The Weeknd hasn’t had an album out since 2013, but that’s not stopping him from having a massive year.
Born Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd's late-night main stage slot at Coachella last month was smoldering, providing not just the festival’s best surprise in the form of a mini-Kanye West set, but also redemption for the enigmatic alt-R&B singer whose uneven Indio debut in 2012 didn’t match the hype surrounding the mysterious mixtapes that made him an online sensation.
And then there’s “Earned It,” his slinky and titillating BDSM anthem lifted from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack. The smoky bedroom number became a breakout hit for the singer, dominating radio (it hit No. 1 on the Top 40 chart) and exposing him even more widely to pop audiences. Months before “Earned It” broke, his fiery duet with Ariana Grande, “Love Me Harder,” notched him his first top 10 single.
Although the Canadian-born singer hasn’t revealed much, if anything, about the follow-up to his debut (2013’s “Kiss Land”), his sophomore album appears to be imminent.
This week a number of leaked tracks, presumed to be from the forthcoming album, hit the Internet. “In The ‘90s” warns against falling for twentysomethings while “In The Night” feels like a throwback to '80s-era Michael Jackson.
Then there’s the surprising Max Martin collaboration, “I Can’t Feel My Face,” which is primed for pop radio with its tight harmonies, catchy chorus and funky organ backdrop that will score late-night dance parties for months to come.
The Martin collaboration is an easy contender for any early song of summer playlist, and an instant smash thanks to its dancey feel. But fans of the brooding singer shouldn’t worry that his pop exploration has made him lose any of his dark haze.
“And I know she’ll be the death of me / At least we’ll both be numb,” he repeats on the track.
While those songs are swarming around the blogosphere, an official release has dropped.
Early Wednesday the singer released a video for "The Hills," perhaps in a bid to take back some control of his promotional rollout after the unauthorized leaks.
The track, which he originally debuted at South by Southwest earlier this year, is a signature Weeknd yarn: Drug-soaked sex, a disregard for emotion, explicit language and zero regret built over a dripping beat.
It's not a fiery stomper like his Martin collaboration, but it'll do for now.
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