#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, week of 12/17/16
What it is: The third studio album from alternative R&B singer The Weeknd.
Like previous reviewees Drake, Frank Ocean and Travis Scott, the Weeknd represents a collapse of any meaningful distinctions between rap and melodic R&B; he never raps himself, but his sung lyrics often assume the swagger and the more jittery rhythms of hip-hop. (“Grew up with no father so nobody ever ‘son’ me/My flow too sick, Kevin Costner couldn’t touch me.”) And as with Drake, even though I see the appeal of the Weeknd’s atmospheric production, I find his bragplaints about the emptiness of his luxurious and sex-filled life (“Baby girl I loved you on a lonely night, oh/It was the only time/And if I led you on then I apologize”) dull and enervating. I don’t know if this is an accurate generalization or not, but a disproportionate amount of pop music sounds to me like it’s targeted specifically at the ennui of young people rich enough to afford music festival tickets and too shallow to be able to think of anything better to do.