I’ve said some variation of “I’m so tired” more times in the past two or so years than, I don’t know, the whole 29 or so preceding years of my life? And usually it’s about Trump or whatever, but this time, let’s go down a pop music direction! Let’s focus on The Weeknd! What the hell are you doing, man?
If you know much of anything about pop music, you probably know who The Weeknd is: Canadian singer and rapper born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, blew up when Drake posted some of his songs on a blog post, has dueted with Ariana Grande, blew up further with the song “Earned It” on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack …
… and then had a series of hits, one after another, including the paranoid, almost Nine Inch Nails-influenced “The Hills,” the feel-good song about addiction, “Can’t Feel My Face,” the very catchy collaboration with Daft Punk, “I Feel It Coming” (a pretty clear Michael Jackson ripoff, I would say), and another very catchy Daft Punk collab, the darker “Starboy,” and one of the lead singles off the Black Panther soundtrack, “Pray for Me,” featuring Kendrick Lamar.
Through all these very popular songs and his behavior as a celebrity — dating supermodel and Olympic-level equestrian Bella Hadid off and on for years, dating Selena Gomez for nearly a year after her breakup with Justin Bieber and then wiping all evidence of her from social media after they then broke up, feuding with Drake, who hosted Hadid’s 21st birthday party — The Weeknd has cultivated a certain reputation: He’s a hard partier, someone who gets caught up in drugs and alcohol and women, and he feels kind of bad about it, but he’s also not going to really stop doing it. For all of his beef with Drake, they often feel connected lyrically — a little regretful, but also ultimately brash, and convinced of their ceaseless appeal to women.
But if you wanted to speculate that Drake is always putting forth a support of women (like his song “Nice for What,” which I admittedly championed on this site) that may not be totally genuine, then maybe you appreciate that The Weeknd doesn’t hide the fact that he’s often only connecting with women for sex. Think of the chorus from “The Hills”:
I only call you when it’s half past five
The only time that I’ll be by your side
I only love it when you touch me, not feel me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me
When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me, yeah
Or his praise for the women in his life in “Starboy”:
Main bitch out your league too, ah
Side bitch out of your league too, ah
House so empty, need a centerpiece
Twenty racks a table cut from ebony
Cut that ivory into skinny pieces
Then she clean it with her face man I love my baby
Look, I totally get that song lyrics are not biographical content. Just because you sing a thing doesn’t mean you believe a thing! But given who The Weeknd has presented himself to be in previous songs, and how often they seem to be confessional-style descriptions of his antics, isn’t his new song with the French DJ Gesaffelstein, “Lost in the Fire,” pretty clearly homophobic?
The song dropped on January 11, and I heard it hyped on the radio on the drive home last night, as if it were a new sexy anthem to match The Weeknd’s previous “Earned It.” And for sure, the song begins with the very declarative “I wanna fuck you slow with the lights on.” That’s a confident start! And then the song moves into taking a swipe at Drake (“And I just want a baby with the right one/’Cause I could never be the one to hide one”)! Also fine! It was kind of weird that Drake hid a baby! I can go with this!
But then the song goes to this place:
I’m tired of being home alone (Home alone)
I used to have a girl a day (Girl a day)
But I want you to stay (I want you to stay, hey)
You said you might be into girls (Into girls)
Said you’re going through a phase (Through a phase)
Keeping your heart safe (Keepin’ your heart safe, oh)
Well, baby, you can bring a friend (Bring a friend)
She can ride on top your face (Top your face)
While I fuck you straight (While I fuck you straight, yeah)
… What the hell is that?! That is some real homophobic shit! There is a difference between being like, “OK, my partner is bisexual and we do stuff together with her consent, and I understand her sexuality isn’t a ‘phase,’” compared with “This girl might be into girls, so my dick will cure her, and then she’ll stay with me because I’m so lonely.”
The “I can’t lose you, babe” line continues over and over again for the remainder of the song, and honestly, I’m so tired. I’M SO TIRED! Are people going to defend the homophobic, possessive vibe of this song as The Weeknd opening up about his fear of romantic loss? Will there be a weird attraction to this song in the same way that people are into Joe on You? (Including Millie Bobby Brown, who said that she thinks Joe is just in love, not a stalker; girl, you’re 14, please grow out of these opinions.)
The theories that this song is about Hadid’s sexuality are already swirling around the Internet, and for Bella — who told Vogue during her 73 Questions feature in December that her “boyfriend,” The Weeknd, makes her “laugh the hardest” and is “the most beautiful person” she knows — I can only imagine that’s attention she doesn’t particularly want. (You could make the argument that the Hadids are like the Kardashians in that any attention for them is good attention, but I do think Bella, who spoke in interviews about how deeply her first breakup with The Weeknd affected her, might not love the idea of their relationship being framed and discussed in this way.)
All of this is to say: I’m tired of men, and I’m tired of The Weeknd, and I wish that Gesaffelstein beat had been used for a song that doesn’t dip into homophobia to justify how men treat women like property. Hard pass on all that.
[Yes, I used a header photo of The Weeknd and Bella Hadid dressed as Beetlejuice and Lydia Deetz for Halloween this year. I liked her costume, OK?]
Header Image Source: Getty Images