Music News

The Weeknd attends the U.N. World Food Programme as it welcomes The Weeknd as a Goodwill Ambassador on October 07, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.

Abel Tesfaye, AKA The Weeknd, was born on February 16, 1990. The Canadian crooner celebrates his birthday just two days after Valentine’s Day, which seems fitting: his music has romance, sure, but it’s a dark romance. It’s definitely not the stuff of Hallmark cards. Born and raised in Toronto, Tesfaye began his career in 2009 by anonymously releasing music on YouTube. The following year, he met producer Jeremy Rose, who had an idea for a dark contemporary R&B project. Rose produced songs “What You Need,” “Loft Music,” and “The Party & The After Party,” but they were scrapped. The producer let Abel keep the tracks he produced for him under the condition that he would be credited for them. In December 2010, Tesfaye uploaded “What You Need,” “Loft Music,” and “The Morning” to YouTube under the username xoxxxoooxo.

The songs began drawing attention, including that of Drake. He has collaborated with his fellow Canadian on five songs of Drake’s sophomore album, Take Care. Abel gained further recognition when his song “Earned It” was featured in 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

Before adopting the stage name The Weeknd, Tesfaye released music under the aliases the Noise and Kin Kane. His current stage name was chosen in tribute to when he dropped out of school, took his mattress, “left one weekend and never came home.” The dropping of the second “e” was to avoid trademark problems with the pop-rock band The Weekend. Tesfaye released his three mixtapes in 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence.

To commemorate the award-winning artist’s birthday, we’ve compiled our favorite music videos that took us to another place.

  • Secrets

    The Weeknd plays around with mirroring images and a red color palette for the music video for “Secrets.”

  • Blinding Lights

    Filmed like a mini movie, “Blinding Lights” takes inspiration from films Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Joker and Casino.

  • Sacrifice

    The Weeknd’s music videos for Dawn FM are some of his best to date, with “Sacrifice” being one of the coolest. Surrounded by cloaked figures dancing in a style reminiscent of Michael Jackson, with music to match, The Weeknd is offered sacrifice. At the end of the video, it is portrayed that his soul is being sucked out from above, much like a Dementor from Harry Potter.

  • Save Your Tears (Remix) feat. Ariana Grande

    The animated music video for “Save Your Tears” is stylized like animated series Rick and Morty, showing us the construction of an Ariana Grande robot.

  • You Right

    Doja Cat and The Weeknd dive into the horoscope realm for this ethereal music video for “You Right.” Doja Cat is a Libra and wore a hairpiece that mimicked her astrology sign, while The Weeknd evoked his Aquarius persona by pouring water (the “water-carrier”).

  • In Your Eyes

    Clearly inspired by classic horror films from the ’70s and ’80s (specifically, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), the music video for “In Your Eyes” follows a woman who is being chased down by The Weeknd but manages to get to him first.

  • Take My Breath

    Walking towards a rising sun on the horizon, The Weeknd’s music video for “Take My Breath” takes our breath away. For Dawn FM, the singer perfectly coordinated the music to visuals that further tell a story. Like a scene from Blade, party-goers are dressed in leather and chains at this underground rave.

  • Gasoline

    As disturbing as it is to see ants being that close to someone’s ear, The Weeknd went all out to create a storyline for “Gasoline.” As an old Abel’s hearing aid goes wonky while driving, he crashes his car and stumbles in a desolate place that transports him to a hellish club.

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