Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is never afraid to change his look — even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. We've seen the "Starboy" crooner endure an interesting journey with his hair and fashion sense throughout his career ascent. For 2021, it looks like The Weeknd is indulging in yet another creepy aesthetic.
In his video for "Save Your Tears," the singer-songwriter debuted a quite disturbing look that is intended to make him appear as if he had a ton of plastic surgery, showing off fillers around his cheeks and lips. Before you fret, however, The Weeknd's freaky "fillers" are, of course, just prosthetics.
The four-minute-long visual shows The Weeknd singing to a masked audience before joining the crowd and singing around them. The strange, prosthetic-filled video isn't the first time we've seen the singer delve into costume play — far from it.
At the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, The Weeknd appeared at the show with a seemingly battered face. Similarly, at the 2020 American Music Awards, the singer appeared on the red carpet with several bandages on his face. While many were concerned with his health based on his appearance, rest assured that his "injuries" are consistent with the aesthetic of his fourth studio album, After Hours, and it's all in good fun.
According to the singer himself, the bandages are part of the concept for his Billboard Hot 100 No.1 single "Blinding Lights." The Weeknd told Esquire,
"["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."
Although The Weeknd startled fans with his bandages and bruises at various award shows and late-night appearances, the makeup became like a second skin for him. In an interview with Variety, he said that he "forgets" that he has on the fake bruising and bandages some times. He also told the outlet that he appreciates the ability to put on a persona in order to tell a story, much like he does on After Hours.
The videos for the album have references to some of The Weeknd's favorite movies of all time, including the 1994 comedy The Mask, starring Jim Carrey. The singer told Variety that the film, the first he ever saw in movie theaters, meant everything to him as a creative kid coming up.
Carrey even got word that The Weeknd was a huge fan and they were able to connect over the phone. He told the outlet,
"When I told him about my mom taking me to see The Mask, he knew the theater! Anyway, on my [30th] birthday, he called and told me to look out my window, and on his balcony he had these giant red balloons, and he picked me up and we went to breakfast. It was surreal. Jim Carrey was my first inspiration to be any kind of performer, and I went to breakfast with him on my first day of being 30."
Although the bandages and fake bruising were in the name of The Weeknd's art, the message about being under the influence and little out of control comes from his actual experience. In 2016, he told the Guardian that he "dabbles" with substances, though always in "moderation." The Weeknd told the outlet,
"When I had nothing to do but make music, it was very heavy. Drugs were a crutch for me. There were songs on my first record that were seven minutes long, rambling — whatever thoughts I was having when I was under the influence at the time. I can't see myself doing that now."
Now, at least, he's learned how to edit himself when it comes to his music and his lifestyle. With his most recent work being an almost year-long work of performance art, fans only have more to look forward to from The Weeknd as he grows up, both personally and artistically.
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