By Edina Zejnilovic
Darkness, Mystery, Sex, Drugs and Sorrow – these are all words that can be used to define the sound of Abel Tesfaye at the beginning of his music career.
His music captured the highs and lows of drug use as well as his strong feelings towards women and sex. Since then, The Weeknd has elevated his music further by becoming one of the biggest pop artists on the scene, combining pop and R&B to create two double platinum albums – Michael Jackson inspired album, Beauty Behind the Madness (2015) and upbeat Starboy (2016) featuring the likes of Daft Punk, Lana Del Ray and Kendrick Lamar.
Yet, he has still managed to keep the same meaning to his music that we all know and love him for but has revamped it into the form of mainstream pop music.
On March 30, 2018, The Weeknd surprised his fans by released the 6-track album, My Dear Melancholy,.
Listeners seemed to be pleasantly surprised that Abel returned to his roots with the mysterious, sorrowful and druggie tracks he was first known for.
The EP expresses the suffering of loss. It captures his own heartbreak, desperation and reflection. The 21-minute album is short but also long enough to not depress or bore you, as it is, essentially, a break up album.
However, it is a break up album done right with his amazing vocals and hypnotising sound that again reminds us of his earlier work. In the album, he gets extremely personal by analysing his broken relationships and by exposing all of his feelings out there through hard-hitting lyrics.
Being a celebrity means being exposed to the public eye on a constant basis, and for Abel this meant that his relationships were all out in the open and were often kept tabs on by paparazzi, magazines and such.
Not long before My Dear Melancholy, was released, The Weeknd and former girlfriend, Selena Gomez, had split up. They dated for the majority of 2017 and made their public debut at the Met Gala.
They were both very open about their relationship, posting photos on each other’s Instagram, but it all came crashing down when Gomez was seen on a date with her ex, Justin Bieber. On the other hand, Tesfaye was spotted leaving Bella Hadid’s apartment just days after and at this point, Tesfaye and Gomez had broken things off.
After listening to the new album, it is safe to say that he was both heartbroken and bitter when composing the songs.
The EP is so specific to these certain events, that it is so unique when compared to the rest of his work. It was almost too personal and honest, making it difficult to listen to.
The album’s opening line makes sure that we know that the very first song, Call Out My Name is about Gomez: 'We found each other/ I helped you out of a broken place/ You gave me comfort/ But falling for you was my mistake.'
The couple began their relationship shortly after Selena was out of rehab for Lupus, as well as anxiety and depression, which she has very openly advocated. They fell for each other when she needed somebody most and he was there to help. Unfortunately, it is obvious through his lyrics that he regrets ever falling for her.
'I want you to stay / But I know you don’t want me / Girl, why can’t you wait? / Why can’t you wait till I fall out of love?' The hard-hitting lyrics perfectly capture the feeling of losing somebody you love and the tragedy of heartbreak.
Personally, this line stuck out to me the most in this album, as well as: 'Guess I was just another pit stop / Until you made up your mind / You wasted my time.' Another extremely powerful lyric in the song was: 'I almost cut a piece of myself for your life.' This lyric suggests Tesfaye was willing to give up one of his kidneys for Selena, to save her life. However, he did not and her friend, Francia Raisa, did instead.
Wasted Times is full of bitterness as he removes the attention off Gomez and instead shines light on his previous partner, Bella Hadid. Tesfaye and Hadid dated for almost two years and ended in November 2016. In this song, he reminisces about their relationship.
'Wasted times I spent with someone else / She wasn’t even half of you' and 'I hope you know this dick is still an option / You were equestrian, so ride it like a champion' is a clear indicator that he has his eyes set on Hadid again and is wasting no time on articulacy.
Hadid planned on competing in the Winter 2016 Olympics for equestrian events and still partakes in the activity today, therefore it is quite evident that he is speaking about the model.
Try Me is another track about the model, as he continues to express wanting her back.
'Once you put your pride aside / You can notify me, -fy me / You’re the best I ever had.' Although, there is some confusion towards the end of the song when he sings, 'The way I kissed your scars / The way I fixed your heart, oh / Don’t you miss me babe?' which indicates that he is singing about Gomez, and her scars she may have developed after her kidney transplant.
The EP is just a mix of feelings towards both women, all slathered into 6 songs and can sometimes be quite difficult to fully understand.
I Was Never There and Hurt You are a look into Tesfaye’s general view and dissatisfaction with relationships. He is back to his old ways, his drug and sex-filled life: 'Girl, I’ll come to put myself between your legs / Not between your heart' and 'His happiness is never real / Mindless sex is how he feels' are just two lines from these songs which completely represent his new mindset after the break-ups.
In Privilege he speaks about wanting to end things with Gomez on a good note, but points at self-destructive behaviour to take the pain away: 'But I'ma drink the pain away, I'll be back to my old ways / And I got two red pills to take the blues away, oh.'
Whether you loved the 21-minute heartbreak album or hated it, it is undeniably personal which makes is a unique project for The Weeknd.
Artists have the power to use music to express themselves and their emotions, so if you have ever been through a messy break up or had your heart broken by somebody you loved, it is easy to relate to the album.
Tesfaye’s relationships were known and followed by the public, which made the wonderful break-up album of public interest and therefore clearly explains the millions of views on YouTube and the 29 million streams on Spotify in only the first 24 hours after it was released.
The mini-album is short but nonetheless very powerful, and overall represents the return of the old Abel that earned him his fame, and I think this is what’s got everybody hyped.