When The Weeknd dropped “Blinding Lights” — recently named Billboard’s No. 1 Hot 100 song of all time — way back in 2019, the world was a much different place. The album that followed, After Hours, was released in March 2020, right around the time the coronavirus pandemic prompted worldwide lockdowns. Since then, it feels like we’ve all aged approximately 70 years. The Weeknd likely agrees.
That’s one reading of the cover art for his next album, titled Dawn FM, that features the artist caked in old-man makeup (liver spots and all) and wisened with long gray hair and a gray beard. As he announced earlier this week, Dawn FM will drop on Friday (January 7).
The Weeknd has spent the past few years playing with his own image, distorting his own features into an “Instagram face” look for the “Save Your Tears” video and appearing regularly in his other music videos and on TV appearances wrapped in bloody bandages. This latest foray into facial modification fits right in.
One notable place he appeared looking like himself was 2021’s Super Bowl LV halftime show, which proves that the artist born Abel Tasfaye is easily one of the biggest stars on the planet and therefore completely capable of pulling off the year’s first near-surprise album release.
Based on a trailer he released in conjunction with the album announcement, Dawn FM is “a new sonic universe from the mind of The Weeknd” and features an impressive and unusual list of guests. Tyler, the Creator, Lil Wayne, and electronic talent Oneohtrix Point Never are all named, as is music legend Quincy Jones and Tesfaye’s fellow Canadian Jim Carrey, of all people.
A voiceover from the fictional radio station of the title closes out the trailer with an ominous and vaguely cultish message: “You’ve been in the dark for way too long. It’s time to walk into the light and accept your fate with open arms.”
So, how are you going to spend the next three days until The Weeknd’s fifth album, Dawn FM, drops on Friday?