Anton Tammi

Entertainment

The Weeknd’s Music Video Evolution From ‘Trilogy’ To ‘Dawn FM’

Sports cars, blood, and a potentially unhealthy obsession with destroying himself.

From the start of his career, The Weeknd has held ambitious visions for his music videos, often inspired by the films he loves. Nearly a decade in, his video catalog has birthed its own quirks and reliable motifs, like sports cars, blood, and a potentially unhealthy obsession with destroying himself. Ahead, we trace The Weeknd’s music video evolution (and all its idiosyncrasies), from Trilogy to the upcoming Dawn FM.

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“Wicked Games” (2012)

One of the earliest videos from The Weeknd, this self-shot visual from Trilogy is simple yet immediately communicates his bread-and-butter themes of women and an unexplainable sense of melancholia. (YouTube)

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“One Of Those Nights” ft. Juicy J (2013)

As we’ll soon learn, The Weeknd loves to put The Weeknd in sticky (and oftentimes violent) situations in his videos. Here, he finds himself on the other end of a barrel, but doesn’t seem too pressed about it. (YouTube)

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“The Hills” (2015)

Another Weeknd motif emerges: walking broodingly around the streets of a city at night while something catastrophic — like a car exploding — happens around you. (YouTube)

“Earned It” (2015)

This time The Weeknd isn’t pacing in the street but in an empty burlesque theatre, looking on as scantily-clad women perform for him. As usual, he looks on, unimpressed. (YouTube)

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“Starboy” ft. Daft Punk (2016)

With “Starboy,” The Weeknd begins to be more cinematic and daring with his visuals. Featuring a panther, a glowing cross, and the star ransacking a house, the video opens with the singer getting beaten up. (YouTube)

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MANIA (2016)

To further prove he’d entered a new era The Weeknd released this dramatic 12-minute short film, MANIA, for Starboy. In it, there are more big cats, sports cars, dimly-lit club scenes, and very bloody sequence. (YouTube)

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“Call Out My Name” (2018)

The Weeknd once again mopes around a deserted town for “Call Out My Name.” This one stands out for the CGI bats that he sprays from his mouth, cuts to taxidermied wildlife, and a stark black-and-white scene. (YouTube)

“Heartless” (2019)

The Weeknd levels up artistically with “Heartless,” the first of a string of interconnected videos for After Hours. Here, he indulges in a wild night of drugs and promiscuity in a depraved version of sin city. (YouTube)

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“Blinding Lights” (2020)

More drugs, violence, and blood befalls our red-jacketed protagonist as his drug-fueled Vegas bender ends with him getting chased out of the city. He’s still grinning, though! (YouTube)

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After Hours (2020)

Blending reality with fiction, the After Hours story continues with The Weeknd leaving the Jimmy Kimmel show and navigating the subway in his second short film — which ends in a Shining-esque twist. (YouTube)

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“In Your Eyes” (2020)

The woman he stabs in the previous video gets revenge at a night club as she — remember when we mentioned the recurring motif of violence? — fully decapitates him. Fun! (YouTube)

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“Save Your Tears” (2021)

Many videos later, the After Hours video series climaxes with “Save Your Tears,” in which he debuts a brand new face and threatens to give an audience a macabre surprise. (YouTube)

“Take My Breath” (2021)

The dawn (get it?) of a new album cycle arrives, but the The Weeknd’s obsession with killing The Weeknd isn’t over. Here, he nearly actually loses his breath in this sleek, strobe-filled visual. (YouTube)

“Die For You” (2021)

This belated Starboy visual — which follows a dramatic Stranger Things-like plot — adds new dimension to the 2016 album through The Weeknd’s sleek, and updated lens. (YouTube)