Is The Weeknd Poised For Breakout Success?

The Weeknd "Earned it (Fifty Shades of Grey)" music video screen shot (Republic)
The Weeknd “Earned it (Fifty Shades of Grey)” music video screen shot (Republic)

As of yet, 2015 seems to be The Weeknd’s year. Honestly, the R&B industry should be praying that it is indeed the year of Abel Tesfaye, as the genre hasn’t had its finest moments this year. All indications suggests that The Weeknd may be his most relevant within the bigger picture of the music industry thanks to that little hit from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey).” Face it folks, even if you’re not familiar/into the BSDM world that is Fifty Shades of Grey, The Weeknd’s song has earned every ounce of praise that it is/has received.

The Weeknd "Earned it (Fifty Shades of Grey)" music video screen shot (Republic)
The Weeknd “Earned it (Fifty Shades of Grey)” music video screen shot (Republic)

The Weeknd smartly is reaching for the stars while his profile is elevated. It’s not as if he hasn’t had success previously – fellow R&B artists would die to have his debut numbers – but it just doesn’t feel that The Weeknd has quite sealed the deal. As good as records like “Wicked Games,” “Twenty Eight,” and “Belong To The World” are, The Weeknd hasn’t quite achieved mainstream success. That is an incredibly tall task for R&B artists these days, but The Weeknd seems to have a legit shot and he shouldn’t squander it with crap.

The Weeknd needs to deliver a “finisher.” No, his new album doesn’t necessarily have to be a masterpiece, but he needs to put all the pieces together soundly. 2013 LP Kiss Land had it moments, but it didn’t have mainstream appeal nor a breakthrough single. His mixtape compilation Trilogy had more success in the single department with the aforementioned “Wicked Games.” So his proper sophomore album needs to have ‘hits’ that are going to solidify his ranks. “Earned It” has initiated the breakthrough, now it’s the Weeknd’s job to capitalize.

The Weeknd screen shot from "The Hills" music video (Republic)
The Weeknd screen shot from “The Hills” music video (Republic)

So far, The Weeknd is off to a splendid start beyond his “Earned It” fame. “The Hills” is familiar territory for The Weeknd. That isn’t to say it isn’t ‘new’ or isn’t ‘hot’ (it is), but we’ve heard The Weeknd talk about his rebellious, sexual side and that’s exactly what he does here. That said should The Weeknd change his formula on “The Hills?” The answer is a resounding NO because “The Hills” is well produced, dramatic, and vocally, The Weeknd sounds like a boss. As good as “The Hills” is, the single with the most potential just might be “Can’t Feel My Face.”


The subject matter of “Can’t Feel My Face” is familiar territory for The Weeknd as well – drugs. Still, this is the single that could gain the most traction because of its pop-oriented nature. The first thought that comes in mind when you hear “Can’t Feel My Face” is Michael Jackson. That isn’t to say that The Weeknd is the reincarnation of MJ or that that’s even his artistic lane. What it is saying is that the pop sensibility of this joint has great potential to open The Weeknd to mainstream success beyond the R&B audience. Look at how well retro tracks have performed as of late – Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (featuring Bruno Mars) being prime examples.

So, can The Weeknd breakthrough? – Hopefully this is his time. This guy’s rooting for him – he’s got a fantastic instrument on him.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. naw. alot of his stuff is like a broke MJ a broke take on stranger in moscow. i just feel he is a niche act at best. not a turning point act. he catchy but to me he ain’t doing what terrence trent d’arby and maxwell didn’t do better.

    1. brent80 says:

      If I had to predict The Weeknd’s ultimate outlook, I’d say he’ll probably be “hot” for a season and then fade. That’s what’s happening within the industry currently anyways. Ultimately, he won’t eclipse the greats by any means. R&B just doesn’t have much going on right now so any “sliver” of hope outside of the classics…

  2. i think somebody could do something,its just that the industry for a while hasn’t done the old A&R thing properly. i think if you got the goods then something is there. i just don’t think he has the overall goods. i think all genres are down. R&B is picked on and its hurting however it ain’t hardly dead. R&B was forced to accept Rap and had acts chase pop.however R&B never had to embrace anybody,everybody else wanted it and that respect period.

    1. brent80 says:

      The A&R thing is a huge part of the problem for sure. I think the post that I wrote for tomorrow mentions that. They are doing a horrible job of promoting. You are also correct about other genres being down as well. Country for example doesn’t receive nearly the same amount of love as it once did. Even rock isn’t on the same level as it once was commercially.

      Hopefully somebody does come along that can really “stick.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.