After teasing his musical follow-up to the blockbuster album After Hours at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards, it looks like the next taste of the Weeknd’s new project is finally here.
Abel Testafe dropped a one-and-half-minute teaser of the thumping, tantalizing “The Dawn Is Coming” overnight, tweeting “f—k it, it starts tonight” on Sunday (Aug. 2). The teaser clip plays like an anime or video game landscape; in keeping with the dawn theme, the camera races over a barren surface toward a blazing sun in a fiery red-orange sky, getting enveloped by the bright orb the moment Tesfaye sings, “Take my hand.”
While the vocals are as moody and gorgeous as we’ve come to expect from the Weeknd, the music is propelled forward by a pounding, relentless synthesizer, bringing to mind the kind of nimble, arresting and irresistible synth riff that Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer delivered with the game-changing “I Feel Love.”
The Weeknd previously teased this next musical era at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards on May 23. “I just want to say the After Hours are done and the dawn is coming,” he said after winning Top Hot 100 Song presented by Rockstar for “Blinding Lights.” That win was one of 10 total for the Weeknd at the 2021 BBMAs.
In a GQ cover story that dropped Monday (Aug. 3) morning, shortly after this teaser set Twitter aflame, Testafe previewed his fifth album for GQ, telling them “it’s the album I’ve always wanted to make.” He also doubled down on his decision to forgo competing at the Grammys in the future, in light of the Recording Academy’s snub of his critically acclaimed smash hit album After Hours.
“When it happened, I had all these ideas and thoughts. I was angry and I was confused and I was sad. But now, looking back at it, I never want to know what really happened,” Testafe told GQ. “I just don’t care. Because that will never be the reason why I do what I do. It never really was before. And I’m glad that I can make music and not have to think about that. I’ll never be in that conversation ever again.”
When the magazine pushed him, asking if he’ll truly never submit his work for Grammy consideration in the future, he replied, “No. I mean, I have no interest.” That echoes what he told Billboard in a Jan. 2021 cover story about his current feeling toward the Grammys: “I personally don’t care anymore,” Tesfaye said. “I have three Grammys, which mean nothing to me now, obviously.”