Deep Dive to The Weeknd's Cinematic Discography Part 1: The TRILOGY Act

Take a close look at The Weeknd's debut album Trilogy.

Ever since his first EP, ''House of Balloons'', Abel Tesfaye, known professionally as The Weeknd, has managed to stand out as one of the most defining artists of our time with his unique music production, artistic reinventions, and, in my opinion, his rare talent as a musician to create albums that almost feel like Martin Scorsese movies. However, just recently in an interview with W Magazine, Abel revealed he didn’t want to use the name ''The Weeknd'' in the future. He said that he wants to ''kill The Weeknd'', not immediately but maybe soon. Abel later explained ''As The Weeknd, I’ve said everything I can say.” Whether he stays as the Weeknd or uses his name, his legacy will always be here even after his ''reborn''. However, the Weeknd is no stranger to new personas and reinvention throughout his music. So let's take a deep dive at a pop star's thrilling discography and this is part one, The Trilogy Act.

The Trilogy Act is still considered to be his best era by many fans, including myself. The ''Trilogy'' album consists of three mixtapes: ''House of Balloons'', ''Thursday'' and ''Echoes of Silence'' and three previously unreleased songs, "Twenty-Eight", "Valerie", and "Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun)".

Trilogy brought a new whole perspective on the R&B genre, it even influenced Drake’s sophomore hit album, Take Care. The album was acclaimed by many as one of the most influential R&B releases of the 2010s and is still influential today. Trilogy might be one of his most personal and uncensored albums as he talks about his rough growing up within the borders of Scarborough and Toronto. The trilogy overall has a dark aesthetic, production, and lyrical content on it. The Trilogy Act is the introduction to the persona ''The Weeknd''. The album is all about his beautiful dark twisted fantasies infused with sex and drugs. The most appealing and cinematic thing about the album is that it tells a disturbing but authentic story in a such beautiful genuine way that it taps into our subconscious. All the themes like escaping from reality, regret, loneliness, coming-of-age stories, and substance abuse, are just exquisitely portrayed in the artist's lyrics. All themes would later explored in his other albums. It is almost as if we are also escaping from our mundane everyday lives to a new psychedelic dream world. The artist warns us on the beginning track ''High For This'' and the lyrics go by ''Close your eyes, lay beside me/Hold tight for this ride.'' From the first track of his discography, now we are not in real life, but the Weeknd's world. Alongside the first welcoming words in ''High For This'', now we are in the House of Balloons. The whole album feels like a big happy party but it is not that happy even though Abel claims ''This is a happy house'' in the track ''House of Balloons'', it is ironic as this party is not a fun one as the atmosphere is more eclectic and darker.

The aesthetic branding of the album exactly stands in line with the hedonistic vibes of the album. The visuals for the albums have many cinematic influences. Abel himself wrote about this in his open letter to his fans, explaining that he ''grew up idolizing storytellers who tell stories using symbolism, so it was in my nature to do the same.'' One of the most influential figures in the Weeknd's music is without a doubt, David Lynch. Lynch's cinema is filled with many themes that built the foundation of the Weeknd's music such as escapism to the other worlds and diving into the subconscious, especially in Trilogy and ''Kiss Land''. In the music video, ''Lonely Star'' the appearance of Abel's girl's eyes on the long empty road references David Lynch's ''Lost Highway''. Cinematic masterpieces of Lynch, such as ''Mulholland Drive'', ''Wild at Heart'' and ''Blue Velvet are not directly referenced in any visuals of the album, however, the presence of the energy and dark mysterious atmosphere of Lynch's cinema are felt throughout the album.

The album photo shoot and the cover photo also reflect the overall vibes and mood of the album brilliantly. In the cover photo, the Weeknd is embraced by a woman but the woman's face is blurred, which might be reflecting the emptiness and his nihilistic approach to sex and relationships or he might reference to lyrics ''I'll be making love to her through you/So let me keep my eyes closed'' on ''The Zone'', the cover reflecting his emotional disconnection with this girl.

This is what makes him one of the most unique and groundbreaking artists of the 2010s and 20s: his dedication and attention to detail to create movie-like albums. Everything from the visuals, photography, and lyrics to aesthetics, fashion, and cultural references are conscientiously curated specifically for each new persona for the new era. This was only the part 1. Stay tuned for the next chapter: Kiss Land.