Today, the New York Times posted an in-depth profile of The Weeknd that dove into his mysterious past, and also focused on his bright future, and his breakthrough into pop music with his upcoming album, Beauty Behind the Madness. Abel specifically talked about how he was down on himself after the release of Kiss Land in 2013, when he then turned to Wendy Goldstein, who is the head of urban A&R at Republic Records. ‘‘I said, ‘You wanna be the biggest in the world?’ He said, ‘I absolutely wanna be the biggest in the world,’ ’’ Goldstein recalled.
From there, Abel was sent to mega-producer and profound hitmaker, Max Martin, where they first worked together on Ariana Grande's "Love Me Harder," which was The Weeknd's first foray into the pop world. Abel's verse for the collaboration was actually already written by Martin and his team for him, but he wasn't down with that because he has always has written his own material. This first encounter led Martin and The Weeknd to begin to craft Beauty Behind the Madness, which was done from scratch after Abel once again turned away any of the pre-written material that they had laid out for him.
They worked from scratch instead, and the first song they wrote was ‘‘In the Night,’’ the new album’s most electric moment, a homage to and an updating of peak-era Michael Jackson.
It remains to be seen how far The Weeknd can take his career in the pop lane, but as "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face" continue to slay on the charts, there seems to be little doubt that he made the right transition. "In that area, he’s even stronger than I thought," Jimmy Iovine said of Abel's pop music skills. Iovine reportedly tried to sign The Weeknd while he was still at Interscope, but has since opened up a connection under the newly-launched Apple Music. The Weeknd's Beauty Behind the Madness album is out next month, and the full New York Times piece can be read in full here.