When The Weeknd released his first full-length mixtape, House of Balloons, in 2011, it was filled with enigma. There was little information about the artist anywhere and at just 21, his lyrics and sound reflected an artistic maturity beyond his years. The deep, dark and late-night world that The Weeknd created drew in whoever listened to the album.
In a matter of years, The Weeknd went on to win countless awards, including three Grammy Awards and eight Billboard Music Awards, and played hundreds of festival spots. He has gone from underground, experimental R&B crooner, to pop star status and fame. How has this journey into the spotlight affected The Weeknd’s sound?
We looked at The Weeknd’s entire discography – starting with his first 2009 EP, The Noise, to his 2018 EP, My Dear Melancholy, and his most recent synth-heavy track release, “Blinding Lights”. What evolution has his sound waved? This was a prime question for our AI tagging product.
As we can see, The Weeknd’s first studio album, Kiss Land, marked a change for the artist. This album launched his commercial successes – The Weeknd was now on Billboard lists, making music for films, and gaining radio traction. With this came more information about his identity, shedding the mysterious aura that seemed to enhance his sound.
The Weeknd was transitioning from dark-wave R&B to electro-pop R&B, which is heard on his next albums and singles. 2015’s, Beauty Behind The Madness launched the club-favorite, “I Can’t Feel My Face” featured Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey, as well as the theme song for 50 Shades of Grey. And 2016’s, Starboy dripped with feel-good hits and two collaborative tracks with Daft Punk (“I Feel It Coming” and “Starboy”).
Yet The Weeknd’s path seems to reflect many artists right now: heading back to his roots. In his most recent, My Dear Melancholy, The Weeknd heads back to his original sound and what made him stand out from other R&B artists ten years ago: weaving together a dark, brooding narrative with slow, progressive beat dripping in sensuality.
Curious about how we found these insights? Take a look at our tagging demo and tag to your heart’s desire!