The Weeknd says he was angry the first time he heard Usher’s 2012 hiy “Climax.”
The Weeknd’s influence on pop and R&B over the last decade goes deeper than many music fans realize. While he may seem like a relatively new artist in the mainstream, his alternative and dark style has been shaping radio hits since his early mixtape days. Appearing on the cover of Variety’s latest issue, The Weeknd sat down for an interview for the prestigious magazine to talk about his career and what he has observed in the industry over the years.
During the conversation, the Canadian singer even admitted that he was once bitter about hearing his own sound in other artists, including when he first heard Usher’s 2012 hit, “Climax.”
The Weeknd’s 2010 mixtape House of Balloons is now considered a classic, but at the time, the out-of-the-box artist felt he was inspiring other people’s hits from behind the scenes. Speaking with Variety, The Weeknd admitted, “House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes. I heard ‘Climax’, that Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f**k, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry.” While Abel’s frustration with inspiring artists bigger than himself to change their style is understandable, he went on to stay, “But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”
In addition to The Weeknd’s influence on pop music around ten years ago, artists may have also been inspired by the rising popularity of EDM. “Climax” was produced by Diplo and therefore ended up with a more electronic sound than Usher fans were used to at the time.
Usher, who began his career in the early 90s with more slow jam inspired tracks, may have been looking for a refreshing change to his style after two decades of producing quality R&B. The Weeknd may be right about his ability to inspire big names, but the production behind “Climax” was likely much more than a copycat.