500 Word Review: The Weeknd “Starboy”

starboy

Let’s get something out of the way: I hate The Weeknd. His whiney ass voice doesn’t work with his cool guy lyrics and it makes him sound like a twat. When I listen to his music I can’t help but imagine a 12-year-old prepubescent boy bragging about his vagina loosening abilities. His act isn’t very convincing whether it is genuine or not, and has reached a new level of annoying on “Starboy”. Fame has undoubtedly gotten to his head. The way he pronounces some words, and his offensive vibrato consistently distract from his music, but maybe it’s just because he’s Canadian. He isn’t all that original either. The Weeknd’s musical influences are easily apparent. A handful of his songs unapologetically resemble the style of his idol, Michael Jackson. Even his name is unoriginal. There was already another Canadian musical artist by the name of The Weekend in 1998. The Weeknd only adapted his stage name when copyright infringement became a worry. However, as much as I dislike this artist, it is difficult to deny that “Starboy” is a decent album.

“Starboy” doesn’t shine all the way through. There aren’t any truly bad songs, but it is certainly too long. The Weekend secured several big name features to keep things interesting, yet there are still plenty of dull moments on the album. The only feature that falls flat on its face is the one I had the highest expectations for, that of Kendrick Lamar in “Sidewalks”. His what should’ve been a solid verse is immediately derailed by the choppy line “Say, say, say” repeated five times. The end of the verse’s flow is thankfully unmolested. It looks like The Weeknd called in some favors for the production job too. “Starboy’s” production boasts a long list of contributors including Daft Punk, and it has a gorgeous crystalline sound to show for it. There are plenty of dank beats and contagious rhythms on “Starboy”. “Rockin’” pulses with energy and “A Lonely Night” has a dapper swing reminiscent of something you would find on a Michael Jackson album.

The Weeknd may admit to his affinity for the king of pop, but he has another strong likeness to a successful artist. “Six Feet Under”, “Party Monster”, and “Reminder” could be covers of Drake songs. Being compared to two influential artists would normally be a complement, but The Weeknd doesn’t seem to have a method of his own. While it leans heavily on the work of others, this album is not redundant. It does not hold up the expected clichés we have come to expect from pop music, and yes this is a pop album not R&B. Instead it breathes new and formidable life into a copy and paste genre. While he didn’t quite knock it out of the park, “Starboy” is a reminder that the Weeknd is a force in the pop genre and will be for a long time.

 

Score: 7.5/10

 

Album Review by Zachary Norton, March 2017

“Starboy’:

Advertisements

500 Word Review: Travis Scott “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”

birds-in-the-trap

Earlier this year, innovative trap artist, Travis Scott, released his sophomore full length album, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”.  Following his 2015 debut studio album, “Rodeo”, which is probably one of my favorite rap albums of all time and without a doubt a masterpiece, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” faced both high anticipation and standards before its release a few months ago.  Personally, I found the release to be significantly different from “Rodeo”, but also very good in its own way.  There were only a few moments that I was not too fond of, but whenever I came across a brief section that was sub par, it was quickly followed by amazing sections that continue to solidify Travis Scott’s greatness.  Before hearing “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, my favorite Travis Scott tracks were “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, so going into the sophomore record I was hoping to hear tracks similar to the sound and song structure heard on these songs.

As I hoped, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” featured a lot of tracks that sounded like “Antidote” and “I Can Tell”, and even at some points, sounded like “90210”.  The hazy, mesmerizing trap sound that Travis is known for, and the sound that is also heard on the “Rodeo” songs previously mentioned, are also heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and in the process it helps create some phenomenal tracks.  The only problem is that every song features this sound and there is hardly any diversity in this aspect of this project.  Don’t get me wrong though, I really enjoyed “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”, and this specific style of Travis Scott’s songwriting, but it’s the only prominent aspect of Travis Scott’s unique song structure that is exemplified on this new album.  This is a little disappointing because the diversity of “Rodeo” made it the masterpiece that it is today.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still ridiculously impressive, but the lack of diversity makes it slightly worse than “Rodeo”.  However, the expansion of this hazy sound heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is still very interesting because its essentially Travis exploring and experimenting with this hazy, eerie, reverb and auto-tune filled sound that makes “Birds” one of the best trap releases you’ll ever hear!  In fact, “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” features my favorite song Travis has ever written.  “Coordinate”, the third track on the sophomore full length album, has easily become my favorite Travis Scott track, surpassing the stellar track, “Antidote”.  “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” is definitely not a bad album, and this further development of hazy and ominous trap music is something I have really enjoyed, but a little more diversity in sound could have made this project become yet another ground breaking album by Travis Scott.

It’s impossible to deny that Travis was able to have an extremely impressive list of artists record guest vocals for this project, Whether or not you like the differences between “Birds” and “Rodeo”.  Fantastic features from artists like Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Kendrick Lamar, Bryson Tiller, Young Thug, and the Weeknd heard on “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” make songs like “The Ends”, “Through the Late Night”, and “Goosebumps” staples for Travis’s discography.  As if this list of genre leading artists wasn’t enough, “Birds” also features legendary producer Mike Dean, who helped record the record alongside Travis.  These notable features are great additions to Travis’s sound, and I hope that an immense amount of iconic features becomes a constant for all Travis Scott albums.

In conclusion, I give Travis Scott’s “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” an 8.5/10.  Every song may sound similar to one another, but this constant sound and style in songwriting is phenomenal.  Travis’s ability to take his signature sound heard on some of the most prominent tracks on “Rodeo” and fully experimented with it for “Birds” is something I found extremely interesting.  I highly encourage everyone to listen to this and if you have already gave the project a listen, I definitely suggest that you revisit it, especially since it took me a few listens to truly appreciate this latest project from Travis Scott.  Below I’ve attached the full stream of Travis’s latest album.  According to some of his recent tweets, his third album, “AstroWorld”, is still scheduled for a 2017 release date, and once more information is released about the upcoming record, we’ll be sure to let you know!  2016 was our first year in business and it was a very successful year for us at Erik’s Album Reviews!  Due to the hard work of our staff and the constant support from our readers, we were able to see widespread viewership in 39 countries over 6 different continents!  We are extremely thankful for this success and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!  Be sure to check back in for more music reviews, content, and of course, our Albums of the Year list, which is due out very soon!

 

Update: The Weeknd Releases The Second Music Video Off Upcoming Album “Starboy”

starboy

Earlier last week, The Weeknd released a new music video for the single “False Alarm”, one of the first two tracks to be released off his upcoming album “Starboy”.  The hip-hop/ R&B icon previously released his first single, also called “Starboy”, which was accompanied with a video as well.  “Starboy” is a more traditional style hip-hop track that resembled a sound very similar to Abel’s older material.  The video was also fairly violent but focused more on the musical content rather than the visual representation.  “False Alarm” on the other hand, sounds completely different and also features a music video that is both extremely violent and intense.  In fact, I would actually consider this video to be more like a short film rather than a music video.

The track “False Alarm” itself is something unlike the average The Weeknd song.  It is a rock based pop song that is both aggressive and, at some points, even has a goth rock inspired sound.  While the instrumental part of the song is more aggressive, the soft, high pitched vocal performance by Abel is still present.  Personally, I feel like this rock inspired song actually holds him back vocally and that his phenomenal singing is better exemplified on the more R&B sounding track “Starboy”.  I wasn’t too into “False Alarm”, but it is nice to see The Weeknd branch out from his comfort zone and experiment with a different approach to writing new tracks.  I will say, however, that this music video/short film is very entertaining and keeps you glued to the screen from the beginning of the fictitious robbery until the gory end.  I still look forward to hearing the rest of Abel’s upcoming release and hope there are more music videos like the last two to accompany it!

The video for “False Alarm is attached below along with my recent blog post reviewing the first single off “Starboy”.  Leave a comment about the upcoming The Weeknd release and be sure to check back in for more reviews, breaking news, and other music content!

“Starboy” Review:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/500-word-review-the-weeknd-starboy/

500 Word Review: The Weeknd “Starboy”

starboy

On September 22nd, Canadian singer and songwriter, The Weeknd, released his latest single, “Starboy (feat. Daft Punk)”.  This single is off his upcoming third studio album (also called “Starboy”), and features the iconic songwriting and sound of Electronic music titans, Daft Punk.  This collaboration shows an interesting, slightly different sound from previous notable singles from the Weeknd, without making a drastic change to the sound he is known for.

Personally, The Weeknd has always been an artist that I enjoy, but have never truly checked out as far as listening to his entire discography.  Essentially, I’ve only really heard his well-known radio singles, however what I have heard so far I’ve really enjoyed.  The Weeknd showcases a unique alternative R&B sound that is accompanied by simple yet clever lyricism and an absolutely stunning singing voice.  If Abel (The Weeknd) can continue this succession of monumental R&B/Hip-Hop releases, then I honestly believe he will become one of the most prominent and influential pop artists of this generation.

“Starboy” is a perfect example of the genre dominance seen by The Weeknd.  The track starts off with a deep electronic (almost hardstyle) sounding drum and bass intro, which accurately fits Daft Punk’s songwriting style.  From there the track constantly adds different synths, pianos, and harmonious background vocals to compliment that vocal ability of Abel.  The song as a whole sounds like a more EDM based version of “Beauty Behind The Madness”, which should not be taken as an insult at all.  I have personally seen electronic music slowly but surely become more intertwined in many genres like pop, Hip-Hop, Rap, R&B and many others and I think this progression has lead to some amazing results and is ultimately the future of these genres of music.  Things like Danny Brown’s collaboration with EDM artist, Rustie, on his track “Attak”, or pop artist Tove Lo’s constant working with EDM artists like Flume and Seven Lions, exemplify this increase in integration between electronic music and other significant genres.  “Starboy” adds to this list and does a fantastic job in representing this evolution into EDM influenced R&B.

In conclusion I give “Starboy (feat. Daft Punk)” an 8.8/10 and look forward to hearing the rest of this upcoming release.  However, I will say this track is not Abel’s best work.  I still believe that “The Hills” is his greatest work and it will take a little more experimentation with both The Weeknd’s songwriting and vocal ability in order to top this stellar track.  Check out the music video for “Starboy” below and pre-order the album set to be released on November 25th!