The rock song that inspired ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd
(Credit: YouTube)

Old School Archives

The rock song that inspired 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd

Canadian singer The Weeknd is one of the biggest talents in the world of contemporary R’n’B and is a Grammy-award-winning vocalist. The Toronto musician has a multitude of hits, from ‘Earned It’ to ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ However, one of his biggest tracks is ‘Blinding Lights.’

Released as the second single for his 2020 project Afterhours, ‘Blinding Lights’ was oddly inspired by a rock track. In an interview with Variety, the lyricist (real name Abel Tesfaye) unveiled that during the creation of Afterhours, he was listening to a lot of music from the 1980s. 

The body of work itself features lots of references to the 1980s, and this is a common feature of Tesfaye’s work. When asked about this, the vocalist explained,, “I think that just comes from being an ’80s connoisseur and hearing the Pretenders or Roxy Music or Hall & Oates. I was finding that alt-rock synth-wave character, all these weird ideas, me being goofy and not knowing if people were gonna like it.”

Tesfaye unveiled 1980s acts spanning multiple genres as influences, including the likes of Cocteau Twins, Eazy-E, Egyptian Lover, The Human League, Strawberry Switchblade, Rick Astley, and the electro group Kraftwerk. However, there is one band from the decade that The Weeknd just couldn’t get enough of.

Tesfaye delved into his love for the British rock band, Roxy Music and especially their song ‘More Than This,’ proclaiming, “‘More Than This’ is a banger, dude!” He said. “The reason I keep using it as a reference on this album is because you press play and you know it’s a hit almost immediately — you don’t have to wait to get the chorus to know it’s a great song, and I wanted to get that with a song like ‘In Your Eyes.'”

The Canadian hitmaker loved ‘More Than This’ so much that he admitted that its melody influenced the creation of ‘Blinding Lights,’ revealing, “The demo didn’t have that [’80s sax hook] beginning, so I was listening to things like Roxy and A-Ha, ‘How do we make it sound amazing right away?’ ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ didn’t [originally] have those melodies in the first verse.”

Although ‘More Than This’ from Roxy Music’s 1982 album Avalon performed poorly in the US, the track lives on through ‘Blinding Lights’ which peaked at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent 57 weeks in the top ten, getting certified diamond by the RIAA. You can listen to both tracks in the videos below.