Single Review

The Weeknd, “Belong To The World”: A Dark Visual And Aural Triumph

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Like most of The Weeknd‘s back catalog, his latest single “Belong To The World” — the next song off of his upcoming album Kiss Land — revolves around some familiar lyrical themes: Women, money and varying levels of world-weariness, loneliness and lust.

But “Belong To The World” strives to be even bigger than anything he’s done before.

The song is a monster, as the Canadian crooner’s melodic, MJ-esque falsetto flutters in between the hammering beats of Portishead‘s “Machine Gun” (which apparently wasn’t cleared for use as a sample. Very awkward.) Like “Kiss Land,” the other excellent release from the latest era, it’s darker and more sinister than anything he’s done before (including the occasional yelp of a panther!), like a menacing accompaniment to a remake of Halloween.

There’s a lot to unpack around the beats: On the one hand, Abel’s bluntly singing an ode to a woman after his money — perhaps a stripper, or even a prostitute. “I know you want your money, girl / ‘Cause you do this every day,” he starts. But this time, he’s finally met his match: A woman with an equally chilly core, unattached to any emotion, leading up to one powerful line: “I’m not a fool, I just love that you’re dead inside,” he croons. As the song goes on, he ironically starts to fall for the first time — but he knows it’s a futile attempt. “I want to domesticate you, but you belong to the world,” he sadly coos.

But there’s room to interpret the song in another way: As some commenters over at RapGenius hypothesize, the song might speak to a larger metaphor at hand — the music industry — and all the fleeting fame and material seduction it provides.

The video itself is stunning, bringing Casshern, Blade Runner, Ju-on and The Fifth Element to mind. It’s a Sci-Fi-meets-film noir-meets-J-horror mini-flick (which looks very expensive), full of sweeping shots of ghostly Japanese streets, futuristic projections, massive fleets of soldiers, some hands-on seduction, creepy old men and powder-white dancers. Like the song, the video’s well-crafted, considered and entirely up for interpretation.

But that’s The Weeknd for you…always giving you some food for thought.

“Belong To The World” was released on July 16. (iTunes)