The Weeknd Tops the Charts with After Hours

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The Weekend's fourth studio album, After Hours.

Layla Mathews, Photo Editor

Everyone in the world is now struggling with the trials and tribulations that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic. On the bright side, we have received some great albums and singles from big artists, one of the biggest releases being After Hours by The Weeknd. 

R&B superstar, Abel Tesfaye (more commonly known as The Weeknd) released his fourth studio album After Hours on March 20, 2020. Many were anticipating and excited for this release as it debuted at the top of Billboard 200, making that his fourth number one album. The album features 14 tracks, creating almost an hour-long story of Tesfaye’s latest struggles. 

On this album, Tesfaye leans on the aesthetic and visuals of Las Vegas nightlife and draws from movies like Joker and Uncut Gems. He also mixes notes of R&B and pop to create a synth-heavy, ‘80s Hollywood sound that he uses to tell his story of failed romance and the fast life of a pop star. Tesfaye also dresses in a red suit throughout all visuals related to the album, from covers to music videos, which is an allusion to the film, Casino by Martin Scorsese. He appears bloody and bruised on the album and tracklist cover as well, a theme that could be referring to how he feels about life in Hollywood.

The main themes of the album are how Tesfaye has resorted back to his old ways of using women and drugs to fill the empty voids in his life, as well his regrets from his breakup with supermodel Bella Hadid. 

The album begins with Alone Again, which confronts his feelings on his coping mechanisms. He feels as if he’s living another life and wants to get out; he is tired of his drug abuse. 

The remorse continues with the songs Hardest to Love and Scared to Live, where he shows his regrets from his relationship with Bella Hadid. He feels as if he was to blame for the problems that caused them to break up. He feels bad for her and doesn’t want his behavior to affect her in the future. 

Tesfaye continues to make references to drug use, especially with Snowchild, which is a nod to his use of cocaine. He then uses songs like Escape from L.A and his hit single Blinding Lights to describe the alleged “luxurious lifestyle of Hollywood and Vegas”. While it seems great, he recognizes that the cars, the houses, and the chains are all material, he longs for more than that. He makes it seem as if he wants to get away from the life he lives and find love, but he can’t because he loves it at the same time. 

He goes back to his relationship and looks back on his experience in it, in Save Your Tears and In your Eyes. He knows that he hurt his ex, but wishes she would express that to him. He longs for acknowledgement from her, as he reveals his vulnerability especially on these last few tracks. 

The album ends on Until I Bleed Out, which is like the conclusion, the finale to this story. Tesfaye expresses that he is burnt out, he’s let out every emotion, every regret he has to give. It shows his desperation of wanting to let go of chasing women and drugs around, he wants to be sober and free. 

After Hours shows a new level of vulnerability with Tesfaye. In a couple of psychedelic, synth pop, and R&B tracks, The Weeknd shows his desire to be loved and free of addiction.