REVIEW: “Starboy (Feat. Daft Punk)” – The Weeknd

Just when you thought this year’s music couldn’t get any better, The Weeknd is back with a point to prove. Abel “The Starboy” Tesfaye begins his comeback single with an innocently braggadocios line: “I'm tryna put you in the worst mood, ah”. Now, it’s not exactly clear if he is talking to us or someone else, but this line precedes an intense, materialistic bragging session featuring his gigantic house and an abundance of unaffordable, luxurious cars. So the question is, does he get away with this? Is the music so good that we justify being diminished like this? Actually, yeah… kind of. 

Backed by an artificially constructed beat, The Weeknd layers his falsetto onto Daft Punk’s timeless magic, creating one of the smoothest tracks of the year so far. As we are taken through the first verse, it is clear that Abel is at war with himself. The song struggles through a dynamic in which The Weeknd’s darker and rawer sound (from his mixtape days) is seeping through into his contemporary mainstream pop embodiment. What we get are innocently delivered catchy hooks that happen to be really, really, explicit.  

As we reach the chorus, it’s almost as if we were listening to a Disclosure remix of Michael Jackson’s Ghost. This is probably a result of the infinite sessions that Daft Punk had with Nile Rogers-who worked with Michael during this era- and is also likely to be responsible for the robot-esque sound effect on Tesfaye’s voice. In a matter of seconds, The Weeknd manages to go from a shy little boy in the playground saying “look what you’ve done”, to the sexiest man in music uttering “I’m a mother f**king starboy”. Yes. You. Are. Daddy.
One of the challenges that The Weeknd has previously fallen into is an inability to change up his vocal ability, making it difficult to go a full length album of his without needing a break. The “ha ha ha” echo utilised throughout the chorus, not only channels the latter half of MJ’s career, but it also provides a satisfying change up to the predominant Weeknd head-voice.
Although it isn’t as banger-esque as Can’t Feel My Face, I was impressed with this song. Given we know next to nothing about future Weeknd releases its hard to predict when new material will come out, and more importantly if the rest of the album is as good. I’m still almost certain that he timed this release with the #BRADGELINA split, because otherwise the reference is too good and too timely.

Pulp Editors