That Time The Weeknd Sweetly Sang About a Full Bladder - DJBooth

That Time The Weeknd Sweetly Sang About a Full Bladder

Did you notice that “Often” contains one very strange line? We did.
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The Weeknd, drinking

The Weeknd is a guy from Toronto who spells his name without an "e" so he doesn't get sued by these guys and makes music about sex and drugs and having sex on drugs and might as well just save himself some time and start having sex directly with the drugs and is now a certified superstar thanks to his ability to be a musical 50 Shades of Grey, just dangerous enough for soccer moms to fantasize about leaving their pudgy husbands for, but not so dangerous they forbid their teenage daughters from going to his concerts. 

He also sometimes sings about some profoundly weird shit.

You just probably didn't notice because The Weeknd sings about that aforementioned weird shit in the same soft, lilting, promethazine haze of a voice as he sings about sex and drugs and having sex with drugs. When R. Kelly sings about weird shit (a.k.a. every time R. Kelly sings) his lyrics come complete with neon signs announcing their oddity. You don't even have to listen to an R. Kelly song titled "Sex Planet" to know a song by R. Kelly titled "Sex Planet" is going to involve at least one weird anal sex reference. 

The Weeknd though? He slips his most baffling lines in so smoothly, so cleanly, like the finest Peruvian powder snorted up the surgically perfected nostril of a Ukranian supermodel passed out in his shower, which is a real thing he sings about and considering who The Weeknd is isn't a weird thing for The Weeknd to sing about at all, that you barely even notice. 

Case in point, "Often." 

The first 47 times I sang along to "Often," I had apparently caught a sonic contact high that shut down the logical receptors in my brain, but then there was that 48th time...

"Infatuated by the fame status
She wanna ride inside the G-Class grey 'matic
I come around, she leave that nigga like he ain't matter
That girl been drinkin' all day, need to change bladder"

I'm sorry, wait, the fuck did you just say

"I come around, she leave that nigga like he ain't matter
That girl been drinkin' all day, need to change bladder"

Just so we're clear, what the fuck did you just say to me?

"That girl been drinkin' all day, need to change bladder"

Yeah, that's what I thought you said Abel. That's some pretty weird shit to sing about.

Because I'm willing to bet that you're still under The Weeknd's hypnotic spell and haven't fully comprehended the weight of that line's strangeness, let's walk through this thing together with all the lush instrumentals and crooning stripped away. First, he's talking about a girl who really has to pee. That's it. There's no metaphor here, no double entendre, just a casual mention that the same groupie attracted to his vast material wealth also needs to urinate, and badly. I'll give you a moment to confront that fact. 

Now, if he had said that this girl needed to change livers, ok, that'd be an obvious alcoholism reference and completely fit with the theme and mood of the song. But nope, he definitely says bladder, and a bladder is a membranous sac in humans and other animals in which urine is collected for excretion. It looks like this. 

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So that's a weird thing to slide into the middle of an otherwise smooth and sexy song like "Often," but we're just getting started. What makes it even stranger is that Abel's solution to this girl's full bladder problem isn't for her to pee. He's not about to pull over the G-Class grey matic at a Starbucks so she can use the bathroom without paying like everyone in America and I assume in Canada too. No, he's advocating an outright organ transplantation procedure, and sure, why not? Why empty your bladder when you could just change it out for a new, not urine-filled bladder? Makes perfect sense, especially when you have enough military-grade pharmaceuticals on hand to anesthetize a baby elephant. 

In retrospect, it's clear that Abel fell in love with this little section where he's rhyming the word "status," he ran out of good ideas by the fourth line, but at that point he couldn't not finish the verse, and so he eventually decided, "Fuck it, I'm going with bladder," even though HE HADN'T USED THE WORDS "HABIT" OR "ADDICT" YET which, fucking come on Abel, you're a drug addict with a drug habit, the verse practically writes itself.  

And the most fantastical part, the part that simultaneously brings me both enormous whimsical joy and thoroughly boggles my mind, is how many people along the chain of command co-signed bladder changing. Besides Abel, there are eight other songwriters and producers credited on "Often" who either explicitly or passively endorsed a weird urination reference on without exaggeration one of the biggest albums of the year, and that's not counting the studio engineers and managers and mixers and assorted entourage and A&Rs and people at the label and etc. etc. etc. 

Abel (singing): "That girl been drinking all day, need to change bladder."  
Engineer: "Did he just say 'change bladders'?
Manager: "No, I think it was something about platters."  
Engineer (to Abel): "That was amazing, can you just do the last line again? It sounded a little muffled." 
Abel (singing): "That girl been drinking all day, need to change bladder."  
Engineer: "Yeah, he definitely said bladder."
Manager: "Um...well...are you gonna tell him that's fucking weird? Because I'm not telling him that's fucking weird." 
Abel (snorts line of coke off mic stand): "Was that better?" 
              * Awkward silence * 
Manager: "Perfect, you nailed it."  

And that's how mistakes work. No one says it's a mistake at first and then it's even harder for the next person to say it's a mistake and then it's even harder for the next person and then it just becomes easier to pretend like it's not a mistake at all and then millions of people are listening to someone sexily describe a girl with a bladder full of urine, which is probably the real lesson here. Maybe if the melody is catchy enough it doesn't really matter what words come out of your mouth, maybe you can sing about having a half-boner in the club or organ transplants and still dominate the charts as long as you sing it really sweet and nice like.

In that case, I should probably just get high, relax and learn to enjoy the music, but if I did I wouldn’t realize how strange and unusual The Weeknd truly is, I wouldn't spend my days delighting in the small details, and that'd be a shame, because the small details are where the joy of listening lies. This is the burden of the 48th listen, a burden that as Abel knows can only be lifted by sex and drugs. I won't be drinking though, changing bladders is the worst.

p.s. - Don't even get me started on "I'm never rocking white, I'm like a racist.

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