Home » A+E » Listen Up: Star-making releases come 40 years apart

Listen Up: Star-making releases come 40 years apart

Please follow and like us:
The Weeknd on stage during the 2016 Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London on Feb. 24. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The Weeknd on stage during the 2016 Brit Awards at the O2 Arena in London on Feb. 24. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

The dry season for new music seems have passed, and summer songs have stopped being my most played. The weather outside is telling me it’s time for some fall music, so that is what I’ve been looking for. It’s probably still inevitable that it will be scorching again in a week’s time. But I can wait on that.

“Starboy” by The Weeknd

It took Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, a little while to figure out pop stardom. He started out making raunchy, drugged-out R&B, releasing his music for free and staying out of the spotlight entirely.

When he decided he wanted to be star, it took an album flop and a recalculation to make it happen. “Beauty Behind the Madness” didn’t deviate much from the first album in terms of theme, but a melodic injection made it radio-ready. “Can’t Feel My Face” and “The Hills” are infectious, but the former hints at cocaine use and the line from the latter “When I’m f—-d up that’s the real me,” is proof that all it takes to make a superstar is releasing something people can sing along to.

His latest single, “Starboy,” is a much sharper left turn, and not just because he cut off his famous locks. Daft Punk made the energetic, sparkling beat, and Tesfaye turns his attention to his own fame. He’s a star, boy.

He doesn’t leave behind the drug references, but finds more clever ways to make his insinuations, but this song feels much more like the beginning of a new career direction. It sounds like what Michael Jackson might make if he were new in 2016, and cursed in his songs.

“Starboy” is also the name of the record, set to be released in November.

“Who Can I Be Now?” by David Bowie

Even an artist as prolific as David Bowie, who released 27 albums in his lifetime, couldn’t avoid the post-mortem rarity dump.

“Who Can I Be Now?” Is a nine album (!) collection of all the music Bowie released between 1974 and 1976, a period of rapid-fire transformation that yielded drastically different studio records. “Diamond Dogs” was the apocalyptic last breath of glam rock. “Young Americans,” his hard turn, his foray in plastic soul. “Station to Station” is a manic pop masterpiece. Each album saw Bowie searching for an identity after retiring Ziggy Stardust, churning out music at an amazing pace with each change of the mask.

Along with the albums is an early, unreleased version of “Young Americans,” as well as live records, each with different mixes and other frivolousness.

There isn’t much new here — even the unreleased stuff could be found on the internet with ease. And at a retail price of around $250, it’s not worth buying. But it is worth considering this musical chapter of astounding creativity.  

David Bowie’s 1970s was one of the most fruitful eras for any artist — on par with The Beatles in the ‘60s or Prince in the ‘80s. But this period of his career coincided with a head-first dive into cocaine addiction and the troubles it wrought, including the infamous peppers and milk diet and the occult obsession. It’s an almost mythical time not only for the work that came out of it, but that he survived it at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.