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The 50 Best Weeknd Songs

From dark alt-R&B jams to sleek summer hits to synth-pop revelations, and beyond

Photographs in photo illustration by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Rich Fury/Getty Images; John Salangsang/Invision/AP

If you had “Siouxsie and the Banshees fan from Canada remakes R&B in his own image” on your Pop Music in the 2010s bingo card, congratulations! Abel Tesfaye came out of Toronto in 2011 with a stunning series of spacey, sepulchral EPs that proved the start of a landmark run. Pretty soon he was lacing summer hits, sharing tracks with Ariana and Lana, creating epic albums like After Hours and this year’s excellent Dawn FM, and even playing the Super Bowl. To coincide with the release of his new Amazon special, The Weeknd x The Dawn FM Experience (available this Saturday), we’ve decided to honor the Weeknd’s decade of moody pop dominance, with our list of his 50 greatest songs. You’ve earned it!

From Rolling Stone US

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‘Wicked Games’ (2011)

The Weeknd’s first single is a sensual, slow-grooving meditation on coming of age — feeling comfortable in your own skin and grappling with differences between love and lust, but “only for tonight.” In the space of five and a half minutes, Tesfaye tells a movie-length story: He’s just broken up with his girl, he took out all his cash and spent it on coke and his date, and he just wants to feel like a human being. “Bring your love, baby, I could bring my shame,” he sings. “Bring the drugs, baby, I could bring my pain, I got my heart right here.” It’s heavy stuff for a pop song, and it established him as an artist who could tackle Big Problems in a way that makes you want to sing along with him. —K.G.

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‘The Hills’ (2015)

A sound-design masterpiece and the quintessential Weeknd hit, with all the pop instincts of his crossover blockbuster era and all the sleaze and self-loathing of his avant-R&B early years. “The Hills” mesmerizes and rebukes like a MIDI-enabled version of Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son. Tesfaye limps through fame’s panopticon before launching into a falsetto war of the spirit (“When I’m fucked up, that’s the real me,” he wails). Somehow, this meticulous smear of muted screams, tolling bells, growly sub-bass, and filtered-to-hell synths reached No. 1 and was eventually certified diamond (10 million copies sold). —C.A.