What lies ahead for the Weeknd? Below are five things we’re hoping to see from his highly anticipated next project.
1. A New Travis Scott Collaboration
The two worked together earlier this year on “Power Is Power,” which was found on the Game Of Thrones-inspired soundtrack For The Throne. The song, which also features SZA, implements bits of the electro-pop sound found on the Starboy LP, yet it leans more towards the darker sides of both musicians’ catalogues. Should their collaboration be a song itself, or should The Weeknd’s vocals stand alone while the Houston native provides his production prowess? Either way, we’d be glad to see La Flame’s name somewhere in the credits.
2. A Short, Sweet Track List
Starboy clocked in at over an hour with a whopping 18 songs, while his 2015 effort Beauty Behind The Madness passed the 60-minute mark. However, all three of his earliest mixtapes (Echoes of Silence, Thursday, and House of Balloons) fell between 45 to 50 minutes, and last year's My Dear Melancholy, was a seven-song, 25-minute appetizer to whatever comes next. There’s a chance he may want to let the production simmer in the listener’s mind, but it appears that the sweet spot for many 2019 albums fell between 30 to 45 minutes in length. It could prove beneficial for The Weeknd to follow suit, but given his track record, it’s a toss-up.
3. A Mix of Highs and Lows
While artistic shifts are always appreciated, there’s no denying that, when it comes to The Weeknd’s production, the more balance, the better. His newest song “Blinding Lights” features peppy, Stranger Things-esque synths -- a departure from the drug-addled rhythms of his past, or even the hazy beats found on “Heartless.” If anything, his more uptempo songs should mirror the production of “Lost In The Fire,” his February collaboration with French DJ Gesaffelstein, which is the perfect mix of melancholy and merry. This way, he can give longtime fans the sonic sensations they crave while also changing things up just the right amount.
4. More Abel Tesfaye
Is this the album where the artist finally distinguishes the difference between Abel Tesfaye and his famous persona? This year, the mysterious star made major changes to his aesthetic, after nixing his famous dreadlocks for a more polished look. His latest singles showcased two sounds and came with cover art on opposite ends of the spectrum: “Blinding Lights” finds the musician calm, cool and collected, while “Heartless” displays him spinning out of control, specifically in the track’s Sin City-centered visual. As he’s said in the past, the way he portrays himself in his music is “almost schizophrenic,” and his catalog serves to document moments in time. Although there’s no telling what we’re about to get with this project, here’s hoping that it will provide more insight into the man behind the madness.
5. Thematic Growth
Money, fame and women have become hallmarks of The Weeknd’s discography. However, there are a few moments throughout the hedonistic “Heartless” that find him displaying interest in leaving his drug and sex-fueled past behind ("Tryna be a better man, but I'm heartless”). Near the end of the video for the song, he runs from his demons down the overwhelming Vegas strip, which could hold a deeper meaning. It’s easy to dip back into his bag of tricks and give his diehard supporters the unbothered tunes they crave, but opting for reflection on the person he was, in order to muse about the person he is, would serve him well as an artist in the long run.