The Weeknd Is The Closest Thing Millennials Have To Michael Jackson

by Madi Ashley
Wikicommons / Instagram

With a hit single being likened to Michael Jackson's best hits, it’s no wonder The Weeknd’s newly-released album is number one on the Billboard music charts.

The Weeknd has been in the industry since 2011, but began dominating the male music scene after being featured on Ariana Grande’s hit song, "Love Me Harder." He has been unstoppable ever since.

With his new album release, Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd’s sultry tones of sex, need and admiration seep through his lyrics like an evolution of pop king MJ’s timeless creations.

They are both so vastly different, and both so widely successful for the same purpose: Their albums are sex to the ears, and listeners can relate to them in whichever way they see fit.

They both gained celebrity status via the same outlet: their music.

With hardly any social media presence and very rare interviews, The Weeknd has created his own form of mystique, which is key to his smooth and seducing songs. A popular pop critic went as far to say that “by not playing the pop game and letting the listener fill in the blanks, [The Weeknd] achieved a substantial amount of success.”

The singer himself said, in a recent one-off interview with the New York Times, "These kids, you know, they don’t have a Michael Jackson. They don’t have a Prince. They don’t have a Whitney. Who else is there?"

His answer? Beauty Behind the Madness.

There's something about his voice of pleading anxious tones combined with his introverted self; it pulls you in and makes you want more. That’s a lot of power within a four-minute song.

The Weeknd has evolved himself since his early days, with his songs gaining depth and intensity.

In 2011, he released three mix-tapes -- House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence -- which were all remixed for the compilation album, Trilogy, in 2012, described as “a rough trajectory of party, after-party and hangover.”

His newest release is not all that different from his original creations -- if just slightly more streamlined and danceable -- but the overall seduction and mournful vocals are more than prominent.

The clash between dark meanings and fast-tempo pumping beats gives the album an intrigue that’s rarely found on today’s pop albums. It’s challenging and catchy, and that’s what makes it memorable.

Looking back to the pinnacle era of music, that of Michael Jackson, the most individual element of his place in the music industry was his ability to sing about anything remotely disturbing and unprecedented.

MJ confronted race, death and even paternity issues within his music, giving his soulful songs a depth that makes them infinitely respected and unforgettable.

The Weeknd’s new album has taken this previously empty place of pure honesty in lyrics and created something amazing. Some are calling Beauty Behind the Madness “illicit R&B,” with his songs discussing aspects of the darker sides of human existence.

Loss of innocence, one-night stands, drugs: It’s all there, and all can be taken in unbelievably smoothly.

A major comparison of The Weeknd to the distinct sounds of MJ is that the complexity and depth of the lyrics go easily unrecognized, with the addition of radio-friendly pop-culture vibes.

It’s the personal realization of the songs' depth that makes the album brilliant.

His current hit single, "Can’t Feel My Face," is about the numbing effect of a powerful sexual relationship in comparison to the euphoria of cocaine, and yet, it is number one on the Billboard charts.

He has tapped into the intrigue and secret love affair we have with the unspoken word, and has created his own place as the Millennial Michael Jackson.

Music chart history is tainted by independent-minded artists momentarily embracing their 15 minutes of pop fame, with some having the gamble pay off. The Weeknd is one of them.

By appealing to a need that has been unprecedented in mainstream pop, he has created his own niche of sex and desire through sound.

His music pays undeniable respect to the King of Pop, and has ultimately let him and his “illicit R&B” infect our ears with what some might call the true beauty behind the madness.