by Milton Cribbs
Video Production Manager
Beauty Behind the Madness
R&B soul artist The Weeknd shares his vulnerabilities and imperfections on his second album, "Beauty Behind the Madness," which was released in August 2015.
The Weeknd’s introductory song, “Real Life,” quickly demands your undivided attention. The song starts off with a dark and mysterious feel that’ll have your mind envisioning a place in which a sound so distinct will exist. The sounds imply that something is coming, something BIG! The guitar (which sounds like a horn) sets the tone with a couple of eight counts, and then the bass sneaks in mixed with a continuous echoed clap. From that intro alone, The Weeknd clearly states that his latest album is something special.
Ever since The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, left home to follow his dreams, it seems as though he was destined to become a music icon. Abel dropped out of high school at age 17 and "left one weekend and never came home" with some of his friends. This departure is the basis for his moniker. Originally designed to be The Weekend, he dropped a letter to avoid copyright issues with a Canadian band of the same name.
In this album, The Weeknd chooses not to highlight the “perfections” of his life. He looks at his flaws in a positive way, highlighting them in songs such as “Shameless,” “Dark Times,” “The Hills,” “Real Life,” and one of my personal favorites: “Angel.” With lyrics such as “I don’t wanna hurt you, but you live for the pain,” “I’m a prisoner to my addiction,” and “Only my mother can love me for me,” the listener can hear the seriousness and honesty of the subject matter in the album. The artwork of the albumis dark and moody, which is a good symbol of the music’s tone. The Weeknd’s eyes are highlighted on the cover as his straight-faced expression stares at you, much like one of those pictures where the eyes seem to be following you, but they’re actually not.
In addition to The Weeknd expressing his vulnerability throughout this album, his work is all about sound, originality, pain, passion and pleasure. It’s amazing how The Weeknd is able to use instruments so well to coincide with the feel of each individual song. As you listen to "Beauty Behind the Madness," you will discover that each instrument has a voice; each instrument has meaning and purpose for its sound, which creates an atypical orchestra of sound for "Beauty Behind the Madness."
The Weeknd also has incorporated some other well-known artists who made contributions to creating this masterpiece. Ed Sheeran is featured on the 12th track of the album, “Dark Times.” The pair sing of the addictions they fall into during their respective depressions — acting as a warning sign for women to stay away. The sound of this song closely resembles the song “Make it Rain,” a song Sheeran made for the hot television series Sons of Anarchy.
“I wrote a song with Ed Sheeran that was kind of spontaneous,” said The Weeknd. After a hard night of partying until early in the morning, Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd sat down together the next day and came up with the song “Dark Times.” Besides Sheeran, the album also features popstars Labrinth and Lana Del Rey.
Appearing as the eighth track of the album, Shameless,” starts off with earthquake-like trembles mixed with a distinct sound of thunder. Known for explicit content and vulgarity in his music, The Weeknd does not shy away from thoughts and feelings, especially when it comes to money, sex and drugs.
In the song “Shameless” he talks about a girl who cannot resist his sexual ways. He says, “That's why you always call me cause you're scared to be loved” and “You said it’d be the last time but you’re begging me to come over.” The mysterious girl that The Weeknd is speaking to seems to be a woman who is engaged in a relationship where she is unfulfilled by her counterpart.
Although The Weeknd knows that he is being unfaithful, he does not care. He insists, “I'll always be there for you, girl; I have no shame.” The guitar solo in the song is outstanding! The sound of the guitar seems to speak another language, and it as though The Weeknd’s lyrics were transformed directly into this amazing guitar tune.
Topping the Charts
Only his second album, "Beauty Behind the Madness" currently sits at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 list. Two singles from "Beauty Behind the Madness," “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel my Face,” are top three on Billboards Top 100, with “The Hills” topping the charts. The Weeknd also has five other songs on Billboard’s Top 100 list. With a total of seven songs on the list, he has more than any current artist.
All in all, "Beauty Behind the Madness" is one of a kind and you will definitely get your money’s worth. The album can be purchased both online and in stores, and as The Weeknd says, “Go tell your friends about it!”