House Of Balloons
Abel Tesfaye’s youth is marked by the absence of his father and by humble conditions
on the outskirts of Toronto. One weekend in 2007, that weekend at the origin of his stage name, Abel decides to run away from home and leave school. He and his entourage, XO, settle in an abandoned building, which for festive occasions they adorn with balloons inflatables. Thus was born the first mixtape of The Weeknd: House Of Balloons.
High For This
It is 2011 and the balloon house is not part of the real world, from which the young Abel tries to escape with the help of excessive parties, drug abuse bordering on overdose, and sexual relationships driven by emotions. ambiguous. The whole thing is just an illusion of salvation from the dark place where he is. There is therefore a melancholy atmosphere, sometimes claustrophobic. High For This marks the beginning of this journey.
The Weeknd is soon discovered by the already famous rapper Drake, also of
Toronto. Abel contributes to his album Take Care, “giving him” some songs he had
originally written for House Of Balloons. The two also collaborate on Thursday, the
second Abel mixtape. Their piece The Zone is about a night with a pole dancer, with whom The Weeknd tries to alleviate his loneliness, despite being heavily under the effect of drugs and devoid of feelings for his partner.
Echoes Of Silence
Shortly thereafter, The Weeknd releases their third mixtape, Echoes Of Silence, which alongside House Of Ballons and Thursday completes Trilogy (2011), the compilation of the three projects.
Despite the first big hits, Abel’s emotions seem to have definitively hit rock bottom. The final passage is about a toxic relationship, which Abel is unable to end.
Belong To The World
After the three mixtapes The Weeknd, on his first full album, Kiss Land (2013),
remains in the mood of Trilogy, but proposing it again in an all-Japanese scenography and aesthetics. Belong To The World highlights that while having created this new world visually, emotionally, it hasn’t changed that much for Abel.
Tell Your Friends
In her next album, Beauty Behind The Madness (2015), there is an air of
change. Okay, the super-hit Can’t Feel My Face is still a love letter to the cocaine-induced feeling of “not feeling your face.” But the general vibe is far less overwhelming than all the music Abel had done before. Tell Your Friends seems to be the confirmation of this new euphoria, and of the new pop star character with iconic haircut.
In the video for the single Starboy (2016) from his self-titled album, we meet a “new” The Weeknd, who, having cut that hair, suffocates his previous character. His music has also evolved: with the contribution of the French duo Daft Punk comes an electro-pop sound. Abel reflects on his origins, and what his life has brought him to be – that is, one “Starboy”.
Call Out My Name
During the period of her rise to world fame, there are two women in Abel’s love life: supermodel Bella Hadid and singer Selena Gomez. There are rumors that her mini-album My Dear Melancholy (2018) is dedicated to the painful end of the two relationships. Especially with Call Out My Name the superstar The Weeknd returns to the dark world of his first records.
Then The Weeknd returns with the album After Hours (2020), in which we find the two super-hits Blinding Lights and Save Your Tears. Abel has always been a master at building cinematic worlds in which to express his music. After Hours is the peak of this aesthetic vision of him. Dressed in a red seventies blazer inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Casino movie, The Weeknd takes us with him on a night in Las Vegas, which he has start in Heartless.
The After Hours narrative ends with the character’s death. The next album Dawn FM (2022) is conceived as a radio station, whose slogans act as a transition between songs, accompanying Abel on his journey into a kind of purgatory: a techno rave, frequented by a mystical sect – all mixed up with a very strong Eighties inspiration. We meet a new character The Weeknd – elderly, with white hair and wrinkles. So … Will Abel end up in hell or in heaven? We will find out in the next album, which, after After Hours and Dawn FM, seems to become the third piece of a second trilogy. Meanwhile, in Sacrifice, Abel regrets having sacrificed love in return of the thrill of the nightlife.
In conclusion, although he has reinvented himself for each of his projects, The Weeknd he has always remained faithful to himself and to his artistic origins. His angelic voice, apparently innocent, almost manages to “hide” his true super explicit lyrical being, making him the mega-pop star he is today. The dark side of him, however, makes him an artist of immense depth. It is all these contrasts that make Abel Tesfaye … The Weeknd.