80s nostalgia has been a new trend in pop music that hasn’t fizzled as more artists begin to steer toward it. In 2020, Dua Lipa and The Weeknd embraced it and elevated the sound, further launching them to megastardom. Recently, many artists have begun to embrace this trend and morph with their style, like Marina and her nostalgic shift on Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land. However, many artists haven’t been able to make the kind splash Dua Lipa and The Weeknd. The Weeknd continues to have an impact with his new single, “Take My Breath.” We hear an expansion of his range as we see a dynamic shift from his last album, After Hours, as he conquers a new nostalgic decade.
On After Hours, The Weeknd found proper equilibrium amongst modern styles and the sonic tenacities of pop music in the 80s. From “Save Your Tears” to “Heartless,” you can hear how these young producers have the will to learn and harness a style, further adding weight to their range. Like Mark Ronson mentioned on a recent episode of the podcast, Switched On Pop: while working with Amy Winehouse, he wasn’t aware of the music she wanted to emulate, but he learned, and they made dynamite songs together. The slow and tempered jazz music didn’t fit within his limits of comfortability before, and he makes it work. It makes the production of After Hours stand out more than his previous works. Fortunately, he had Max Martin to polish the electric-nostalgia overtones.
As one of the most notable pop producers since the 90s, Max Martin has been elevating pop year by year, which is rare to see in a producer. It continues to translate as he blends the synths with bubbly percussion and a groovy bass lick. Co-Producer, Oscar Holter, helps blend layers, which shift the parameters between disco and synth-wave. None of these have been inherent strengths of Max Martin, with Oscar filling in the talent with synths. It makes the production of “Take My Breath” breathtaking as you see masters at work.
Mirroring the style of Eurodance and Electronic music from the 90s, which focused on catchy grooves instead of memorable choruses, has given this song a different platform that it wouldn’t have had. It is like “Rhythm Is A Dancer” by Snap, which perfectly defines this notion of the groove, opposed to the catchy chorus. Like most songs of that caliber, from the 90s, it was about the sound, and we’ve seen it with songs like “Better Off Alone” by Alice DJ. Adding to the nuances of the 90s is an elongated opening that teases the listener before the drop. Its translation throughout the years in pop and electronic music is as dynamic as gun noises in hip-hop production.
However, underneath these luscious overtones are remnants of 80s synth-wave acts like Nena and John Carpenter. The vibrant synths carry their weight as we embark on this new sonic journey with The Weeknd, which continues to be as transcendent as the few instances on After Hours – “Save Your Tears” and “Too Late.” Like those songs, he grabs what he is given and elevates them to a higher ceiling, especially on the dance floor. I’ve never felt such passion within the confines of its BPM. It isn’t like the bold colors of the dance floors that once ravaged nightclubs during the 70s and 80s. What he does is transfix our muscles to groove to a smooth Michael Jackson-esque groove, and at the end of the day, that’s all we could ever want.
Assuming the album is similar to the sound of “Take My Breath,” it will be different than After Hours. The Weeknd’s fixation on lights, especially from the stark beauty of Sin City, were mood changers for the music that mixed the gutless partier and the emotional romantic. “Take My Breath” sparks the romantic inside, with temptation and passion fueling his desires. I, for one, cannot wait for the release of The Dawn as he drives home new sensations that come from the lights that shine on you.
Check Out “Take My Breath” wherever music is streaming or on YouTube.