Album Review: The Weeknd’s “Beauty Behind the Madness”


Vivian Englund – Opinions Editor

In 2013, Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, introduced himself to the world with his debut album, “Kiss Land.” Since then, the noted sultry R&B artist has become a hot name in mainstream media.

Tesfaye’s recent claim to fame being the hits on his second album, “Beauty Behind the Madness.” The summer chart-toppers, “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “The Hills” have Southern students infatuated with the fresh sound of mainstream meets underground R&B.

Senior social work major, Melissa Volpe, said that “Beauty Behind the Madness” is a breath of fresh air from other regurgitated mainstream content.

“To me, most artists on the radio sound extremely similar,” said Volpe. “The Weeknd’s new album does a good job of being really likeable, but shows that he didn’t sell out with his new established fame.” 

“Kiss Land” was Tesfaye’s lush, provocative, and charming way of unapologetically showing his audience what he was capable of.

“Beauty Behind the Madness,” on the other hand, not only executed Tesfaye’s initial approach, but also allowed some room for growth. The differences in this album are the marriage of underground and mainstream R&B.

When it comes to the album’s merit over the first, junior media studies major, Allison Mulcrone, says that “Beauty Behind the Madness” was Tesfaye’s ticket to stardom, yet prefers “Kiss Land.”

“While ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’ is well executed,” said Mulcrone, “I feel like it’s an album that is less of an ensemble and more of an album to cherry-pick songs off of.”

Many of the songs off of Tesfaye’s newest album contain lyrics that were radio-friendly or have been removed for that purpose. The heavily pop influenced song that has sat at the top of the charts this summer, “Can’t Feel My Face” impressed with lyrics that are out of The Weeknd’s normal content.

I can’t feel my face when I’m with you. But I love it, but I love it, oh,” are the lyrics to “Can’t Feel My Face” as documented by Google Play.

Senior psychology major, Shawn Gilhuly, said the album is perfect for college students and is widely digestible.

“I like the new album because each song has a feel good vibe. It is a little different from his older stuff, but I think that the lyrics on this album are more engaging for a broader audience,” said Gilhuly.

One song that stands out from the others is “Prisoner” featuring the indie-pop artist Lana Del Rey. Del Rey is commonly known for her seductive lyrics and style, making the duo a dreamy match.

“Kiss Land” offered allusions to R-rated elements such as cocaine and sex. Many songs off of “Beauty Behind the Madness” knock the rating down to a PG-13.

There is some mild sexual content, but is suitable for radio.

“I have always admired the unapologetic nature of The Weeknd,” said Mulcrone. “He was more explicit in the first album, but still kind of talked about the same things in a lighter way for this album.”

Another song off of “Beauty Behind the Madness” that climbed the charts this past year was “Earned It.” The slow, sultry jam was featured on the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack. The song later took to the radio for some airtime over the spring and summer.

Tesfaye seems to have found the balance between mainstream and underground; truly finding the beauty behind the madness.

Photo Credit: The Come Up Show

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