The sun rises on “Dawn FM”


The Weeknd and Pixabay

The Weeknd’s 2020 “After Hours” album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, drawing attention to the artists’ unique R&B style. Tesfaye’s songs speak to the world in a time of chaos, providing entertainment and fun TikTok dances. His new album, “Dawn FM”, was recently released and generated a sizable amount of publicity. Filled with 80’s pop music and “hosted” by Jim Carrey, the album cements its place in the charts.

Hannah Gresham and Elijah Pacis

Abel Tesfaye, known synonymously as The Weeknd, recently released his new album “Dawn FM” on January 7, a follow-up to his 2020 album, “After Hours”. The star hinted about the album multiple times within the past year, on both social media and interviews, suggesting that the new songs will showcase a positive theme. 

Tesfaye intended to utilize an optimistic motif throughout “Dawn FM”, contradicting his previous works’ theme. In order of release, “After Hours” and “Dawn FM” symbolize the sun setting on Tesfaye’s previous life and the sunrise of his new one, which represents the 2020-21 pandemic. However, Tesfaye sacrificed his more unique qualities, including his debaucherous lyricism. 

On the other hand, Tesfaye supported his persisting identity by leaning towards a darker undertone through lyrics. The 80s city pop and disco elements he utilizes heavily contrasts against this style of expression. This distinction can undermine the quality of the work; the individual parts work well separately, but struggle to deliver as a cohesive whole. The upbeat style of music conflicts with the dark, sometimes despondent, lyrics.

This album may appeal to a larger fan base as it evokes nostalgia. It introduces the 80s era’s unique style to a young generation decades later. The compilation of songs advertises the changing fashion tastes of the world. From bringing back bell-bottom jeans to rehashing disco musical styles, multiple trends from before the turn of the century find themselves a new home in the new decade.

The album’s cover features Tesfaye as an older man, adorned with gray hair and wrinkles. While the symbolism behind the picture remains unclear, it may coincide with the album’s concept of death and Tesfaye accepting the end of his own life. In addition, beloved American actor Jim Carrey narrates the imaginary radio station 103.5 Dawn FM and eases the listeners through something usually considered punishing and terrifying. This aspect of the album may receive inspiration from Prince, in his album version of Gold, specifically at the end of the song. 

“You’ve been in the dark for way too long/It’s time to walk into the light…We’ll be there to hold your hand and guide you through this painless transition,” Carrey says in the album’s opener.

The Weeknd’s best titles in “Dawn FM” consist of “Take My Breath”, “Out of Time”, “I Heard You’re Married”, “Best Friends”, and “Here We Go Again”. “Take My Breath” came out in 2021, but Tesfaye re-released an extended version in this album. The song pivots around fetishizing asphyxiation which follows his previous hallmarks as a dark R&B artist. Although the song tackles a mature, provocative concept, its success speaks for itself.

 “Out of Time” begins with the sweet serenade of synths and xylophones, sampling heavily from Tomoko Aran’s “Midnight Pretenders”. The Weeknd laments on his failed past relationships because of his desire to spend his own selfish time. 

“I Heard You’re Married” describes Tesfaye’s speculated affair with Ariana Grande, drawing augmented attention to the album. Lil Wayne supports him on this song, rapping about greater sensuality with a significant other. 

 “Best Friends” calls back heavily to Tesfaye’s previous works, marking one of the darkest songs musically on this album. He discusses a friends-with-benefits relationship with a girl, and his admission to a lack of commitment and not wanting to move forward in a relationship. 

“Here We Go Again” slows down the tempo of the album, exploring The Weeknd’s real encounters, including references to his Superbowl halftime performance and his ex-girlfriend Bella Hadid.

Despite stretching farther from his usual theme that fans expected, overall, the album portrays Tesfaye’s hard work and creativity. The album does not fit as seamlessly into the radio-friendly pop world as perfectly as “After Hours”, however, this album follows different goals and still provides much needed entertainment amidst the ever-growing chaos of COVID-19. The deep-rooted symbolism behind his lyrics and titles allows fans to conjure up their own ideas about the music and allows everyone to enjoy the unique album.

“The album was good, but not what I expected. There are definitely a couple of hits in there but the voice over of Jim Carrey kind of threw the songs off and gave it a creepy feel. Take my Breath was my favorite though, it felt more like his usual music,” senior Nyema Head said.

Chant Grade: B-