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The Weeknd masterfully reflects on his past with “Dawn FM”

The pop star utilizes the sounds of the past and then present, beautiful vocals and well-written lyrics to entertain listeners

<p>The last three years have been quite important for the Weeknd’s career — he has had three Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits, performed at the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show and with “Blinding Lights” he created one of the most popular songs in music history.&nbsp;</p>

The last three years have been quite important for the Weeknd’s career — he has had three Billboard Hot 100 #1 hits, performed at the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show and with “Blinding Lights” he created one of the most popular songs in music history. 

For the last decade, the Weeknd has been one of the most popular and influential artists of the moment. Even as his music has evolved, the Weeknd has been able to maintain the attention of millions of music listeners — especially his hardcore fans. Most recently, the Weeknd has hooked listeners once again by dropping “Dawn FM,” a concept album — the listener of the album is in a purgatorial state, and “Dawn FM” is the music that is playing while there.

Listeners can interpret “Dawn FM” as the story of someone going through a transition period in their life. The clearest assumption is that the Weeknd has spent some time pondering over his former relationships with Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid since his last album “After Hours.” From the album, it’s suggested he is not ready to pursue a new relationship, but knows he can’t go back to old loves because of his past behavior. 

Though this is only the Weeknd’s fifth studio album, it contains some of the best material of his entire career. Songs like “Out of Time”, “How Do I Make You Love Me”, and “Less Than Zero” are some of the highlights of “Dawn FM.”

The album plays into the concept of purgatory very well, starting off with the first single “Take My Breath.” This song is phenomenal, a great example of modern psychedelic pop which utilizes a pulsating beat that synthesizes percussion instruments and piano chords. “Take My Breath” is vibrant, meaning that the beat works well whether listeners are on the dance floor or in the gym. 

On “Out of Time,” the Weeknd uses a cheerfully melodic beat featuring soothing instrumentation to create an angelic picture in the mind of listeners. However, the lyrics describe a man who is remorseful for the numerous mistakes he has made in his previous relationship — hoping the woman forgives him. 

“Out of Time” works so well because it carries forward the narrative established in the Weeknd’s previous music of losing in love. The fear of being “out of time” also references the purgatorial state of the listener, regretful about what could have happened when they were alive.

Even though the Weeknd has made a lot of music paying homage to the ‘80s, it hasn’t gotten old yet. He is able to excellently combine the sounds of the past with modern technology, examined in “How Do I Make You Love Me.” Though the lyrics have a darker tone, the instrumentation is infectious. The Weeknd is pleading with the woman in the song to love him — looking to do whatever is necessary for their relationship to last. 

With “Less Than Zero”, the Weeknd utilizes less autotune to emphasize his natural singing voice. This choice works very well with the narrative of the song, which focuses on the Weeknd’s mistakes in his past relationship. His singing melds incredibly well with the raw emotion he expresses. The instrumentals are beautiful on “Less Than Zero” —  the rising dreamlike synths are able to conjure the memories of a past lover for the listener. 

The Weeknd is not the only artist that defines the greatness of this album. Production from Max Martin, Oscar Holter and OPN is very impactful. Features from Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne also add a more diversified vocal sound and lyrical viewpoint to the album. Quincy Jones’ spoken-word interlude explains very well how the trauma people face when they are younger affects their relationships as adults — an important takeaway from the album. 

When Jim Carrey was first announced as a contributor to the album, it was surprising. Nonetheless, his contribution works well. Carrey does an impersonation of an old school disc jockey, thus emphasizing the influence of the ‘80s on the album. His background vocals help carry the listener through the story of the album.

2022 may have just begun, but the Weeknd has already given listeners an opportunity to listen to amazing music. Hopefully, this is a good sign for other albums coming out this year.