Starboy Is the Weeknd’s Latest Triumph

BY DYLAN DELANCIE staff writer Illustration by Talia Mermin

Earlier this year, The Weeknd revealed his new album, Starboy, would be coming out in late November. This came after weeks of him talking about the dawn of a new music era. The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye, has risen up meteorically through the pop world. He sings, writes songs, and produces for his self-founded label, XO Records. The Canadian artist released his debut album, House Of Balloons, in 2011. The then anonymous Tesfaye had the mixtape downloadable for free on his website and received rave reviews from many music critics. That album started his journey up the pop ladder, and albums in between have turned him into a superstar. Starboy transitions The Weeknd from a star into a full-blown monster. This new album cements his place in music history. It’s hard to deny that The Weeknd is the king of pop—a pillar in current music. What makes this album so intriguing is that no one knew what to expect. The Weeknd has a history of unpredictably, with no one expecting a Billboard Hot 100 number one hit in “The Hills,” or for him to channel Michael Jackson so skillfully on “Can’t Feel My Face.”

Starboy was another wrinkle in Tesfaye’s musical career, and while it may not have reached the same heights as others in the past, the album reaffirms The Weeknd as the king of modern pop.

Starboy is a very long album and has appearances from other pillars in today’s music world such as Kendrick Lamar, Daft Punk, Future, and Lana Del Rey. The title track “Starboy,” features  electronic duo Daft Punk, but maintains the authenticity of a Tesfaye song. Future tends to dominate the songs he is on, but his feature on “All I Know” perfectly supplements The Weeknd’s faint singing. Lana Del Rey adds the Indie-pop vibe to the album in her cameo, while Kendrick Lamar has arguably his best guest appearance on a track ever when he features on the auto-tune heavy “Sidewalks.” The appearances of other artists add to the mix on Starboy, instead of being a distraction from the work of The Weeknd.

While the title track is stealing most of the thunder, the album includes many great tracks. The chill “I Feel It Coming” is the second track that features Daft Punk and is a great closing track for the whole album. Its topic is love, like so many other tracks by The Weeknd, and is very positive. Its feel good vibe is one of the most pop-like on the album and could be interpreted as Tesfaye paying homage to the genre that has launched him into the lavish life he lives today, even if he is a little different from others. The track “Secrets” has a futuristic and techno feel, but samples two popular songs from the 80s in “Talking In Your Sleep” by The Romantics and “Pale Shelter” by Tears for Fears. “Attention” traverses one of the Weeknd’s most familiar subjects. He explores the cognitive antagonism that stems from sexual dominance. He captivates the listener with his tone while apologizing to his partner for being too busy to do anything with them but have sex. These were the standout tracks for me, but there were other great ones on the album. The one thing I was disappointed with is the feeling that a few of the songs on the album were just filler tracks. This might just be that they didn’t match up with what I specifically liked, and they do not detract from the overall brilliance of Starboy.

In late 2015, The Weeknd came out and talked about how kids today were growing up without a Michael Jackson or a Prince. He expressed his sadness at that, but Starboy is a great answer to that. He has transformed himself into one of the most influential current pop artists. On Starboy, The Weeknd has managed to maintain the brilliance that turned him into a superstar.