Reviews

The Weeknd “The Idol: Music From the HBO Original Series” Album Review

The Idol: Music From the HBO Original Series

The Weeknd

  • Genre: Soundtrack
  • Date: June 2023
  • Content: Explicit
  • Region: Worldwide
  • Track(s):
  • ℗ 2023 XO/ Republic/ HBO

The Weeknd &Quot;The Idol: Music From The Hbo Original Series&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 21, 2024

Suppose you have a keen interest in the music featured in the inaugural season of The Idol, an HBO production centring around a young female pop star. In that case, you can watch all five episodes to enjoy the performances of the cast members, who are also musicians. However, if your sole intention is to appreciate the music without getting caught up in the show’s convoluted plot, it’s best to avoid it. The Idol’s writing is substandard, and it employs graphic depictions of abuse to advance its storyline, only to reveal in a perplexing turn of events that the supposed victim was the perpetrator all along. This portrayal of the music industry is unconvincing and leaves the audience with an underwhelming resolution.

Anyway, let’s redirect our focus towards the incredible music presented in the show. The music from the HBO Original Series “The Idol” was initially released as a series of EPs between June 9-30. Now, these weekly teasers are compiled into a much more fulfilling and coherent soundtrack than what was heard on the show. While the selection of songs could have potentially been optimized as a collaborative album featuring The Weeknd and other talented artists, it is undeniable that the music showcases exceptional talent. Additionally, there may be potential for the show to elevate the pop career of burgeoning artist Lily-Rose Depp.

Album Art

The Weeknd &Quot;The Idol: Music From The Hbo Original Series&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 21, 2024

The album’s cover art seems to mirror the show’s central themes. It depicts The Weeknd donning a sweatshirt and sunglasses and carrying a toothpick while sitting in a red convertible alongside Lily. The duo is cruising through a region adorned with palm trees that may potentially be Studio City in Hollywood Heights, thereby insinuating the lavishness and luxury of the entertainment industry. The scorching summer sun contributes to the overall aesthetic appeal.

Tracks And Features

The soundtrack for the show is a series of six digital EPs, each corresponding to an episode. The first EP begins with the theme song “The Lure,” created by Mike Dean. The theme is built with spare chords and mournful humming by the Weeknd, giving it a foggy and atmospheric feel. The theme sets the tone for a decadent noir mood with plinky synth stabs and strings reminiscent of Ennio Morricone and the Stranger Things and Drive soundtracks. The following songs are all sexual synth tracks that use dramatic minor chords to suggest a seamy undertone. Despite the soundtrack’s quality, the show could have been better.

Dean’s song “Devil’s Paradise” is an instrumental piece that brings back the themes of “The Lure”. It features a saxophone solo that creates a dark and mysterious atmosphere. It is reminiscent of walking down a dimly lit alleyway in the late 80s, perhaps even asking for a cigarette from a suspicious guy in a blazer who leans against the wall. The score effectively transitions into “Double Fantasy”, the first single from The Weeknd and Future’s album. Although the lyrics are awkward, the bassline by Metro Boomin is excellent. “The Lure” is a common thread throughout each song, especially those by The Weeknd. “A Lesser Man” is a song about gaslighting, told from the perspective of Tedros, who disguises threats as weakness. The cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” is also a standout track, with Carpenter-esque arpeggios that give the song an ominous feel. “Take Me Back” completes the classic script of an abuser, with Tedros begging for forgiveness and blaming his past. The Weeknd’s hurtful vocals, along with the soaring synthesizers, make it melodramatically beautiful. However, this may not be enough to escape the claustrophobic universe of The Idol, especially when followed by Moses Sumney’s seductive “Get It B4”.

Depp’s performance as a first-time pop singer is commendable in this context. Her light rasp adds to the song’s credibility, even when she sings lines like “Spit in my mouth while you turn me out” in the Weeknd’s “One of the Girls.” Unfortunately, even BLACKPINK’s Jennie couldn’t save the song from being subpar. “Dollhouse,” which evokes a Lana Del Rey-style sex dirge about submission, includes Lily-Depp. The song’s listeners will notice that it’s not entirely evident from the lyrics whether or not humour is intended. However, humour exists in the music on some level.

It’s hard to anticipate the vulnerability in John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” However, the way Dean creates a subtle, ethereal accompaniment to the lyrics is imposing. While Tedros may be toying with the characters’ emotions in “The Idol,” the Weeknd’s emotive vocals show that he’s fully invested in the song’s sentiment.

The Weeknd’s “Like a God” and “False Idols” (featuring Lil Baby and Suzanna Son) blend uplifting elegance with a decaying, down-tuned melodicism. In “Like a God,” the lyrics speak of a divine overseer who reigns by “making you hurt again, so you can heal and say ‘Amen.'” Meanwhile, “False Idols” reminds all that they should be careful who they deem as a god, as the lyrics suggest that the protagonist can’t function without their “pole and rod.” The song also boasts about the protagonist’s success, having made a hundred million and being good at their job.”

A light-hearted approach to sexual popsploitation seems to be the most effective, especially on the standout track of the soundtrack, “World Class Sinner/I’m a Freak”. This campy and cinematic single, reminiscent of Ally/Lady Gaga’s “Why Did You Do That?” from A Star Is Born, was co-written by the talented duo of The Weeknd and Asa Taccone – known for their work on “Dick in a Box” and “The Weeknd’s Dark Secret” from American Dad!. The song’s lyrics, which include lines such as “I’m tryna find someone to bang”, are just absurd enough to let us in on the joke. The show portrays the song as a throwaway pop track, highlighting the central dilemma of The Idol: it doesn’t know how to have fun. This confusion muddles its already troubled thesis (the music industry is full of users). It is exemplified in scenes such as Mike Dean emerging from his custom Tesla, holding a giant bong, a blunt, and even a second blunt tucked behind his ear.

Tracklist

Song Title Artist(s) Album Duration
Like A God The Weeknd The Idol Episode 5 Part 1 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 3:47
One Of The Girls The Weeknd, JENNIE, Lily Rose Depp The Idol Episode 4 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 4:05
False Idols The Weeknd, Lil Baby, Suzanna Son The Idol Episode 5 Part 1 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 4:23
Jealous Guy The Weeknd The Idol Episode 4 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 3:30
Fill The Void The Weeknd, Lily Rose Depp, Ramsey The Idol Episode 4 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 3:06
A Lesser Man The Weeknd The Idol Episode 3 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 4:59
Take Me Back The Weeknd The Idol Episode 3 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 3:48
Get It B4 Moses Sumney The Idol Episode 3 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 4:23
Family The Weeknd, Suzanna Son The Idol Episode 2 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 3:04
Devil’s Paradise MIKE DEAN The Idol Episode 2 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 5:39
Double Fantasy (feat. Future) The Weeknd The Idol Episode 2 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 4:29
The Lure (Main Theme) The Weeknd, MIKE DEAN The Idol Episode 1 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 4:38
World Class Sinner / I’m A Freak Lily-Rose Depp The Idol Episode 1 (Music from the HBO Original Series) 3:20
Popular (Music from the HBO Original Series) (feat. Playboi Carti) The Weeknd, Madonna Popular (From The Idol Vol. 1 (Music from the HBO Original Series)) 3:36

Album Summary

The creators of The Idol possess a certain level of condescension towards their viewers, despite investing a substantial amount of resources into producing such amazing pop music that is both mass-produced and sometimes feels jaded, ultimately falling short of their intended criticism of the industry. While some viewers may not be overly concerned with the renewal of the show, the soundtrack itself is a source of immense gratification for those who eagerly anticipate the future musical endeavours of the artists involved.

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