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Top 10 Best Songs By The Weeknd

WRITTEN BY: Owen Maxwell
These radio-topping hits and obscure early cuts will have you bobbing your head in no time. For this list, we're looking at the best tracks ever cut by Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd. Our countdown includes “Can't Feel My Face”, “Starboy”, “Blinding Lights”, and more!
Transcript

Top 10 Songs by The Weeknd


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 The Weeknd Songs.

For this list, we’re looking at the best tracks ever cut by Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd. These can be everything from radio-topping hits to obscure early cuts. We will however be excluding songs where the Weeknd is simply a featured artist.

What’s your favorite track by the Weeknd? Let us know in the comments.

#10: “Kiss Land”

Kiss Land (2013)
As the title track from his debut full-length, “Kiss Land” introduces listeners to a world where debauchery is the standard. The track has a surreal sound that feels cloudy while also eliciting a feeling of bright lights. The offbeat rhythm compliments Tesfaye’s partying lyrics, with the beats themselves carrying a tipsy energy. The Weeknd’s storytelling is both sultry and regretful, as he brings a depth to party songs. “Kiss Land”’s more aggressive second half gets louder, ramping up his bragging and commentary in equal parts. The song is an experimental, two-part odyssey that stands out in The Weeknd’s early discography.

#9: “Can’t Feel My Face”

Beauty Behind the Madness (2015)
From its opening chords, “Can’t Feel My Face” has an instantly memorable sound, and crisp vocals. It’s in its amazing beat drop that the song really takes off, and transforms into a song that everyone can dance to. It’s the most infectious bass groove from any Weeknd song, enough to make anyone go [“OOO!”] Whether you relate to its romantic narrative, allusions to addiction or a mix of the two, the song subtly forces you to think about dependency in a new light. “Can’t Feel My Face” pulls the best parts of disco and the music of Michael Jackson, and wonderfully injects Tesfaye’s own dark themes. As many people’s intro to The Weeknd, this track distilled his stellar voice and artistic chops into an accessible package.

#8: “King of the Fall”

“King of the Fall” single (2014)
Few songs show off The Weeknd’s voice quite like the slow-moving “King of the Fall.” Between a lot of sparse keyboards and booming bass notes, the song is a dream-like reflection on his life. Tesfaye recalls his mixtapes to highlight how impressive his move to stadiums and labels really is. The filtered sounds enhance the surreal tone of the lyrics, leaving it sounding as demented as his stories. Despite some of the less glamorous lyrics in the mix, Tesfaye’s silky vocals give it all a seductive feeling. “King of the Fall” paints The Weeknd as both a villain and a hero, and it does it with a sound that we still can’t get out of our heads.

#7: “House of Balloons/ Glass Table Girls”

House of Balloons (2011)
Between the opening “Woahs” and its catchy guitar line, “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” leans into the artsy side of pop. As a snapshot of The Weeknd’s own eccentric get-togethers, the track celebrates these times and seemingly gives you a peek at his personal playlist. The dazzling Siouxsie and the Banshees sample gets a nod in the lyrics, and its riff is arguably highlighted better than in its original song. The distorted back-half of the track is a startling change of pace, and shows off more punk influence you might not expect from The Weeknd. One of Tesfaye’s earliest two-parters, “House of Balloons” explores how dramatic a perspective change can be.

#6: “Starboy”

Starboy (2016)
To mark the major next step in his career, The Weeknd crafted a simple but sinister anthem for himself. The song’s quiet pianos let Tesfaye dominate the track, as he touts his rise from quirky, indie hero to chart-topping superstar. Daft Punk’s stellar production expands this sound to match Abel’s themes, up until the chorus explodes with mind-blowing synths. While Daft Punk brought more fun, vintage energy to “I Feel It Coming” (xref) “Starboy” was Tesfaye’s futuristic theme song. The Weeknd also highlighted his range of passions with inventive wordplay that crossed Rolls Royces with “Star Trek.” All this blended into a multi-platinum hit with so much depth that we got more out of it with each listen.

#5: “The Party & The After Party”

House of Balloons (2011)
With a sample of Beach House’s “Master of None” leading the charge, “The Party” sees the Weeknd twisting more modern work into his own music. Tesfaye adds a lot of blown out bass and his own heavenly vocals to compliment the soothing tones of the sample. This mood is reflected in The Weeknd’s loving words, that he quickly subverts with a more angry and violent reality in the second half. The minimalist production in the later “After Party” both highlights these words and sheds the happy vibe the track leads with. “Loft Music” taps another great Beach House sample, but “The Party” enhances its original song more. By creating a narrative twist, Tesfaye took his two-part trademark to the next level.

#4: “The Morning”

House of Balloons (2011)
There’s an immediate hazy, neon quality to the synths of “The Morning,” that show an upbeat side The Weeknd rarely explores. To contrast that, Abel reflects on another night of debauchery, and the feelings we are left with when the sun rises. The romantic-sounding chorus itself alludes to him paying for women, only to interestingly suggest his own work is no different. The song is nevertheless catchy and sonically satisfying, due in no small part to its chipper hooks. This balancing act shows Tesfaye’s ingenuity back in his early days, which feels more relevant than ever given his success.

#3: “The Hills”

Beauty Behind the Madness (2015)
Illicit affairs drive the story of “The Hills,” where the Weeknd drops another career defining chorus. Through ringing bells and solemn verses, Tesfaye argues for his casual love, and shockingly reveals he’s his most natural under the influence. The screeching, heavily distorted chorus is a jarring wake-up call that contrasts the quiet verses, and matches the actual emotional content of the track. Additional remixes highlight the natural pop power of his vocals, while the original maintains an ugliness that feels distinct from much Top 40 of the time. Tesfaye’s nod to Wes Craven also serves as a poetic comparison of the high life to a horror film. An iconic track, is it any wonder it bumped off Abel’s “Can’t Feel My Face” as the number one song on the Billboard Top 100?

#2: “Wicked Games”

House of Balloons (2011) & Trilogy (2012)
For his debut single, The Weeknd stuck to a rock-riff sound, to illuminate music fans about doomed relationships. The deceptively simple guitars colored “Wicked Games” as an equally sensual and disturbed tale. Tesfaye described a romance largely informed by pain and escape, which nevertheless felt good. The relatable story and straightforward sound grabbed listeners on all sides, as The Weeknd asserted he could bring heavy topics to radio-ready music. And as firmly stripped down as “Wicked Games” was, it allowed Tesfaye’s great harmonies and subject matter to shine through. The track laid out many concepts The Weeknd would become famous for, and started him on a road to success.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Heartless”, After Hours (2020)
For Chilling Like the Ultimate Villain

“Call Out My Name”, My Dear Melancholy (2018)
Because He Goes All Out on That Final Chorus

“Tell Your Friends”, Beauty Behind the Madness (2015)
It’s Weeknd-Style Vocals, With Kanye-style Production

“Twenty Eight”, House of Balloons (2011) & Trilogy (2012)
Because It’s So Emotionally Raw


“The Birds, Pt. 1”, Thursday (2011)
For Those Banging Drums


#1: “Blinding Lights”

After Hours (2020)
A retro melody and futuristic electronica combine into the modern gem that is “Blinding Lights.” In a summation of his self-destructive themes of pleasure-seeking and fame, the track sees him utterly transfixed by his vices. A surprising lover appears as his only way out, which gives the song the hope that most of Tesfaye’s songs lack. The rushing beats and a punchy hook are impossible to keep still to, and the larger-than-life synths easily capture the entire aesthetic of “After Hours”. Lyrically the song also leaves fans to decide whether the lights represent his vices, romantic partners or, well, the lights themselves. With enough fun energy to spawn a TikTok trend, “Blinding Lights” is Tesfaye’s argument that the latest can be the greatest.
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