The Bite Magazine - Autmn/Winter 2020 - Issue 28

bitemusicceleb the time in his home in Canada. He has attributed Jackson’s mu- sic as the key to spurring him to become a singer and references the lyrics to ‘ Dirty Diana’ as an example. As such, he has been called the ‘reincarnation of Michael Jackson’ since his voice is very similar to the late King of Pop. Talking about Ethiopian music, he told Pitchfork in 2015, “It’s such beautiful music, but I didn’t realise how beautiful it was until I left that headspace. That’s why I feel like my singing is not conventional.” He added, “The feeling in my music and my voice is very Ethiopian and very African and much more powerful than anything, technically. There are songs like ‘Gone’ [an Am- haric-inspired track] where I don’t even know what I’m saying - I let my voice do all the talking.” The significant of the ‘XO’ in The Weeknd’s XO crew has been somewhat debated. Some fans claim that it merely stands for hugs and kisses, while others say the letters represent the drugs ecstasy and oxycontin. The neo-R&B singer has never shied away from the fact that he has used drugs which is the subject matter in some of his songs such as ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’. He admitted at the age of 11 he smoked weed and then moved on to painkillers, Xanax, cocaine, mushrooms, and ketamine. His 2011 debut mixtape House of Balloons is described as a revolutionary persona of sex, drugs, and darkness from his ex- perience of living in Toronto as a young man. For instance, on ‘High for This’ he handholds a partner through some strange sex act and on ‘Glass Table Girls’ he’s obviously singing about doing coke. The mixtape also features samples of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ ‘Happy House’; Beach House’s ‘Master of None’ and ‘Gila’; Cocteau Twins’ ‘Cherry-Coloured Funk’; and Aali- yah’s ‘Rock the Boat’. The following year, he released Trilogy, a compilation album composing of remixed and remastered versions of his debut and subsequent mixtapes Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. “Trilogy was more of a claustrophobic body of work,” he explained. “Be- fore it was released, I hadn’t left my city for 21 years, and I had never been on a plane, not once. I spent my entire life in one setting. That’s probably why pieces of the album feel like one long track because that’s what my life felt like. It felt like one long song.” His first studio album Kiss Land in 2013 is about “what young men think but will never say out loud” and the story after Tril- ogy. “I’ve learned to pretty much not give a sh*t and it kind of morphed this sound and it works.” He went on to say, “It’s pretty much the second chapter in my life. The narrative takes place after my first flight; it’s very foreign, very Asian-inspired. When people ask me ‘Why Japan?’ I simply tell them it’s the furthest I’ve ever been from home. It really is a different planet.” Following the not so successful Kiss Land , The Weeknd released his second studio album Beauty Behind The Madness in 2015, hailed as a masterful reconciliation of R&B, pop, and rock. The album won several awards including Favourite Soul/R&B Al- bum at the American Music Awards and Best Foreign Album at the GAFFA Awards in Sweden in the year of its release. It went on to win Best Urban Contemporary Album at The Grammy Awards and Top R&B Album at the Billboard Music Awards in 2016. In 2017, The Guinness World Records voted Beauty Behind The Madness as the Most Streamed Album on Spotify in One Year with 60 million unique listeners on the music streaming plat- form between 1st December 2014 and 1st December 2015. His singles ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ and ‘The Hills’ equally won several accolades at the ASCAP Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Cana- dian Radio Music Awards, iHeart Radio Awards, International Dance Music Awards, Juno Awards, and SOCANMusic Awards. The singer’s third studio album Starboy featuring music royalties Daft Punk and Lana Del Rey went multi-platinum making him the first artist to do so within the last year in 2017. The music video to the title song is filled with gritty sequences, haunting images of Los Angeles, beautiful cars, a red neon cross, and a panther. An avid fan of thrillers the singer is seen suffocating his former self (before he cut off his dreadlocks) with a plastic bag as if he is trying to dispose of any trace of his past. Perhaps his most mature and fully realised album to date, The Weeknd doesn’t leave anything hidden in After Hours . The vid- eos for the title track as well as ‘Heartless’; ‘Blinding Lights’; ‘In Your Eyes’; and ‘Until I Bleed Out’ are separate scenes in one movie that tells a specific story, albeit haunting. “This character