By MAYA PAGE
Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, dropped his new album, “My Dear Melancholy,” on March 30 with no warning or promotion that a project was even in the making. Fans were shocked yet grateful for the return.
This is Tesfaye’s third consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, and is currently debuting at the top.
“’My Dear Melancholy,’ notches the highest sales week for an R&B album in nearly a year,” Billboard said in their album report.
In its first week, the album sold 169,000 copies.
“My Dear Melancholy,” takes listeners back to the days before The Weeknd became an A-lister and radio sensation. Tesfaye’s original dark and mysterious aesthetic that day-one fans fell in love with has once again resurfaced. The new album brings an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for his earlier work, specifically the 2011 mixtape “House of Balloons.”
The Weeknd’s career lifted off in 2015 after his record release of “Beauty Behind the Madness.” His hit single, “Can’t Feel My Face,” dominated pop radio. However, if you weren’t a long-time Weeknd fan, the context of the song may have been misinterpreted.
When he sings, “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, and I love it,” he’s not talking about love, but cocaine. The subliminal message allowed him to get away with still being “bad” while also getting plays on mainstream radio.
In 2016, the release of “Starboy” officially made The Weeknd a household name and nonstop chart topper. “Starboy” brought out a different side of Tesfaye than most were expecting, including himself. On his single “Reminder,” he talked about his struggle with fame and his confusion at the fact that he is winning Kid’s Choice Awards for songs about doing cocaine.
His style has always been edgy with lyrics about drugs and sex, but as his fame became more widespread, the demand for a more “censored” version was high. The presence of the earlier Abel still lingered, but his self-destructive lyrics and R&B beats transitioned to a more uplifting and pop sound.
Another change that has come along with his fame is his high-profile relationships. The Weeknd started dating supermodel Bella Hadid in 2015. The two had a very open and public relationship on social media, posting photos of vacations and at events like the Grammy’s and the Met Gala.
It came as a shock when the couple split at the end of 2016, and even more of a shock when a few months later The Weeknd began dating singer and actress Selena Gomez. Gomez and The Weeknd eventually split in October, a month after she revealed she had undergone a kidney transplant to treat her lupus.
The six-song album, “My Dear Melancholy,” appears to be 21 minutes of The Weeknd rehashing these relationships and drowning in his sorrow. In the first song on the album, “Call Out My Name,” he sings, “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life/ Guess I was just another pit stop ‘til you made up your mind.” It is safe to assume that he is referring to Gomez’s immediate jump back to long-time boyfriend Justin Bieber, after he almost gave her his kidney to save her life.
The third song on the album, “Wasted Times,” is directed at his regret and longing for his supermodel ex. “Wasted times I spent with someone else/She wasn’t even half of you.”
Many have criticized that the album is purely celeb- gawk material. The Weeknd’s openness and transparency about what, and who, he is singing about gives gossip columns something to write about. However, the record’s
title “My Dear Melancholy,” could also be interpreted as something much deeper. It also symbolizes an open letter to his old self that he has left behind for the past few years. The Weeknd is expressing his missing and love for his past moody music and style.
It seems as though no matter what The Weeknd does, people will be listening. Whether he returns to his new pop style or stays in the darkness with his past, he will continue to rise to the top of the charts.