The Weeknd is the real Artist of the Year


Saira Ahmed

The Weeknd captivates audience members at his “After Hours Til Dawn” tour at Levi’s Stadium on Aug. 27.

Saira Ahmed, Freelance photographer

Taylor Swift accumulated six wins at this year’s American Music Awards on Nov. 20. She undoubtedly broke records with her album release of “Midnights” on Oct. 21, once again establishing her role in the pop world. She, however, did not deserve this to win Artist of the Year. The Weeknd, with his release of “Dawn FM” on Jan. 7 and his consistent presence in the pop world throughout the year,  has proved himself worthy of this award. 

The Weeknd has been able to captivate listeners with the world-building in each studio album he has produced. From his 2011 mixtape “House of Balloons” to his 2016  album “Starboy,” he has been able to create storylines and characters like no other artist has, establishing clear styles and sounds through his hits. The fact that 11 years after “House of Balloons” he is still able to do this with “Dawn FM” deserves more praise. 

This year’s album release was not the only thing The Weeknd was able to accomplish this year. His songs from older EPs and albums have made major comebacks, with tracks such as “Die For You” reaching the Billboard Hot 100  six years after its original release. Songs such as “I Was Never There” (released four years ago) and “Stargirl Interlude” (released six years ago) have also been made into trending TikTok sounds this year, representing The Weeknd’s timeless music and presence throughout this year. 

Looking through The Weeknd’s IMDb page, there is a pattern of which categories he ends up winning: typically R&B, and usually not pop or general, awards. Though this is an accurate genre, it prevents him from getting the larger awards that he deserves, such as “Artist of the Year.” Reducing him to just a “Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist” in 2021 is not a fair representation when he has clearly established his music beyond a genre award. 

Judges and corporations should accurately analyze artists’ impacts on people throughout the year, not just what has happened in the last three months of it. Though Taylor Swift has made an impact, The Weeknd’s was greater, and he is effectively more influential, as seen in the current Spotify rankings. As of Dec. 9, The Weeknd is the number one most listened-to artist on Spotify, with over 82 million monthly listeners, despite his last album being released eleven months ago. His ability to generate streams from older tracks shows how influential his music is and speaks to its quality. Taylor Swift currently sits at number two. 

 His continuing influence over pop culture and the music industry can be seen throughout the decade, but is particularly pronounced this year. The Weeknd ultimately proved himself to be the true artist of this year and deserved to win the AMA’s award.