The Weeknd is lastly dealing with the music after surprising the general public along with his ever-evolving face.
Fans have questioned the singer’s search for properly over a yr, as he’s been seen sporting variations of a bloody-and-bruised visage for his album “After Hours,” lengthy earlier than his much-hyped Super Bowl 2021 halftime efficiency.
But the singer, whose actual identify is Abel Tesfaye, cautioned from the get-go that it was a persona he created for the fourth studio album.
“There’s also a very committed vision and character being portrayed, and I get to explore a different side of me that my fans have never seen,” he revealed in an interview for CR Fashion Book in March 2020. Having simply turned 30 — his birthday is February 16 — he had stated the album in its entirety served as an “introduction to the next chapter of my life.”
However, within the hours main up to his massive recreation day efficiency — The Weeknd actually broke it down: “The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” he defined to Variety. “It’s all a progression and we watch The Character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on.”
The facial saga started within the “Heartless” video, launched in December 2019, as his pink suit-wearing character has a wild evening out in Las Vegas. But issues take a darkish flip in “Blinding Lights,” his second single, which picks up the place “Heartless” left off. It’s additionally the primary time he debuted the defaced face that had followers involved.
But those that thought The Weeknd’s terrifying efficiency artwork can be a one-off assertion turned out to be useless improper. Here’s a timeline of The Weeknd’s about-face.
January 2020: “Blinding Lights” video
The “Blinding Lights” video, which debuted in January, marked the primary of many shock-and-awe events for the singer.
Wearing what would change into his new signature uniform — a pink go well with over a black button-down shirt — his face seems bloody after a fall and an altercation staged within the video. He replicated the search for a efficiency on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” later in January.
At the time, followers had been clueless about this macabre persona. But the singer later defined the darkish that means of the observe to Esquire in August: “ ’Blinding Lights’ [is about] how you want to see someone at night, and you’re intoxicated, and you’re driving to this person and you’re just blinded by streetlights. But nothing could stop you from trying to go see that person, because you’re so lonely. I don’t want to ever promote drunk driving, but that’s what the dark undertone is.”
March 2020: “After Hours” movie, “SNL” and “In Your Eyes” video
Eventually, The Weeknd defined that this was a recurring character for all of the movies for “After Hours,” together with the brief movie.
“This character is having a really bad night — all these videos are taking place in one night — and you can come with own [sic] interpretation of what it is,” he instructed Variety.
“[In the ‘After Hours’ short film,] we have this guy go through a complete breakdown, which looks like a possession — I’m being dragged by an invisible force through the subway. Is he possessed, or is he just broken?”
While The Weeknd debuted his new track “Scared To Live” on “Saturday Night Live,” it was the primary time followers caught his new “look” — a bloody face with a bandage over his nostril — within the flesh. But the head-scratching look, additionally seen whereas he sang “Blinding Lights,” was solely for his musical performances, and he opted to ditch the gore whereas appearing in sketches.
However, he did put on the getup throughout rehearsals for “SNL.” “I forget that I have it on sometimes,” he stated of his make-up.
He adopted up his “SNL” live performance with a video for “In Your Eyes” (that includes Kenny G), which contained a warning at the start noting graphic materials.
April 2020: “Until I Bleed Out” video
The Weeknd continued to inhabit the bloodstained character as he stored up his disturbing persona in yet one more music video, carrying the identical pink go well with, and his cuts now sporting ugly bruises — all obtained via artful make-up.
August 2020: MTV Video Music Awards
During a efficiency atop Hudson Yards, he carried on with the bloody aesthetic within the pre-taped VMAs phase. He additionally sported the gory mug whereas heading to rehearsals in New York, freaking out followers on the sidewalk whereas he signed autographs.
November 2020: American Music Awards
January 2021: “Save Your Tears” video
New yr, new face? Turns out the blood was simply the beginning for The Weeknd, who opted for a “plastic surgery” face for his “Save Your Tears” video. “But then you saw me, caught you by surprise,” he sang, surprising followers with what appeared to be a thinner nostril, cheek implants, plumped lips and surgical procedure scars.
While the look was achieved via prosthetics or CGI, he has beforehand labored with make-up results studio Prosthetic Renaissance, which posted in regards to the transformation on social media.
Fans speculated that the plumped up face was a dig at his ex, 24-year-old Bella Hadid, whereas others assumed it was a metaphor for being snubbed on the Grammy Awards, for which he obtained no nominations this yr.
But shortly after the video made the rounds on social media, complicated followers within the course of, The Weeknd reminded us of his common face in a Super Bowl advert.
February 2021: Back to regular?
For The Weeknd, it’s all about “The Character.”
While selling the Super Bowl in commercials, the singer has been exhibiting off his actual face and seemingly ditched the busted one followers couldn’t cease speaking about.
He even suggested his followers “that being attractive isn’t important to me but a compelling narrative is,” in his revealing Variety interview — and likewise defined why he’s been going forwards and backwards between himself and “The Character,” as he referred to as it.
“Why not play with the character and the artist and let those lines blur and move around?”