Yesterday The Weeknd released the official music video for the “Too Late” song from his fourth studio album After Hours. Described as his most cohesive album yet, After Hours has been ruling the music charts, with “Blinding Lights” having broken the record for most weeks spent in Billboard Hot 100's Top Five.
The “Too Late” mixture of a music video and slasher movie features two women wearing facial bandages. While driving on their way back from the plastic surgeon they encounter the disembodied head of The Weeknd on the road— a character familiar from the “In Your Eyes” music video where The Weeknd was beheaded by a young woman. “Too Late” is the subsequent video where we find out what happens after the murder.
As many other horror stories, this one begins with a hesitant “I guess we should go check it out”. However, instead of being the eventual victims, the women turn out to be the murderers. They take his head to their mansion which is where the chills begin as we are introduced to their sadistic side. They play with the head until they decide to find it a new body by seducing and beheading another man. With Halloween being just around the corner, the narrative can really get you in the mood for the spooky season.
The culmination occurs in the final scene of the video as the women begin to ‘play’ (this time in a sexual manner) with the lifeless body of The Weeknd.
An unsettling narrative I’d say. But this seems to be the theme of the whole album. The After Hours videos and lyrics unveil a darker world of drugs (not a precedent in Abel’s art), loneliness, a world of success and tumultuous relationship in which he is trapped and the only way out would be his own end.
Anyway, I discussed the video with my friend who works in production. She asked a very justified and legitimate question. She said,
What if the roles were switched?
It is interesting to think what the public reaction would have been if the situation had been the opposite: two men playing with the senseless body of a woman. Would this be more unsettling? I think so, yes. But why is society structured in a way that two women in control of a man’s body would be ‘more okay’ than two men in control of a woman’s body? Mind you, these are my speculations and contemplations, and I’m far from asserting something is the absolute truth.
There are multiple ways to interpret the video. It could be that the idea behind it is simply a bold choice. Or this could be a strange and an unusual way to empower the woman in a situation which, in other circumstances, would be regarded as sexual abuse.
I went through people’s reactions on Twitter and they were definitely shocked but in a positive way. The general notion was within the “What The F***” lines, but I think people are enjoying what they are seeing. The relationship between the women and The Weeknd is even described as “love”. Would it be described as love if the roles were switched?
It can also be read as all kinds of metaphor: the impact of women on Abel’s life; his soullessness; the life and guilty pleasures of the rich; or it could just be his extraordinary emagination — no explanation, no reason, just his vision that has seen daylight.
Either way, I find the video yet another piece of art in Tesfaye’s portfolio. Disturbing? Yes. Unsettling? Oh yeah. But still great. In an interview with Brittany Spanos for Rolling Stone, he said he considers the After Hours album his “most perfect” one yet. And I couldn’t agree more.
Disappointment wouldn’t be enough to describe what I felt when I heard that his After Hours tour was postponed till next year, as I would have watched him performing live in London a couple of weeks ago.
If everything goes as planned, I will be watching him perform on Halloween 2021. A spooky show on the spookiest day of the year. Name a better way to spend Halloween. I’ll wait.