The Weeknd wears a black shirt, a red suit, and a patch on his bloody nose
Anton Tammi


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.

“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)

“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)

“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)

“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)

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)

“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)

“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)

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)

“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)

“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)

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