Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, has remained pretty quiet since releasing his 2018 EP “My Dear Melancholy.” Since the Weeknd’s first Billboard No. 1 hit, “Can’t Feel My Face” in 2015, he has remained one of the biggest alternative R&B/Soul artists since.
The Weeknd combines his Michael Jackson-esque falsetto with slow tempos, rolling bass, and echoing vocals to his own distinct musical style. Almost all of his songs feature emotional, self-loathing, and metaphoric lyrics dealing with his personal life but are most often overseen by irresistible melodies and catchy beats. The Weeknd released two new songs within a week, “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights,’’ while also announcing his fourth studio album “Chapter VI” to be released sometime in 2020. Both album covers of his new songs feature The Weeknd debuting an 80s inspired look.
“Heartless” was released on Nov. 27, 2019, and features blown-out trap beats, reminding me a lot of his 2017 No. 1 hit “Starboy.” The song opens with a fade up to heavy bass beats and thumping kicks leading into very straightforward lyrics. The Weeknd’s signature falsetto voice is featured on top of self-loathing lyrics. “Never be a wedding but I’m heartless. Low life for life ’cause I’m heartless,” The Weeknd repeatedly sings in the melody. These lyrics reminded me a lot of The Weeknd’s early songs such as “The Hills” and “Low Life” because the lyrics paint a picture of partying, drugs, and a rock and roll lifestyle. From a lyrical standpoint, “Heartless” is not a song that everyone is going to be excited to listen to, but those who are fans of his darker and sadder songs will be pleased.
“Blinding Lights” was released on Nov. 29, 2019, and features 80s synth music at the forefront. The song fades into instrumentals that sound very much like an 80s pop hit. The Weeknd definitely took a lot of inspiration from synth dance music while producing this song. Heavy bass complements these transforming synth instrumentals, creating extremely upbeat melodies and dance-worthy rhythms. There are very minimal harmonies in this song, turning the listeners’ focus to the lead vocals and techno dance beats. Both the instrumental and focus on the lead vocals reminded me a lot of The Weeknd No. 1 hit song “Starboy” more than anything else. “Blinding Lights” sounds very promising in being another hit song for The Weeknd to add to his belt.
Personally, I would prefer to listen to “Heartless” because it features more trap heavy instrumentals than “Blinding Lights” does.
My recommendation for old-school The Weeknd fans would be to listen to “Heartless” because he successfully brings back his original dark and self-loathing lyrics. For those who are fans of his more upbeat songs such as “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Starboy,” listen to “Blinding Lights.”
The Weeknd did not explore any new musical styles with these two new songs, but rather released two songs that each separately displayed his older and newer styles. I picture his new album featuring a mix of these two styles that will please both his older and newer fans. With the release of “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights,” The Weeknd leaves fans eager for the release of his fourth studio album being released in 2020.