by Carla Bynum
On August 28, The Weeknd released Beauty Behind the Madness, the follow up to his 2013 debut Kiss Land, and Billboard already presumes that this will be his first number one album on the charts.
The album starts off with the song “Real Life,” which is a story of how his mother warned him that his lifestyle would destroy him over time. He isn’t optimistic about his future love life because his destructive ways cause him to push everyone away.
Tesfaye recalls how he dropped out of high school at the age of 17 on the track “Losers” featuring British singer/songwriter Labrinth. The song starts with the line “only losers go to school” and details how The Weeknd decided to leave school to chase his musical dreams.
Typically one who likes to stay low-key and out of the spotlight, The Weeknd has a change of heart on the song “Tell Your Friends.” He wants his fans to tell their friends all about him, his love for sex and drugs, his hair and the dangerous lifestyle he leads.
“Often” was originally released as a promotional single on July 31, 2014. On the track, The Weeknd remembers a drug infused sexual encounter with a girl who is curious about his lifestyle. He asks her to bring a friend to make things a little more interesting.
“The Hills” was semi-inspired by the late Wes Craven’s 1977 horror movie “The Hills Have Eyes.” Brian Mansfield of USA Today noted that "when a song takes its hook from a horror film — Wes Craven's 1977 cult classic The Hills Have Eyes — you know there's bound to be trouble.”
In the first verse he is helping a women cheat on her significant other and while she is starting to become emotionally attached, he lets her know that he just wants her to touch him, not feel him. He’s not interested in anything but a physical relationship with her. In the second verse, he realizes that he does so many drugs that they no longer have the same numbing effect on him. People want him to go back to the old depressed him but he would much rather live life for the moment.
The Weeknd finds himself falling for a girl who’s no good for him on “Acquainted.” He has made it known that he isn’t the type to fall in love and she has him feeling different than any woman has ever made him feel. Although love is dangerous, he’s happy to know her.
Tesfaye personifies drugs as a woman on the single “Can’t Feel My Face,” which was released on June 8th. Those who have followed The Weeknd musically know that he isn’t shy about talking about his drug use and this song is no different. Whenever he’s with “her” he can’t feel his face because of the numbness she gives him but he loves it.
He is feeling himself on the track “Shameless,” where he asks his girl who’s going to love and f**k her like he does. The Weeknd and this girl are similar in the sense that neither know how to love but he vows that no matter what happens, he will always be there for her.
“Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” was originally featured on the soundtrack to the S&M themed movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” released earlier this year. The song is a different pace for the singer because it has more of a pop feel to it than his other music. The song is sexy and a definite panty dropper.
True to style for The Weeknd, he tells the dark tale of a woman who was forced to grow up too fast on the song “In the Night.” She was sexually abused as a child and instead of letting the abuse control her adult life; she uses her sexuality to relieve her pain. The song’s style is reminiscent of a Michael Jackson song.
“As You Are” is about a relationship where Tesfaye knows he will break her heart because of his lifestyle. He doesn’t care about the scars she has from the past, he wants to take her as she is.
Ed Sheeran joins The Weeknd on the track “Dark Times.” Both admit that in their dark times they can be unbearable and they warn the ladies in their lives that they shouldn’t fall in love. Only their mothers could love them when they fall into these dark times because they continue to fall back into the same patterns.
As the sole female on the album, Lana Del Ray sings about her reservations about Hollywood and fame on the song “Prisoners.” Tesfaye sings about his drug and sex addiction. They both admit that they have become prisoners to their addictions.
Tesfaye realizes that he is a sinner on the song “Angel.” He sings about a girl who is the complete opposite of him. Their being together depends on how they can get along despite their different lifestyles. If they aren’t meant to be, he hopes she finds someone who really loves her.
With the album running just over an hour long, Tesfaye manages to enchant his fans with his usual darkness and sensuality. Fans who have followed his career since House of Balloons may not appreciate the mainstream appeal of some of the songs better songs but The Weeknd still manages to stay true to form for most of the album. Although he’s in a happier place in his life, he admits that his drug use and frequent sex will probably destroy his life in the long run but right now he just wants to live in the moment and enjoy himself. And who can blame him. He’s still young and that’s what he’s supposed to do. I agree with Billboard and predict that this will be his biggest release so far.
Recommended tracks: “Dark Times,” “Prisoner,” “Often,” “In the Night”