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On His New Album, The Weeknd Evolves Musically But Remains Mired In Misogyny

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This fall, Abel Tesfaye, more famously known as the Weeknd blesses the world with his new album “Beauty Behind the Madness.” Although the album definitely contains elements heard in his previous albums, including “Kiss Land” and “Trilogy,” “Beauty Behind the Madness” shows a side of the Weeknd that hasn’t been heard before.

Some elements that remain the same are his misogynistic and racy lyrics, dark, mysterious sound and completely addictive beats. With an impressive three-octave vocal range, Abel’s clear melodies and silky smooth R&B style vocals continue to soothe and invigorate.

“Beauty Behind the Madness” contains fourteen songs that push the idea of what R&B is. Abel manages to weave in many different genres of music into his album without changing his style too much, grabbing the attention of new fans and satisfying those who have been listening to him for a while.

the-weeknd-new-album-beauty-madness1With “Can’t Feel My Face” and “In the Night,” he appeals to the modern day teen pop sound which definitely expands his reach into popular teen culture. Surprisingly though, a large portion of his new songs dabble more into the rock and alternative.

“Tell Your Friends” contains a catchy and soulful guitar riff that starts halfway through the song and persists throughout. “Angel” has a hint of that classic rock sound with its edgy chord progressions. There’s even a thirty-four second guitar solo in ”Shameless” that’s completely unexpected.

As “Beauty Behind The Madness” proceeds, The Weeknd tones it down a little bit with a coffee shop-esque sensitive ballad “Dark Times,” featuring Ed Sheeran and the simple but intoxicatingly beautiful “Prisoner,” featuring Lana Del Rey.

Although he makes each song unique, The Weeknd ties the whole album together with an ever present dark and poetic feeling, with layered beats that are expertly arranged throughout each and every song.

Even though he’s definitely hit the nail on the head musically, lyrically, all he ever seems to sing about is love, money, sex and drugs. In “Tell Your Friends,” he illustrates this with the lyrics “Singin’ ‘bout poppin’ pills, f**kin’ b**ches, livin’ life so trill.” There are countless other examples, including “I’m used to b**ches comin’ right ‘way” in “Acquainted and “B**ches down to do it either way, often” in “Often.” The women portrayed in most of his songs are depicted as sexual objects and/or “b**ches.” As a young woman, these lyrics and the way that women are portrayed overall in his music is simply put, degrading and disgusting.

As an aspiring musician myself, it’s hard having to overlook the lyrics in his songs in order to appreciate the rest of the art. Lyrics in any song are akin to poetry and that poetry is intertwined with the music. They’re pretty much inseparable. To listen to his music, you essentially have to put your morals on hold. The Weeknd is definitely building a brand for himself and the sexism and misogyny that’s heard in most of the songs on “Beauty Behind the Madness” aren’t that surprising because we’ve heard it before on his previous recordings, “Kiss Land” and “Trilogy.”

Although the lyrics continue to create some revulsion, The Weeknd’s raw vocal talent and musicality seamlessly blend together different genres and that continues to impress. Overall, I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.

The Weeknd brings his “Madness” tour to Atlanta on December 15 at Philips Arena, accompanied by Halsey and Travis Scott. It will no doubt be a great experience. All in all, musically, “Beauty Behind the Madness” earns a solid 10/10. But in respect to how The Weeknd lyrically views and portrays women, he rates a -1/10.

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