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What's Next For The Weeknd?

Written by Robert Sweeney. Published: March 15 2023
( © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Live Nation)


The Weeknd’s most recent project, Dawn FM, ends with a haunting monologue from actor Jim Carrey. Carrey concludes the album, crooning, “You gotta be Heaven to see Heaven,” over a brooding organ tinged with warping synthesizers. With this foreboding final track, entitled “Phantom Regret by Jim”, bringing both a somber yet hopeful end to a bouncing album filled with dance anthems, many listeners are left reflecting on the larger experience provided by the singer born Abel Tesfaye. These final words echo through the listeners' ears, encouraging them to look to the future for The Weeknd’s continuation of his musical journey. 


Since the global craze that followed Dawn FM and its predecessor After Hours, fans of the eclectic singer have stayed glued to their seats, anxiously anticipating The Weeknd’s next steps towards his next project. The artist has been known for his world-building concept albums since his earliest releases, found in his 2011 mixtapes such as House of Balloons,Thursday, and Echoes of Silence. Die-hard fans will recognize these 3 groundbreaking mixtapes that catapulted the Toronto singer to stardom through his vivid descriptions of dark house parties and the lost souls that inhabit them. The following year, the 3 mixtapes were compiled into a full album entitled Trilogy, weaving The Weeknd’s seamless stories of melancholy and jetset lifestyle into a combined experience.


A lot has changed since the release of these early mixtapes, as The Weeknd’s brooding lyrics matched with stellar production has captured the ears of thousands of listeners worldwide in recent years. 


Following the release of his most recent album, The Weeknd took to Twitter to hint his plans for the future. In January of 2022, he tweeted: “I wonder…did you know you’re experiencing a new trilogy?” This shook the internet with speculation of a possible overarching story arc between Dawn FM and After Hours as well as the possibility of the singer’s expansion into other music genres.



With high expectations and an intriguing conclusion ahead, let’s dive into what listeners can possibly expect from this new era of The Weeknd!


The After Hours Til Dawn Tour

The most recent update fans have received can be traced back to The Weeknd’s most recent tweet following his highly-anticipated After Hours Til Dawn Tour. On February 18, the singer tweeted: “HBO concert will be the last piece of Dawn FM. i can see the horizon…” This refers to the recorded live performance of the tour taking place at Los Angeles’s SoFi Stadium. HBO Max subscribers have been granted a look into the tour’s career-spanning setlist and show-stopping stage design. During the concert recording, The Weeknd blissfully delivers the intricate and ethereal vocals listeners know so well, all while navigating a stage surrounded by replicas of burning towers and a humongous dangling sphere representing the Moon. During his set, both old and new songs are performed but with a show-stealing twist that is only unique to the After Hours Til Dawn Tour: a live band accompanying Tesfaye, paired with eerie synthesizer chords that cannot be found on the songs’ studio recordings. The performance at SoFi Stadium successfully provides viewers with an entrancing concert experience that lasts for an hour and thirty minutes, leaving fans hungry for more. This wish was granted with the recent release of the concert’s live album on music streaming platforms. As avid listeners and die-hard fans now have access to the unique live renditions of The Weeknd’s catalog, the singer’s mysterious tweet still lingers. If this phenomenal performance really is the last piece of  the Dawn FM era, what can listeners derive from the live performance? One aspect that stands out immediately to fans is the unique addition of droning synthesizers and choral harmonies to songs of the singer’s pre-existing discography. One of the most notable examples of this can be found in the performance of the hit-song “Often”, as the its previous moody production gains heightened eeriness and emotion through the presence of shrill and urgent synthesizers. This could possibly point to The Weeknd’s next project being further focused on the use of synthesizers both used to uplift and darken the album’s various moods.




The “Trilogy” He’s Hinted At 

Following Tesfaye’s cryptic tweet hinting at a new trilogy, fans have speculated about the combination of themes followed throughoutDawn FM and After Hours. With hypotheses about the appearance of the singer’s face presented on the cover of both albums to the sounds of both projects, die-hard fans of the singer have begun speculation on what the following album could possibly contain. Taking into consideration Dawn FM’s tighter story (which presumably follows the singer being taken through the afterlife with help from an all-knowing radio station host), The Weeknd’s next project could pick up right where it left off. Throughout the years, fans have followed the shocking lore of his past projects, analyzing music videos that feature the same characters and follow Tesfaye’s unique eras of rebirth. One such music video shook the internet as a whole, as the visuals for the 2016 song “Starboy” (off the album of the same name) features the singer killing his old persona in a grisly fashion. The various music videos for After Hours follow The Weeknd navigating a fast-paced lifestyle, earning bandages and bloody scars from his various adventures. However, fans were kept on their toes with the releases of Dawn FM’s visuals, depicting the singer with aged gray hair in a swirling and sinister nightclub. With an album coming on the heels of this recent project, fans of the larger lore will surely be paying close attention to the singer’s mysterious visuals and overarching storyline in future singles. 




Dawn FM Presents New Ideas

The Weeknd is no stranger to ominous themes and storytelling lyrics, with songs that cover heartbreak, bursts of confidence, and the cold comfort of a bouncing nightclub. While these themes are closely explored in earlier albums, they seem to reach their climax in the predecessor to Dawn FM, 2020’s After Hours. In this album, Tesfaye explores a seedy underworld of cheap thrills and the toll it takes on the singer. Songs soundtrack these nights with thumping beats and whirling production, pointing to the highs and lows of the party scene. However, many of these themes are left in the past during Dawn FM, with many of the songs on the setlist focused more closely on the overcoming of loss and feelings of bargaining. Songs such as “I Heard You’re Married” and “Is There Someone Else?” present The Weeknd in a more mature setting, dealing with the repercussions of his past lifestyle outlined in the previous album. While keeping Dawn FM’s themes in mind, it seems only natural that The Weeknd’s next outing could focus on lyrics of acceptance and moving forward through grief. 




Upon looking at Dawn FM’s 16-track setlist, it is also notable that Tesfaye is dipping into collaboration. Throughout the album, it seems that The Weeknd is not alone in his state of reflection, as musical guests deliver verses that fit the album’s themes. The features include: Tyler, The Creator, Lil Wayne, legendary producer Quincy Jones, and a most unorthodox appearance from actor Jim Carrey. These musical guests add to Dawn FM perfectly, providing differing perspectives on loss and unrequited love. This presence of musical features juxtaposes the lone journey of After Hours, giving further depth to the world of the album. This begs the question: Will this use of featured artists continue in his next project? Listeners can only hope for now, wishing for their favorite artists to take their place next to the pop sensation on the conclusion to his journey. 


Building A World To Lose Yourself In

The past can be hard to revisit for some, but certainly not for The Weeknd. With a rich discography that outlines various eras in the singer’s career as well as experimentation with different genres, Abel Tesafye has created quite the musical resume. While it may be cliché to state that The Weeknd boasts something for everyone, it may be more important to focus on the different topics and vivid lyrics the singer has explored throughout the years. With his blast into stardom revolving around his iconic, soaring vocals and catchy choruses, it is apparent that new listeners have turned to earlier anthems to refresh themselves on the story so far. Just recently, Spotify revealed that Tesfaye has a staggering 100 million monthly listeners, earning him a spot as one of the most listened to musicians in the world.


Whether it's a moody late-night drive that needs just a touch of neon-drenched emotion or a thumping house party that could benefit from a disco-tinged sing-along, you cannot go wrong with The Weeknd. As for what’s next, we’ll just have to sit and wait for our expectations to be fulfilled and, undoubtedly, surpassed!