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The 11 best songs by The Weeknd

Why have a Top 10 when you can have one more? Here are our 11 favourite The Weeknd songs, ranked

Toronto’s Abel Tesfaye began his journey around the turn of 2010 when he began anonymously uploading his own brand of R&B, at odds with the dance floor-ready template of the time. The dark, tormented and sinful persona of The Weeknd began to form, and before the decade was out, Tesfaye burst through the bubble of rap and R&B to become the retro-futuristic pop enigma he is now.

With the announcement of his After Hours Til Dawn Tour coming to London, Dublin and Manchester next summer, we pick our top 11 Weeknd tracks of all time.

11. Odd Look

(Kiss Land, 2013)
The final song on The Weeknd’s debut album, Kiss Land, is interesting because it’s the first real glimpse we see of Tesfaye’s interest in the futuristic pulses of electro and synthwave, which Kavinsky helps with here. It’s noteworthy because it’s a sound he doesn’t really develop on follow-up Beauty Behind The Madness, but one he returns to earnestly later on Starboy. Oh, and it absolutely slaps.

10. How Do I Make You Love Me?

(Dawn FM, 2022)
An example of his return to this driving 80s synth sound was on Dawn FM, Tesfaye’s conceptual fifth album that imagined purgatory like being stuck in traffic with the radio on. But this pulsing number with popping drum machines, Mr. Motivator synth build-ups and throbbing bass would make you break out of the car and run the rest of the way.

9. Die For You

(Starboy, 2016)
Tesfaye returned as the self-proclaimed Starboy in 2016, complete with a new haircut and some robot friends. Though its central theme was built around braggadocio, this R&B slow-jam lays it all on the line as the singer hits the sweetest spots of his vocal range to convince us he’s willing to lose it all.

8. Snowchild

(After Hours, 2020)
A minimal and spacious track that sees Tesfaye look back at some of the darker habits of his past whilst considering the cost of fame, ‘Snowchild’ is an underrated goosebump stirrer.

7. The Hills

(Beauty Behind The Madness, 2015)
Beauty Behind The Madness propelled The Weeknd into the limelight as his reckless, self-destructive and debauched persona gained mass appeal. The diamond-certified ‘The Hills’ perfectly captures this dark raucousness, with its distorted bass and horror tropes (the title references The Hills Have Eyes).

6. Gasoline

(Dawn FM, 2022)
This early number from Dawn FM has an ominous and off-kilter vibe, thanks to the co-production of Oneohtrix Point Never. Nocturnal nihilistic debauchery never sounded so good.

5. I Feel It Coming

(Starboy, 2016)
Perhaps a little too saccharine and smooth for the fans of the dark and sinful Tesfaye, this collaboration with Daft Punk was nevertheless one of the breeziest tracks of 2016. The French duo’s robotic disco touch is crystal clear, adding a little futuristic funk pulse while Tesfaye seemed to summon the spirit of MJ as he lets his ecstatic ad libs rip.

4. Take My Breath

(Dawn FM, 2022)
While Starboy got the Daft Punk treatment, it’s their electro counterparts Justice who’re invoked on this track with its dark, raspy bass and loops of arpeggiated synths. With a motivational gusto that recalls ‘Eye Of The Tiger’, this one’s perfect for soundtracking your own montage scene of hitting the gym and preparing for battle.

3. The Morning

(House of Balloons, 2011)
For all his multi-album commercial success, for many die-hard fans, The Weeknd’s seminal R&B EP House Of Balloons remains his most vital and influential. As its name suggests, ‘The Morning’ feels like a moment of calm amid the gritty melodrama of the likes of ‘Wicked Games’ and its title track. Though lyrically he’s not exactly making coffee and frying eggs, tonally it’s a rare moment of peace.

2. Blinding Lights

(After Hours, 2020)
Though for some the soul of this pop anthem has been sucked through the torrent of TikTok dances, that itself is an example of the joy it brought young people when it was needed most in 2020. His first UK No.1 has a whiff of a-ha’s ‘Take On Me’ with its uptempo beat and earworm synth hook.

1. The Zone

(Thursday, 2011)
Eerie, minimalist and spine-tingly ethereal, ‘The Zone’ signals both Tesfaye’s long and fruitful friendship with fellow Canadian megastar Drake and, more importantly, his ability to conjure soulful cinescapes without the distortion-heavy tropes of a perfume advert. The bass is simple and dubby, the guitar wistful and distant like the ghost of last night, and Tesfaye’s vocal performance, soaked in smoky reverb, does all of the haunting.

Find tickets for The Weeknd’s 2023 UK and Ireland shows here