Shedding Past “Starboy” Persona, The Weeknd Shifts Toward Darker Tones

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 03: Singer Jason Derulo performs onstage during the iHeartRadio Music Awards at The Forum on April 3, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)

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An eerily synth-laden beat gives rise to the killer introduction of The Weeknd’s music video for his single, “Starboy.” Literally, the metaphor for The Weeknd’s self-reinvention is as subtle as gunfire, or, as he demonstrates, suffocation.

The audience watches the murdered “former” Abel Tesfaye’s body hit the floor just as the beat begins. The dark, alluring setting is the crime scene for The Weeknd’s death and consequent resurrection as an edgier and more electrifying version of himself. Pulling off his ski mask and revealing his lethal deed, he embraces his rebirth as the song pulses in the background.

Strutting through the victim’s lavish apartment, he smirks as he touches the posters and record sales certifications that line the apartment. Snagging a neon pink cross from the wall, the video’s resurrection and religious imagery become even more apparent. Images of the “old” Weeknd flash across the screen as the “new” Weeknd destroys the awards and accolades that made him a “Starboy,” as the title of his song suggests.



This devious dance through the apartment further exemplifies the comparison between The Weeknd and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. With shorter hair and a cockier attitude, The Weeknd evokes Jackson’s image by spinning around, shaking his shoulders, and bobbing his head.

The havoc continues as the music intensifies. Satisfied with the destruction, The Weeknd speeds down Malibu Canyon Road with a black cat turned yellow-eyed panther in tow—another transformation that symbolizes The Weeknd’s darker and stronger shift.

As the car winds around a corner and the video ends, we are left with the idea of a revamped performer. Although this video seems to be a strong first step in The Weeknd’s new image and sound, viewers will have to wait and see if this new step in his career will propel him to full-fledged stardom or cast him away like his old persona.

Featured Image By Republic Records

About Veronica Gordo 25 Articles
Veronica Gordo is the associate arts editor for The Heights. She's a Yeezus fan, an avocado toast enthusiast, and a lover of all things Stella McCartney. You can follow her on twitter @vero_lena.