Abel Tesfaye, aka the Weeknd, has been getting vocal and tonal comparisons to Michael Jackson since he arrived in our ears, whether he likes it or not. His latest album, Starboy, simultaneously repels (“Reminder”) and embraces those parallels, and nowhere is the embrace more evident than “I Feel It Coming,” a throwback synth groove that will never not remind me of Jackson’s “Human Nature.”
The video for the single, which dropped very late Thursday night, is a sci-fi trip worthy of a song from a record called Starboy, but it also could’ve been a video from The King of Pop once upon a time. Rocking a jacket he could’ve stolen from backstage at the Bad tour, The Weeknd glides through dance moves amid a rocky landscape, relishing the warm lighting and faux film grain bestowed on the video by director Warren Fu. It’s all reminiscent of something Michael would’ve done in 1985, and then there’s a moment, at about the 3:35 mark, when Tesfaye does a little mini pelvic pop and the screen splits into three. In that moment, I could almost swear I’d opened a portal to some weird alternate universe version of the “Billie Jean” video.
No, the Weeknd will never be Michael, but we’ll also never stop saying their names in the same breath, so he may as well have a little sly fun with it while he can.