Editor’s Note: Each week, I intend to write about one of the songs that is making news on the charts today. In order to do this, I shall be calling upon the following Top-40 Charts: Billboard.com, Spotify.com, KEXP.org and Toronto’s own, CHUM-FM. From each of those charts, I will pick a certain chart position number and look at the song from each list that occupies that space. From there, I will determine one song to write about.
Today’s Chart Position Number: 39
Today’s Chosen Song: Take My Breath by The Weeknd. (CHUM-FM)
Two Ribbons by Let’s Eat Grandma (KEXP)
***Don’t let the group name fool you. This band consists of two girls who have a folksy vibe not unlike Simon and Garfunkel. This is a slow, sweet song that is perfect if mellowing out is where your head space is at. A truly lovely song.
Ghost by Justin Bieber (Spotify)
***It’s Stratford, Ontario’s own Justin Bieber! I’m sure most of you know his story. For those of you who don’t, I am also confident that at some future date there will be another Biebs song that follows the same formula as this one does so we can talk about him then.
Voodoo by Future ft. Kodak Black (BillBoard)
***Cool, jazzy Hip Hop that makes me feel like donning a tuxedo, undoing the bow tie and letting it dangle, all the while walking around with a martini in my hand. Even if Hip Hop isn’t your thing, this song has a sleek, smooth sound to it and is worth a listen.
That brings us to today’s featured artist…Abel Makkonen Tesfaye or, as he is more commonly known…The Weeknd! Tesfaye was born in Toronto and was raised by his Mom. His father has not been part of his life, so as a result, Tesfaye grew up in a home provided by his mother who worked very hard in order to feed, clothe and house him as a child. Consequently, while his mother went to work, Tesfaye often found himself alone. However, for him, being alone meant that he was free to indulge the creative side of his personality. So, as a teenager, Tesfaye began writing his own songs and creating short videos of himself that he would upload to YouTube. He threw himself into his songwriting to such an extent that going to high school seemed unnecessary, and so he dropped out in the eleventh grade. At this point in time, Tesfaye came to the proverbial “fork in the road” in terms of how his life was going to play out. After leaving school, he moved out of his family home and into an apartment that he shared with some friends. After a spasm of drug use and hedonistic partying, along with a series of dead-end, minimum wage service jobs, the still-young Tesfaye took stock of his life and decided that he needed to channel his energies in a different manner if he was going to end up realizing the dreams he had for himself and for his mother.
So, Tesfaye did something that a lot of teens wouldn’t have had the skill set to do…he started his own record label. He named it XO Records. He signed himself up as his own first client and released a series of mixtapes out into the Toronto Hip Hop community. In 2009, he released his first mixtape of original music called House of Balloons. That tape made its way into the hands of the titan of Toronto’s music scene at the time, Drake. Drake gave the mixtape his seal of approval by mentioning it on a blog post that he wrote. From there, Drake’s legions of fans began clamouring for House of Balloons, which encouraged Tesfaye to release two more mixtapes of original work called Thursday and Echoes of Silence. With a growing catalogue of material to work from, Tesfaye was invited to open for Drake at Drake’s OVO Music Festival in Toronto. While Tesfaye’s dreams of stardom were starting to come true, he was somewhat hesitant to fully embrace his growing fame, because his personal privacy was important to him. Consequently, Tesfaye made the bold decision to not perform under his own name but, instead, to adopt a pseudonym. He chose the name The Weeknd because he wanted his new name to be one that most people associated with happy times. The reason he spelled it the way that he did was so that it would have an artsy, mysterious air about it, but also, because there was already a rock band in the US called The Weekend and Tesfaye wanted to avoid any legal hassles that copying their name would surely bring in the future.
As The Weeknd, Tesfaye has spent the last decade becoming one of the hardest working, most prolific and successful music entertainers in the entire world. In that time, he has sold over 75 million albums (which instantly puts him in the company of the all-time greats in music history!),he has won multiple Grammy Awards, and his records have achieved Platinum status 45 times over!!! He has collaborated with the biggest stars in the music industry: everyone from Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Drake, Post Malone and many more have shared his stage. He has had many #1 hits including songs such as Earned It (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song of the Year from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack), I Can’t Feel My Face, Blinding Lights (which stayed in the BIllboard Top Ten for an entire calendar year), The Hills, Starboy, Heartless, Save Your Tears and today’s song, Take My Breath. The Weeknd has been the musical guest on Saturday Night LIve three separate times and was the sole musical guest at the Superbowl Halftime Show two years ago.
The future seems limitless for Tesfaye. His unique falsetto singing style has allowed him to carve out a very distinct place for himself in the music world. His voice is most often compared to that of Michael Jackson, but perhaps a fairer comparison would be that of the Gibb Brothers (who sang as the BeeGees). Whatever the case, Tesfaye seems equally comfortable singing in multiple genres such as Pop, Dance, Soul/R & B or Hip Hop. His latest song, Take My Breath, has been compared to that Disco classic, I Feel Love, by Donna Summer because of the energy that is produced by the pulsating beat of synthesizers. Whatever the song, whatever the musical genre, whether singing solo or as part of a musical collaboration, The Weeknd can seemingly do no wrong. He is riding a wave of success that is as impressive and consistent as any ever enjoyed by the all-time great artists in the history of music. The amazing thing is that Tesfaye is still relatively young. When all is said and done, 2022 may turn out to not even be the midway point of his career. If he keeps going at the rate he is at present, Tesfaye stands a chance at becoming one of the very biggest selling artists of all time. As if foreshadowing this, Tesfaye…who used to share a Toronto apartment with three friends and struggled to pay his share of the rent…recently bought a home in the Hollywood Hills for $18,000,000. After living there for a year, he sold his mansion to…Madonna(!)…for almost $20,000,000. If Tesfaye starts selling homes to Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and/or Priscilla Presley, then we will know that he has a checklist in his head and is reeling in the greats, one Top Five best-selling mega star at a time.
For now, here is The Weeknd with one of his current hits, Take My Breath, which was occupying Position #39 on this past week’s Top 40 CHUM Chart in Toronto. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song Take My Breath by The Weeknd can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Weeknd can be found here.
Header Photo courtesy of Daniel Jackson, GQ Magazine.
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