The Weeknd Claimed Thee Usher Stole His Style For ‘Climax’ And Usher Had The Most Eloquent Response
The "I Can't Feel My Face" crooner said he was angry upon hearing "Climax."
April 10, 2020 at 1:40 pm
Music beefs are all the rage now that everyone is home and has ample time to have debates about artists' catalogs.
But The Weeknd, fresh off the release of his new No. 1 album After Hours, sparked a bit of controversy in a cover story with Variety.
The R&B crooner said his 2011 mixtape House of Balloons "changed the sound of pop music before my eyes” and went on to claim that an Usher song one year later essentially stole his style.
“I heard ‘Climax,’ that  Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f**k, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing,” he told Variety.
His comments set off a day of debates and arguments between fans of both artists, with Usher stans saying there was no way the legendary Grammy winner could have taken The Weeknd's style because of his decades in the music game.
I promise you NO ONE ever heard “Climax” and thought “now this sounds like The Weeknd did Usher steal this ?🤔” https://t.co/Oppc6RjlEQ— 𝐉𝐚𝐧𝐞𝐭 🌸 (@nostalgiaonfilm) April 8, 2020
Wait people really out here thinking The Weeknd is better than Usher?!— Victor So (@goforso) April 9, 2020
Others came out in defense of The Weeknd, saying "Climax" was clearly made to sound like the music of the time, which was popularized because of House of Balloons.
Y’all The Weeknd say? And cmon y’all don’t act like Abel can’t sing tho— Mr. Nigga (@codenamety0) April 9, 2020
Saying The Weeknd can’t sing is a terrible take https://t.co/SVPXLxnkzl— PONCE 🪐 (@JacobPonce18) April 9, 2020
I get on see the weeknd slander.... not tolerating it!— lil doy (@Doyinnn___) April 9, 2020
Usher didn't respond to Variety's request for comment in the story, but he took to Instagram to sing his song's signature falsetto, kickstarting the #ClimaxChallenge, which saw singers across the world try their hand at pulling off the tough high notes.
The singer also posted some subtle shade, insinuating he wouldn't be directly responding to the allegations.
Have you ever seen the moon bark back at the dog?— Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) April 9, 2020
Singer Eric Bellinger compiled some of the best videos featuring crooners doing their best Usher impression.
While Usher never said it plainly, fans said the video implied the high notes could not be hit by The Weeknd, meaning the song was original and could not have been copied from anyone, especially a singer who couldn't hit the same notes.
“The production actually started as a house thing with a chord progression that I wrote, but with some time in the studio alone, I was making a sort of ‘wildfire’ beat out of it. The idea of pushing cut-off on a synth used so much in progressive house music but pulling back. I was making something like a minimal techno record with Atlanta strip clubs in mind,” the producer of the song, Diplo, said in an interview with The Guardian in 2012.
“Usher has the power to take a record into any lane. He’s that big. He brought house music to the R&B crowds in America, and with ‘Yeah!’ he brought synths to Atlanta hip-hop. I think he wasn’t going to these producers for their sounds. … We all know what they do. Usher is a smart man, he has been doing this for long enough. He’s using the producers instead of the other way around,” Diplo added in the interview.
Despite his comment at the time, the producer hopped on Twitter and said that the song was actually inspired by The Weeknd's style of music.
the production on Climax lends itself to House of Balloons era @theweeknd. when I heard those early records they blew my mind - soulful in their silences, and a spacey iconic voice that felt uniquely internet. the idea of R&B having dark edges was what I wanted to bring to @usher— Thomas Wesley (@diplo) April 9, 2020
But another person hopped into the discussion to point out the producer's inconsistencies by citing the Diplo's 2012 interview with The Guardian. In the interview, he referenced Usher's inspirations for the Looking 4 Myself album, none of which appeared to include The Weeknd.
one of my favorite voices of all time. I'm glad @usher, Ariel, Eric, and I all got together to make that epic song. I remember I had the title of the song before I had the beat. It was conceptual from the beginning.— Thomas Wesley (@diplo) April 9, 2020
The Weeknd took to Twitter and shared Diplo's post, adding his own comment and claiming the media was trying to stir beef between the two singers when there was none. Despite the comment, he doubled down on the idea that Usher stole his style.
Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context. Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO https://t.co/GdLX4xD58a— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) April 9, 2020
In a recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Usher spoke about "Climax" and his goals for the hit song that won him a Grammy for Best R&B Performance.
"Me and Diplo, we were trying to do something that would raise the bar for R&B. And it took me forever to be okay with letting it go, to just like, okay, offer it to the world and care not what people think, just put it out knowing that," Usher said in the interview.
"I want to sing in a way that no one else does in this time over a track that I know doesn't fit there. It's going to freak people in R&B [out] and is going to freak people out who are more alternative...Because people don't sing in falsetto when you get to that level. They just don't. They don't go in that area," Usher added.
The two singers have had beef before. In 2016, The Weeknd got on Twitter to apologize to Usher for claiming that he was the most awarded male R&B vocalist in Billboard Music Awards’ history, People reported.
In other news, Usher dropped a new song on Friday titled "SexBeat" with Lil Jon and Ludacris. Listen below: