The Weeknd Reveals His Picks for the Songs That Define Him

The Weeknd names "What You Need," "Starboy," and several more as the songs that define him in a new COVID-19 era cover feature with 'Esquire.'


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To say that the Weeknd released his superb fourth album After Hours at an uncomfortably bizarre time in human history is, to put it as mildly as possible, a breathtaking understatement. Still, the album—featuring top-tier input from Metro Boomin, Max Martin, and more—has fittingly become a mainstay during the COVID-19 era.

In a must-read new interview with Allison P. Davis for Esquire, out Tuesday, the Weeknd checked in from the Westwood condo where he's been keeping locked down for months now and reflected on what could have been with regards to his original After Hours-related tour plans.

The interview with the publication's September cover star also sees Abel naming the songs that he believes define him, with some additional insight on their respective place in his catalog along the way. 

First up is the House of Balloons cut "What You Need," the discussion of which resulted in a revisit of his arguably overblown Usher comments from earlier this year. Those comments, as reported back in April, became the starting point for Usher's #ClimaxChallenge. 

"I hit him up to apologize and tell him that it was misconstrued," Abel explained in the new interview. "He's one of the reasons why I make music. Definitely. No, no, I have nothing bad to say about Usher. The sweetest, most down-to-earth guy ever." And as for "What You Need," the first of Weeknd's picks, he said it's "just a sexy R&B song."

From there, the Weeknd picked the Kiss Land track "Wanderlust"—a track Complex mentioned in a Weeknd albums ranking earlier this year as "an MJ-esque stepping stone" to the then-impending era that would include the cocaine personification smash "Can't Feel My Face" and more.

The Weeknd also highlighted the Ariana Grande collab "Love Me Harder," the 2015 track "Often," the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack hit "Earned It," and the ubiquitous Starboy title track.

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The Esquire feature also includes word that the Weeknd has been busy during the COVID-19 era with new music, both for himself and other artists, as well as two screenplays. Read it in full here.

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