By Hayden Wright
With hits like “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills,” the Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness was one of the biggest albums of 2015. The Canadian singer-songwriter-producer brought his alternative take on R&B to the mainstream, popularizing a brooding, anxious, cinematic style that remained distinctly sexy and dangerous. Fans are now eagerly awaiting his third studio album Starboy (due out this Friday, November 25); the Weeknd says its production feels “aggressive but still sexy.”
“The Smiths, Bad Brains, Talking Heads, Prince, and DeBarge play roles,” the singer told VMAN Magazine. “We wrote it all in Los Angeles. I think it’ll be the best-sounding album I’ve ever done. It’s hard to label the sound because, when I first came out, nobody would label it R&B. I just want to keep pushing the envelope without it feeling forced.”
Starboy has a lengthy track list, spanning 18 songs and almost 70 minutes. That gives the Weeknd, born Abél Makonnen Tesfaye, plenty of space to repeat and transcend the success of Beauty Behind the Magic.
He’s not doing it alone: guests on the album include Lana Del Rey, Kendrick Lamar and Future. As we already know, Daft Punk is also featured: they collaborate with the Weeknd on Starboy‘s title track, which debuted in September.
Collaboration has been key to the Weeknd throughout his career—in his early 20s, Tesfaye burst onto the digital scene with well-regarded remixes of artists like Florence and the Machine. Since then, he’s continued to remix songs for stars like Beyonce. That partnership came to fruition this year with his appearance on “Six Inch” from Lemonade. With an unrivaled musical ear and an alternative sensibility, the Weeknd has transformed popular R&B by driving it into dark, creepy, confessional corners.
Starboy is (fittingly) available on Black Friday, November 25. Until then, enjoy the video for his Daft Punk collaboration: