The Weeknd season has fully arrived. This month, Abel Tesfaye makes his acting debut, playing himself in the Safdie Brothers’ much-anticipated new movie Uncut Gems. Last week, he released two new singles, “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights,” with a whole Mercedes-Benz electric-car ad campaign built around the latter. And last night, he kicked off a two-night stand on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, doing everything he could to turn his performance into an event.
Tonight, the Weeknd will perform “Blinding Lights” on Colbert. He’ll probably do something attention-grabbing with it. That’s definitely what he did last night, when he sang “Heartless.” This is a deconstructionist late-night performance, one that takes pains to set itself apart. On the show, Colbert introduced the Weeknd, then looked slightly quizzical when he didn’t emerge. (Stephen Colbert is good at looking quizzical.) Then the camera went backstage and found the Weeknd, who didn’t seem to know where he was.
In a long single shot, the Weeknd wandered down into the Colbert studios, singing “Heartless” while wandering aimlessly around. Horror-movie lighting followed him. Eventually, it emerged that he was really on a big soundstage made to look like a maze of office corridors.
This is a fun idea, though it would’ve been cooler if Beck hadn’t done something similar on Kimmel earlier this week. Also, thanks to his bright suit and his fuzzy-ball mic, Abel Tesfaye looked for all the world like a drunken ’70s game-show host who couldn’t find his own studio. I’m not sure if that’s what he was going for. Watch the performance below.
“Heartless” is out now. The Weeknd will be back on Colbert tonight.