Given his popularity, it makes sense that his EP reached the No. 1 spot on the iTunes album chart just hours after its release. But listeners who expected something similar to the pop-house vibes of “Starboy” were likely thrown for a loop. As the name suggests, “My Dear Melancholy,” marks a return to the Weeknd’s gloomy mood, which longtime listeners will recognize from his acclaimed 2011 mix tape “House of Balloons.”
The reason behind much of this sorrow is presumably his most recent ex-girlfriend: Selena Gomez. The pair broke up in October, a month after Gomez revealed that she had undergone a kidney transplant to treat her lupus. The Weeknd appears to address this in the EP’s first track, “Call Out My Name,” when he sings, “I almost cut out a piece of myself for your life/Guess I was just another pit stop ’til you made up your mind.” (Gomez and her ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber were photographed together in November, a reunion that we assume contributed to the heartbreaking lyrics.)
The shade goes further, as he begins the third song, “Wasted times I spent with someone else/She wasn’t even half of you.” The song seems to be directed to his previous ex-girlfriend, supermodel Bella Hadid, which would make Gomez the dreaded “someone else” in this equation.
How do we know Hadid is the “you?” Those who have followed any of the Hadids on Instagram for more than a month would know that this family — which also encompasses matriarch Yolanda and siblings Gigi and Anwar — absolutely loves horses. Hadid had once planned to compete at the 2016 Olympics in the equestrian events, a dream her mother revealed was left behind because of the model’s struggle with Lyme disease. The Weeknd sings, “You were equestrian, so ride it like a champion” later in “Wasted Times.” Gross but telling.
Fans seem to believe “Privilege” is about Gomez, too, as he begins the pre-chorus with, “And I don’t want to hear that you are suffering/You are suffering no more.” We will leave the veracity of this interpretation up to you — just make sure you listen with a tissue box in hand.