Arts & Culture

‘Starboy’ struggles with The Weeknd’s relationships, fame

Abel Tesfaye’s newest album brings Motown instrumentals, self-pitying lyrics in cry for sympathy

By
Arts and Culture Editor
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Every artist draws inspiration from similar recurring themes that persist throughout the trajectory of their music careers: the struggles of fame, failed relationships and the difficult balance between celebrity and normality.

While some artists pinpoint a particular theme, all three are often so deeply interwoven that one track can contain a mixture of multiple themes. Abel Tesfaye — more commonly known as The Weeknd — released his latest album, “Starboy,” Friday and discusses all three of the main themes often covered by musicians.

The eponymous first track, “Starboy,” featuring Daft Punk, combines Tesfaye’s struggle to deal with his fame with how it plays into his personal relationships. While the instrumentals are catchy with varying beats and a mixture of slow and upbeat tones, the lyrics are almost a cry for help. He wants the listener to have sympathy for him as he deals with the pitfalls of his fame. He defines himself as a “starboy,” yet sings of his loneliness and unhappiness his success.

The album continues in this nature, as Tesfaye sings of the challenge of stardom and celebrity. He grapples with returning to normality but ultimately does not wish to go back to his former life before music, touring and fame. He teeters on the verge of greatness but is held back by loneliness and the need for a relationship. “Party Monster,” “False Alarm,” “Rockin’” and “A Lonely Night” all continue this desperate plea.

But in its own way, the album is irresistible. With catchy, Motown instrumentals, it’s impossible to turn away from the music, as the listener subconsciously dances to the beat and sways to the rhythm. It’s only when truly listening to the lyrics of the tracks that the album becomes irksome.

The songs begin to blend together, essentially covering the same themes and bursting with a tragic cry for sympathy. It does not help that the album, which includes 18 tracks, is a major investment of a listener’s time.

The album culminates with arguably the best track “I Feel It Coming,” featuring Daft Punk. In this last song, Tesfaye sings of finding a girl who is scared of love, yet he practically forces love upon her. The lyrics are filled with overeager sexual undertones and leave the listener more irritated than at the start of the album.

From “Starboy” to “I Feel It Coming,” Tesfaye comes full circle by the end of the album, still in a love-hate relationship with his celebrity status and still failing at finding a romantic relationship.

Tesfaye learned nothing from writing his most recent album, but perhaps his next one will reveal greater depths of his character and bring him some insight and introspection into what he ultimately wants.