What's Wrong With The Weeknd's Face?

The Weeknd's new music video, "Save Your Tears," released on January 5, reveals a version of the musician not seen before. As seen on YouTube, the distorted, puffed-out face with pronounced cheekbones won't last — it's prosthetics, according to The Independent.

The Grammy winner's countenance has changed in concerning ways over the past few months. At the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2020, The Weeknd — aka Abel Makkonen Tesfaye — sported a bloodied and bruised look, like the musician was recovering from a punch to the face. Then at November's American Music Awards, bandages covered most of his facial skin, with just his swollen eyes, a glimpse of his mustache, and his mouth exposed.

The newspaper points out that the video links these two occasions since The Weeknd wears the same red suit jacket he used at those events: "Having removed the surgical bandages, the singer is seen using facial prosthetics to simulate the appearance of extreme plastic surgery, including fillers around his cheekbones and lips."

Social media immediately reacted to the look. UrbanNoizeRmx, a music production team, said he looked like a "combination of Dorian Tyrell of The Mask & handsome faced Squidward." 

Still, others claimed the enhancements were part of a grand plan of protest. According to ET, "The track is featured on his fourth studio album, After Hours, which did not receive a single nomination for the 2021 Grammys, despite it receiving commercial success and arguably being his best work yet.

The performance art of The Weeknd

The Weeknd posted on Twitter after the nominations that "The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency..." 

In his new video, The Weeknd even throws a golden trophy aside, according to All Love Hip Hop on Twitter

The Weeknd's story told through staging and makeup began about a year ago, according to Marie Claire, during an SNL appearance where he bloodied up his face and had a nose bandage. "Fans quickly realized it was a reference to his recent work, specifically his 'Blinding Lights' music video [see on YouTube], in which he's beaten to a pulp by bouncers, drives drunk, and finds himself covered in blood and worse for wear." 

The magazine also points out that the bit also referenced a short film The Weeknd made to promote After Hours that finds him wandering the city with a busted-up face.

The Weeknd's makeup isn't just for sensationalistic impact. The Sun reports that "the horrifying make-up is to raise awareness " for drunk driving. The Weeknd himself hasn't made a comment yet to explain the over-the-top cosmetic transformation. During his January 8 promos for his upcoming Super Bowl LV appearance in February, though, he reverted to a more normal look, as seen on YouTube. Let's see what visual artistry The Weeknd brings to the upcoming February 7 halftime show.