The Weeknd has a taste for showcasing artsy violence in his videos. There was Bella Hadid killing gangsters in the clip for “In The Night,” casual body arson in “Can’t Feel My Face,” and the Weeknd killing a cheating girlfriend in “Petty.”
In the Grant Singer-directed video for the Daft Punk collaboration “Starboy,” Abęl Tesfaye trains his violence on a less intense subject: his old hairstyle. Yes, the new video finds Tesfaye killing an old version of himself only to reveal his new being and new hair. With the violent take on a barbershop trip out of the way, Tesfaye then shimmies through his apartment before coming across a Christian cross-cum-lightsaber that inspires him to destroy artifacts from his career. After that, he decides to take a head-clearing drive with a rather chill black panther.
Here’s what will surely be the main talking points:
1. Bye, Bye, Hair. Female pop divas often unveil a new hairstyle to signal a new album cycle, but we’re not sure anyone, male or female, has made a haircut this big of a part of their album promotion before. Tesfaye waited to unveil his new do until everyone could see it on the cover of his new album, after all. Here he takes it to extremes by opening the video by killing his former self and old hair. There probably are tons of casual Weeknd aunts (say your aunt who still has “Can’t Feel My Face” on her spin class playlist) who can only recognize the guy by his hair. It was his visual trademark. So highlighting the fact he’s changed it might be a good idea.
2. Peep the Small Daft Punk Cameo Since Random Access Memories, Daft Punk has kept a relatively low profile. They’ve provided production for Kanye and Pharrell Williams, but otherwise, the robots kept quiet until getting featured credit on “Starboy.” The reclusive robots don’t actually appear in the video, save for a small sort-of cameo.
3. The video was nominated for MTV Europe’s EMAs before it was even released and features Tesfaye destroying awards statuettes.
It’s not uncommon for people to be in the pre-awards buzz competition before their work is actually released (see Viola Davis getting Oscar buzz for Fences despite the fact the film hasn’t even been completed yet), but MTV Europe took a surprising turn yesterday by nominating this video for its EMA Video of the Year award before it had even been released. Which, in retrospect, is even more embarrassing because the video features The Weeknd smashing a bunch of his awards. We’d say this is embarrassing for the EMAs, but we’re pretty sure no one aside from Kanye West and Taylor Swift actually takes MTV awards shows seriously.
4. That’s a chill black panther.
Seriously, for a wild animal he seems like a better front seat companion than most humans. He wouldn’t even bogart the aux chord. Of course, Folger may be following Beyoncé’s lead by nodding to the actual Black Panther Party in his video, but that’s not entirely clear as the panther is just sitting there, being chill.