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Music Review: The Weeknd Trilogy


Rarely do I buy new music these days, with it being even more of a rarity that I buy music from male artists. Reason being that I just can not stomach the lies and hypocrisy commercially viable male solo artists spin with their predictable music and unoriginal public image clashing fiercely with the reality of their private lives.

With music today being so limited in the topics sung about and (in making myself sound old - which I'm not) the lack of experience, soul and true artistry in today's predominately young artists, I was surprised and delight to find out about Canadian singer The Weeknd. I'm told that this artist has actually been around for a while, though it is only now that The Weeknd's music is reaching commercial heights with the song Wicked Games played regularly on the radio. While I have liked the song since hearing it, it wasn't until I had seen its music video that I really became interested in what this young male solo artist has to offer.

Wicked Games is taken from the album The Trilogy, which is actually an amalgamation of 3 of The Weeknd's previously released mixed tapes. What I find special about the album is its sombre and often moody tone, there is also an undeniable feeling of honesty which runs through the albums lyrics (which are written by The Weeknd, who's real name is Abel Tesfaye) and backed up by The Weeknd's soulful vocals.
The Trilogy album offers its listeners a glimpse into the life, mind and pains of this young 22 year old artist, who unlike his peers, can eloquently enunciates a honest and objective telling of the male experience.

What sticks with me when I listen to the Trilogy album is the dissatisfaction and emotional angst which is expressed towards our patriarchy driven society in which gender roles are enforced. Re-occurring themes such as causal sex, strippers/prostitutes and drugs appear in the lyrics of album tracks such as The Zone, Gone, High For This, The Birds Pt.1 and Rolling Stone; though very tellingly they are not celebrated as achievements of masculinity but instead exposes The Weeknd's emotional instability, failure to form healthy relationships and lack of or inability to achieve intimacy. The track Wicked Games is a prime example of The Weeknd's disgruntled feeling towards patriarchy, whether this was intended or merely coincidental is intriguing, especially since the words 'wicked games' are never actually mentioned in the song.

The song expresses the tale of a man who is in what we can assume was a committed relationship but has fallen out of love with his girlfriend. Though instead of dealing with these feelings and addressing this with his girlfriend, he finds it more appropriate to seek solace in the arms (or more crudely the vagina) of another woman. While you might be thinking what exactly is revolutionary about his choice of infidelity; it is in the pain and sadness the song expresses in having to deal with the situation the way men are meant to, which is essentially to suppress ones feelings or emotions and seek sexual gratification elsewhere. This is emphasised best in the songs chorus:

"Bring your love baby I can bring my shame
Bring the drugs baby I can bring my pain
I got my heart right here,  I got my scars right here
Bring the cups baby I can bring the drink
Bring your body baby I can bring you fame
And that's my motherfucking words too
Just let me motherfucking love you"

What I also find quite telling about the chorus' lyrics is in the choice of the word 'love' instead of what is actually meant, sex. While it may very well be that true intimacy is what he seeks by using the word 'love', his use of fame as an incentive in this transaction shows that what he is actually receiving is just sex. In this he knows that this instant form of gratification will be short lived and empty, with the closing lines of the song stating:

"Listen ma I'll give you all I got
Get me all of this, I need confidence in myself ...
 
So tell me you love me
Only for tonight, Only for tonight
Even though you don't love me
Just tell me you love me
I'll give you all of me, I'll give you all of me
Even though you don't love me"

This lack of intimacy and disconnection to ones emotions is not uncommon to the male experience though instead of it being praised as a valued male attribute, like what many male singers do, The Weeknd exposes the true pain and saddest which surrounds the experience.

With a song filled with much meaning and emotion, the accompanying music video doesn't disappoint. While some product placement and (mild) female nudity does appear in the video, it is simple, still tasteful and in keeping with the mood of the song. This was something I was surprised to see in 2012 where music videos and their songs often have very little in common.


In The Weeknd I see a very talented music artist and songwriter, who in my mind raise comparisons to Tracy Chapman (though it could just be the hair). The Trilogy is a fantastic album to listen to and analyse from a feminist perspective since The Weeknd, has a tenderness that is very much lacking in our popular culture which endorses male bravado. His has a rare ability to write honestly and objectively about his experiences, which is why I will look forward to hearing more music from this artist.

Comments

  1. This song is about meth.

    Take you down another level,
    Have you dancing with the devil,

    Take a shot of this,
    I'm on that shit you can't smell,
    So put down the perfume.

    He wants to feel good, even though the white bitch doesn't love him back. He needs all of this.


    Metaphors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Death of the Author - Roland Barthes - "The meaning of a work depends on the impressions of the reader, rather than the "passions" or "tastes" of the writer" (Wikipedia.com)

      I know what the songs about :0)

      Delete
  2. This was a very well written article, and I agree with everything you've said about his song "Wicked Games", and The Weeknd's style and emotional content put into his music.

    ReplyDelete

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