If the Weeknd was missing something to be a true pop star, here it is: releasing an album by surprise, without resorting to those tedious months of dripping songs that most contemporary musicians style. And it has done so in an atypical time, the first week of January, when we still have the cloying taste of polvorón on our palate. 31-year-old Canadian musician (real name Abel Tesfaye) announced last monday that the publication of his fifth album, the continuation of the successful After hours (2020), it would be January 7. And here it is Dawn FM.
It all starts with a DJ unexpected, the histrionic actor (also Canadian) Jim Carrey, who announces in the introduction of the album: “You are listening to 103.5 Dawn FM. You’ve been in the dark too long. It is time to walk into the light and accept your destiny with open arms. Are you afraid? Do not worry. We are here to hold your hand and guide you through this painless journey. Don’t be in a hurry. Just relax and enjoy an hour of music. ” This presentation summarizes the concept of the album: a kind of purgatory where it keeps us alive, proposed as an escape zone. In a pre-release encounter, the singer compared it to “someone stuck in a big traffic jam.” Little original, but perhaps illustrative.
This storyline is specified in a 51-minute radio transmission, without interruptions, with jingles and some jokes. Nor is it a rabidly novel idea (The Who did it in 1967 with Sell Out), but the formula works for the Canadian and does not distort the listening of the album. It is also a commitment to the concept of a long-playing album as opposed to a time where only songs are demanded and, if possible, brief ones. Other stars like Adele have also positioned themselves in that line. The British managed to cancel the option of Spotify of random listening with the aim that her latest album, 30, be enjoyed in the order in which she conceived it. In addition, it produced 500,000 copies in vinyl format.
Dawn FM It is a work with phases of a lot of dance, some driven by the eighties keyboards that will already explode in its great success of 2020, Blinding Lights. Songs like Gasoline or Less than zero They sound like Human League, Depeche Mode or Ultravox. It also includes the disc half times and ballads, such as Out of time or Here We Go … Again. In both the influence of Michael Jackson is clearly appreciated. Musically, it is a more luminous work than previous ones, where the singer went through dark sounds. Some lyrics of Dawn FM, however, they affect their emotional traumas. It is no coincidence that the historic Quincy Jones (producer of Thriller, of Michael Jackson, so you know where the shots are going) participate with a real account of how the veteran musician and producer was affected in his relationships growing up without parents. The song title is A Tale By Quincy (A Quincy story) and it arises in the middle of the album, to introduce the thematic pieces about emotional confusion. Everything follows a tale in an album where he has surrounded himself with two infallible producers, Oneohtrix Point Never and the Swedish dance magician Max Martin. Aside from recited appearances by Jim Carrey and Quincy Jones, rappers Tyler The Creator and Lil Wayne also make cameos.
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To understand The Weeknd’s music, it should be emphasized that we are dealing with an artist with a powerful story to sell. The only child of an Ethiopian couple who fled the terror of the military junta that took over the African country in the late 1970s, he was born in a suburb of Toronto (Canada). His father abandoned them when he was two years old and spent his childhood glued to television while his mother completed a day with two jobs. At 17 he dropped out of school and went to live with a friend. They both liked ecstasy very much. They stole to buy it and got caught. They spent a few nights in jail… “All I wanted was to make music, I wanted to be able to move millions of people with my songs and, nevertheless, there I was, at the door of the store thinking about how to steal some money to be able to buy ecstasy and oxycodone to get me through the day. What else could I do “, he revealed to The Guardian.
The Weeknd Sound
He did something else: he took advantage of these stormy experiences to build The Weeknd sound: hedonism, darkness, strangled rhythms. Since its inception, 10 years ago, the Canadian has managed to unite the prevailing styles (trap, electronic, R&B) with its classical influences. Lenny Kravitz’s pastiche with rock at the end of the eighties is being done by him with dance music. All with a careful aesthetic, inspired by his great love of cinema: Martin Scorsese, the thrillers Americans and Korean horror and violence movies. In his videos he condenses all that.
Dawn FM closes as it started, with a Jim Carrey monologue in the piece Phantom Regret by Jim. The actor reveals the purpose of this science fiction tale produced by The Weeknd: “God knows that life is chaos. But he did one fundamental thing. First you have to relax your mind and arrange your soul to align itself. And dance until you find that divine movement. In other words: you have to be the sky to be able to see the sky. May peace be with you ”. And if you don’t see it, there is a consolation: the music that plays in The Weeknd’s purgatory makes the wait very bearable.
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