The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

Emily Wagner

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Rating 9/10

Highlight: The Hills, Dark Times, Tell Your Friends, Angel

2015 was filled with great album releases, musical masterpieces and an overflow of creativity in the music industry. Of these many feats was Beauty Behind the Madness, the second studio album released by The Weeknd. Known for his smooth vocals, intense, often dark instrumentals and lyrical, he has created what I and many others believe to be a musical masterpiece for Contemporary R&B.

You probably know him as the singer with the crazy hair, who every kid at one point or another has compared to a parakeet or even a chicken tender. Abel Tesfaye (his actual name) has successfully created both an image and distinct sound for himself, and this album truly proves that. Beauty Behind the Madness was released on Aug. 28, 2015, but a few singles dropped before that time, allowing him to have some summer hits like “Can’t Feel My Face.”

This record starts off with a bang, “Real Life” is the first track with features a somewhat distorted instrumental in the beginning. “Momma called me destructive,” Abel sings. “Cause every woman that loved me, oh yeah. I seemed to push them away.” It’s almost like he’s realizing his faults and flaws in the song.  Piano is often heard through the song, accompanied by a powerful string section. He repeats “real life” maybe saying “that’s just how it is” or “it is what is it” or even “that’s just how I am.”

“What can you show me that my heart don’t know already?” The Weeknd sings in “Losers,” the next track on this album. Both him and Labrinth, the singer who is featured on this song, both poke fun at the “losers” who stayed in school. This would make sense because Abel is after all a high school dropout. The chorus is truly memorable for the intense beat drop, and towards the end of the song, it focuses a lot on powerful brass instrumentals and drums.

“Tell Your Friends” has Abel singing about himself, slightly different than the previous songs. This song is a little more direct, with lyrics like “this year I’m all focused on the vision” and “don’t believe the rumors b*tch, I’m still a user.” A bit slower of a song and a bit nostalgic on his part, he describes times before he was famous. “Driving by the streets I used to walk through,” is accompanied by a large portion of piano.

“Often” is quite an interesting track, musically. It’s quite layered, with a somewhat dark undertone, especially in the beginning.  This is a little more explicit, with the chorus “Girl I do this often,” and you can probably guess what he means by that. “The Hills,” which follows that track, is probably one of the more memorable songs off of The Weeknd’s music catalog. “Your man on the road, he doing solo” he sings with a very gloomy tone. This song has a somewhat dark kind of theme and feeling to it. The chorus is quite explosive, especially live. Towards the end of the song Abel sings, with lots of emotion too, “the hills have eyes, the hills have eyes.” (Is that all a reference to the class 1977 horror movie? Sounds like it.)

The 6th song off the album “Acquainted” has the singer songwriter saying “ain’t nobody got me feeling this way” while also saying “to say we’re in love is dangerous.” Maybe he’s talking about the confusing feelings of being in a relationship. Maybe I’m just looking into this too much. There’s an interesting music change towards the end of the song, where everything seems to go a bit darker. This kind of sets itself apart from the other tracks off the album.

“And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb. And she’ll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come” he soulfully sings, in “Can’t Feel My Face.” This is a more “get up off your feet and dance” kind of song. Very poppy, bouncy, and extremely catchy, with an obvious influence from the late Michael Jackson. Released in the summer as a single, the music video that accompanied it has reached over 500 million views with 2 million thumbs up. After all these extremely, and wonderfully layered songs comes a more acoustic, soulful, and somewhat alternative (at first, at least) sounding piece. “Shameless” has a theme of “I was there for you and look what you did.” “I’ll always be there for you, girl I have no shame” repeats as the chorus. A guitar solo is even included, which really adds to the dramatic feel of “Shameless.”

The Weeknd takes a very different turn with this next one. Featured on the 50 Shades of Grey movie soundtrack, “Earned It” has the singer songwriter singing over top of a full orchestra, which is much different from the rest of the sounds and styles off of Beauty Behind the Madness. This makes for a much more cinematic kind of feeling, which is a breath of fresh air, which sets this song apart and makes it quite memorable.

Just like “Can’t Feel My Face” with its poppy feelings and bouncy texture, “In The Night” will make you want to dance. Drums really help out this song which really picks up the pace by the chorus. The chorus is beautifully layered and it definitely give you chills upon listening.

Slower compared to the previous track, “As You Are” has a sad, longing to be with the one you love mood to it.   “Even though you break my heart, love, I’ma need you” repeats throughout and I feel it creates much emphasis on the emotions going on in the singer. This song doesn’t makes Abel Tesfaye, or The Weeknd, sound desperately weak, but fragile. The instrumentals in this song add to the mood with light layers of synthesizer and a drum machine. Instead of describing the heartbreak he is feeling because of the other person, he changes and says “Don’t you know I’ll break your heart” which shows the change in emotions. The chorus is filled with beautifully layered vocals, which scream with emotion by the artist himself. I feel as though a major theme in this is acceptance. The message is accepting the outcome of this relationship where both parties will surely get hurt.

The next track “Dark Times” features Ed Sheeran, known for hits like “Lego House,” “A Team,” and countless others. It may seem like an unlikely pair, but just take a listen and you’ll change your mind. When listening to this, I feel as though the duo is trying to say “I’m a monster, and I can’t be loved,” with the line repeating “only my mother could love me for me, in my dark times.”

Twangy guitar is used which makes this quite memorable, maybe Ed Sheeran is responsible for it, but it sort of reminds me of those old Western Movies. The song that follows “Prisoner” features the lovely Lana Del Rey who released her fourth album “Honeymoon “this year. Her trademark is rich men, death, heartbreak, and Old Hollywood, so the line “I think I’ve been in Hollywood for too long” doesn’t come as a surprise, but it adds a nice touch of Lana to the piece. The chorus has both of them singing “I’m a prisoner to my addiction, I’m addicted to a life that’s so empty and so cold.” This is actually one of my favorite songs off of Beauty, but maybe I’m just saying that because I am a fan of Lana also. The last lines heard at the end of this track are “I don’t know, I get so wrapped up in a world where nothing’s as it seems. And real life is stranger than my dreams.” Del Rey says this over top of a faint piano which plays in the background, creating a moody aura.

Unfortunately, we have reached the final song on this Contemporary R&B masterpiece. “Angel” is the farewell track you could say, with powerful drums, guitars, and piano, and other instruments with The Weeknd’s voice holding such a power in this piece. “I hope you find somebody to love” becomes the most memorable line from this song. It was a perfect ending to a perfect album.

Overall, I find Beauty Behind the Madness by The Weeknd a perfect album.  Many different styles and musical techniques, some new and different, were used to build this 14 track creation. The singer songwriter took many risks which truly paid off and made for a breath of fresh air to the music scene. Many emotions and themes created this record, but heartbreak seemed to play a major role in this. Of course, what is the Weeknd without the moodiness? I can now understand why Beauty, and the songs off of it, were nominated for so many awards. This was a big step forward for the artist, while also being a bit of a departure from his earlier works. Despite this, I highly recommend giving this a listen, you surely won’t be disappointed. You may even fall in love!

 

 

Print Friendly

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    Sports

    Girls’ Lacrosse Wins States

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    Bobcats & the Big Screen

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    Bobcats & the Big Screen

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    Bon Appétit, Bel Air

    One Eleven Main

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    Bobcats & the Big Screen

    Colossal

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    News

    Senior Activities

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    News

    Best of Bel Air

  • Opinion/Editorial

    Education, Schmeducation

  • A&E

    2017 Summer Music

  • The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness

    Sports

    Girls’ Lacrosse Wins States

The Weeknd: Beauty Behind the Madness