Brow Beat

The Weeknd Confronts His Past in the Michael Jackson–Influenced Video for “Starboy”

The music video for “Starboy,” the Weeknd’s new collaboration with Daft Punk, has arrived less than a week after the song’s official launch. It’s the titular track off of his upcoming studio album, due Nov. 25, and the video has already generated positive response, having earned an MTV Europe Music Award nomination on Tuesday (as in, before it was even released).

The video, directed by frequent collaborator Grant Singer, is an evocative deconstruction of the star’s past. It opens on a Beauty Behind the Madness–era version of the Weeknd tied up and being strangled by a man in a mask—a man eventually revealed to also be the Weeknd, albeit the more contemporary, Starboy-era version. Over the course of the video, he smashes his framed records with a pink fluorescent cross, destroys an upscale apartment, and drives off into the night with a black panther riding beside him. The Weeknd’s musical style has long been compared to that of Michael Jackson, but here he takes it even further aesthetically: This bleak focus on celebrity and transformation, and with the ominous large cat to boot, seems clearly drawn from the King of Pop.