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“Beauty Behind the Madness” makes the ficklest Weeknd fans proud

September 2, 2015

From behind the shroud of animosity, alternative R&B singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, carefully worked for years to cultivate his distinct sound.

Deemed a “no-hit wonder” by the likes of The New York Times, this Canadian crooner rose to popularity without becoming the darling of a famed record label—he first gained attention through uploading his sensual tunes online instead.

For much of his career, Tesfaye was a mystery to the entertainment industry.  He was better known to much of the world for collaborations with artists like Drake and he rarely did interviews—making him the XO fan base’s best kept secret.

With the release of his second studio album, “Beauty Behind the Madness”, Tesfaye has fully stepped away from the shadows and on to the mainstream music scene.  He’s taking a new approach to his music—and it’s a formula for success.

WARNING: Graphic Content 

Heavily influenced by Michael Jackson and Prince, “Beauty Behind the Madness” is an album that should assuage the fears of longtime fans who worried Tesfaye would lose his signature sound. If anything, this album makes his music even more irresistible—and now the whole world gets to hum along.  

Those who have followed Tesfaye since “House of Balloons” should be pleased to find that he has yet to abandon his goose-bump raising, skin-crawling subject matter.  

Beauty Behind the Madness boasts plenty of tracks that detail pill-popping and rough sex, signature themes in Tesfaye’s previous works. “Tell Your Friends” is one such track that is particularly pleasing.  Co-produced by Kanye West, this song is an upbeat twist on previous Weeknd tunes that have celebrated Tesfaye’s bad-boy persona in the past.

“Tell Your Friends” carries a message for the XO fan base: “Don’t believe the rumors, I’m still a user.  I’m still rocking camo and still roll with shooters.”  This song is easily my favorite on the album, followed closely by the ego-serving “Shameless” and the electric track titled “In the Night”, a song reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

“Prisoner,” Tesfaye’s collaboration with longtime friend Lana Del Ray, is another track that is sure to impress listeners.  This song centers on self-analysis and criticism, something fans have yet to hear from Tesfaye.  “Prisoner” is evidence that the man behind The Weeknd is multi-dimensional and that he still has more to share with his followers.

On the flipside, “Beauty Behind the Madness” packs a couple of tracks that are on the verge of being yawn-worthy.  “Dark Times,” a collaboration with Ed Sheeran, ultimately flops.  For me, Tesfaye is too hardcore to recruit this English pop singer.  “As You Are” and “Acquainted” are two other tracks that leave a bit more to be desired sound-wise.  However, these songs should certainly not be discredited.

Overall, “Beauty Behind the Madness” is enough to make even the ficklest Weeknd fans proud.  Through combining his old subject matter with a brand new sound, Tesfaye has truly delivered a dynamic album that is sure to send him spiraling up in the charts. Carrying a sound that echoes the greats of the music industry and resonates with his audience, Tesfaye could quite possibly become one of the most influential artists of our generation.

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