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The Weeknd‘s new album Dawn FM has polarized fans and critics everywhere of the popular Canadian singer. One common criticism of the album was its inclusion of sampled songs rather than original music. But just how much of Dawn FM isn’t original production?

The Weeknd
The Weeknd | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

‘Dawn FM’ is an album that harkens back to the ’80s

Following his smash album After Hours, released in early 2020, fans of The Weeknd have been eager to see what he’d do next — especially given the lack of touring due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In late 2021, he announced his After Hours ’til Dawn tour, which would be in support of his After Hours album as well as his new project Dawn FM.

Dawn FM is a concept album that takes fans into a “sonic universe” of The Weeknd’s creation. It’s designed as if you’re listening to an R&B or easy listening radio station in the 1980s, complete with radio station announcements for “Dawn 103.5.” The Weeknd’s friend, actor Jim Carrey, serves as the album’s radio host and narrator.

In a 2021 interview with GQ, he called the project “the album [he’s] always wanted to make.”

The album was written and created entirely in lockdown, which he told Billboard led to him taking a certain creative direction. “I started writing the [next] album during the pandemic, which felt like we’re all in this scary, unknown territory. And I wanted to make music I thought sounded like going outside — I was obsessed with that feeling,” he said. “I just felt like I didn’t know how to make this album until now. It probably would be too ambitious for me prior. I knew what I liked, but I felt like I didn’t have the skill sets to deliver that type of project until now.”

‘Out of Time’ sampled a popular Japanese song

While a common criticism of Dawn FM is that it relied too much on samples from other songs, in reality, only two tracks on the project are directly pulled from previously-released music.

“Out of Time,” for example, sounds like a classic ’80s R&B song. And its inclusion was intended: the song that the production samples is from 1983. “Midnight Pretenders” was a song written by Japanese composers Tomoko Aran and Tetsurō Oda, and originally performed by Aran.

Since then, “Midnight Pretenders” has been covered and sampled by numerous other artists.


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‘Sacrifice’ contains a sample from Alicia Meyers

“Sacrifice,” the album’s second single, contains Dawn FM‘s only other sample on the tracklist. The nu-disco song contains a sample from the 1982 song “I Want to Thank You” by R&B singer Alicia Myers. Coincidentally enough, Mariah Carey sampled the same song on her hit “Make It Happen.”

In the years since the peak of her career in the 1980s, Myers’ music has lived on through the sampling of other artists. In addition to Carey, other music stars such as Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, and E-40 have included “I Want to Thank You” in their own music.