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    Tuesday, February 9, 2021

    #ThemeSongTuesday: Someone In WWE Must Really Love The Weeknd


    It's Tuesday. You know what that means.

    We're talking about The Weeknd this week because everyone's talking about The Weeknd. I mean, that is customary for the artist who gets to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. But first things first: did Vince McMahon just discover The Weeknd recently? Or does anyone from WWE's music team have a huge crush on Abel? Inquiring minds want to know because for the second straight year, the official theme song of WrestleMania is a hit from The Weeknd, and this time, it's "Save Your Tears."

    Let me start by saying that I've loved this song from the moment I heard it. Any pop song that contains new wave elements and takes me to the '80s is always good in my book. It helps that it's also very tonally similar to Post Malone's "Circles," one of my favorite '80s-inspired pop songs from this generation.

    I also particularly enjoy upbeat songs that have darker undertones in the lyrics from Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks," to Goo Goo Dolls' "Slide," to Suzanne Vega's "Luka." All those songs sound like your typical pop earworms but a quick Wikipedia search will tell you that they're about school shootings, abortion, and domestic abuse, respectively. "Save Your Tears" is very much in the same mold as the aforementioned songs because The Weeknd explores his persona's post-breakup feelings on this song.

    Fans have been speculating that the song references his breakups with both Bella Hadid and Selena Gomez, with the scene in the lyrics about seeing each other in "a crowded room" directly alluding Abel and Bella running into each other at a nightclub immediately after they broke up in 2019. Like that dose of chika minute?

    So what business does an upbeat, synth-heavy pop song have being the theme song of the 37th annual WrestleMania?

    To quote The Weeknd himself, "I don't know why..." and I'm going to stop right there because I really do not know why.

    After a few weeks of clowning WWE for going with "Blinding Lights," another The Weeknd single, as last year's WrestleMania anthem, I eventually understood why they went with that song. Much like WrestleMania 35's "Love Runs Out" by OneRepublic, "Blinding Lights" passes for a stadium anthem. When you hear that synth hook, you can actually imagine a stadium full of people being energized, even though it's not by the standard rock/hip-hop fare we've gotten accustomed to.

    With the WWE trying to take on more mainstream appeal, it does make sense that they'd go with a current single from one of the world's biggest artists. But going by that logic, why didn't they just go all out and go for a BTS song? Or why didn't they go with Bad Bunny? He's already pretty much a part of the show these days. He may not be on the same level of global recognition as The Weeknd, but Mr. Bunny—as Corey Graves calls him—is no incognito jabroni either. I mean, his song of the summer entry from last year, "Yo Perreo Sola," would've fit well as the theme of a Florida-based WrestleMania!

    My educated guess is that WWE wanted to ride the wave off The Weeknd's Super Bowl Halftime Show performance. While it's purely coincidental that Super Bowl LIV took place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL—the same venue for WrestleMania 37—it can't be a coincidence that WWE's music team went with a song they knew would get that kind of rub at the most viewed television event of the year. 

    If you don't follow the NFL or American television, the Super Bowl is America's most-watched event and literally the entire country stops for it. Even other sporting leagues make sure their games don't overlap with the Super Bowl, knowing full well that all eyes will be on the NFL for the big game. And the Halftime Show is a spectacle all on its own, with artists vying for that coveted headliner spot each year. 

    It gets better: they only get paid through exposure. No, I'm not painting the NFL as classic estafadors or Filipino employers who don't treat freelancers well. That's just really how it works! The NFL takes care of all production costs, no matter how high the bill gets. But the talents themselves don't make any money out of the performance because the vehicle of the Halftime Show itself is enough of a platform to rocketstrap any artist to the moon.

    Performing at the Super Bowl Halftime Show can actually be pretty lucrative for these artists in terms of increased music sales (both in streams and ticket revenue). For example, according to stats from Billboard and Spotify, Lady Gaga's streams went up more than 1000% after she performed at the Halftime Show in 2017. Justin Timberlake's numbers went up by 534% after his performance in 2018. And that J.Lo and Shakira mega-number from last year? That resulted in their song catalog sales going up by almost 900%.

    I don't know how that exactly helps WWE out other than them hoping that all the additional eyes and ears on The Weeknd get converted towards WrestleMania buys. After all, 'Mania is the most casual-friendly show of the year, so they must be hoping that having The Weeknd attached to this show pulls in the proverbial asses in seats.

    That doesn't make "Save Your Tears" a proper WrestleMania anthem, though. Unlike its predecessors, this song doesn't inspire a big fight feel. Even while my sister and I watched the Super Bowl Halftime Show, which was set in a football stadium, she couldn't imagine that song being the WrestleMania theme. It just doesn't make sense. It's too... chill. I just can't believe that of all the songs on The Weeknd's catalog, they couldn't have gone with a more in-your-face track like "Pray For Me," even if that's already been used on the Black Panther soundtrack.

    Oh well. Maybe we'll change our tune in two months. Or not.

    Header image from The Weeknd's music video for "Save Your Tears"

    *****

    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and the host of On Deck, as well as one of the hosts of The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, AEW, and the occasional New Japan match.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: Someone In WWE Must Really Love The Weeknd Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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