The Weeknd recently dropped his latest album, Dawn FM, 16 songs with features from Tyler, the Creator and Lil Wayne. The album also features narration from actor Jim Carrey. The Weeknd describes his album as trying to find a light from a purgatory. In ways, this concept is demonstrated through his bars and his signature 80’s style beats.
Carrey is presented as a host of a radio show who “guides” listeners through the album. He’s introduced in the first track, “Dawn FM,” which contains one of his monologues that run throughout the album.
“Gasoline” is The Weeknd’s first song on Dawn FM. This is an outstanding song to open with because it lays the way for other tracks to follow. The lyrics lay down his mental disarray and his drug abuse. The beat is reminiscent of 1970’s or 1980’s funk music.
“Gasoline is the best song in the album because the retro feel and his voice make the song great,” comments Olympic Heights junior Andrew Nebenzahl, who loves The Weeknd’s voice, which some people would alternatively consider a rinsed beat.
The next track is “How Do I Make You Love Me?” which is clearly aimed at an ex. The chorus repeats bars asking someone how he can get them to fall for him. A notable thing about this piece is a bar that makes a call back to the previous song, “Gasoline,” in which The Weeknd says, “Just wrap my body in these sheets (Sheets) / And pour out the gasoline.” In this verse of “How Do I Make You Love Me?” he says, “But I can light you up again / Like embers of a fire.” The Weeknd’s attention to his previous verses is a nice touch that adds to the overall story. At the end of the song, The Weeknd includes light exhales to lead into his next song.
“Take My Breath” is a great addition to the album. A downside of it is that it takes over a minute for the first verse to begin. The verses are the best part of this song because the chorus has a different tone each time it finishes, which gives the verses that same vibe. That being said, there’s a huge bridge at the end of the song that hinders listeners’ attention spans considerably. They may expect a banging verse at the end, but it’s just more of the chorus.
Spotify views of the album show that “Sacrifice” is one of the most popular tracks on Dawn FM. This song is telling his love interest that he will no longer sacrifice anything to gain their love. The beat reminds listeners of the Michael Jackson hit, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” This song best highlights The Weeknd’s voice and is impressive because he uses little auto-tune.
The seventh song, “Out of Time,” is slower and more melodic than the rest of the album. It’s appealing to all audiences because the vocals get really powerful while the beat remains relaxing. The bars explain how he’s trying to be better, but he’s out of time, which gives the song an overall theme of honesty. The track ends with narration from Carrey saying that time is up, but not to worry.
”Listening to the album was like a wave,” explained OH junior Tyler Cook. “There were really sad songs in the beginning, but then I noticed them getting more up-beat.” The representation of The Weeknd’s emotion throughout the album becomes more positive. It is worth noting that the common listener is able to clearly see this transition.
The next song is “Here We Go… Again” (feat. Tyler, the Creator). Some would think that with a Tyler, the Creator feature, it’s impossible for a song to flop. Well, this song is an overload of meaningful lyrics with no substance. The beat is barely noticeable which is sad, because the rest of Dawn FM has incredible beats. Tyler, the Creator’s part is debatably the best part despite his verse being very short.
“Best Friends” is the ninth song of the album, and it is everything people expect from The Weeknd. The beat is more current than the other tracks, which is a satisfying change of pace. The song is about how he wants to stay friends and not have feelings for a girl he is into because it will only mess up their relationship. It has an evident bridge into the next song, which is unique; however, most people are going to have their playlist on shuffle.
“Is There Someone Else?” is a very meaningful song. It brings back the slower tempo with a mild disco beat. It is very lyrical and it explains that he intends to be loyal, so he is asking this girl if there’s anyone that she’s in a relationship with. Unlike “Here We Go… Again,” this song has meaning and isn’t only words. Cook enjoys the overall tone of the song and likes the way it suits his feelings when listening to music. “This song has great lyrics and I like the vibes they give off,” Cook explains.
An uncanny song on the album is “Starry Eyes.” Cook says that this song is “not enjoyable at all. The song is just [The Weeknd] feeling sorry for himself.” The “deeper” meaning behind this track is that The Weeknd is accepting the fact that he messed up in a relationship. It’s just him singing with a sad tone. There was nothing unique, and it really was a waste of a track.
Worse yet, it’s followed by an even stranger bridge called “Every Angel is Terrifying.” In the middle of this intermission, there was a retro beat to hype fans up, but then it was followed by a commercial for the radio show Dawn FM. This was a huge let down.
“Don’t Break My Heart” is a turn around. It’s slightly repetitive, but The Weeknd really places passion and emphasis throughout the track. The message is more apparent here, and it is not whiny the way that “Starry Eyes” is.
“I Heard You’re Married” (feat. Lil Wayne) is an okay addition to this album, but listeners may be confused by the rest of the album if this song was their first impression. Lil Wayne, as a rapper, does not usually release songs of this nature, so his verse was flat. This song is similar to one by Bruno Mars. The Weeknd can definitely pull these types of songs off, but it drifts way too far off from the intended vibe of the album. Again, it’s acceptable, but it’s too different.
The last song, “Less Than Zero,” is one of the best pieces in the album. The beat is pleasant and upbeat, and it concludes The Weeknd’s “journey.” It’s really the perfect concluding track because there’s no one who won’t enjoy this song. The lyrics describe The Weeknd coming to terms with the events of the past. In a prideful bar he says, “I try to fight it, but I’d rather be free.” It really is a cheerful song with only good vibes.
Overall, this album was amazing. The Weeknd had a lot to live up to considering his 2020 hit song “Blinding Lights,” which currently has over 2.7 billion streams on Spotify. This album really lives up to that hype, and it deserves it.
The use of funk and disco beats is always a risk because there are some people who would prefer a traditional hip-pop beat, so it’s incredible that The Weeknd made it work.
“I didn’t have a least favorite song. It really was that good,” Nebenzahl expressed. He enjoyed all of the aspects of Dawn FM and other The Weeknd fans agree. The album makes an effort to convey a clear message with amazing tracks to back it up.
The main issue with the album is that it’s treated like a radio show, so The Weeknd and Jim Carrey do weird advertisements or monologues throughout. It doesn’t occur often nevertheless, it’s still a hindrance to listeners.