Abel Tesfaye, the real name behind an emerging act in the R&B and PBR&B landscape that has been conquering the applause of critics and fans – The Weeknd. Known for his use of falsetto and a very atmospheric sound in his songs, the Canadian singer and music producer has been drawing frequent comparisons with Michael Jackson, one of his assumed musical influences.
His career gained traction after the hit “Wicked Games“, but at the end of 2010, Tesfaye was already releasing several songs under the pseudonym “The Weeknd” on his Youtube channel while keeping his true identity anonymous. In 2011, he began to dazzle critics with the release of three nine-track mixtapes, available only as digital downloads: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. This was followed by Trilogy, a compilation of remastered versions of the songs contained in the mixtapes (as well as three new songs), released in 2012. In 2013, his debut album Kiss Land reached place number 2 on Billboard charts. During this period he toured Europe, delivering a number of concerts which cemented his name in foreign audiences before the release of his latest and greatest success – Beauty Behind the Madness.
The Weeknd’s second album is making a sensation worldwide, and features powerful dance hits like “Often“, “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face“. Currently, Beauty Behind the Madness ranks first place in the Billboard 200 chart, being responsible for a number of Billboard charts records that have been broken by the singer of Ethiopian descent: all three of the aforementioned singles made their way to the Billboard Hot 100 chart (the single “Can’t Feel My Face” tops the chart), and he has become the first artist whose songs occupy the top three spots of Billboard’s Hot R&B Songs (one of the songs, “Earned It“, had been previously featured in the movie Fifty Shades of Grey).
Judging by the reportedly more commercial sound of this new work, the singer aims to reach true stardom in the pop music industry. And adding to the appeal of Beauty Behind Madness, are the featured collaborations with Ed Sheeran, Kanye West and Lana del Rey. But despite his newly found commercial success, Tesfaye hasn’t abandoned his roots. In “Tell Your Friends“, for example, struggles with substance abuse, homelessness and money are still prominent themes. Such assault on mainstream pop music is amazing for an artist who, not long ago, was still hiding his real name and face behind obscure electronically heavy releases which didn’t seem to attract American radios at all. The truth is The Weeknd managed to lift his reputation considerably, and now is receiving strong praise from influential musical publications like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The Source. Many critics have even gone as far as proclaiming him the songbird of his generation and the best musical talent since Michael Jackson.
As an effort to promote and extend the success of his new album in the US and his homeland, The Weeknd is set to go on “The Madness Fall Tour 2015“. Announced in August this year, this concert tour begins in November, extending towards the end of the year. It will feature opening acts such as Halsey, Travis Scott (with whom he previously collaborated) and Banks.