The Weeknd is stirring up debate online after talking to Variety about the influence his trademark aesthetic of moody, dark R&B had on the world of pop music – namely, “Climax” by Usher.
In a new Variety cover story published Wednesday, April 8th, The Weeknd suggests that Usher‘s hit 2012 song wouldn’t exist without his 2011 debut mixtape, ‘House of Balloons’:
“‘House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes,” he said. “I heard ‘Climax, that 2012 Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f—, that’s a Weeknd song. It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”
.@TheWeeknd talks to @Variety about the impact his debut 2011 mixtape, ‘House of Balloons’ had on pop music:
“‘House of Balloons’ literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes. I heard ‘Climax,’ that 2012 Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f—, that’s a Weeknd song.’” pic.twitter.com/rGTUrDLWwf
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 8, 2020
Usher, who reportedly declined to comment on the story, subtly shot back at The Weeknd‘s comments with a rendition of “Climax” on Instagram showing off his vocal range.
Usher takes to his Instagram stories to sing his hit song “Climax” after The Weeknd claimed he copied his style in the song. pic.twitter.com/NWVVEuLPo0
— Pop Crave (@PopCraveMusic) April 9, 2020
Usher quickly became a trending Twitter topic as more people chimed in on the debate, and so far it looks like the majority disagree with The Weeknd. While many agree that ‘House of Balloons’ helped birth a new genre of gloomy, experimental pop, fans seem to agree that The Weeknd‘s comments were out of line.
Ya’ll younger millennials are confused & musty for thinking that Usher is washed up ?.
Usher can still sing circles, flips, & cartwheels over The Weekend anyday#ClimaxChallenge
— Jovan Washington (@Jovan_Washinton) April 9, 2020
Usher can sing Starboy, Abel cannot sing Confessions. Boom.
— Darryl (@darerule) April 9, 2020
Usher just killed Climax while laying on his back effortlessly. The Weekend is hella disrespectful for that talking all that smack. Be humblepic.twitter.com/hAmUK1ROsV
— Sky Lord (@SkyLordGrad) April 9, 2020
Trevor Anderson, a hip-hop/R&B charts contributor for Billboard, summed up many people’s opinion with this simple tweet:
— Trevor Anderson (@tanderson5569) April 8, 2020
The Weeknd isn’t without his supporters, though, as a select few called out critics for over-reacting to the interview quote:
all of twitter rn: The Weeknd has a limited vocal range, all his music is trash and she shouldn’t have disrespected the god that is Usher.
— baby boo (@abelsbabyboo) April 9, 2020
People saying that The Weeknd isn’t better than usher are stuck in the 2000s. Leave that cheating mf in the past and embrace the perfect music that is The Weeknd #isaidwhatisaid
— pandemic at the disco! (@alaw312) April 9, 2020
Fans are now participating in the #ClimaxChallenge, which sees singers attempt to perform the chorus of “Climax” in the style of Usher. Some have interpreted the hashtag, which Usher first included in his clap back video, as a public challenge directed at The Weeknd.
@usher somebody say #ClimaxChallenge ?? You taught me best ??? pic.twitter.com/EaBDXhC4G2
— Shade Jenifer (@shadejenifer) April 9, 2020
For the Love of R&B Music ? pic.twitter.com/ronsnJ6JbN
— Eric Bellinger (@EricBellinger) April 8, 2020
#climaxchallenge paying homage to one of the most influential voices in R&B and music in general. The King. ? @Usher pic.twitter.com/wQWfih7YYs
— DRYX (dr-ix) (@iamdryx) April 9, 2020
One thing that fans seem to agree on, though, is that Usher and The Weeknd are two distinct artists with their own style. Let’s hope we see The Weeknd posts a lighthearted response with his own #ClimaxChallenge entry.
Since publishing, The Weeknd has addressed the reaction to his comments on “Climax” on social media. The singer shared a tweet thread from Diplo, the sole producer on “Climax,” who confirmed that ‘House of Balloons’ was indeed a reference point for the track.
Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context. Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO https://t.co/GdLX4xD58a
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) April 9, 2020
Do you think “Climax” sounds like a song from The Weeknd? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @PopCrave!