Toronto-based PBR&B progenitor Abel Tesfaye, cryptically known as The Weeknd, is still riding the wave from his proper big label debut Kiss Land (which we enjoyed very much) doling out clever promotional treats for fans like handing out his personal phone number and making his first live television appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live just a week ago. No stranger to eerie, seriously NSFW yet cinematic music videos, he’s following up his creepy Drake collaboration “Live For” with what is basically a short film for Kiss Land’s fourth single, the terrifying dirge of vindictive jealousy “Pretty.” And the results are horrifying.
There’s nothing subtle or nuanced about the imagery here other than the Michael Mann sheen of grey metal and glass that seems to cover every corner of Toronto as Tesfaye leaves the airport with his driver in search of the girl who left him for another man. Intercut with nude shots of his ex showering and eventually making arty love to her new partner, we see Tesfaye quiet and almost psychotically still in the backseat of his chauffeured town car. He eventually arrives at her house, pulls out a massive Desert Eagle, and promptly blows the couple away while they are in the throes of passion.
It’s gorgeously shot mayhem, a slow motion ballet of shell casings, splattered blood, and naked bodies designed to put pretty window dressing on what is a pretty ugly revenge fantasy. Tesfaye maybe attempting to challenge his listeners/viewers with a “provocative” artistic statement, but all I see here is subtle-as-a-sledgehammer exploitation that leaves me feeling really cold and on the verge of clinical depression.
We know Tesfaye goes dark. I just never thought his darkest depths could be so mindless.
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