The Weeknd literally set himself on fire for his “I Can’t Feel My Face” music video, so for his latest single “In the Night,” the 25-year-old singer had to step things up in a big way.
And he succeeded. The Weeknd -- real name Abel Tesfaye -- takes fans on a trippy, violent ride in the “In the Night” music video, which mashes up the song’s old-school Michael Jackson vibe with a gory criminal element, similar to Rihanna’s controversial “Bitch Better Have My Money” video.
The video starts out with the singer spotting real-life girlfriend Bella Hadid in a seedy strip club, where sketchy men watch girls dance while playing cards and carrying around alligators for some reason.
For the first part of the video, The Weeknd just watches Bella dance, crooning tell-tale lines like “And I know / She is capable of anything / It’s riveting,” as we learn more about the mobster villain that is apparently holding her captive.
Then, things break down. The music cuts out, and the video devolves into a noir nightmare. Hadid and other strippers are neon-lit and dead-eyed, as blood-soaked gangsters threaten them with guns.
When the song kicks back in, so do the girls, taking their revenge in a trippy series of disjointed shots, as they slit throats and suffocate men with plastic bags.
It might be nothing more than a fever dream, though. As The Weeknd leaves the club and steps out into the light of day, yet another gun cocks, revealed to be the main mobster villain, holding a pistol to the singer’s head.
But Bella saves the day! A slow-motion bullet takes both men by surprise, finding it’s mark perfectly in the mobster’s skull. The two then climb on The Weeknd’s motorcycle and take off into the night. Ah, modern romance.
The video was directed by acclaimed duo BRTHR, who recently helmed Charli XCX’s “Breaking Up” music video and Foster the People’s video for “Coming of Age” (and apparently share The Weeknd’s disdain for vowels), but the decision to include Bella was obviously all The Weeknd.
The singer opened up to Rolling Stone in October about wanting to work with the 18-year-old model even before the two were dating.
"I actually asked her to be on the artwork for Beauty Behind the Madness," he said of his second studio album, which recently scored an Album of Year GRAMMY nomination. "My motive was literally to work with her." When she initially declined, "I was like, 'All right, cool — we can meet up face-to-face.'"