Running away from his family home in Canada one weekend, at 16 years of age, a young Abel Tesfaye would now forever consider the end of the week a reminder of his intricate past.
In fact, when Abel began recording, he gave himself the artist name ‘The Weeknd’ after that very milestone. (No ‘e’ because of a copyright dispute).
He went on to take out three Grammys, smash the billboards, and completely change the game of alternate R&B with a distorted flare of lyrical darkness. His Starboy album topped the charts and in 2015, broke the record for the most Spotify streams in a single day. His most recent attainment was a humble nomination for Favourite Soul/R&B Male Artist 2018.
Never before has our generation seen an artist whose sound seems to vibe with every occasion. The Weeknd’s got tunes that hit the spot for everything from getting ready for a big night out, to study and chill, to procrastinated late night running. He has the perfect tracks that compliment pre-drinks, break-ups and calming melodies for car roadies when it’s that one questionably legal friend’s turn to drive.
The Weeknd, for lack of a better word, provides.
Today is his 31st birthday and, in celebration, here’s 10 of the most epic songs of all time from the man himself:
11. Earned It
The track, the lyrics, the melody, the artist, the movie that went with it. This track is 50 shades of exceptional; winning the Grammy for best original performance in 2015. In a 2016 Interview for Beats 1, Abel described he believed the incredible response was because of the alluring ‘darkness’ he layered in the sound.
10. I Was Never There (feat. Gesaffelstein)
The most sonically pleasing intro and something a little different from Abel on his My Dear Melancholy album. It’s admirable that Abel is not afraid to work with producers like Gesaffelstein and welcomes experimentation with a Techno Artist for this track. Think respectable baseline mixed with a chilling high-pitch air raid, Abel’s smooth lyrics coming in at 35 seconds to take us through the rest of the the journey.
9. I Feel It Coming
Ah, the 2016 release about the female pleasure state featuring Daft Punk, on the famous Starboy album. Name a better combo.
8. Call Out My Name
Rumoured to be a soul tune about Miss Gomez but this is up for debate. It can most definitely be about you.
Also featuring the afore-mentioned French electronic duo Daft Punk. This banger went number one in just a matter of days in New Zealand, France, Denmark, Norway, Mexico, Canada, Sweden and the US.
6. In The Night
The song that got XO fans comparing The Weeknd To the one and only King of Pop, Michael Jackson. What’s more, in an interview with GQ, The Weeknd revealed these lyrics were inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s sexual abuse as a child. “Max’s studio used to be Marilyn Monroe’s old house and I came up with the concept for a song called “In the Night” in her bedroom.” Juicy.
5. The Hills
The song that makes you want to make unethical decisions past 10pm and think with everything but your head. The Hills was The Weeknd’s second track on his second studio album, Beauty Behind the Madness, and it’s a well deserved number 5 on our list for its sweet seductive sound.
4. Nothing Without You
From 0.35 seconds. Tune.
3. Can’t Feel My Face
Just the title’s been stated and you’re tapping your foot. First time hearing this song and you’re surely in #TeamConfused by the lyrics in a literal sense. He weirdly described his loss of feeling specifically in his face. Does Abel’s face go numb when he sees this person? Supposedly, he can still feel his ankle and femur when he’s with her. Whatever it means, I get the feeling we’re 110% content with the unclarity. I Can’t Feel My Face is an indisputable jam, Abel.
2. High For This
The Weeknd released this song in 2011 in his album, ‘House of Balloons’, as to prep listeners for the state they may want to be in for the coming fire.
1. Blinding Lights
From those delicious 80s-inspired synths to Abel’s breathtaking vocal performance, it doesn’t get much better than this! It’s no surprise ‘Blinding Lights’ popped OFF like crazy in 2020.
There we have it. The Weeknd’s top 10.
Admittedly, It’s hard enough writing something appropriate in your closest Aunt’s birthday card, and yet this numerate challenge demanded just the right arrangement of the alphabet in order to indeed wish one of the greatest alternative R&B legends 31st birthday.
Happy birthday Abel. Thank you for the way you in which you reinvented the soundtrack to all of our weekends.
Check out Abel’s new greatest hits collection ‘The Highlights’ below!