The Weeknd‘s week has been dominant like no one else’s before, as he becomes the first artist to lead the Billboard 200, Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Artist 100, Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts simultaneously.
Thanks to the presence of all 14 songs, which The Weeknd co-wrote and co-produced, from the set’s original version on the Hot 100, he also dominates the Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers tallies (which launched last June).
Meanwhile, his colossal consumption numbers spark his return to No. 1 on the Artist 100.
Billboard caught up with The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) on Wednesday (April 1) via email, and he mused about his unprecedented chart honors and more.
Congratulations! You’re the first artist to rank No. 1 simultaneously on the Billboard 200, Hot 100, Artist 100, Hot 100 Songwriters and Hot 100 Producers charts. That really shows your complete scope of talents. How does it feel to be recognized on all those levels?
It feels like a huge blessing. As artists, being recognized for what we do is the ultimate validation. I share this honor with my team and my fans who have been tirelessly supporting me.
How did what seems like a clear ’80s influence on “Blinding Lights” and other songs on After Hours come about? Plus, your first Hot 100 No. 1, “Can’t Feel My Face,” has a retro vibe too. What are your influences, and what drives you to bring classic sounds into the present?
I’ve always had an admiration for the era before I was born. You can hear it as far back as my first mixtape [2011’s House of Balloons] that the ’80s — Siouxsie & the Banshees, Cocteau Twins — play such a huge role in my sound. Sometimes it helps me create a new sound and sometimes it’s just obvious. I’m just glad the world’s into it now.
This is certainly an uncertain time for everyone. Given the current global climate, everyone’s health and safety are obviously most important. But what is it like to release and promote an album amid such challenging circumstances?
It’s very bizarre. At first, I felt like it might have been insensitive to release it, but to my fans I felt like I would have been doing a disservice to push it back. Hopefully it can help some people escape our reality, if only for an hour out of their day, while we all work hard to get through this together.