Julia Vaccarella ’20
To the happiness of fans all over the world, contemporary R&B singer The Weeknd recently released a new EP titled My Dear Melancholy,. Comprised of six songs, this production comes just under two years since his last album, Starboy, and just before that, 2015’s Beauty Behind the Madness. Both projects are considered to have accelerated The Weeknd’s mainstream notoriety that we see today.
Abel Tesfaye, who is more commonly known by his stage name, The Weeknd, has been praised for My Dear Melancholy, and the set’s similarity to his earlier work. Weeknd’s initial mixtape, House of Balloons, was released in 2011 and launched his personal brand as a prototype for dark R&B. Since then, The Weeknd and his songs have become synonymous with pop music.
According to Rolling Stone, The Weeknd “can lay claim to exerting a huge influence on the menacing tone that undergirds a large swath of contemporary R&B.” Earlier this year, for example, The Weeknd was featured on Black Panther: The Album – Music from and Inspired By; the song, “Pray for Me,” along with album curator Kendrick Lamar, is one of the many well-known works involving The Weeknd. Another example is his song “The Hills,” which is a track on Beauty Behind the Madness that remained on the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 charts for six straight weeks.
The EP is more conducive to The Weeknd’s earlier work that had been released anonymously. The album is absent of features from other popular musical figures, such as Lana Del Rey and Future, who were both present on Starboy. My Dear Melancholy, does include two songs with Gesaffelstein, who has been positively received by the British magazine New Musical Express.
This particular project by The Weeknd, however, is different from Starboy and Beauty Behind the Madness in terms of content and structure. One of the most obvious differences is the fact that My Dear Melancholy, only includes six songs, whereas Starboy contained 18 songs.
The tracks are less focused on the pop sound that The Weeknd’s first established with Beauty Behind the Madness. The newer tracks revert back to lesser known songs from The Weeknd’s anonymously released works, such as “Wicked Games” and “Kiss Land.” Since the EP’s release, The Weeknd’s, “Call Out My Name” has become the most notable of the six songs. On its first day, the song received the highest stream count of the year 2018 thus far on Spotify. “Call Out My Name,” along with the other songs paired on the EP, My Dear Melancholy, has been cast as a breakup album. Many have gathered this conclusion from the fact that The Weeknd’s highly publicized relationships with model Bella Hadid and singer/actress Selena Gomez, both of which have presumed to be nonexistent at the moment.
A Vulture critic says, “The new surprise Weeknd project My Dear Melancholy, is the Toronto singer’s slight return to the guts and grit that built him.” It will be interesting to see where The Weeknd goes from here and whether he will again revert back to pop production styles or continue to turn back to his earlier sound.