The Weeknd Has Become Burlesque

The singer's latest offerings show a grown man trapped inside the monster he created.

Abel Tesfaye and The Weeknd are two different people.

It was a prospect laid out quite literally in the "Starboy" music video. Tesfaye, bound to a chair in his own dining room, thrashed violently while a masked intruder–later revealed to be Tesfaye himself but with a new, stylized buzzcut rather than a tangle of dreads–suffocated his doppelganger with a plastic bag. The "new and improved" Tesfaye–draped in jet black gloves, a glistening diamond cross, and a fitted leather jacket–then dove into "Starboy," the definitive track that would forever redefine the trajectory of his entire career.

The Weeknd - Blinding Lights (Audio)

The whole spectacle worked magnificently, but in hindsight it was painfully melodramatic. Starboy was a magnificent pop record and a cultural phenomenon that spawned millions of rabid fans (and many tacky and unwarranted "XO" tattoos), but it forever separated Tesfaye from the entity he created. While that was no doubt his intention (he often professes his love for implementing theater, and dramatic films into his work), Tesfaye's artistic and personal choices began directly contrasting with the expectations fans would have for his alter ego:

Tesfaye is relatively sober, dates supermodels and pop stars, and drives a McLaren P1.

The Weeknd is still disturbed and melancholy, still a heartless womanizer, and still convinced that no one understands him.

"I'm back to my ways," he rap sings over his latest single, "Heartless," one of the two highly anticipated offerings released on Friday. "Maybe you can show me how to love?" he sings over the 80s-inspired pop track "Blinding Lights." Both singles tread familiar thematic territory for the singer. Please love me, but don't expect me to change. But Abel Tesfaye has changed, and The Weeknd's antics are beginning to feel like a caricature, as a result.

The Weeknd

His latest look, which he debuted on a refreshed Instagram feed, borders on burlesque. He wants to show you he's a kingpin, an 80s kingpin for some reason, you know, like Cadillac from The Get Down, but none of it feels authentic to Tesfaye, the man. The art, as a result, is beginning to feel uninspired. His inanely repetitive flow on "Heartless" can't be saved by Metro Boomin's impeccable production skills. The stylized 80s backdrop to "Blinding Lights" feels like a set piece. It all seems inevitable in hindsight, considering how well the image of "The Weeknd" has worked for Tesfaye. Why should he ever change? Look at what he's accomplished. Trilogy and Kissland bared Tesfaye's brooding soul, but it all feels so flashy now. Glamorizing a life of depression and excess is different from actively writing about your experiences from it. It's a ride that Tesfaye will never have to get off of if he doesn't want to, but where will that leave the man behind the monster?


BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What's coming to theaters this weekend?

FEBRUARY 9TH-11TH | Find the perfect flick for your pre-Valentine's Day romance session

What's sweeter than taking your crush to the movies and snuggling up in the seats, the old arm over the shoulder move followed by sharing some popcorn?

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.

Take a peek at our top picks for this week (including what's the best ticket to buy for your relationship status)...

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Jamie Dornan is addressing rumors his wife Amelia Warner objects to him being part of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Jamie plays the lead role of Christian Grey, something he says he had to work his arse off to get. Both and he and his wife knew exactly what taking on the part would entail, and he says any reports to the contrary are complete nonsense.

"Total bollocks!" he told the Daily Mail. "Of course she would have read the scripts well in advance, and she's massively supportive of Fifty Shades."

Jamie also addressed all those rumors of chemistry issues and reshoots for him and Dakota Johnson, who plays Anastasia Steele.

"They wouldn’t have shot the film with us if there was a chemistry problem... whatever chemistry means," he said. "You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a part like this, and they simply wouldn’t have cast us."

It's no surprise Amelia is so supportive - the film has made over $529.2 million so far. That's nothing to sneeze at!

Rita Ora is just as baffled as to her success and fame as you are.

Well, sort of.

The singer best known for once having a fling with Rob Kardashian says she really had to claw her way to success, because of constant rejection.

"I've been told 'no' so many times in my career," she told InStyle UK. "It doesn't mean it's over...I can remember every single 'no' I've been told in my life. They do not leave my brain. But they build you up."

Instead of letting it get her down, being told no only made Rita work harder - and landed her a role in Fifty Shades of Grey. Oh, and singing at the Oscars. We're still totally confused about that one too...

"I said I'd love to involved as I was such a fan of the book. And then Sam said, 'Well, why don't you audition?' And I said, 'Sure…I've got a few song ideas, I could send them over…' and she said, 'No, why don't you audition for the movie?'

"And I was like, 'What?, I've done a bit of acting, but honestly didn't expect to be put into that role. I thought, what have I got to lose? I auditioned like everybody else – there were a lot of other people in the frame. I didn't get any special treatment. I perfected my American accent, one thing led to another, and I got it."

So the moral of the story is - if at first you don't succeed, try, try again… even if no one quite gets it.

Fifty Shades of Grey absolutely KILLED it over the Valentine's Day/Presidents Day weekend, making $94.4 million debut over four days.

This makes it the fourth biggest R-rated opening in history, and beat the previous record of $63.1 million set by the Godawful Valentine’s Day in 2010.

It seems most of the people who went to see the film were - unsurprisingly - groups of women, who were enjoying their Valentine's weekend with or without a partner.

This makes the sequels inevitable, especially as Universal and Focus Features made the adaptation of E.L. James’ best-selling books for just economical $40 million. Not a bad profit so far!

Fifty Shades also did extremely well in international markets, making $160 million in 58 territories.

Critics might not like the film but the public has spoken - spanks for the memories, Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson!