The Weeknd - Starboy

The new king of sensual pop is back. The Weeknd's new album Starboy shows a growth of his character and sound.

Starboy is an album about fame and its intricacies. The album begins with the eponymous single 'Starboy,' which admittedly sounds a lot better on the album that it does as a standalone single. Perhaps its a new mix or just the context, but 'Starboy' sounds great, exceeding our original thoughts. The Weeknd and Daft Punk put together a very solid song. 'Starboy' is a good representation of the album to come, sensual and somewhat threatening at its core. The song itself is a realization of fame, but negatively and positively. It's about grandiose but also about an internal anger, the chorus lines "Look what you've done / I'm a motherfuckin' starboy" ringing both proudly and with contempt.

'Party Monster' follows through with a darker composition, sweet melodies ringing above dark synths. The song follows up with the story of 'Starboy,' The Weeknd singing about his need for a girl who already has another man. The song reaches an epic climax in its bridge, great melodies resonating hauntingly above The Weeknd's singing. The bridges on the album really take many songs to another level - later on the record comes the punchy 'A Lonely Night.' This one has a lot more of a poppy flair, sweet melodies keeping the upfront synths bouncing until the bridge, where synths explode with huge amounts of bass for a huge experience.

There are plenty of moments on the record where a poppier atmosphere takes over. Songs like 'Secrets' and 'True Colors' rings slowly and sweetly, while others like 'Love To Lay' go into fully infectious tones. 'Lay' is a fun song, upbeat percussion driving the song powerfully throughout its length. The album ends on a sweet note, as well: 'Die For You' returning the dreamy vibes and combining it with the infectious flairs of previous tracks before Daft Punk returns for the finale 'I Feel It Coming,' bursting with funk.

Starboy has a statement to deliver, however. It becomes most apparent firstly in 'Reminder,' which is really a big "fuck you" to those labelling him as a sell-out for abandoning his darker influences. Its chill composition allows for The Weeknd to gracefully diss his haters. Similarly, 'Sidewalks' is the story of The Weeknd's and Kendrick Lamar's upbringings, Lamar absolutely smashing his verse in the track, as he does. Anything he touches turns to gold. The album treads away from the negatives of fame, too, taking in the extravagance of it all, another "fuck you" to the haters: 'Rockin'' has a lot of groove and sweet melodies that make the message about a fun relationship sound great, and Lana del Ray helps 'Stargirl Interlude' sound weird and oddly sensual as the lyrics call for the starboy's lover.

Starboy isn't a perfect album, however. In trying to become something different, there's always moments of awkward transition. Such is the case of 'False Alarm,' a song we didn't originally enjoy. It's gotten a bit better since, but the great verses can't save the off putting choruses. The screaming really doesn't suit him. Most of the collaborations are good, but, as always, Future is hit or miss. He provides backup on 'Six Feet Under,' where he's tolerable, though his instrumental influence can be heart in the beat, and there's 'All I Know,' where he absolutely trashes the flow and great melodies. Other songs like 'Attention' and 'Nothing Without You' just don't have any memorable merit to them.

The Weeknd is the newest threat in the pop world, and he's here to stay for quite some time. Starboy is in a eclectic record, bringing his past sound to something new while still maintaining the dark sensuality that made him famous. It's not perfect, but it's a solid transition. What's great about The Weeknd is that he isn't afraid to take risks, and that's what Starboy is all about. There's no moving forward if you can't be ready to take a step back.

Favorite Tracks: Rockin', Starboy, Sidewalks, Love To Lay

Least Favorite Tracks: Stargirl Interlude, Attention

Rating: 79 / 100

The Weeknd - 'False Alarm'

The Weeknd is on his comeback grind. His new album Starboy is out in two months (November 25), and after releasing the eponymous track 'Starboy' featuring Daft Punk (see our review here), we were left wondering what the new album would have in store for us.

'False Alarm' is the follow up single, and it's a bit hard to swallow. Dynamically and elementally different from 'Starboy', it provides a different look on the record. The new song features a strong EDM influence, especially in the chorus, complete with singing in a panicked fashion "False alarm!" before distorted screams straight out of a Skrillex song lead back into the verses. The verses feature smooth vocals with a cheesy melody and various instruments, including synths and guitars.

This song doesn't raise much hype for the album. If anything, it polarizes it further. There was already confusion about how underwhelming 'Starboy' was, and it feels as though 'False Alarm' was not the correct answer to it. The song feels very uninspired and the chorus does not have the signature Weeknd feel. His music was so noteworthy because of his unique sexiness that resonated in each one of his songs. Both 'Starboy' and especially 'False Alarm' miss that aspect of him. The song is also plagued by trying too hard to fit into the EDM feel. It's reading out of a textbook what it means to be a pop EDM song, down to the siren sample in the intro. His melody feels lazy and completely uninspired, as well. The experimentation is appreciated, but this song doesn't have any direction.

Things aren't looking great for Starboy. Two underwhelming singles in, and it's becoming increasingly harder to look forward to the record. We'll see what the full record holds for us - hopefully more substance than the singles.

Rating: 65 / 100

The Weeknd - 'Starboy' ft. Daft Punk

After setting the bar huge with Beauty Behind The Madness in 2015, people have come to expect a lot from The Weeknd, and for good reason - his voice is the epitome of R&B and sensuality. Paired with Daft Punk, surely nothing can go wrong!

Despite two of the biggest names working together on it, The Weeknd's new single 'Starboy' is pretty underwhelming from what you would expect from him. It's not an awful song by any means - it's a pretty solid track, but it feels extremely generic. There's a lot more it could've done, and it's left without a lasting taste.

What it does have is great production. Daft Punk's contribution to the song was the production, and they nailed it. The beat is pretty heavy, a deep synth covering the bass of it with the high end of it will atmospheric piano dramatically creates a tense feeling. The song doesn't have much to it instrumentally outside of this, but there are synths that build up during the choruses that you just wish carried out throughout the song. If every chorus built up a little more with a new synth line or something akin to that, it would've been a much more memorable track.

'Starboy' is about The Weeknd's newfound extravagance after his success in the latest years. The lyrics talk about fame and the luxuries of a rich life. The chorus chants "Look what you've done / I’m a motherfuckin' starboy," The Weeknd sending shots at his haters; their messages made him want to succeed even more - and look where he is now. Many of the lyrics aren't as typically sensual or poetic as his works in the past of been, but instead are more hip-hop influenced. The bridge line "Let a nigga Brad Pitt / Legend of the fall took the year like a bandit" couldn't have been better timed.

The only real problem with the song is that it is quite generic. It sounds like any other deep house track out there. There's nothing really about it that would demand a second listen - every listen after the first really has the same impact. There's no intricacies or little details to discover that would make it worth revisiting, nor is there any real climax to the track. It's cleanly produced and very safe, and that's more or less all that it has going for it.

'Starboy' is an underwhelming lead single. It's good, but generic, and may sadly act as a sign that his follow up record to Beauty Behind The Madness may not be as fruitful as we could have hoped. His success is letting him revel in extravagance, to the level that his lyrics are almost cocky. Let's hope there are better things ahead for his upcoming record, Starboy, ironically, has more to offer.

Rating: 70 / 100