The biggest breakout star from 2015, seemingly new to many, isn’t new at the very least. Long before The Weeknd was blowing up the charts alongside Ariana Grande (2014’s “Love Me Harder,”) and before assisting the Fifty Shades Of Grey soundtrack with eventual album cut “Earned It,” he was releasing various bodies of music for fans. 2015 just so happens to be the year the mainstream public decided to take notice when The Weeknd released his sophomore album, Beauty Behind The Madness.
Perhaps that was due to the almost uncanny, identical Michael Jackson like vocals that were featured on “Earned It.” Taking fans back to an era of music that was all about great music and talented acts. “In The Night” is another cut on the album that sounds as if its a Jackson album extra, and this is a good thing! While the Chris Brown’s and Jason Derulo’s of the scene embody the dancer and stage performer Michael was, nobody who has come as close to his vocal tone like The Weeknd.
But Beauty Behind The Madness isn’t a MJ ripoff album. The Weeknd retains his dark, moody, experimental, electronic R&B vibe on the album. Songs like “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “The Hills,” both of which became Billboard Hot 100 number 1 hits, still feature themes like drugs and sex. The mid-tempo standout “Acquainted,” leaked as “Girls In The 90s,” features The Weeknd serenading a lover he’s glad to put time in with.
The Album of The Year, Grammy nominated LP even sees The Weeknd collaborate with a diverse group of artists. Ed Sheeran duets with The Weeknd on “Dark Times,” about continuing bad habits and always “going back to the street,” again and again. Fellow moody, experimental, pop/electronic act Lana Del Rey joins for “Prisoner,” which speaks to the struggles of addiction. Labrinth also features (“Losers”), while Kanye West adds production to the project (“Tell Your Friends”).
Beauty Behind The Madness is the album you’re looking for, if you want a unique spin to that classic, usual R&B album. There are elements of Pop, Dance, and Electronic music, but at its core its a soulful, honest record. Fair warning listeners, get ready to hear the beauty and the madness! The Weeknd explores real topics that make the world and this thing called life enjoyable, harsh, and painful. Like the opening track says, “thats real life."
Standout tracks/Tracks to hear: "Can't Feel My Face," "Acquainted," "Earned It," "The Hills," "As You Are," "Prisoner"
Rating: 90 / 100