Review: The Weeknd – Starboy

the-weeknd-starboyIn the early hours of this morning, The Weeknd finally released his new album ‘Starboy’ after teasing the world with short films, pre-releases, clothing brands and the whole spiel that comes with releasing one of the most anticipated albums of 2016.

The album confirms that The Weeknd has been evolving to a more generic pop sound, in comparison to his old vocal based tracks on the ‘Trilogy’ albums. Having said that, this mainstream style perhaps isn’t a bad thing. Of course, die-hard fans of The Weekend who’ve supported him from his early years may be upset with a diluted version of their hero, but he’s still the carrying force in most of the songs in ‘Starboy’.

‘I feel it coming’ is everything The Weeknd used to be (or should be depending on who you ask). You won’t hear this in the clubs, it’s a song that harks back to The Weeknd’s older content, focusing on his fantastic vocal ability accompanied by a basic, yet beneficial instrumental in the back. The Weeknd made a name for himself on ‘sexy’ music, songs like ‘The Morning’ from his early albums became renowned for this style, and ‘I feel it coming’ is the closest The Weeknd has come to repeating this style in ‘Starboy’.

It should be noted, though, this song isn’t perfect. In my opinion, it doesn’t need Daft Punk in it. The addition of the signature auto-tuned chorus that has become notorious in Daft Punk songs is unnecessary, as it’s featured in the back end of the song. In general, it feels like the inclusion of the electronic vibe isn’t needed in such a simple and delicate song.

This is the best song on the album. The Weeknd releases the insane vocal capabilities he has within ‘Die for you’, and I was in awe of how good the song is. It has elements of pop music and club floor fillers and builds in such a way that’s almost suited to this style. However, this doesn’t feel like a bad thing for once, it accompanies The Weeknd’s powerful voice as he can build simultaneously with the chorus.

I can see this being remixed in a way that makes it completely applicable to the club scene, inviting a huge mainstream audience. But until then, I feel it needs to be appreciated for its outstanding quality. People need to be listening to this song and jamming to it in their own rooms, it should be a hit.

Unfortunately, with everything that’s good in the world, there is also bad. This can clearly be found in ‘Starboy’, and here are a few points that show it.

I don’t think anyone can argue with the success of the song ‘Starboy’, since being released on Spotify almost 2 months ago it’s amassed around 300 million listens, going to number 1 in 6 countries and hitting the top 10 in the US, UK and Canada. Commercially, this song has succeeded and no one can criticize that.

However, I do think that it gets old, which I haven’t found with The Weeknd’s other songs. The best songs don’t just appeal to listeners for a week or two, but for a long time, if not forever. Some of The Weekend’s songs in the past have achieved this, but funnily enough, it’s often the ones that aren’t as successful globally.

Therefore I think Starboy, unfortunately, must go into the pile of songs that’ll be discarded into obscurity soon enough, something I had hoped The Weekend was better than.

Oh no. The Weeknd should not be allowed to use auto-tune so heavily, if at all. He has one of the most powerful voices in music and in this song, wasted it behind a computer.

It’s not just the auto-tune though; this song effectively consists of The Weeknd bragging about life for a solid 3 minutes. I’m all for his ego, it’s one of the elements that brings out the best in his songs, just look at how good ‘Often’ is. But in ‘Sidewalks’, the arrogance feels shoe-horned, as though someone put a gun to The Weeknd’s head and said “Rap about how good at life you are”. It just doesn’t work, and feels so last minute and rushed. Of course, the auto-tune doesn’t aid this.

Despite the addition of Kendrick Lamar, even between the two of them they cannot rescue this poor effort. His repetition of the lyrics ‘say, say, say’ makes me wince every time I hear them; the sound is just too harsh to be repeated. In summary, this is probably the worst song I’ve ever heard by The Weekend.

Obviously, the album has more than just 4 tracks, but the ones above are most worth mentioning. Overall there are less bad songs than there are good ones, as should be expected from such a gifted artist.

In general, this isn’t his best album, I’d say it’s like someone you barely know making you a cup of tea, it’s got the key elements right but just doesn’t feel as good as it could be or as it should be.

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