Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name “The Weeknd,” is a Canadian hip-hop artist of Ethiopian descent. Despite his inaccurate reputation for having songs that are solely about drugs, sex and partying, he has changed the way I think about music and even influenced my own creative writing. Tesfaye’s strong language does not equate to meaningless lyrics, and his three innovative albums prove that.
The general public started to recognize The Weeknd more when he released “Earned It” for Fifty Shades of Grey, from his album Beauty Behind the Madness. While BBTM is amazing, I’ve fallen in love with his other two albums, Trilogy and Kiss Land, as well. Due to his multitude of recent hit singles (“The Hills”), some other songs of his don’t get enough recognition. Here are, in my opinion, some of the coolest songs from a combination of all three albums:
(Disclaimer: The Weeknd is definitely a hip-hop artist, so the following tracks feature some strong language.)
10. “Gone,” Trilogy
This eclectic, eight-minute jam makes me want to drive down Hollywood Boulevard, at night, in a black Corvette with the windows down. That’s really the only way to describe it.
“I’ve got the whole city on my side, tonight.”
9. “Montreal,” Trilogy
We’ve all been in a situation where we were never in the right position to tell someone about our feelings for them, and later on we feel like we missed an opportunity. This song is the best representation of this feeling that I’ve heard.
“I guess you had no idea that you could’ve persuaded me…”
8. “Belong to the World,” Kiss Land
This song describes the experience of falling for someone who has had a rough life and has closed themselves off. That doesn’t get talked about very much, and I love that The Weeknd brought attention to it.
“I want to embrace you… But you belong to the world.”
7. “Pretty,” Kiss Land
If you looked up “savage” in a thesaurus, I’m pretty sure this song would be listed as a synonym.
“I hope he made you satisfied, but baby I won’t cry, as long as you know that when I land you’re mine.”
6. “As You Are,” Beauty Behind the Madness
Only The Weeknd could make an R&B song read like a love poem out loud. Way to make all the feels come rushing back, Abel.
“I know what we are, our love’s too young; even though you break my heart, my love, I will need you.”
5. “Losers (feat. Labrinth),” Beauty Behind the Madness
The lyrics to “Losers” describe Tesfaye’s experiences dropping out of school to pursue music, among other things. This line reminds me of the lost youth who feel failed and restricted by the education system, and that interpretation is actually pretty powerful:
“Now that we’re all grown up, who do we owe it to? Now that we’ve come this far, who do we owe it all to? We did it all alone, now we’re coming for the throne.”
4. “Rolling Stone,” Trilogy
This song gives me chills. The soft guitar (yes, really) combined with the intensity of the chorus puts this one pretty high on my list.
”I’ve got you, until you’re used to my face, and my mystery fades…”
3. “The Zone”, Trilogy
Anything featuring Drake has to be good. This track is no exception.
“Walk your broken heart through that door...”
2. “The Knowing,” Trilogy
The Weeknd presumably wrote this after having an unfaithful girlfriend and having to pretend that everything was okay for the sake of still being together. This one seriously makes me emotional; Tesfaye even cried live onstage during a performance of it once.
“You probably thought that you’d break my heart, you probably thought that you’d make me cry… But baby, it’s okay.”
1. “Wanderlust,” Kiss Land
I advise anyone who’s never been a fan of The Weeknd to at least listen to this song. It has an electronic feel, which is pretty atypical for him, but it totally works. Kiss Land was just one big experiment for Tesfaye, to the point where he hardly talks about the album or performs songs from it live, which is why this song doesn’t get around much. I absolutely love it, though; the ultra-creative lyrics and catchy tune make it one of my all-time favorites.
“You’re in love with something bigger than love, you believe in something stronger than trust, wanderlust…”