My Dear Melancholy,
By Andrew Lambert
Six songs. That’s all there is on The Weeknd’s newest release, My Dear Melancholy.. Six songs is short, but six songs is all that is needed. The Weeknd uses a peacefully tragic array of muffled synths, slow riding bass lines, and smooth R&B style percussion to accompany his exceptional voice. You can hear the pain, struggle, and reality of The Weeknd’s stories in his voice, and he does not leave a single space in those six songs undone. Every little aspect of this project has been touched on, tweaked, and mastered.
Aside from the grand slam production and breathtaking vocal performance, it is the lyrics that really set this project apart. It is the pain we can all relate to. The Weeknd has never been a stranger to singing about being in a bad situation regarding relationships, and he has always been honest with his shortcomings when it comes to commitment, as well as his struggled with the abuse of substances. Being someone that has struggled with the same situations in relationships as well as using substances to cope with these things, I personally can relate to a lot of what The Weeknd is so passionately serenading listeners about, especially the last track, “Privilege”.
The first track offers initial emotions after a relationship goes south. This epic piece has listeners feeling angry for The Weeknd as well, as he belts out “I want you to stay, even though you don’t want me”. The Weeknd is evidently feeling destroyed by whatever he had just lost with this girl, and even feeling regret as he states, “I said I didn’t feel nothing, but baby I lied, I almost cut a piece of of myself for your life. Guess I was just another pit stop til you made up your mind, you wasted my time”. The Weeknd then uses the bridge to build up that intense emotion, explaining how he put her on top, prioritizing her, but she eventually left him anyway, which then leads right into the explosion of a hook where The Weeknd has her calling out his name. For many, this is the most relatable track, as there is always these emotions in a split.
The second track, “Try Me”, has The Weeknd dipping back into a girl who is taken. For some, these actions, which aren’t ones to be proud of, are unfortunately another way to cope. The Weeknd’s lyricism on this track have him smooth talking an old fling to sneak away from her significant other to go and, simply put, try out The Weeknd. He brings up their history, gently says how he kissed her scars, and closes out the track with “Don’t you miss me baby?”. The Weeknd is clearly unable to accept she is with another man, and is doing his best to remind her of what they had.
The Weeknd rebounds from this track with “Wasted Times”, which is a ballad to his ex. He brushes on how he wasted time with someone else, and was never truly happy with her, using her to pass the time and cope with losing who he really wants. He sings about how even though she put him through hell, he can’t forget about her. He asks her where she is now, who she’s with, and even shows a side of his craziness, claiming he will blow up the spot of whoever she’s with now. As extreme as these emotions are, we all at one point or another have felt almost addicted to a person who did us wrong, and are willing to forgive almost anything. He clearly wants her back and is putting it all on the table, even stating that he has no business catching feelings due to his past experiences gone wrong with love, and most likely his drug fueled, fast lane lifestyle. Nonetheless, The Weeknd wants it, and cannot fight these feelings no matter how screwed up he is.
The next track, The Weeknd fully realizes how numb he is to emotions, and comes to grips with the fact that he is not capable of being the man she deserves. The song, appropriately titled “I Was Never There For You”, has The Weeknd addressing how mindless and poisonous he is to her, and is then followed with “Hurt You”, where The Weeknd is being blunt, honest, and raw when addressing his flaws. “If it’s love you want again don’t waste your time, but if you call me up I’m fucking you on sight”. The Weeknd now accepts that relationships are his “enemy” as he puts it, and comes clean about how every night she was crying, depressed, and feeling broken, was all because of him. He is owning the fact that he is no good for her, and causes her more pain than joy. He then states how he doesn’t want to hurt her, and does not want her to waste her time if she expects him to be capable of love, but further exemplifies how numb he is because he is still more than willing to have sex with her. The Weeknd really admits to a lot of his shortcomings here, and is remarkably honest with the fact that he is in no shape to be taking anyone’s heart into his hands. A broken, untamable, and high flying soul, The Weeknd refused to hurt her any longer, showing he cares and possibly still loves her, but will not deny himself the pleasures of her body. This is such a complicated struggle in his head, and I personally have been there. One side of you is pulling you away, knowing you’re only going to cause pain, but the other side of you, and you don’t know where from, is almost addicted to it.
At the end of The Weeknd’s emotional journey, we come to “Privilege”. This is easily the slowest track, the saddest track, the most mellowed out track, and in my opinion the most beautiful track. Swallowed in his melancholy, finally accepting of who he inevitably is, The Weeknd. He opens with telling his love to enjoy her life, for she has much to look forward to, because he is not going to be the one to “hold her through the night”, or be there for her. He is telling her to go on, and forget about him and all of the negative things he brings along. Aware of the fact the woman he loves is better off without him. It breaks his heart to let her go, but he is doing so regardless, intentionally putting himself through pain to ensure that she will suffer no longer. The Weeknd’s voice then is muffled, saturated, and distorted, illustrating through sound how sedated he is as he slivers out the words, “I got two red pills to take the blues away”. The red pill is referring to OxyContin, a prescription painkiller that he is going to abuse until he is so high, his emotional pain is dulled out. He then follows with his crystal clear, gentle, and melancholy voice as he expresses how he will “fuck the pain away”, hoping that the pleasures of sex will eventually help fill the void, and that he’ll “Drink the pain away”, and be “back to his old ways”, referring to who he was back in 2012 where he spent virtually every second on some sort of substance. He then closes out his epic journey through melancholy with those words once again, “I got two red pills to take the blues away”.
This really hits home for me. The Weeknd goes through all stages of heartbreak, from anger and denial, to depression and helplessness. He blames it on her, addresses using women and drugs to numb the pain, accepts his shortcomings, and tragically pulls our heart strings as he eventually ends his journey by letting her go, recognizing the pain he brings her, and goes back into his dear melancholy, alone, and going day by day trying to numb the pain. A sad ending to the story, but ultimately the best one for who he loves, so in a way, is not so sad. I personally have struggled with the same things that The Weeknd addresses on this project. I am by no means a saint, and I would be lying if I said I never numbed myself emotionally and physically to the point that nothing around me mattered in order to escape some sort of pain. Love is a dangerous game, and sometimes, as people, we need to recognize where we are as people. The Weeknd got it, I eventually got it, and although the damage left in our path is not reversible, the future is limitless, and without the pain we bring, the ones on our minds are in a much better place. We will watch from afar, watch the ones who have our hearts prosper, smile, and live, and with a faint smile, I have two red pill to take the blues away.
Thank you Abel Tesfaye, known as The Weeknd, for beautifully illustrating some of the most complex and dark emotions, and being able to put them in a project for those who are wallowing in the same melancholy as you are.