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  • Beauty Behind The Madness

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    The Weeknd

    Beauty Behind The Madness7 ( 2015 )
    Real Life / Losers (featuring Labrinth) / Tell Your Friends / Often / The Hills / Acquainted / Can't Feel My Face / Shameless / Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey) / In the Night / As You Are / Dark Times (featuring Ed Sheeran) / Prisoner (featuring Lana Del Rey) / Angel

    Facts, fact 1, Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye doesn't entirely write his own songs. Every single credit on this album for every single track features at least two or three co-writers and one to two producers. It's a modern trend, why do you need four producers to come up with the final recording of 'Shameless' for instance? Abel clearly also isn't confident in his own vocal powers, every song features a myriad of studio effects to level out his vocals. For all this nonsense however, it's clear that 'The Weeknd' is the artist of the year, absolutely capturing the sound of 2015 and managing to be both pop and, in certain people's eyes, credible. Abel began uploading mix-tapes to the internet available for free download. His ascent to pop stardom, via a debut album in 2013 that didn't cause major waves, to the lead single from the '50 Shades' soundtrack and now a worldwide hit with 'Can't Feel My Face' is seemingly unlikely, but no more so than someone like Prince back in the early 80s.

    The production across the album is never glossy, a mistake many major artists make. The Weeknd still sounds like that guy that upload mix-tapes, albeit with stronger hooks and proper modern pop songwriting. You can take an issue with the lyrics, every track is about love/sex/drugs etc, which does tend to diminish the idea that Abel is an actual artist that can ever stand alongside the likes of the aforesaid Prince, but on the otherhand, perhaps such lyrical content is just a sign of the times so the to speak, come 2015? 'Can't Feel My Face' is a certified classic, whatever anybody thinks about the rest of the album. It almost doesn't matter at all what style or styles of music you usually listen to, this strong disco influenced bass-line, backing vocals, massive chorus etc all combine to be a sort of 80s Michael Jackson moment, only lacking the video really that gets everyone knowing the face of the artist. Despite now being huge, Abel seems insistent on at least trying to remain in the background a bit, and out of tabloid tittle tattle.

    'Earned It' which featured on the 'Fifty Shades' soundtrack is quite filthy yet striking, with just a steady synthetic beat and his vocals alternating between sang and falsetto and backing himself then later on, strings enter the fray quite dramatically. Album opener 'Real Life' has guitars and dramatic stamping, then strings, then the studio treated vocals of Abel Tesfaye, who quite rightly one assumes renamed himself 'The Weeknd'. He says he loves every woman but then pushes them away and that such is real life. Despite capturing 2015, the man is probably an idiot who wishes he was Prince or Jackson, but he isn't. He can write a tune though and whether he has two co-producers or six co-writers for a track, manages to avoid many a major label artist issue - that of utterly overproduced tosh. So, hats off to him for that, at least.

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    this page last updated 31/08/15

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