Ruminations on TV Shows, Comics, And Music
If you only heard The Weeknd on the radio, then the song you heard was from this album.
I remember being in a store somewhere when "Feel My Face" came on, and thinking "Are they playing The Weeknd? Are they playing a song by The Weeknd about doing blow until your face goes numb? They ARE." That song was also nominated for a Nickeloden Kids Choice Award because we live in a strange world.
This is also the first time in a reimagined discography that I haven't done anything except change the order of the tracks. I didn't cut anything. I didn't add anything. It's the laziest work I've done, but it's mainly because I think this is a solid album.
I enjoy an album that builds up from nothing before the music and / or the lyrics kick in, which is why I moved Shameless to the beginning of the album. I also imagined it was a single for some reason. While it still has the I Am Awesome And You're A Fool For Not Letting Me Fuck You All The Time, You Suck atmosphere of the previous two albums, but it's more radio friendly, which is in, in some ways, worse. While the refrain is about how he has no shame, he is mainly dragging her for not loving him unconditionally, and, dude, The Weeknd had a lot of work to do before he was capable of non-toxic love. Musically, there's an uncharacteristically great guitar riff out of nowhere near the end of the song.
Real Life is the opening track on the original album, and it serves as a better thesis for the album, as it acknowledges that he is the problem in most of his relationships, which, NO SHIT. Every woman that loved me / oh yea / I seemed to push them away. If the first two albums are to be believed, yuppers.
We echo into Tell Your Friends, which is the bragaddocio My Life As A Rock Star Track, which features, appropriately, Kanye MAGA West. Except it's not in my version. I don't remember if I edited it out, or if this is a glorious accident, but I was waiting for the Kanye bridge, and it ain't there. It's instrumental. Sweet.
The Hills was The Weeknd's first #1 hit, and it's easy to see why it was #1. From the crunchy beginning to the bouncing back and forth between his spoken tenor and falsetto singing. I'm not too amped about having a song with the term "friendzoned" on the album, but people do feel that way. The first time I heard it, I assumed he was coming out as bisexual, Frank Ocean Style. But it's just that he's cheating on people with people who are cheating on people and he's worried that people will find out. Ugh. It's a really catchy and haunting somng about how terrible The Weeknd is.
Speaking of terrible, Earned It (which is not terrible, or I could have cut it) is frome the movie Fifty Shades Of Grey, which is terrible. Oh, but it's about an abusive relationship poorly disguised as BDSM, so putting The Weeknd on that soundtrack makes perfect sense.
In The Night continues the abused love theme, but in this one The Weeknd is telling a third person story. Despite its upbeat tempo and vocals, it reminds me of living at The actual Crooked Treehouse. The downstairs neighbor had a partner with major sexual trauma, who used to scream on a regular basis. I knew there was mental illness involved, but it was several years before I encountered the person who did the screaming while they were doing the screaming. They immediately modulated their volume and profanity usage, and explained why they were always screaming and how it wasn't my neighbor's fault. I don't think you'd understand is something they actually said to me.
I love the hand clapping and spoken vocal quality of the beginning of Losers before the actual beat and effects kick in. As someone with a lifelong distrust of the American Education System, and a fan of lines like Because stupid's next to 'I Love You', this is my favorite set of lyrics on the album. And Labrinth's verse and version of the chorus is fantastic. This is tied for my favorite all-together track with "Can't Feel My Face".
"Losers" drizzles right into Prisoner, which has a perfect Lana Del Ray feature, and a perfect sing-along chorus for people sitting at home, worried about what they're doing with their lives.
Angel is the final track on the original track listing, but it's not heavy enough of a closer for my liking. It's a perfectly good song about hoping his lover can move on, and it's much less toxic than his early stuff. I like it as part of his evolution as a songwriter, but I don't feel like it's an honest ending to this album. I do love Maty Noise on echo background vocals, though.
Acquaintance brings back The Weeknd we know and are critical of. We're back to a woman done him wrong, and him deflecting any blame with his penis.
The piano outro of "Acquaintance" bleeds into the synth waves of Can't Feel My Face, the best #1 dance hit about doing coke I've ever heard (there's way more than you're currently thinking of). The beat is, and I know this is a cliche, but, infectious. And the rising vocals into the shoulder shaking chorus is amazing every time. Of course kids love this song.
I'm not an Ed Sheeran fan. I'm not NOT an Ed Sheeran fan, I just haven't been exposed to him that much. His pop vocals with country guitar pluck combined with The Weeknd's background effects on Dark Times is a perfect haunting album track, and makes me consider checking out his discography, past the hits that have managed to break into my world. The background effects are fairly Zooropa-ish in quality, which I quite enjoy.
As You Are is this albums's Saving A Stripper With Your Dick song. There's no actual stripper, just a "broken" woman, who he's going to fix by taking her as she is. Uh-huh. But will she also accept him as he is? So they can sex all night. Oooof.
Often is a dark closer. Not just because it's a Weeknd slow jam, which is not a love ballad, but a fucking on drugs song, but because it doesn't give him the redemption that he'd have if the album ended on "Angel". He's back in his pattern here. I think, based on the next album, that that's a more honest truth.