The Weeknd: “Double Fantasy” [ft. Future]

For over a decade, Abel Tesfaye has mostly avoided controversy, content to let his music do the talking as he’s sketched out the contours of his Weeknd persona. That changed earlier this year, when Rolling Stone published an exposé in which crew members on his forthcoming HBO show The Idol, directed by embattled Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, decried its haphazard production environment and disturbing sexual content.

It’ll be impossible to say whether The Idol is a transgressive masterpiece or a degrading hot mess before it premieres in early June. (The internet seems to think the latter is more likely.) The first real look comes in the form of the Weeknd’s diffuse, windswept new single for the show’s soundtrack, “Double Fantasy.” It sounds like any other Weeknd song: luxuriously produced, knowingly cheesy and sleazy. Opening with a seamy saxophone line, it ramps up the freestyle influence that first cropped up on last year’s Dawn FM; the Weeknd’s voice weaves effortlessly between each tinny 808 clap as he sings ominously about “trap[ping] you in my arms.”

The elephant in the room here is Future: He and the Weeknd have collaborated five times now, never managing to improve on 2016’s masterfully dank “Low Life.” His verse here is boilerplate (“You a baddie, you turnin’ me on/Fiend for your demons, I know where this goin’”) and his delivery soporific; it feels like an afterthought on an otherwise mesmerizing song.