It’s funny, I was going to write something about the Weeknd earlier today, then I thought the wiser of it — I had nothing to gain from such a thing.
But you make a lot of the points I’d have made; specifically, that the guy has completely ditched what got him acclaim in the first place, and fully bought into the industry’s way of doing things.
That said, what it looks like and what it is are often different, and I feel like he’s actually being a total professional about it, which I have to give him a lot of credit for.
He could have continued on the road he was on — this sort of aloof, weird guy making weird music — but at a certain point the critics would have moved on (actually, by the time he repackaged those mixtapes, they already had), and his fan base would have likely capped out at whatever it was then.
I think it really came down to him making a decision; like, am I going to be in the music business for real, or am I gonna be a niche artist forever?
I mean, somebody will likely get the real story — maybe me? — but there had to be a real turning point for him. It was either something that happened behind the scenes, something that happened in his personal life, or something that happened naturally.
Whatever it was, a lightbulb went off — probably it was the money talking— and now this guy is kind of unstoppable. He has figured out a fundamental truth about the record business; that to reach certain levels, you must make concessions, and one of those concessions, often, is recording a series of boring ass, super basic radio records.
I don’t think it’s like that for everyone, but the other thing worth considering, at least in his case is, hey, maybe he actually likes some of the music he’s making.
Between him and the new Gaga record, people are over surprise albums. The new surprise album is the one you talk about for 3 months before it comes out.