Review: The Highlights of the Weeknd’s success

Canadian singer the Weeknd releases compilation of his hit songs

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Photo The Weeknd Xo/Republic Records/Universal Music Group

The promotional poster featuring the album cover for The Highlights. The Highlights arrived just before The Weeknd is set to perform his highly-anticipated Super Bowl LV halftime performance on February 7 and after the announcement of his 2022 tour.

Jennifer Le, Online Managing Editor

Amidst the anticipation of waiting for his Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show, the Weeknd released his second compilation album, The Highlights, just two days before the event. It featured 18 tracks from his previous releases: two from Trilogy, spell from Beauty Behind the Madness, three from Starboy, one from My Dear Melancholy, five from After Hours and two from collaborations with Ariana Grande and Kendrick Lamar.

The Weeknd has had hits dating back to 2012, making his first Billboard Hot 100 debut in collaboration with fellow Canadian artist, Drake, and continued to make the charts since. With the release of the album just days before his Halftime Show appearance, The Highlights became Spotify’s most-streamed album of all time upon its release. The success is well-earned as it features possibly the best 18 pieces of his career over the past decade.

It was no surprise to see “Blinding Lights” on the tracklist, which I’m satisfied with, considering how it has nearly 2 billion streams on Spotify. It’s catchy and upbeat with the ’80s EDM style mixed with snappy lyrics. He’s kept basically the same retro R&B flair since the early days of his career and really ties together his known style as an artist.

“The Hills” was the first song I heard from the Weeknd. It’s from his 2015 studio album titled Beauty Behind the Madness and was far ahead of its time. It was hard to appreciate such a good song six years ago,  compared to hits of the time like “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap and “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa.

“The Hills” tells the narrative of a sinking sexual affair, a common theme in other artists’ works nowadays. It starts out with this chilling static noise and transcends into a rhythmic beat. It’s a reference to the The Hills Have Eyes movies, a series where cannibal mutants stalk and kill unsuspecting people. Essentially, the Weeknd was addressing the feeling of being consumed by the media. It’s a banger and a milestone in his career as he dethroned his own “Can’t Feel My Face” off of the number one spot on the Hot 100.

When Black Panther first hit theaters, I don’t think I could stop hearing “Pray For Me” on the radio for weeks. His collaboration with Kendrick Lamar was perfect and made sense. Having two of the most successful rap artists from the last decade working together on a piece for a defining film by Marvel Studios elevated the Weeknd’s relevance as an artist.

Before sitting down to listen to the album, I couldn’t fully appreciate the Toronto singer’s impact on the music industry and what lead to his success and fame. He’s most notable for his take on R&B and rap. His appearance at the Super Bowl is well deserved, considering how many hits he has backing his career. When the radio’s playing pop music, chances are you’ll hear the Weeknd at least once.