Writer(s): Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Quenneville, Max Martin, Oscar Holter (see lyrics here)
Released: November 29, 2019
Peak: 14 US, 126 BA, 14 DG, 11 ST, 17 RR, 135 AC, 120 A40, 111 RB, 18 UK, 17 CN, 18 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 3.6 UK, 19.34 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.75 radio, 1439.0 video, 3687.88 streaming
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About the Song:
The grandaddy of charts is the Billboard Hot 100 which tracks the top songs in the U.S. every week across all genres. The chart pulls information from radio airplay, digital sales, and streaming data. On April 4, 2019, The Weeknd topped the Hot 100 with “Blinding Lights.” Two weeks later, it landed atop the airplay chart where it spent 26 weeks. Those six months at #1 were more than any other song in the history of the charts from 1890 to present has spent atop any of the major pop charts. See the DMDB page “USA: Biggest #1 Pop Songs” for more detail.
The song also set a record for more weeks in the top 5 than any other song in the history of the Hot 100 when it eclipsed the 28 weeks spent in the upper regions by the Chainsmokers’ “Closer” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” SF In November 2021, Billboard ranked it the #1 song in the history of its Hot 100 chart. In the chart’s 63-year history, close to 30,000 songs have charted. BB See the top 100 list here.
“Blinding Lights” topped the chart in 34 countries. It was the fifth #1 song in the United States for Canadian R&B singer Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd. In January 2023, “Blinding Lights” became Spotify’s most-streamed song of all-time, surpassing Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” HB
The song is about the rekindling of a relationship in which the Weeknd sings about how he isn’t at peace unless he’s with his woman. He’s likely referring to model Bella Hadid, who he broke up with in 2016, but reunited in 2019. SF The Weeknd collaborated with Swedish songwriter and producer Max Martin, who’d worked with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Taylor Swift. The pair had worked together before, most notably on the Weeknd’s #1 hit “Can’t Feel My Face.”
Consequence of Sound, which named it the best song of 2020, praised its “melodic romance waxed over a blockbuster riff.” WK The Evening Standard’s David Smyth called it a “glorious blast of air punching Eighties synth pop.” WK Rolling Stone’s Kory Grow called it “the best New Wave song this side of Duran Duran.” WK
First posted 12/7/2020; last updated 7/22/2023.