Back in March, at the very beginning of the pandemic, the Weeknd released his expertly-crafted and much-hyped album After Hours. At the time, I wondered whether Abel Tesfaye’s timing was off, whether anyone would care about his songs of late-night debauchery during a global crisis. But none of this was a problem for the Weeknd. After Hours was one of 2020’s biggest albums.
“Blinding Lights” broke records by staying in the top 10 for nearly a year straight. Next month, the Weeknd will headline the Super Bowl Halftime Show. But if the Weeknd’s new video for the After Hours track “Save Your Tears” is any indication, he’ll find a way to make it weird.
The Weeknd has kept things weird for the entire After Hours album cycle. In music videos, he’s been bloodied and decapitated. The Cliqua-directed video for “Save Your Tears” may or may not continue the storyline of those other videos. In it, we see Tesfaye, a truly handsome man, distended and distorted, his face smooth and puffy. He looks like the kind of aging star who gets way, way too much plastic surgery. It’s disconcerting.
In the video, the Weeknd plays at a Vegas-style supper-club, performing for a blank and inanimate audience. He does everything to keep them entertained, even pulling a girl from the crowd to dance with him like he was Bruce Springsteen in “Dancing In The Dark.” But things get progressively more tense and disturbing with every passing second, and then they come to a head. Good video! Watch it all happen below.
the weeknd with the after hours era proved that is the best artist of this generation pic.twitter.com/2dOq4OhNPR
— talía (@abelvibez) January 6, 2021
As he dances his way through the crowd, The Weeknd proceeds to treat his audience as if they’re manikins watching his show. He drinks from the table’s glasses, rests his arm on the head of an audience member, he even gives a few of the audience members a champagne shower before making his way back to the performance stage.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 5, 2021
Because of the strange masquerade ball and a few context clues, XO fans are speculating the artist is making a few statements — some aimed at the Grammys (which are being pushed back after some controversy) and some aimed at Hollywood at large.
At one point in the video, the Weeknd sings to a gold trophy before quickly throwing it off to the side. To be expected, fans immediately made the connection to the upcoming awards show, especially after the artist accused the Recording Academy of “corruption” when his recent album received zero nominations.