When the Weeknd released the trailer for his new album Dawn FM at the beginning of the week, it came with a carefully curated list of skilled collaborators: rappers Lil Wayne and Tyler, the Creator, experimental-electronic composer Oneohtrix Point Never, and super-producer Quincy Jones. Oh, and Jim Carrey, too. It wasn’t quite a surprise that Abel Tesfaye, who’s become one of the biggest pop stars in the world as the Weeknd, worked with the comedian. For one, they’re neighbors in Los Angeles, where they enjoy messing with telescopes from their respective balconies (as, apparently, rich people do). On top of that, Carrey is one of the Weeknd’s heroes — the musician has chalked his long-standing interest in film up to Carrey’s The Mask, which he said was the first movie he ever saw in theaters. They’re even both originally from Toronto!
Yes, sure, that’s all sweet. But you’re still wondering, What’s Jim Carrey doing on a Weeknd album? To put it simply: stealing the show. More accurately, actually, he’s running it. The Weeknd has fashioned Dawn FM as the radio broadcast that fills one’s final hour of purgatory, and Carrey himself is the DJ guiding listeners to their final destination. “You’ve been in the dark for way too long,” Carrey says on the introduction, “Dawn FM.” “It’s time to walk into the light and accept your fate with open arms. Scared? Don’t worry. We’ll be there to hold your hand and guide you through this painless transition.”
And Carrey really is the perfect guide for the project. His voice is comforting and singsongy, especially in a final, children’s-rhyme-like outro message (more on that soon). He’s funny, obviously, and the Weeknd doesn’t seem to be trying to play this aspect of his album fully straight. (“Don’t you dare touch that dial, because like the song says, you are out of time,” he quips at the end of “Out of Time.”) And, crucially, he’s a little creepy, too, which fits given he’s guiding listeners through their death — and could just as easily be a demon or an angel. The role is How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show, with a dash of Bruce Almighty for good measure.
Musicians have been modeling albums after radio broadcasts for decades, with host spots and all. Dawn FM puts a fittingly Weeknd spin on the trope with the sci-fi focus on the afterlife. The Weeknd commits to the album’s bit too, singing jingles for his fake station, 103.5 Dawn FM, and recording a commercial on the interlude “Every Angel Is Terrifying” (with a cameo from his friend Josh Safdie). But the best part of it all is the ending, where Dawn FM turns from a typical radio broadcast to Jim Carrey lulling listeners into the next life. Carrey goes completely Dr. Seuss for the closing track, “Phantom Regret by Jim,” his final words as the Weeknd’s music — and the journey through purgatory it accompanied — ends. Aside from being the closest thing to ASMR on the album, it puts the themes about life and reflection into stark relief. “Heaven’s for those who let go of regret / And you have to wait here when you’re not all there yet,” he explains. And you wanna talk about letting loose? Well, Jim Carrey’s just the guy. “God knows life is chaos, but He made one thing true,” he continues. “You gotta unwind your mind, train your soul to align / And dance till you find that divine boogaloo.”