The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” has been smashing records practically since it was first released late in November of 2019 — and on Monday it broke what might be the most momentous one of all: It became the first song to spend a full year in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100.
That dwarfs the previous record, for Post Malone’s “Circles,” which hung in for 39 weeks (it’s a bit of an inter-family record, since Post happens to be the Weeknd’s labelmate on Republic Records). “Blinding Lights” also holds the record for the longest a song has spent in the Top 5, with 43 total weeks.
And with 65 full weeks in the Hot 100, it’s well on its way toward breaking that record, which is held by Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” with 87.
It was also named Variety’s Hitmakers Record of the Year for 2020.
All of which makes it even more impossible to believe that the powers that be at the Grammy Awards decided that the Weeknd shouldn’t be nominated for any 2021 awards.
But on a more positive note, the Weeknd told Variety last year that the song’s initial success gave him the validation he needed to push ahead with the adventurous songs on his latest album, “After Hours,” which was released in March, several months after “Blinding Lights” dropped. In fact, in an early sign of the song’s longevity, it did not top the Alpha Data charts until April.
“At first I felt like I went overboard with ambition,” The Weeknd said. “I’m ambitious, but I thought maybe it was too much. But it wasn’t until people liked ‘Blinding Lights” that I was like, ‘This is so not what now is, and people loved it anyway.’”
Looking back over an unprecedented year that The Weeknd dominated, it all began with “Blinding Lights” (even though “Heartless” was released a few days earlier) — and while the song soundtracked some harrowing times, it also has come to symbolize strength and triumphing over adversity.