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 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.
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.