It might have seemed unlikely, but it was inevitable. The Weeknd broke out into the mainstream in 2015 with his sophomore studio album, "Beauty Behind the Madness." The acclaimed album featured pop hits "Earned It," "Can't Feel My Face" and "The Hills." And a "starboy" was born.
But not all critics love his new album. His pop sound might be too much. The Guardian gave "Starboy" 3 out of 5 stars, which isn't bad, but not great either.
While most of 2016’s big R&B and hip-hop albums – from Lemonade to The Life of Pablo, Coloring Book to Blond – have seen his peers broaden out their musical palette, draw in new influences and take artistic risks, confident they can pull their audience along with them, the Weeknd seems to have decided this is the moment to go for the mainstream pop jugular.
There are further contributions to the global oversupply of Auto-Tune heavy ballads, some of which are genuinely interesting – the crawl-paced All I Know, furnished with a bassline that keeps unpredictably sliding out of tune; the haunting lo-fi keyboard line that weaves around Reminder – and some of which aren’t.
Many credit his compilation album "Trilogy" (2012) as the highlight of his career. The compilation album featured songs from his three mixtapes of 2011: "House of Balloons," "Thursday" and "Echoes of Silence." It was right before he went mainstream, but it might be the reason why The Weeknd is so pop now.