For as long as there have been artists, there have been artists dealing with feelings of otherness and alienation. In the corner of that famous cave painting in France is a lone stick figure, away from the rest, complaining about how no one understands them. Art and outsiders go together like butter and crumpets, one oozing through the other in a delicious melding of medium and matter.
From this ancient heritage comes global R&B megastar The Weeknd, who began his career as an enigma. According to Noisey, he’s really opened up on his latest album Starboy, the whole thing revealing many of the ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ singer’s hitherto unknown secrets. The title track contains thinly veiled allusions to his greatest secret of all: that he is not of this planet.
The boy of the stars arrived on this planet one fine weekend (hence his name) in a blaze of noise and petrol. Little is known about exactly what went down when he first walked amongst us, however what is undisputed is that at a key stage in his cultural learning he got stuck in front of a marathon of old Top Gear episodes on Dave.
“P1 cleaner than your church shoes, ah
Milli point two just to hurt you, ah
All red lamb’ just to tease you, ah”
Much like Clarkson and co, he views the world through the prism of luxury cars, referencing different makes and models and on occasion including price (“mill point two” ie $1.2m) and details on high speed performance (“hundred on the dash get me close to God”). Top Gear taught him the core earthling values of fast cars, masculinity and ego, that more cars is always better than less cars, that it doesn’t matter who you punch in pursuit of a hot lunch so long as you can do a handbrake turn. Through these and other essential lessons, the boy from the stars became a Starboy.
Yet still, the feeling that as an alien he could not fully integrate into human society persisted. He needed a role model from a similar background, someone with an origin as otherworldly as his own and who shared his perception of the universe through a windscreen. It seemed hopeless. Hopeless that is until he found them hiding in white racing overalls in plain sight. Who else could save this intergalactic wretch but The Stig.
Daft Punk were a deliberate choice of collaborator on this track, not merely for their role as producers, but for their aesthetic similarity to Top Gear’s The Stig. Some say that The Stig himself was approached to be a part of the project but declined because he thought music was a myth. Some say that Daft Punk are in fact The Stig’s cousins, but due to a deep seated family rift they only see each other at weddings and funerals.
Whatever the truth, Daft Punk were a natural choice to provide a homage to the influence of The Stig on The Weeknd’s personal life and career. Although it is unknown whether they have ever met, he undoubtedly inspired the young boy from the stars to pursue his dreams. Especially if they involved cars.
And on that bombshell…