The Weeknd’s Starboy is a platinum-level success, thanks to the two Daft Punk-produced singles. So it’s hard to quibble with the choices made by the artist, his team, and his label. Yes, packing 18 songs into a project seems to prioritize gaming streaming totals for album sales over being a critically respected artiste, but when you reach the top of pop, it’s the money that talks.
And yet, we must talk about “Reminder” being chosen as the Weeknd‘s next single, according to a label rep. The production—a lush thumper buttressed by a red-light whir of a key riff—is decent, but it mainly falters in how it’s a standard restatement of the Weeknd’s vices. We know that he’s “got that Hannibal, Silence of the Lambo” because he’s rich and understandably has a love of Lamborghinis. We know that he’s “just tryna swim in something wetter than the ocean” because it’s been established that that’s his thing. We know that when he “travel[s] ’round the globe,” he “make[s] a couple mil a show,” because he has no choice—have you seen how expensive that stage setup is? A bunch of his contemporaries could make the same exact claims, including Drake, whose appearance in the “Reminder” video is one of the few things interesting about the song.
The fact that “Reminder” is the next single is especially maddening because there’s so much better material to be found in the soup that is Starboy. Those songs actually appear right after “Reminder” on the track list. A melancholic burner that mines Tears for Fears’ “Pale Shelter” and the Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep,” “Secrets” succeeds not because it exudes ’80s pastiche but in how *his performance hints at a emotional dexterity* that’s absent for most of the album. “Rockin'” is the lesser of the two, but the neon synths carry enough effervescence to be an obvious summer smash.
Again, Starboy singles have been objectionably successful—the title track hit No. 1; the warm, Daft Punk-featuring “I Feel It Coming” hit No. 4, and “Party Monster,” a promo track, made it to No. 16. “I Feel It Coming” is the only one of the three that strayed away from the sparse, nocturnal, Weeknd aesthetic we all know. On the surface, it seems disingenuous to suggest an artist should turn away from a lane he founded, and even crueler to consequently let biters Tory Lanez and PARTYNEXTDOOR to continue feasting off the extra table space. But innovation followed by over-saturation isn’t a new phenomenon: Britpop died because it suffocated itself with faux-Oasises. The Weeknd should make a left turn with that Lambo.