This track from Abel Tesfaye, you might know him by his pseudonym The Weeknd, set in motion his self-proclaimed ‘Chapter 3’ in the past couple of weeks. And by golly, what a chapter we have in store for us.
His first two ‘chapters’ — Trilogy and Kissland — have vastly different sounds and feels to them, and the same holds true this time around. Taking the new track ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, which dropped on June 8th as a barometer for the album, it seems Michael Jackson will be quite an influence on the upcoming project. It still holds all the hallmarks of The Weeknd’s typical sound in its high, echoey falsetto – but it undeniably introduces a pop sensibility reminiscent of MJ’s Bad album released in 1987.
Lyrically, the song also remains typical of The Weeknd, revolving around drugs, sex and often a combination of the two. For instance, the song at heart is about him and his female companion, and their ability to not go without “it”. Whereas a lot of his previous material has been excessively explicit — 2014’s ‘King of the Fall’ track springs to mind — this one remains quite PG-13. Of course, to us students, it hardly matters too much, but it represents quite a change from his previous work, especially when considering his risqué album art for his Thursday mixtape.
The beat used in this song is also quite different to any he’s previously used, with Abel using quite an upbeat tempo, combining it with hazy primary and backing vocals to create a track that really begs you to try and listen to it without bopping your head along to it. Give it a listen and try not to mouth ‘I can’t feel my face’ along to the beat! All in all, the track may remind you of quite a few pop tunes, but its significance comes in creating a blaze of expectation for his ‘Chapter 3’.
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.