Blinding Lights
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Blinding Lights

"Blinding Lights"
The Weeknd - Blinding Lights.png
Single by The Weeknd
from the album After Hours
ReleasedNovember 29, 2019 (2019-11-29)
Format
Studio
Genre
Length3:22
Label
The Weeknd singles chronology
"Heartless"
(2019)
"Blinding Lights"
(2019)
"In Your Eyes"
(2020)
Music video
"Blinding Lights" on YouTube

"Blinding Lights" is a song by Canadian singer The Weeknd that serves as the second single of his fourth studio album After Hours (2020).[4] It was released on November 29, 2019, two days after the release of "Heartless".[5] The Weeknd wrote and produced the song with producers Max Martin and Oscar Holter, with Belly and Jason Quenneville receiving additional writing credits.[6][7] A Chromatics remix of the song was released alongside the deluxe edition of its parent album on March 23, 2020.[8]

"Blinding Lights" peaked at number one in thirty-two countries, including the United States and Canada, where it became The Weeknd's fifth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Hot 100 for four and seven weeks respectively. It also became his first number one single in Germany for ten weeks, United Kingdom for eight weeks, and Australia for eleven weeks, thus making it his biggest hit single to date. [9][10][11]

Background and promotion

After having been absent from social media for five months, the singer returned to Instagram on November 20, 2019 and posted six days later on November 26, 2019.[12][13] He previously announced a project referred to as Chapter VI in June 2019.[14] On November 24, 2019, a Mercedes-Benz commercial first aired on German TV featuring a clip of "Blinding Lights".[15] It shows The Weeknd driving a Mercedes-Benz EQC SUV and asking the system to play his new song.[5] The full-length version of the commercial premiered on November 29, alongside the single.[16] In the days after, he took to social media to announce his return to music with the captions "the fall starts tomorrow night" and "Tonight we start a new brain melting psychotic chapter! Let's go!".[17]

During an interview conducted by Jem Aswad from Variety magazine, The Weeknd discussed his experience working with Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin, saying: "Max and I have become literally the best of friends, but I don't do that with many people. It's not that I can't, but a collaboration is a relationship, it's like a marriage, you've gotta build up to it."[18] In a Billboard interview, The Weeknd expressed his appreciation for music of the 1980s: "I've always had an admiration for the era before I was born. You can hear it as far back as my first mixtape that the '80s -- Siouxsie and the Banshees, Cocteau Twins -- play such a huge role in my sound. Sometimes it helps me create a new sound and sometimes it's just obvious. I'm just glad the world's into it now."[19]

Lyrics

The lyrics of the song reference the on-and-off relationship that The Weeknd has with model Bella Hadid.[20] Throughout the song, The Weeknd sings about the rekindling of a relationship and the importance of his partner. The singer also mentions the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, where he refers to it by its nickname "Sin City" in the pre-chorus.[21]

Critical reception

"Blinding Lights" received widespread critical acclaim.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29] It was the 32nd best song of 2019 by Stereogum, where editor Chris DeVille complimented the song's '80s aesthetic and vibe, saying that "The '80s will never die - or, at least, the glamorous neon '80s of our collective imagination".[30] In a positive review, Jon Dolan from Rolling Stone complimented Max Martin's synth-pop production, describing it as "evoking Depeche Mode and the Human League in its lonely-planet luster".[31] David Smyth of Evening Standard also praised the song, calling it a "glorious blast of air punching Eighties synth-pop".[32]

Micah Peters from The Ringer selected it as one of the best on the album.[29] Jon Caramanica from The New York Times said "Blinding Lights" "could have been lifted from a found Jazzercise tape from 1986, though the chilly synths have a slightly sinister tinge [and] says a lot about the durability of the Weeknd's early noir -- the full commitment to the louche aesthetic he embodied -- that even the raging centrist popularity of 'Blinding Lights' can't disinter it".[24] Michael Cragg of The Guardian asserted "Rather than sticking out like a sore thumb, the glorious 80s synthpop explosion of lead single 'Blinding Lights' blends in nicely with the album's nostalgic palette".[23]

Slate Magazine journalist Chris Molanphy commented that "The Weeknd found the ideal midpoint between glossy and eerie, between danceable and dark".[28] Candace McDuffie from Consequence of Sound described the track as "an ethereal '80s space odyssey that has proven to be a chimerical adventure".[27] Andrew Unterberger from Billboard complimented The Weeknd's stylistic prowess, saying "Blinding Lights" "is the long-overdue culmination of The Weeknd's long-simmering new wave fascination, a pulse-racing synth-pop killer that sounds like Michael Sembello from the Maniac's perspective".[25]

Commercial performance

North America

"Blinding Lights" debuted at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the issue dated December 14, 2019, but fell 41 places to number 52 in its second week.[33] In its 12th week on the chart, the song became the Weeknd's tenth top ten hit by rising to a new peak at number ten.[34] On the issue dated March 28, 2020, the song rose two places to reach number two.[35] The song also reached number one on Hot R&B Songs Chart on March 7, 2020, where it became his seventh number one on the chart, making him the artist with the most number ones on the chart's history.[36] On the Digital Song Sales chart, the song peaked at number one for the week of March 23, 2020, and became The Weeknd's fifth Digital Songs number one. On March 30, 2020, the song rose to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, dethroning Roddy Ricch's "The Box" on the issue dated April 4, 2020.[37] The single kept at its peak position the following week, becoming The Weeknd's third multi-week leader after "The Hills", which topped the chart five years earlier.[38] It has so far spent four weeks atop the Hot 100.[39]

The single also reached a peak of number one on the Streaming Songs chart on March 30, becoming his first topper on the listing since "The Hills" led five years earlier.[40] On April 13, the song became his third number one on the Radio Songs chart and Pop Songs chart, as it slid to number two on the Hot 100.[41] It later rose back up to number one for the two following weeks.[42][43] On May 18, the record became his first number one on the Hot Adult Radio chart. [44] Also, The Weeknd's track reached number 14 on the Adult Contemporary Radio chart.[45]

"Blinding Lights" also became Max Martin's 23rd Hot 100 number one single as a writer, 21st as producer, and his first in both credits since Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling!" (2016). Martin has the third-most as writer, behind Paul McCartney (32) and John Lennon (26), and the second-most as producer, behind George Martin (23).[37] The Weeknd became the first artist to simultaneously lead Billboards five primary charts on March 30, topping the Hot 100, Billboard 200, Artist 100, Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers.[46][47] The next week, he topped the Hot 100, Billboard 200 and Artist 100 once more, achieving the feat for a fourth time.[48]

On the Rolling Stone Top 100 Songs chart, the song debuted at number two, where it was blocked from the top spot by The Weeknd's own "Heartless". The song also became The Weeknd's second entry on the chart.[49] It later rose to number one on the chart following the release of After Hours.

In the singer's native Canada, "Blinding Lights" debuted at number two on the Canadian Hot 100, one place higher than "Heartless". It later managed to reach number one after the release of its parent album on the issue dated April 4, 2020. As of May 26, 2020, it spent seven weeks atop the chart, tying "Starboy" as his longest-running chart-topper.[50]

Europe, Oceania and Latin America

In the United Kingdom, "Blinding Lights" entered the charts at number 12 in the issue dated December 12, 2019. It eventually reached number one in February 2020, becoming The Weeknd's first number-one single in the UK.[51] It was dethroned after two weeks at the top, topped the week after, and was dethroned after a two-week stint before topping again for three weeks. As of April 17, 2020, the single was on its eighth non-consecutive week atop the singles chart.[52][53] It dropped to number two on 24 April after The Weeknd used Twitter to ask people to support its close rival for the top spot, a charity single, "You'll Never Walk Alone", by Michael Ball and Tom Moore, and make it number one for Moore's 100th birthday.[54][55] "Blinding Lights" duly dropped a place, making Moore the oldest person ever to have a UK number one.[56] "Blinding Lights" remained at number two the following week, behind another charity single, "Times Like These".[57] The piece has achieved a grand total of eight weeks at the chart summit.

Elsewhere in Europe, the song topped the charts of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland. It also reached a position of number 2 in Hungary and Russia, a position of number 7 in Romania, a position of number 16 in Spain, and a position of number 5 in Ukraine.

In Australia, it topped the ARIA Charts for eleven non-consecutive weeks. It is the sixth longest-running number-one of all-time in the country, tied with songs such as Spice Girls's "Wannabe", Drake's "God's Plan" and Bryan Adams's "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", as well the fifth longest by a foreign act.[58] In New Zealand, it topped the singles chart for four non-consecutive weeks.

In Latin America, "Blinding Lights" topped the charts in Mexico. It also reached the top 10 in Bolivia, El Salvador and Panama, as well as the top 20 in Chile and Costa Rica. It also charted in Argentina, Colombia and Brazil reaching numbers 31, 66 and 80 respectively.

Music videos

On December 2, 2019, a commercial video containing footage from a The Weeknd and Mercedes-Benz commercial and the song's audio video was released.[59] The lyric video for "Blinding Lights" was released on December 6, 2019.[60] Its official music video was shot in Fremont Street, Las Vegas and Downtown Los Angeles and was released on January 21, 2020.[61][62]

Directed by Anton Tammi, the clip stars The Weeknd as a lounge lizard-like fellow who bears a passing resemblance to jazz legend Herbie Hancock, circa 1978's Sunlight. The video opens with The Weeknd laughing as blood drips down his face, then jumps back in time to show the mayhem that led to this gruesome end -- the pop star speeding around a deserted city, dancing gleefully in the streets.[63] The visual follows the events of the music video for "Heartless" and sees The Weeknd go on a hallucinated joyride after waking from a trance. It concludes with The Weeknd having flashbacks to a club he attended earlier during the night, where he was serenaded by a mysterious woman, played by Japanese actress Miki Hamano and beat up by a duo of bouncers who had forced him to be on the run.[64] The video depicts various actions performed by the singer amid a story inspired by the films Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Joker, and Casino.[65] A behind-the-scenes music video for the song was released on February 28, 2020.[66]

Chase Ichiki from Revolt spoke highly of the music video, sharing "The Weeknd crafts a world fans have eagerly waited for. Donning his staple red suit, he showcases his acting abilities in his latest video. Beginning with him hysterically laughing in a borderline psychotic way, we then see The Weeknd dance the pain away while wandering the city".[67] Michael Cube from Nylon magazine wrote that "the video for 'Blinding Lights' is appropriately cryptic for the famously elusive artist", and praised the presentation's alluring mystique.[68]HITC columnist Christopher Weston assessed the film as "a burst of neon perfectly complimenting the gorgeous electronic sound. The 'Blinding Lights' visual accompaniment is one of the most stylish videos we've seen, packed with color, fast cars, nocturnal cityscapes and luxurious locations".[69]

On May 5, 2020, a music video for the Chromatics remix of the song was released.[70]

Live performances

The Weeknd performed "Blinding Lights" for the first time on December 6, 2019 during The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a day after he performed "Heartless" on the same show.[71] The song was performed on January 22, 2020 at Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[72] On March 7, 2020, he performed the single alongside "Scared to Live" on Saturday Night Live.[73]

Usage in media

The song's intro has been used in a TikTok choreographed dance challenge known as the "Blinding Lights Challenge".[74] It was also used to promote Super Bowl LIV and was featured as a theme song for WrestleMania 36.[75]

Remixes

The song's first official remix features vocals from Chromatics and is included in the original deluxe edition of After Hours and the remix EP After Hours (Remixes).[8] A second official remix by Major Lazer was released on April 15, 2020.[76]

Personnel

Credits adapted from The Weeknd's official website and Tidal.[6][7]

  • The Weeknd - vocals, songwriting, production
  • Belly - songwriting
  • Jason Quenneville - songwriting
  • Max Martin - songwriting, production, programming, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums
  • Oscar Holter - songwriting, production, programming, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums
  • Shin Kamiyama - engineering
  • Cory Bice - engineering assistant
  • Jeremy Lertola - engineering assistant
  • Sean Klein - engineering assistant
  • Serban Ghenea - mixing
  • John Hanes - engineering for mixing
  • Dave Kutch - mastering
  • Kevin Peterson - mastering

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[148] 4× Platinum 280,000double-dagger
Belgium (BEA)[149] 2× Platinum 80,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[150] 4× Platinum 320,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[151] Platinum 90,000^
France (SNEP)[152] Diamond 333,333double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[153] Platinum 400,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[154] Platinum 70,000double-dagger
Mexico (AMPROFON)[155] 3× Platinum 180,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[156] 2× Platinum 60,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[157] Platinum 60,000double-dagger
Poland (ZPAV)[158] 3× Platinum 60,000*
Portugal (AFP)[159] 2× Platinum 40,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[160] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[161] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[162] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history

Region Date Format Label(s) Ref.
Various December 6, 2019 [163]
Italy December 13, 2019 Contemporary hit radio Universal [164]
United Kingdom December 20, 2019
  • XO
  • Republic
[165]
United States January 6, 2020 Hot adult contemporary radio [166]
January 7, 2020 Contemporary hit radio [167]
United Kingdom January 11, 2020 Adult contemporary radio [168]
United States February 4, 2020 Rhythmic contemporary radio [169]

See also

References

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