The Weeknd dedicates new album to frontline workers

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Four years after his last album, Starboy, was released, Abel Tesfaye, more commonly known as The Weeknd, has released another album titled After Hours. His 14-track album, which includes three additional “bonus” tracks, combines the melodies, topics, and “sense of despair” from his first album Trilogy, with the pop and R&B feel of Beauty Behind the Madness. Abel sells his work through aesthetically pleasing artwork, videos, and a “villainous” storyline. 

Senior Dropati Sanichar compared the artist’s new music to his previous hits. “I only know ‘Blinding Lights,’ and that song was okay. I’ve liked some of his other songs a bit better, his more popular songs from his older albums and songs with other artists.” 

On the other hand, senior Arul Sharma, who has been listening to the Weeknd since 2015, believes that the Weeknd and his music are “more mature now.” He observed, “Each album he releases is different. His album Starboy was more of a pop album and his recent album After Hours [contains more] somber love songs.”

Sophomore Wiktoria Ulaszewska agrees and said that “the style of this album has been a little different [than] his previous albums.” However, some people might not like the artistic choices the Weeknd makes or the dark lyrics he uses to tell the story of his past. Senior Nicholas Rao commented, “I do [like the songs that I listened to], but [his] type of music isn’t usually my speed.” 

Senior Nishat Ahmed commented, “I love him and his music [but]… I admit, some of his songs took me a while to love because of the difficulty hearing the words. [But after deciphering the lyrics], I ultimately loved the message of his songs.” Her ability to relate to the Weeknd’s music causes her to love the album even more. She also feels that “even though his lyrics contain the same topic of sex, drugs, suicide, and heartbreak, each album he releases [represents] different stages of [his] life.” 

The Weeknd shows his creative vision through his music videos, teasers, and short films, in which he uses characters and dark themes to display his persona. His obsession with villains, specifically the Joker, stands out in his videos for After Hours. Senior Rahme Shahed says that, “the ‘villain’ character he [embodies] sets him apart from many artists.” 

She also says that by using this method, people [will] get to understand the Weeknd as both a person and an artist. Similar to the movie Joker, she states, in this album “The Weeknd explains how ‘he came to be'”. 

Senior Melanie Harster, said that she is “drawn in by the cinematic ‘feel’ of his videos.” She added,“I really enjoyed the aesthetic of his new album [and] I definitely noticed some 80s [and movie] references both in visuals and musically which I found interesting.” 

Rahme also liked The Weeknd’s 80s references. “I enjoyed the songs that had more of this ‘throwback theme’ such as ‘In Your Eyes’, ‘Blinding Lights’, and ‘Save Your Tears’. Many of [his] songs reminded me of the show Stranger Things.” 

The Weeknd didn’t expect to release his album during this worldwide pandemic, but he has dedicated After Hours to all of the people who are working to help others such as healthcare staff, first responders, and grocery clerks. He hopes that his album will help get people through this difficult time.