Spark's Album Reviews: "Beauty Behind The Madness" by The Weeknd

The Weeknd was the hottest breakout new artist last year. He’salready had two #1 singles (in America, at least), and his smash sophomore album(not his first, that honor goes to “Kiss Land” and three mixtapes) was one ofthe bestselling records of the year. I loved the singles I heard from him, butare the album-only songs as good? Let’s find out.

“Real Life”
The Weeknd’s album starts off with a surprisingly slow song.And it’s pretty good. The violins andsubtle pianos were a great touch, and The Weeknd’s vocals are very subdued, andyes, that’s a good thing here. The only problems I have is that the chorus is alittle too lifeless for the buildup of the verses. The lyrics don’t make thatmuch sense, either. Oh, well.

“Losers” (ft.Labyrinth)
This one has a real “California Love” vibe to it. That beingone of my favorite rap songs, that is a very good thing. The angry pianos onthe chorus, the Weeknd’s and Labrinth’s insane vocals, and the glittery spacesounds in the background work perfectly. The horns and trailing pianos on theoutro were a perfect touch. Don’t know why it’s called “Losers”, though,because the word “Qualified’ is used way more. This wins in all accounts.

“Tell Your Friends”
Literally the ONLY problem here is the smug lyrics. Otherthan that, this is great. The guitar solo on the bridge, the lively pianos, andthe vocals are all great. The synths aregood as well.

This song is creepy. The androgynous voices saying something in Japanese on the chorus isquite unnerving. The lyrics contain tons of unnecessary curse words, and TheWeeknd sound weird. It should be a mess, but it’s not. Fun fact: this was the Weeknd’s debut single,and compared to the successes of “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills”, it was aflop. But on its own, it’s amazing.

“The Hills”
My fellow TopTener WonkeyDude98 hates this song to no end.He calls the Weeknd’s vocals “awful and not fitting for this dark, creepy beat”.But guess what? I love it. I personally find this a dark, moody masterpieceabout a meaningless relationship an amazing masterpiece. It’s chilling, scary,and unnerving in all the right ways.

This, however, isn’t very good. It’s not memorable in theslightest, the lyrics are confusing, and the vocals are lackluster. Even theamazing instrumentals can’t save this,

“Can’t Feel My Face”
This hopped up pop smash was listed as the best song of 2015on many “end of the year” lists. As for me…it’s good, but slightly overrated,yes, it’s a funky, finger-snapping tune, but I think the Weeknd’s vocals get alittle too high in some places. It wasn’t my pick for the best song of 2015(FourFive seconds by Paul McCartney, Rihanna, and Kanye West was), but still,it’s good.

This slicked-back, minimalistic tune is an odd duck. Thecountry-esque guitars and the single xylophone note don’t really fit thelyrics, which contain numerous “f***s” and is about…I don’t know really. It’sbetter than I expected, with a killer guitar solo, but something about thisdoesn’t sit well with me.

“Earned It”
This placed at #3 on my “best of 2015” list. It’s sexy andstylish. While the lyrics are cliché, the violins and pounding percussion morethan compensate for that. Too bad this masterpiece is tied to god awful moviethat we shouldn’t speak of.

“In The Night”
This is PERFECTION, plain and simple. It’s veryMichael-Jaskony. At the beginning, you think’s it’s going to be a Dirty Diana rip-off,but it’s actually a heartbreaking story about a young stripper. Abel’s sadvocals, the 80’s inspired synths, and the energized-yet-hauntingly beautifulchorus is amazing. Easily one of the best songs of 2016.

“As You Are”
This has even more than an 80’s feel than “In The Night” toit. The tinkling space noises, the synth violins, and the slow drums all spellnostalgia. The lyrics are meaningless, but when has that ever been a problemwith modern songs? This is pretty good.

“Dark Times” (ft. EdSheeran)
In the most soulful of the tunes on here, Ed Sheeran arrivesto deliver a surprisingly flat few verses. I’m not really buying what Ed issaying here…I’m not quite sure he was the right choice for this song. I have togive points for the blues guitars and the thumping drums, and the lyrics aredelightfully deep, but The Weeknd’s voice gets a little high in some places. Notreally sure how I feel about this one.

“Prisoner” (ft. LanaDel Ray)
Let’s face it: Lana Del Ray is the female Weeknd, vocal anddark subject matter wise. Their vocals match perfectly here, but they don’treally fit the oddly hollow beat of mostly just drums and a few piano notes.This feels like the buildup to a great song, like it’s about to burst at anymoment into some huge, powerful chorus, but it doesn’t. The weird monologue byLana at the end is an unnecessary and unnerving moment.

Well, the guitars, drums, and the thumping synths are reallygood, and The Weeknd’s vocals are impressive. But it’s a little slow. I justwish there was a little more energy here. The lyrics are brilliant, though.What a weird way to end an album.

BEST SONGS: “Losers”,“Tell Your Friends”, “The Hills”, “Earned It”, “In The Night”

FINAL GRADE: 121/140 (B+)

With an album with not even one song below a 6, the Weekndhas more than proven himself as a talented ne artist. However, given theratings on “Prisoner” and “Dark Times”, it’s clear that the Weeknd works bestalone, or at least only with rappers. Looking at you, Labyrinth. Let’s hope hisupcoming new album, “Starboy” is as great as this record is.


Loved the album. And am I the only one who likes Acquainted?

My least favorite is Prisoner, hated that with a passion - ProPanda

Yeah, I didn't really like this album. By no means was it bad, but it was super uneven and everything was either amazing or terrible (YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT).

Best Songs (in order): "In The Night", "Losers", "Dark Times", "Angel", "As You Are", "Real Life", "Shameless"
Worst Songs (in order): "The Hills", "Prisoner", "Acquainted", "Tell Your Friends" (kinda like Starboy if the lyrics were garbage-y), "Earned It"


A few things I forgot to mention about The Hills:

-The atmosphere is kinda cool, but it wears itself out super quickly and it gets just tiring. And given it was the #1 song in America for quite a while...yeah.

-Anyone else hate how the bass literally swamps out everything as soon as the chorus hits? Abel's voice, any kind of melody, the generic trap beat (that actually even without the bass LOSES power on the chorus), even the bass tones are overshadowed. It's just awful. - WonkeyDude98

The Hills is more of a 3/5 song though. - AlphaQ