By Simran P. Gupta
After many hints and much anticipation, The Weeknd (whose real name is Abel Tesfaye) dropped his lead single on Thursday, Sept. 22.
“Starboy,” the title track of his new album and collaboration with French electronic duo Daft Punk, has already topped charts and dominated radio stations. Referred to by the artist himself as a “new era,” the single gives fans and new listeners alike a taste of the new man behind The Weeknd.
Simply put, “Starboy” is a combination of both Tesfaye’s and Daft Punk’s genius. The artists co-wrote the song with Doc Mckinney and Henry Walter; the lyrics paired with the irresistible beats puts it under the “alternative R&B” category.
Daft Punk has not failed to deliver in their composition of the accompanying beats and music. A dark undertone, smooth and clean beat, and a completely danceable vibe make “Starboy” a tour de force.
It is impossible to hear this song and not want to play it on repeat, or to hear it and not want to move in some way. The beat also perfectly compliments Tesfaye’s lyrics and vocal talent.
The lyrics, of course, are half of what gives the song its moody feel. Tesfaye has always had not only an amazing vocal range but also a range of topics.
The lyrics of “Starboy” discuss the extravagances associated with being famous, as well as the feeling of isolation and fragility such a lifestyle can lead to. He is dark, moody, and alluring all at once.
The verses alternate between talking himself up and revealing his loneliness. “Made your whole week in a year, too… No competition I don’t really listen,” he croons, before launching into the refrain, which itself switches sides too quickly to catch at first. “House so empty need a centerpiece,” he croons, before seamlessly switching into a description of partying and imperviousness to “shade.”
In his lyrics, he’s hit it big, landing not only himself on top of the world, but his “momma” as well, presumably a symbol of how big he’s made it.
The song, lyrically and musically, is multilayered, produced by possibly the most dynamic duo yet. This is truly a “new era,” to quote The Weeknd himself. He’s smoother, darker, yet still as complex and twisty as ever.
Long time fans need not be disappointed––his roots in his early style, which can be seen in his first release “The Trilogy” are firm as ever. This is truly an evolution, and not a sell out into pop. Much like the past, his voice still sounds the same, and there is still a dark undertone without sounding over-angsty to beats and lyrics.
Tesfaye’s messages still resonate, though the listener would benefit from listening a few times to work out the lyrics.
Public reception of the single shows that The Weeknd is truly growing into himself. He is curating a new image, a new sound, but one that is simply updated––not a departure from his roots. Case in point: his social media handles have changed from “abelxo” to “theweeknd.”
“Starboy” is ranked third on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as first under Billboard’s “Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs,” and more.
“Starboy,” the album, will be released November 25th on iTunes.