Abel Tesafaye follows up his video for “Belong to the World” with a gloomy, drug-addled sequel, that keeps with Kiss Land’s Japan-inspired aesthetic. No art school girls this time around though. Just OVO and XO traipsing around a defunct office building/warehouse, emoting in the darkness from behind occasional bursts of hiragana that reiterate to the j-audience that this is, indeed, the shit he lives for.
Again, the use of Japanese here seems strange. Like, what’s the basis? The Weeknd has said before that Kiss Land is like a horror movie, and now that I think of it, his character in these videos does remind me of that weird dude from Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s The Cure.
But still, why Japan?
“Kiss Land is the story after Trilogy; it’s pretty much the second chapter of my life,” he continued. “The narrative takes place after my first flight; it’s very foreign, very Asian-inspired. When people ask me ‘Why Japan?’ I simply tell them it’s the furthest I’ve ever been from home. It really is a different planet.”
The promo run for Internet Famous Canadian, The Weeknd’s, new album has begun with the release of this video for “Belong to the World” off the upcoming LP Kiss Land. If the clip is any indication, the eponymous locale is a dystopian Japanese horrorscape, filled with an endless sea of stereotypically robotic J-men and one (1) black Canadian all vying to ogle a powdery art school girl.
Witness the insanity:
The baffling, lovesick intro is narrated by a man I presume to be an ancient, Japanese version of The Weeknd posing as a 21st century Bashō. The imagery is all seen-it-before, near-future Japan brimming with soulless fools marching/dancing through a hollow metropolis. There are no ravaged buildings, or giant lizards or megaton bombs; it’s an apocalypse of ennui, which I suppose is pretty appropriate for our current generation.
A rare-get interview with Complex suggests that this video is supposed to be “scary.” Iunno bout all that, but it does communicate an atmosphere heavy with isolation and repression, which is probably why they set it in Japan (burn??).
Country music to many people is a sort of albatross hanging around the neck of popular American music. Those who love it, LOVE IT while those who hate it seem to really, really hate it. I can’t say I know enough about country to fall into either faction, but I do know the “Tennessee Waltz” and can register a bit of sadness at the fact that the person who brought that into the world is no longer living in it.
Country is a quintessentially American musical form, and Patti Page was a dominant voice throughout her early career. In the 50s, Patti Page’s influence stretched across the Pacific to Japan where local entertainers adapted American popular music for the expatriates (mostly soldiers at the time) that filled the clubs and bars. Eventually a 14-year old by the name of Chiemi Eri got her hands on the music and used her version of the American classic to launch a bright, if unfortunately short, career. I’m tempted to say that her version of “Tennessee Waltz” was the first real crossover hit in the Japan-US postwar era, but I really don’t have any “facts” to back that up.
Here is Page’s original version for context / listening pleasure. We should all be so lucky to be remembered looking like this.