The Weeknd just dropped the music video for his song “Save Your Tears,” and in it he’s wearing face prosthetics. (Both The Daily Mail and The Independent report the transformation is the result of time in the makeup chair, not actual surgery. Entertainment Tonight writes the look is “obviously fake.”) The Weeknd’s “new face” immediately grabbed social media’s attention, but if you’ve been following his work during the After Hours era, this transformation actually makes so much sense.
It follows the story he’s been telling since dropping the music video for “Heartless” in November 2019. Per Pitchfork, “Heartless” sees The Weeknd tripping while partying in Vegas. Then, in the “Blinding Lights” video, he gets even more hurt. The clip for “In Your Eyes” ends with the singer being decapitated, then in the “Too Late” video his head is attached to someone else’s body. This was followed by several awards show appearances where he was seen wearing facial bandages. Now, in the “Save Your Tears” video, the bandages have come off.
Watch the clip for yourself, below:
The Weeknd’s fans have several theories about what, exactly, he’s trying to say. Some think this is a diss at the Grammys, which snubbed After Hours despite it being one of the most critically and commercially successful albums of 2020. At one point in the video, he’s holding a gold trophy and then throws it away.
“I think [he] is showing us how constantly pressured he feels to be ‘perfect’ by the industry, Grammys, etc.,” one fan wrote on Twitter, according to ET. “Now he got that botched up face and I think at some point he will have an ‘alone again’ mv where he takes it off and learns to love himself for who he is.”
When After Hours didn’t receive any Grammy nominations, The Weeknd took to Twitter and wrote, “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans, and the industry transparency…”
“We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated,” he said in a statement to Billboard. “I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent…We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the Grammy stage the weekend before …To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”
As for why The Weeknd chose this bloodied-bandaged-plastic surgery motif at all, he offered some insight to Esquire, specifically about the “Blinding Lights” music video. “‘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,” he told the magazine. “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.”
Does “Save Your Tears” mark the end of the story, though? We’ll have to wait and see.
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