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R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Grammy Awards
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R&B - Released January 1, 2012 | CP Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Abel Tesfaye, aka the Weeknd, released three free mixtapes, aka albums, in 2011. Trilogy compiles them with remastered sound and adds three new songs. Supported by fellow Toronto native Drake, Tesfaye surfaced that March with House of Balloons, an impressive debut that merged his paradoxical approach -- sweet voice, poisonous words -- with gloomy but entrancing productions, most of which were provided by Illangelo and Doc McKinney. The duo produced the entirety of Thursday, released that August. It offered minor variations on the debut's themes of getting laid and high through plodding, thudding scenes of bleak malevolence. Anyone not magnetized to extended periods of intense wallowing and/or chemically-induced lethargy -- or the idea of experiencing either one of the two states -- could discern that Tesfaye could have used an editor. And then, in December, just after Drake released Take Care, an album featuring a handful of Tesfaye collaborations, Echoes of Silence completed the Weeknd trilogy in an equally excessive fashion. Emboldened by critical acclaim and an enthusiastic fan base, Tesfaye led the set, produced mostly by Illangelo, with a cover of "Dirty Diana," Michael Jackson's unintentionally comical groupie nightmare. Tesfaye not only matched the original's intensity but went so over the top with it that the top was no longer visible. He also continued to find slightly different, occasionally peculiar ways of expressing unapologetically sordid feelings about drugs, partying, drugs, bad girls, drugs, strippers, drugs, good girls gone bad, and drugs -- all of which serve an identical purpose and get the same level of consideration, though "Put that rum down, you don't wanna die tonight" is at least somewhat thoughtful. There are points throughout these works where Tesfaye is distinctively gripping, supplying deadly hooks and somehow singing for his life despite the cold blood flowing through his veins. More often, he needs restraint, as he is prone to repetitious whining that is more young boy than young Keith Sweat. (Check "Same Old Song," 20 percent of which features Tesfaye singing "You're the same old song," over and over, with the final "o" held for several seconds.) Now that he's with a label, he'll hopefully get some kind of filter that enables him to fulfill the promise heard in these 160 minutes of one-dimensional, occasionally exhilarating overindulgence. When this package was released, he was gaining mainstream momentum with appearances on Drake's "Crew Love" and Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You." His potential is as obvious as his lyrics are toxic. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 2013 | Universal Republic Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Platinum sales, touring life, and radio presence -- the last of which was due more to guest spots on Drake's "Crew Love" and Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You" than his own singles -- granted Abel Tesfaye a fresh set of fraught experiences and anxieties. As he laments/boasts in the eight-minute slow-motion horror suite that is this album's title track, "I got a brand new place/I think I've seen it twice all year," and visits to his doctor have provided access to new ingredients for his indulgences. Indeed, this is a post-fame album. In "The Town," Tesfaye apologizes to a local conquest for his absence and notes that he can supply her with diamond rings. The following "Adaptation," where he grieves about losing a potential long-term relationship to his career, illustrates his transient lifestyle as a new source for madness. Although the circumstances and locations are different, the antics, along with the mix of emotional trauma and arrogance, are often similar to what Tesfaye depicted throughout his 2011 releases. Lyrics like "I can't stand talking to brand new girls/Only bitches down to fuck when you shower them with ones," also from "Kiss Land," carry a deeper sense of realism. Sonically, the tracks -- produced with a new cast that includes DannyBoyStyles and DaHeala -- are a little cleaner, yet they're all leaden, even when the pace picks up for the Fox the Fox-sampling "Wanderlust" and the overloaded "Belong to the World." The latter owes its industrial judder to Portishead's "Machine Gun" and is delivered like an anthem with Tesfaye desperately emoting, "I'm not a fool, I just love that you're dead inside." For all its similarities to Tesfaye's past work, along with his confession that "This ain't nothin' to relate to," Kiss Land is more personal, more human, and will draw his fans closer to him. The slightly wider vocal range and additional expressiveness don't hurt his cause. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 2013 | CP Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Platinum sales, touring life, and radio presence -- the last of which was due more to guest spots on Drake's "Crew Love" and Wiz Khalifa's "Remember You" than his own singles -- granted Abel Tesfaye a fresh set of fraught experiences and anxieties. As he laments/boasts in the eight-minute slow-motion horror suite that is this album's title track, "I got a brand new place/I think I've seen it twice all year," and visits to his doctor have provided access to new ingredients for his indulgences. Indeed, this is a post-fame album. In "The Town," Tesfaye apologizes to a local conquest for his absence and notes that he can supply her with diamond rings. The following "Adaptation," where he grieves about losing a potential long-term relationship to his career, illustrates his transient lifestyle as a new source for madness. Although the circumstances and locations are different, the antics, along with the mix of emotional trauma and arrogance, are often similar to what Tesfaye depicted throughout his 2011 releases. Lyrics like "I can't stand talking to brand new girls/Only bitches down to fuck when you shower them with ones," also from "Kiss Land," carry a deeper sense of realism. Sonically, the tracks -- produced with a new cast that includes DannyBoyStyles and DaHeala -- are a little cleaner, yet they're all leaden, even when the pace picks up for the Fox the Fox-sampling "Wanderlust" and the overloaded "Belong to the World." The latter owes its industrial judder to Portishead's "Machine Gun" and is delivered like an anthem with Tesfaye desperately emoting, "I'm not a fool, I just love that you're dead inside." For all its similarities to Tesfaye's past work, along with his confession that "This ain't nothin' to relate to," Kiss Land is more personal, more human, and will draw his fans closer to him. The slightly wider vocal range and additional expressiveness don't hurt his cause. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released March 20, 2020 | Republic Records

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Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is back with his anticipated fourth album After Hours, an intoxicating R&B record that feels like a natural progression from its predecessors. After 2016’s Starboy and the EP My Dear Melancholy 2 years later, the chart-topping singer made his acting debut in the Netflix thriller Uncut Gems alongside Adam Sandler. This may have been behind the inspiration for this new character the singer portrays with a broken nose, leather gloves and deep red tux in the album cover and the music video for lead single Blinding Lights, reminiscent of A-Ha’s Take On Me, the new wave from the 1980s and its synthwave revival. “I don’t like to leave my house too much. It’s a gift and a curse but it helps me give undivided attention to my work… It distracts from the loneliness, I guess”, confesses the Canadian. Unlike Starboy, there are no features on this album, The Weeknd choosing instead to invite a range of top tier producers to refine the music: Metro Boomin on the epilogue Until I Bleed Out, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker on Repeat After Me (Interlude), the loyal Illangelo, vaporwave pioneer Oneohtrix Point Never for Scared to Live and even hitmaker Max Martin (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Britney Spears) for the pop-sounding Save Your Tears, resulting in 14 tracks that blend soul, R&B and new wave nuances. ©️ Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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R&B - Released November 25, 2016 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released April 3, 2020 | Republic Records

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R&B - Released March 30, 2018 | Universal Republic Records

The Weeknd is going back to his roots on this surprise album (or half album) that he has gifted the world. After a collaborative album with Daft Punk (Starboy), which shot him to international stardom and also brought him a Grammy, the R&B singer from “The 6” (Toronto Metropolitan Area) has shifted back to a more personal effort. Abel Tesfaye, or alias The Weeknd co-writes 6 deeply personal tracks that focus on love, drugs and sex, the perfect formula for an R&B album. He opens up more than ever about his current trials and tribulations with relationships, but his pain is our gain. The 21 minutes of music is vintage The Weeknd from his album Trilogy, deeply chilling with distressed synths and spacey falsetto vocals. OG fans of The Weeknd will love this record, while it will still create many new ones.
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R&B - Released March 30, 2018 | Universal Republic Records

Coming off multi-platinum, Grammy-winning success with Starboy and apt placement on the Black Panther soundtrack, Abel Tesfaye shirks candy-coated summertime jams for aggrieved ballads with this six-track EP, issued with little advance notice. Considering its unswerving focus on romantic anguish and self-medication, and a listener's natural inclination to associate the pronouns with Tesfaye's famous exes, the EP might seem extreme, but it retraces familiar shapes in condensed form. Most obviously, "Call Out My Name" resembles "Earned It" with synthesized menace in place of strings and a dash of the distorted terror previously heard on "The Hills." In one verse directed at the object of his unrequited affection, Tesfaye confesses that he wasn't truthful when he said he "didn't feel nothing," then lashes out for being taken at his initial word and treated in kind, "just another pit stop." In that regard, the level of emotional maturity hasn't changed much since the mixtapes. Apart from the sly and sweet 2-step rhythm on "Wasted Times," the sound of the EP is bleary R&B with beats that drag and lurch, suited for Tesfaye's routine swings between self-pity and sexual vanity, chemically enhanced from one extreme to the other. For all his rehashed scenes, Tesfaye can be one of the most affecting vocalists in contemporary pop. When he sings "I got two red pills to take the blues away" in "Privilege," he might as well be slouched in the driver's seat of one of his luxury sports cars, staring into his open palm like he's holding all that he truly values. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released November 25, 2016 | Universal Republic Records

The extent of the 2015 Weeknd commercial rebound, symbolized by platinum certifications for Beauty Behind the Madness and all four of its singles, didn't merely embolden Abel Tesfaye. On this follow-up's fourth track, a blithe midtempo cut where Tesfaye takes a swipe at pretenders while boasting about drinking codeine out of one of his trophies, the level of success is a source of amusement. He notes the absurdity in taking a "kids' show" award for "Can't Feel My Face," in which he was "talkin' 'bout a face numbin' off a bag of blow." The track actually lost to Adele's "Hello," but it clearly, somewhat comically, reached an unintended demographic. It comes as no surprise that Tesfaye, on his third proper album, doesn't attempt to optimize the reach of his biggest hit by consciously targeting youngsters. He sings of being a "Starboy" with access to a fleet of sports cars, but he's a "motherfuckin' starboy," one who is 26 years old and proud to observe his woman snort cocaine off his fancy table. While Starboy often reflects an increased opulence in the personal and professional aspects of Tesfaye's life -- from more upscale pronouns to expensive collaborations with the likes of Daft Punk (two) and "Can't Feel My Face" producers Max Martin and Ali Payami (four) -- the dark moments of vulnerability are pitch black. Lines like "I switch up my cup, I kill any pain" could have come from Tesfaye's mixtape debut, yet there are new levels of torment. In "Ordinary Life," he considers driving off a Mulholland Drive cliff, James Dean style, wishing he could swap everything for angel status. It's followed with "Nothing Without You," a ballad of toxic dysfunction. He asks his lover if she'd feel guilty for not answering his call if he happened to die that night. It's not all dread and depravity. There's some sense of joy in a one-night stand, and an echo of "Say Say Say" Michael Jackson, on the Luomo-ish house track "Rockin'." Contrition is shown in the slick retro-modern disco-funk of "A Lonely Night." Ironically enough, in the aching "True Colors," Tesfaye sounds a little insecure about a lover's past. The album's lighter, comparatively sweeter parts -- the Tears for Fears-sampling/Romantics-referencing "Secrets" and the breezy and only slightly devilish "I Feel It Coming" among them -- are all welcome highlights. When pared down to its ten best songs, Starboy sounds like Tesfaye's most accomplished work. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released December 23, 2014 | Fifty Shades of Grey

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R&B - Released March 20, 2020 | Republic Records

The first two singles off After Hours were released within three days of each other in November 2019. "Heartless," a boastful belter made with Metro Boomin, Illangelo, and Dre Moon, ticked all the boxes to please Abel Tesfaye's base. Pills, cars, fame, women, and the hard-fought reward for all the overindulgence -- a ruthless world view to keep the cycle going -- were all in the mix. "Never need a bitch, I'm what a bitch need/Tryin' to find the one that can fix me," contradictory and confused as ever, made the song entirely on brand. Then came the Max Martin-produced isolation anthem "Blinding Lights," an instance of Tesfaye reanimating mid-'80s Euro-pop like he did with "Wanderlust." These contrasting previews didn't give away the fact that After Hours is, above all else, a breakup album. Tesfaye fills much of this neatly sequenced, ballad-heavy set with penitence and longing. He sets the tone with an escapist fantasy that turns into a nightmarish relapse, and is tormented for much of the duration by seeking and receiving salvation and ruination from the same relationship. Some of Tesfaye's most vivid and piercing lines are herein. Mere minutes after dropping the superbly dispirited "I saw you dancing in a crowded room/You look so happy when I'm not with you," he taunts with "You don't love him, you're just f*ckin'," repeating it like he's convincing himself that he's not jealous. You know he's got it bad when he says he "don't even wanna get high no more." In addition to supplying familiar trap-styled prowling backdrops and some other '80s flashbacks, Tesfaye and his varying team of co-producers refer to some softer points in the U.K. hardcore continuum dating back to the late '90s -- drum'n'bass on "Hardest to Love," 2-step garage and early dubstep on "Too Late" -- modernizing them with finesse. Tesfaye and Martin venture farthest when they meet synthesizer wiz Daniel Lopatin in a dead mall, down by the old Tape World, for "Scared to Live," an adult contemporary number that alludes to '70s Elton John but has more in common with '80s love themes by Phil Collins and Lionel Richie. It's so clean and down the middle that it resembles a box-office crossover bid from an artiste swallowing his pride to record a tame song he didn't write. It happens to be one of Tesfaye's best performances, his voice soaring and swooping, signifying numbness and codependency, sorrowful about wasted time while encouraging emotional convalescence. It fits into the album and is a Weeknd song as much as the one in which Tesfaye rap-sings of self-harm and addiction, providing financial support for family and friends, and giving his woman "Philip K. dick." © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Rap - Released February 2, 2018 | Black Panther (TDE - DMG) PS

R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

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All bets regarding Abel Tesfaye's career arc were off once Trilogy, material previously released at no (financial) cost to the listener, went platinum. For a period after that, it seemed like the singer had peaked just short of pop-star status. His eager congregation pushed Kiss Land, the proper debut, to number two in the U.S., yet none of its singles, not even the one that featured Drake, reached the Hot 100. "Love Me Harder," a duet with labelmate Ariana Grande released in 2014, proved to be a masterstroke. It put Tesfaye in the Top Ten for the first time and began a streak of similarly effective singles that preceded -- and are included on -- Beauty Behind the Madness. "Earned It," a ballad recorded for the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, showed that he could adapt to a traditional pop backdrop. That cut a path for "The Hills," in which Tesfaye alleviated his "day one" base with a typically degenerate slow jam, co-produced by Illangelo, that affirmed "When I'm fucked up, that's the real me" while taking the toxic narrative a step further with lines like "Drugs started feelin' like it's decaf." And then "Can't Feel My Face," a sleek slice of retro-modern disco-funk produced by Max Martin and Ali Payami, landed in June 2015. An obvious pop move, it worked -- it went to number one in the U.S. and several other territories. Tesfaye skillfully delivered his biggest hooks as he sang about dependency in that part-anguished, part-euphoric fashion derived from Michael Jackson. Like its advance singles, the rest of Beauty Behind the Madness is R&B and pop as drug-den paella: chemical and sexual abasement, self-loathing, and self-absorbed belligerence over narcotized sludge and less expected moves that peak with the wholly sweet "As You Are" and crest with a big-band diversion on "Losers." Collaborations with Kanye West, Ed Sheeran, and Lana Del Rey add star power; the last of that pack contributes to a moment where Tesfaye turns another corner by acknowledging a dead end through the fog, "addicted to a life that's so empty and so cold." The commercial strides are obvious. The creative advancements are less apparent, but they're in there. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released March 20, 2020 | Republic Records

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Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is back with his anticipated fourth album After Hours, an intoxicating R&B record that feels like a natural progression from its predecessors. After 2016’s Starboy and the EP My Dear Melancholy 2 years later, the chart-topping singer made his acting debut in the Netflix thriller Uncut Gems alongside Adam Sandler. This may have been behind the inspiration for this new character the singer portrays with a broken nose, leather gloves and deep red tux in the album cover and the music video for lead single Blinding Lights, reminiscent of A-Ha’s Take On Me, the new wave from the 1980s and its synthwave revival. “I don’t like to leave my house too much. It’s a gift and a curse but it helps me give undivided attention to my work… It distracts from the loneliness, I guess”, confesses the Canadian. Unlike Starboy, there are no features on this album, The Weeknd choosing instead to invite a range of top tier producers to refine the music: Metro Boomin on the epilogue Until I Bleed Out, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker on Repeat After Me (Interlude), the loyal Illangelo, vaporwave pioneer Oneohtrix Point Never for Scared to Live and even hitmaker Max Martin (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Britney Spears) for the pop-sounding Save Your Tears, resulting in 14 tracks that blend soul, R&B and new wave nuances. ©️ Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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R&B - Released April 3, 2020 | Republic Records

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R&B - Released April 3, 2020 | Republic Records

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R&B - Released August 28, 2015 | Universal Republic Records

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R&B - Released March 20, 2020 | Republic Records

Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is back with his anticipated fourth album After Hours, an intoxicating R&B record that feels like a natural progression from its predecessors. After 2016’s Starboy and the EP My Dear Melancholy 2 years later, the chart-topping singer made his acting debut in the Netflix thriller Uncut Gems alongside Adam Sandler. This may have been behind the inspiration for this new character the singer portrays with a broken nose, leather gloves and deep red tux in the album cover and the music video for lead single Blinding Lights, reminiscent of A-Ha’s Take On Me, the new wave from the 1980s and its synthwave revival. “I don’t like to leave my house too much. It’s a gift and a curse but it helps me give undivided attention to my work… It distracts from the loneliness, I guess”, confesses the Canadian. Unlike Starboy, there are no features on this album, The Weeknd choosing instead to invite a range of top tier producers to refine the music: Metro Boomin on the epilogue Until I Bleed Out, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker on Repeat After Me (Interlude), the loyal Illangelo, vaporwave pioneer Oneohtrix Point Never for Scared to Live and even hitmaker Max Martin (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Britney Spears) for the pop-sounding Save Your Tears, resulting in 14 tracks that blend soul, R&B and new wave nuances. ©️ Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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R&B - Released April 3, 2020 | Republic Records

The first two singles off After Hours were released within three days of each other in November 2019. "Heartless," a boastful belter made with Metro Boomin, Illangelo, and Dre Moon, ticked all the boxes to please Abel Tesfaye's base. Pills, cars, fame, women, and the hard-fought reward for all the overindulgence -- a ruthless world view to keep the cycle going -- were all in the mix. "Never need a bitch, I'm what a bitch need/Tryin' to find the one that can fix me," contradictory and confused as ever, made the song entirely on brand. Then came the Max Martin-produced isolation anthem "Blinding Lights," an instance of Tesfaye reanimating mid-'80s Euro-pop like he did with "Wanderlust." These contrasting previews didn't give away the fact that After Hours is, above all else, a breakup album. Tesfaye fills much of this neatly sequenced, ballad-heavy set with penitence and longing. He sets the tone with an escapist fantasy that turns into a nightmarish relapse, and is tormented for much of the duration by seeking and receiving salvation and ruination from the same relationship. Some of Tesfaye's most vivid and piercing lines are herein. Mere minutes after dropping the superbly dispirited "I saw you dancing in a crowded room/You look so happy when I'm not with you," he taunts with "You don't love him, you're just f*ckin'," repeating it like he's convincing himself that he's not jealous. You know he's got it bad when he says he "don't even wanna get high no more." In addition to supplying familiar trap-styled prowling backdrops and some other '80s flashbacks, Tesfaye and his varying team of co-producers refer to some softer points in the U.K. hardcore continuum dating back to the late '90s -- drum'n'bass on "Hardest to Love," 2-step garage and early dubstep on "Too Late" -- modernizing them with finesse. Tesfaye and Martin venture farthest when they meet synthesizer wiz Daniel Lopatin in a dead mall, down by the old Tape World, for "Scared to Live," an adult contemporary number that alludes to '70s Elton John but has more in common with '80s love themes by Phil Collins and Lionel Richie. It's so clean and down the middle that it resembles a box-office crossover bid from an artiste swallowing his pride to record a tame song he didn't write. It happens to be one of Tesfaye's best performances, his voice soaring and swooping, signifying numbness and codependency, sorrowful about wasted time while encouraging emotional convalescence. It fits into the album and is a Weeknd song as much as the one in which Tesfaye rap-sings of self-harm and addiction, providing financial support for family and friends, and giving his woman "Philip K. dick." © Andy Kellman /TiVo

Artist

The Weeknd in the magazine
  • The Weeknd bares his soul
    The Weeknd bares his soul The Canadian Starboy delivers “After Hours”, a hit fourth album that blends 80s new wave, soul, R&B and synthwave.