reverse of the anterior disc. The eighties air of his songs remains, but his alliance in production with Daniel Lopatin, the avant-garde electronic artist known as Oneohtrix Point Never. His are the most dreamlike landscapes, some interludes that provide a plot thread to the album and starring his friend and neighbor Jim Carrey or the producer Quincy jones, who reveals how the absence of a mother figure contaminated her sentimental behavior. A fact that is reflected in the life of Tesfaye, whom his father abandoned as a child.

There are two different and complementary readings on Dawn FM. At first glance it is another compendium of hits by an artist who has perfected his formula. But an in-depth analysis reveals interest over and above the more than likely commercial success. The Weeknd has defined this journey as "a new sonic universe" that describes a trip to purgatory: the protagonist is listening to a strange radio station, trapped in a traffic jam inside a tunnel, and the light that he glimpses at the end of it is not neither more nor less than his own death.

It is curious that a massive musician introduces such details lynchians on a disc, also, conceptual. The signatures of renowned producers such as Max Martin, Calvin Harris or Swedish House Mafia respond to their status and songs like How Do I Make You Love?, Take my breath or Sacrifice they become instant hits. But the subtext is more interesting, the tributes nothing hidden to bands like Depeche Mode or Human League and a title that pays tribute to Less than zero, the decadent novel by Bret Easton-Ellis.

The cover of the album features an aging singer with a sad look. This is also reinforced by the two videos that have appeared so far, those of Take my breath Y Sacrifice, where the party leads to disaster, and some visuals on YouTube that characterize it as a past DJ screw enjoying his last moments of glory in the cockpit. Is The Weenkd anticipating an artistic end of the cycle with the "death" of his character? It may be the perfect time to re-evaluate, from another perspective, their already somewhat hackneyed stories of endless partying and insane relationships.

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