Starboy (song)

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"Starboy"
The Weeknd - Starboy (single).jpg
Single by The Weeknd featuring Daft Punk
from the album Starboy
Released September 21, 2016 (2016-09-21)
Format
Recorded 2016
Studio Conway Recording Studios
(Hollywood, California)
Gang Studios
(Paris, France)[1]
Genre
Length 3:50
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
The Weeknd singles chronology
"Wild Love"
(2016)
"Starboy"
(2016)
"I Feel It Coming"
(2016)

"Wild Love"
(2016)
"Starboy"
(2016)
"I Feel It Coming"
(2016)
Daft Punk singles chronology
"Give Life Back to Music"
(2014) Give Life Back to Music2014
"Starboy"
(2016) Starboy2016
"I Feel It Coming"
(2016) I Feel It Coming2016
Music video
"Starboy" on YouTube

"Starboy" is a song recorded by Canadian singer The Weeknd for his third studio album of the same name. It features French electronic duo Daft Punk. The artists co-wrote and co-produced the song alongside Doc McKinney and Henry "Cirkut" Walter, with Jason Quenneville providing additional writing.[2] It was released as the first single from the album on September 21, 2016, by XO and Republic Records.[3][4] It is an R&B and electropop song with lyrics that contain themes of extravagance of a celebrity life.

"Starboy" topped the charts in countries such as Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand and Sweden, as well as the US Billboard Hot 100, where it became The Weeknd's third chart-topper, and Daft Punk's first chart-topper. The music video for the song was directed by frequent collaborator Grant Singer, who directed The Weeknd's previous music videos for "Can't Feel My Face" and "The Hills". In the music video, The Weeknd is shown trying to destroy evidence of his previous self, including his own awards from his past album, Beauty Behind the Madness. The video has been described as The Weeknd's attempt to murder his former persona.

Background and lyrics[edit]

On August 24, 2016 during a Billboard interview, Republic Records executive vice president Wendy Goldstein mentioned that The Weeknd had been collaborating with Daft Punk.[5] The Weeknd later elaborated that he had contacted the duo through mutual friends in the Canadian music scene, and that he was invited to a studio in Paris, France to work with Daft Punk. During his session recording the song "I Feel It Coming", The Weeknd could hear a separate track leaking into the studio booth from the control room. He discovered that the track was a beat that Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo had been playing from a personal device. Inspired by the sound, The Weeknd immediately wrote material for it, forming the basis of "Starboy".[6] Producers Cirkut and Doc McKinney then continued work on the track.[7]

"Starboy" is an R&B[8] and electropop[9] song that incorporates themes of the extravagance associated with a celebrity lifestyle and also discusses how the celebrity lifestyle can make an entertainer fragile.[10] It was released on September 22, 2016, following the announcement of the album and its accompanying artwork a day earlier.[11]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song reached number one in Canada, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States, while also going top five in various countries, including reaching number two in both Australia and Ireland and number three in Germany. The single debuted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, opening at number 22 on the Digital Songs chart with 28,000 downloads with only one day of charting and at number 37 on the Radio Songs chart with 36 million of audience, following its first full week of airplay. It became The Weeknd's third highest debut on the chart and Daft Punk's second top 40 entry.[12] The following week, "Starboy" jumped 37 positions to reach number three, becoming The Weeknd's fifth top 10 single and Daft Punk's second. Additionally, "Starboy" made the biggest jump into the Hot 100's top five since Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" leapt from number 53 to number one in June 2015.[13] It sold 88,000 copies in its second week,[14] and 92,000 in its third week.[13]

After remaining in the number two spot for eight non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 — behind The Chainsmokers' "Closer" for five weeks and Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles" for an additional three weeks —, "Starboy" reached the top of the chart on the week of January 7, 2017, becoming The Weeknd's third and Daft Punk's first number one on the Hot 100.[15] "Starboy" additionally topped the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where it became The Weeknd's fourth number one single and Daft Punk's first.[14] The song was certified 5× platinum by the RIAA for 5 million units including streams on June 9, 2017.[16] As of May 2018, it has sold 6,000,000 copies in the US.[17]

In New Zealand, the single debuted at number five, which was followed by two consecutive weeks at number 2 before moving to number one on the chart for the week of October 24, 2016. This marks The Weeknd's second number one single, as well as Daft Punk's first number one single in the country.[18] In the UK, the single entered at number 3 for the week of October 6, 2016. The following week, it climbed up to number 2, held off by James Arthur's "Say You Won't Let Go". The next week, it was pushed to number 3 by "Closer" by The Chainsmokers before spending four weeks at number 4. Three weeks later, it flew from number 8 to number 3, due to the release of the album. That week, it also managed to reach a new peak of number 2 on the UK Streaming Chart (originally it had only peaked at number 3). It spent two weeks at number 3 before falling again, ultimately spending 15 consecutive weeks in the top ten.

Music video[edit]

Background and development[edit]

The song and video feature The Weeknd's personal McLaren P1, which he drives at the end of the video.[19]

The music video for the song was directed by frequent collaborator Grant Singer, who directed The Weeknd's previous music videos for "Can't Feel My Face" and "The Hills". It was released through the singer's official Vevo account on September 28, 2016 on YouTube, along with an accompanying poster which Rolling Stone described as "pulp-horror-inspired".[20] The video has been described as the singer's attempt to kill his former/old persona, perhaps signaling he is reinventing himself with this new album,[21] by suffocating himself, clipping his old hairstyle, and crushing his glass-framed platinum records.[19]

Several cars owned by The Weeknd are mentioned in the song's lyrics and featured in the video, including the Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadster which he sings in his second verse: "Pull off in that Roadster SV/ Pockets overweight, getting hefty," a Bentley Mulsanne: "No competition, I don't really listen/ I'm in the blue Mulsanne bumping New Edition," and the McLaren P1: "I'm trying to put you in the worst mood/ P1 cleaner than your church shoes."[19] Billboard approached John Paolo Canton, McLaren Automotive's director of public relations, in order to find out the owner of the car, as their website stated "Even the world’s biggest carmaker couldn’t afford product placement like this, let alone a boutique British brand".[19] Canton later confirmed that the car did belong to The Weeknd.[19]

In 3 weeks, the video had 100 million views. The video had 500 million views in 3 months. As of September 2018, the video has over 1.4 billion views on YouTube, taking it into the top 60 most viewed YouTube videos, as well as outviewing another of The Weeknd's US number one hits, "The Hills", which is his second video above the 1 billion view milestone.[22]

Synopsis[edit]

In the video, a man in a black ski mask and diamond-encrusted cross is sitting across from The Weeknd, who is zip tied to the chair. The figure then kills The Weeknd by asphyxiating him with a plastic bag. The figure is revealed to be the Starboy incarnation of The Weeknd – his other self represented his Beauty Behind the Madness era. He then walks through a house full of awards that he's received, as well as a portrait of Daft Punk and a panther. He comes upon a large glowing red neon cross, which he grabs and uses to destroy various evidence and history of his older self, including numerous trophies, posters and a crystal chandelier, before setting fire to the closet. Walking through the garage, he passes several luxury automobiles, deciding on a McLaren P1 and drives off with a cat in the passenger seat, which transforms into a panther as he rides off on Mulholland Drive. The video features product placement from clothing company PUMA.

Reception and accolades[edit]

Kat Bein of Billboard commented that the music video is "equally moody".[23] A writer from Slate magazine drew comparison of the video to Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video, which he has been compared to frequently for his musical style. The bleak focus on celebrity and transformation, as well as the morphing of the cat into a black panther, were some of the aesthetics that resembles Jackson's video.[24]

Billboard ranked "Starboy" at number four on their "100 Best R&B Songs of 2016" list: “Centric pop with frayed edges has been the M.O. for The Weeknd ever since he first signed on to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, and "Starboy" proves the culmination and likely end of that formula. With Daft Punk in tow to provide sighing background vocals and occasionally drift the song's production dangerously close to out of frame, the spellbinding night-drive assumes Abel Tesfaye's new alternate identity with the confidence of a star big enough to dictate his own nicknames: Even the opening lines ("I'm tryna put you in the worst mood, ah / P1 cleaner than your church shoes, ah") barely bother setting the scene, since you remember where the movie last left off. "Starboy" might not have been titled to serve as a Ziggy Stardust tribute, but it reflects how, like Bowie, Tesfaye understands the importance of constant evolution in both his music and his image. When he shows up in a white suit doing K-Ci & JoJo covers on his next album, try to act surprised.”[25] In the annual Village Voice's Pazz & Jop mass critics poll of the year's best in music in 2016, "Starboy" was ranked at number 29, tied with Rihanna's "Kiss It Better" and Maren Morris' "My Church".[26]

The video was nominated for Best Video at the 2016 MTV Europe Music Awards a day before its release, leading many observers to wonder whether it was included based on merit, or instead as a result of the singer's popularity on the channel.[27]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download[28]
No.TitleLength
1."Starboy"3:50
Digital download – Kygo Remix[29]
No.TitleLength
1."Starboy" (Kygo remix)4:04
Germany CD single[30]
No.TitleLength
1."Starboy" (explicit)3:50
2."Starboy" (clean)3:50
Total length:7:40

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[125] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Belgium (BEA)[126] 2× Platinum 60,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[127] 2× Platinum 120,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[128] 3× Platinum 240,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[129] 2× Platinum 120,000^
France (SNEP)[130] Diamond 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[131] 3× Gold 600,000^
Italy (FIMI)[132] 3× Platinum 150,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[133] 2× Platinum 60,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[134] 3× Platinum 30,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[135] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Sweden (GLF)[136] 4× Platinum 160,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[137] 2× Platinum 260,561[138]
United States (RIAA)[16] 6× Platinum 1,547,544[17]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Version Label(s) Ref.
Worldwide September 22, 2016 Digital download Original [139]
Italy September 23, 2016 Contemporary hit radio Universal [140]
United Kingdom
  • XO
  • Republic
[141]
Rhythmic contemporary [142]
United States September 27, 2016 Contemporary hit radio [143]
Rhythmic contemporary [144]
Germany November 4, 2016 CD single Republic [30]
Worldwide November 11, 2016 Digital download Kygo remix
  • XO
  • Republic
[145]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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