The Weeknd – Dawn FM: Review

We’ve taken an exhaustively fun and thrilling ride from his debut to After Hours; from a front-row seat, we hear The Weeknd encapsulate and transition into 80s nostalgia with composure as the adrenaline rushes high. But The Weeknd, along with co-producers, don’t let nostalgia shroud over the complexities to keep sonic sensibilities modern. Dawn FM continues that, and more effectively. In a proposed trilogy, After Hours is now the appetizer, as we hear his progression in maturity – musically. However, The Weeknd gives us an afterthought – after the fun and thrills, what was it all for when you’re still left gutted with past regrets. He takes note of late-night radio and creates a similar atmosphere to parallel the sentiments of the average listener – it also maintains a proper balance of genre influence and his intricate ear for music with his producers.

Fans of The Weeknd are no stranger to his idolization of actor/comedian Jim Carrey and his soft-tender-NPR-like vocals add visceral layers to the slight melancholic sounds for the dance floor. As it transitions from the intro, Carrey’s vocals remind us what’s arriving: an album reminiscent of the deep cuts from the genres from where he’s taking influence. However, more surprises come from its slight detachment from the first single, “Take Me Breath.” 

Calling the sounds of Dawn FM melancholic, I’ll put, my perspective speaks on the vagueness of the sound in comparison to past productions. We’ve heard The Weeknd flow in both directions – melancholic or heightened pop – and there is less of the latter. However, It’s something which this isn’t devoid of, evident with “Take My Breath,” produced by Max Martin and Oscar Holter. At first, you get a whiff of the upbeat 80s electronic and new wave dance styles – from the riffs to the synths, I was left in awe by the complexities within the production. It’s bombastic and fluid, encapsulating that visceral “Star Boy” energy while embodying different themes. It comes after the darkly-digital electronic track “How Do I Make You Love Me,” as it weaves these hypnotic melodies with the multi-layered production. It’s a testament to the producers and engineers to craft an album, where if you have your transition setting to zero seconds, it brings one constant flow from start to finish.

Despite some of the dance floor coating, it plays like listening to a late-night station focused on delivering danceable vibes while keeping your head afloat through the depth of the songwriting, interludes, and production style. Like I’ve mentioned before, The Weeknd has been through countless trials and tribulations, akin to a consistent lifestyle he has portrayed. He’s never shied away from it, and frankly, we have gotten some of his biggest hits, like “Party Monster” and “Low Life,” from it. However, shit starts coming back around, and he’s finding himself in purgatory lamenting. Like his album cover, interjecting thoughts of his wrongs with little rights create an embodiment of a man stuck in the dark. The potent lyrics are as effective as the melodies, which The Weeknd brings plenty.

“Is There Someone Else?” for example, see The Weeknd reflecting on a nudge that has him seeing his partner finding comfort in someone else after constant fighting within their relationship. On the surface, we hear these regrets, his lack of understanding, and that unbearable weight as he tries to define himself. But one thing kept rattling through my head – how does it weave together in the bigger picture? “Less Than Zero” sees The Weeknd adding another dimension to his person, and part of it comes from understanding both perspectives. On “Less Than Zero,” The Weeknd sings: “Remember I was your hero, yeah/I’d wear your heart like a symbol/I couldn’t save you from my darkest truth of all/I know/I’ll always be less than zero,” which could symbolize a few things – his infidelity or his lifestyle.

The Weeknd isn’t always headstrong, but the production doesn’t sway you in opposing directions. The production for Dawn FM comes primarily from Max Martin, The Weeknd, and Oneohtrix Point Never, with an occasional co-lead from Swedish House Mafia. The latter produces the second single and immediate standout, “Sacrifice.” The dazzling production takes a lot of cues from funk/synth-pop hybrids as it incorporates slick electric guitar riffs with a rustic gloss. Unfortunately, I can’t keep gushing about the album without noting what didn’t work for me: the features. Usually, a Weeknd song with a feature hits, or it doesn’t lower/raise the quality, but on Dawn FM, it’s one for two. Tyler, the Creator comes with a little of column A and column B, while Lil Wayne phases in and out. The album maybe could have flourished brighter if The Weeknd went solo. But that is neither here nor there because the features don’t completely diminish the return.

Dawn FM is nearly perfect, even when it is a little loaded with slightly weak archetypal hybrids near the end and one forgettable feature. I was left transfixed through this concept, and it plays to the strengths of the artist and producers. It will see steady rotation, especially as I, along with other fans, dance the night away.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: A Case For The Go Go’s

Who are The Go Go’s?

The Go Go’s were energetic female youths trying to make their way in the punk scene, an aspiration beyond belief, and fortunately they came at the right time when some of the post-punk era was transitioning into the synth heavy – punk influenced new wave. Their debut, Beauty and the Beat is heralded as one a cornerstone in American new wave, that included artists like Devo, The B52’s, and Talking Heads. The band consisted of singer Belinda Carlisle, guitarist Charlotte Caffey, bassist Kathy Valentine, rhythm guitarist Jane Wieldlin, and drummer Gina Schock.

The Go Go’s immediate rise with their two big singles off their debut, Beauty and The Beat, opened eyes and ears to other american acts who have been doing it, like the bands Berlin and Oingo Bongo. But what initially brought the many eyes and ears to befall onto them was the notion that they were  one of the first female bands who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments. There was never a shadow lurking behind the scenes with a room full of writers. New Wave was a prominent component behind the cultural shift in music and that social dynamic throughout many regions.

With many artists coming and growing from the trenches have been more affluent in the sounds of disco and pop, letting foreign nations regain dominance in rock and roll. There were some bands that tried to bridge their direction with these popular sounds and eventually make it their own, but The Go Go’s were the ones who dominated, but opened more doors. As well, they did something American artists rarely did, and that is compete and win on the charts during a domination of new wave music from across the Atlantic, especially in one of the biggest eras of music in the United Kingdom known by some as the Second British Invasion.

The Music

The Go Go’s debut, Beauty and the Beat, is a proper showcase of what their career is defined as; bridging these popular new sounds with their own unique fun and poppy delivery, which became part of a big culture-shift (musically) in the 80s. With many male dominant bands running amuck and stealing limelights, not many female artists made a huge name for themselves in this stratosphere. It was unlike Disco and Soul where female artists could make gangbusters in popularity and deliver consistency, with a lot of their hits feeling like a remnant of the past and never feeling dated. I mean, to this day, Disco has seen its own versions of modernized sounds, which never feel dated – meaning it could be played at the genre’s peak decade and nobody would bat an eye. The same goes for The Go Go’s, whose sound was a blend of new wave and synth pop rock, where a current uptick in synth pop has been growing again in the pop world. 

The Go Go’s subsequent releases, Vacation and Talk Show, maintained the authenticity that kept the Go Go’s in this unique sphere away from others in the genre. It was profound for many, at the time, because there was no one behind the scenes writing chords, percussion patterns, and lyrics of the song. So what they did was beyond imaginable at the time considering the gender cultural norms, and for those cognizant to remember – wasn’t it was crazy to imagine how this little band made such an impact in the 80s, especially in the way their two singles from Beauty and the Beat performed on the Billboard charts?

“We Got The Beat,” was their first major hit on the charts, peaking at #2, opposed to their first single, “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which peaked at 20. Beyond that, the way it shifted the way the new wave genre eventually transitioned away from the gloomier – rainy day punk undertones to more vibrant pop synth patterns. But their take on those kinds of rooted songs was something all its own.

The music The Go Go’s made infiltrated many club mixes and playlists, and its ongoing presence still has relevance today. We still hear the songs in circulation within films and other avenues. I mean Spider-Man: Far From Home gave “Vacation” a new resurgence that summer and today we still hear it circling many pop radios when they categorically shift from those 3 Hot 100s tracks to a throwback on certain stations, amongst other notable and fantastic tracks that are embodiments of new wave, but have a wider range in demographics. Tracks like “Head Over Heels” and “Get Up And Go,” are perfect embodiments of a slower – tempo new wave sound, and though there is this consistency throughout their first three albums that allow their singles to feed off them and create these effervescent attraction to their cohesion of instrumental layers. As well, they don’t trend in these bleak directions and keep a constant uptick, which later new wave acts would adapt like the liveliness of Duran Duran’s funkadelic take on new wave.

A lot of their songs grasp ears with many illustrious songs like “This Town” and “Turn To You.” From Belinda Carlise’s sultry-raspy vocals boast her skills and the grimy strings, which play an intricate part in the overall sound that has minimal focus on its synthesizers. They let their vocal pitches and effects turn the turnstile swiftly beneath the overlaying instrumentation. And The Go Go’s band members’ different vocal pitches become the unsung hero, no pun intended, in their music, like on “Turn to You,” and “Yes or No,” have varying degrees of instrumental isolations where they let their inner pop-glam come out from behind the surface level new wave aesthetic.


Amongst the many potential inductees, one has to think like a voter and how we view these artists in the bigger scheme.

LL Cool J had one helluva 80s and early 90s with his inclusions in the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. His legacy doesn’t have the kind of impact one would expect, unlike Jay-Z, who paved his legacy with consistency and profound works, even in his later years – i.e. 4:44 and American Gangster. A lot of these artists are testaments to the greatness behind an era in which they had a predominant presence in, as well as the wider cultural spectrum, like how potential nominee Iron Maiden had a profound effect on the melodic shifts in heavy metal or Tina Turner whose chameleon-like vocal pitches allowed her to turn a constant array of varying and impactful sounds in her solo career.

The Go Go’s made a statement that helped bend the idealistic social shift, specifically in the industry that was more cut-dry between writers and performers. Their youth and expressive personalities allowed them to become these bigger than life with ear-popping color and dance moves and grooves that made them pop more, especially with the amount of videos that are from live performances evoking their infectious nature. And it stems from the content of their music and the women they were at their peak – young and in charge and cool, which is what we all want to feel like.

I believe that through the many bands we have had in our lifetime, there haven’t been a lavish amount of stage stealing energy from the predominant new wave bands. It was almost as if, due to a genre’s popularity you aren’t guaranteed star power and these transformative airplay, but the ones that do have left a major impact on the YouTube and streaming service time machine. I personally love the band and new wave, so it isn’t hard to see how they have stuck out, as much as bands like the Talking Heads and Tears for Fears. The Go Go’s have been waiting long enough and it is time the Hall lets them in.