The Weeknd’s newest album “Starboy,” released on Nov. 25, shows the singer adding dance music into his trademark hybrid of R&B and hip-hop.
No doubt, the dance music influence comes at least in part from working with Daft Punk, the French electronic duo, who is featured on two of the album’s singles, the title track and “I Feel It Coming.”
The title track is a laidback, rhythm-heavy dance track. It’s indicative of the dance music brought into “Starboy” as a whole, representing the new addition to The Weeknd’s sound.
“I Feel It Coming” is a sensual track typical of The Weeknd. However, instead of straight-up R&B, the singer goes for a retro sound, channeling old-school soul in the vein of Marvin Gaye. It’s a softer side of the singer’s typical hip-hop influenced lyrics. “You’ve been scared of love/And what it did to you/You don’t have to run/I know what you’ve been through,” he smoothly sings in the chorus.
The song “False Alarm” is a frantic dance track. The singer’s voice rises to a scream before the chorus, completely leaving the smooth R&B behind. Yet, he pulls it off. The song is infectious.
“Sidewalks” is another high point on “Starboy.” Bluesy guitar plays throughout the retro-tinged track about the path to fame. It also features a verse from Kendrick Lamar. The Weeknd said he appreciated what Lamar added to the track.
“It wasn’t just a random Kendrick Lamar verse. It was something special,” the singer told Zane Lowe on Beats One Radio.
“Party Monster” is a dark, hip-hop influenced song about partying and excess. The heavy, menacing beat makes it near impossible to stand still. Expect to hear the track next time you go out for the night.
“Six Feet Under” features a guest spot from Future. The song is a trap/R&B collaboration, with both artists bringing their signature genres to the table. The track led many to draw comparisons to previous Future/Weeknd collaboration “Low Life,” which appeared on Future’s album “EVOL.”
While “Starboy” has several highlights, the album as a whole feels overstuffed with 18 tracks. Songs like “Sidewalks,” “False Alarm” and “I Feel It Coming” are fantastic additions to The Weeknd’s catalogue, but the album would be stronger with about half the amount of the tracks. Some come off as filler, and are hardly memorable.
Hearing dance music incorporated into The Weeknd’s sound is a welcome change. The singer’s smooth R&B voice sits well atop thumping club beats. It’s not a huge stylistic change; R&B and hip-hop are both still very present throughout the album. It feels more like experimentation. He pulls it off, admittedly, and it’ll be interesting to see which musical direction The Weeknd’s future releases will go.
Schae Beaudoin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.