The Real Meaning Behind The Weeknd's Face Bandages

When The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, released his fourth studio album, After Hours, in 2020, fans were introduced to a new side of him. The R&B crooner created a new character for himself when he released the visuals for the record-breaking songs "Blinding Lights" and "Heartless." Those visuals saw The Weeknd transform into an injured guy wearing a red suit in the streets of Las Vegas at night. The bruised and battered character became a fixture in The Weeknd's post-album performances, including Saturday Night Live, the MTV Video Music Awards, and the American Music Awards (via Billboard). The Weeknd's increasingly bandaged face caused fans to speculate on his wellbeing.

Perhaps hinting that he's ready to say goodbye to his After Hours character ahead of his Super Bowl LV halftime performance on Feb. 7, 2021, The Weeknd has finally eased fans' worries and opened up about the bandages on his face. Read on to find out what The Weeknd had to say about the signature look that he sported for nearly a year.

The Weeknd's bandages were a statement about Hollywood

While hard at work in rehearsals for his costly Super Bowl LV halftime performance, which is rumored to have a few surprises, The Weeknd spoke to Variety about his bandaged face and the meaning behind it. 

"The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated," he said. The Canadian crooner said the bandages on his face throughout his music videos and live performances is a "progression" of a storyline he invented, which "hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on."

The absurd climax of the storyline can be seen in The Weeknd's "Save Your Tears" video, where he shocks fans with a botched face that appeared to have been surgically altered. He believes that all these looks make for "a compelling narrative" and says that he doesn't really care if his fans find him unattractive when he's in character.

It remains to be seen whether The Weeknd's After Hours character will make an appearance at his halftime show, but the singer's commitment to his artistry is certainly cause for applause.  

The Weeknd has called out the industry before

In addition to Hollywood culture at large, The Weeknd has specifically called out the Recording Academy. The R&B artist famously was completely left out of the 2021 Grammys and wasn't happy about it. Taking to social media, The Weeknd took his criticism of Hollywood and the entertainment industry to new heights, taking the Grammys to task and claiming his fans deserved better.

"The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency," The Weeknd tweeted upon the announcement of nominees for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

"I use a sucker punch as an analogy," the artist told Billboard about the Grammy snub. "Because it just kind of hit me out of nowhere. I definitely felt... I felt things. I don't know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion. I just wanted answers. Like, 'What happened?' We did everything right, I think. I'm not a cocky person. I'm not arrogant," he added. 

The artist went on to question whether his race had something to do with the Grammy snub. "If you were like, 'Do you think the Grammys are racist?' I think the only real answer is that in the last 61 years of the Grammys, only 10 Black artists have won album of the year," said The Weeknd. "I don't want to make this about me. That's just a fact."

The Weeknd is inspired by films on drugs and fame

Whether or not the industry catches up with the charts and gives The Weeknd (and his fans) recognition doesn't seem to really matter to the artist anymore.

"Look, I personally don't care anymore," said the "Blinding Lights" artist to Billboard. "I have three Grammys, which mean nothing to me now, obviously." The artist continued, "I suck at giving speeches anyways. Forget awards shows."

The feud between The Weeknd and The Recording Academy may just be the fuel to push the artist into his next character phase, whatever that may be. "Why not play with the character and the artist and let those lines blur and move around?" The Weeknd wondered aloud with Variety regarding his changing persona in his music. 

According to CR Fashionbook, some of The Weeknd's earlier inspirations included Possession and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which cover some of the artist's favorite topics like drugs, sex, and fame. Seeing as the performer has promised a "cinematic" Super Bowl Halftime Show, we're excited to see whether any other movies make their way onto the big stage.