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The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights” has become one of the most iconic hits of the past year. The Weeknd listened to numerous 1980s stars while crafting the song’s parent album, After Hours. Subsequently, he revealed how one song inspired the melody of “Blinding Lights.”

The Weeknd wearing sunglasses
The Weeknd | Christopher Polk/NBC / Contributor

The Weeknd revealed why ‘After Hours’ had so many references to 1 era of music

During a 2020 interview with Variety, The Weeknd discussed his album After Hours. He was asked why the album featured more 1980s references than his previous songs. “I think that just comes from being an ’80s connoisseur and hearing the Pretenders or Roxy Music or Hall & Oates,” he said. “I was finding that alt-rock synthwave character, all these weird ideas, me being goofy and not knowing if people were gonna like it.”

The Weeknd named a series of other 1980s artists who influenced After Hours. They included Cocteau Twins, Eazy-E, Egyptian Lover, The Human League, Strawberry Switchblade, Rick Astley, and Kraftwerk. He specifically named Kraftwerk’s “Man Machine” as an influence on After Hours.

How a 1980s act inspired The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’

The Weeknd was asked how Roxy Music in particular inspired his music. “‘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.'”

Roxy Music’s “More Than This” inspired the melodies of two of his songs. “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?'” he said. “‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘In Your Eyes’ didn’t [originally] have those melodies in the first verse.”


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How ‘More Than This’ and ‘Blinding Lights’ and their parent albums performed on the charts in the United States

“More Than This” did not become a hit for Roxy Music in the United States. The song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Roxy Music released the song on the album Avalon. The album reached No. 53 on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart for 27 weeks.

“Blinding Lights” became a much bigger hit in the U.S. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, lasting on the chart for 90 weeks in total. The Weeknd released “Blinding Lights” on the album After Hours. The album topped the Billboard 200 for four weeks in total. The album stayed on the chart for 83 weeks.

“Blinding Lights” became a huge hit and commercially overshadowed the Roxy Music song that inspired it.