From “Die for You” to “Creepin’,” The Weeknd has become almost synonymous with the upper regions of the Billboard Hot 100 in recent years. With the imminent premiere of his new HBO drama, The Idol, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye is angling himself toward a new arena: television domination.
The Idol, which The Weeknd co-created with Emmy-nominated Euphoria producer and director Sam Levinson, is set to star Lily Rose-Depp, Troye Sivan, Moses Sumney, Jennie Ruby Jane, and, of course, The Weeknd himself. On Friday (June 2), the “Earned It” singer sat down with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss The Idol, the forthcoming soundtrack, and his new single “Popular,” which features Madonna and Playboi Carti.
“I’m definitely proud of it,” The Weeknd gushed. “And then Madonna, Madge. She’s the ultimate co-sign for this song, for this album, and for this TV show.”
Originally a collaboration between only The Weeknd and Playboi Carti, the “Can’t Feel My Face” singer revealed, “We’ve had a different version of this song prior. So I’ve had these vocals for a while and I’ve kind of just worked around it, and then kind of kept it in the tuck. But now it felt like it was time.”
“Popular” marks the second single from The Idol soundtrack following The Weeknd and Future’s No. 18-peaking duet “Double Fantasy.” Although “Popular” marks the first official collaboration between Madonna and The Weeknd, the Idol star promised that viewers will “hear more of her in the show. She is the ultimate pop star.”
With Madonna’s towering musical legacy and singular commercial success, it comes as no surprise that The Weeknd sings her praises. “I’ve always wanted to work with her,” he mused. “I’ve always wanted to write and produce a Madonna album … well, co-produce with her, of course … because she’s a visionary and she has such a singular vision, and I just want to come into her world and create a classic Madonna album. That was always my dream n… Hopefully, this is the appetizer for that.”
The Weeknd, who is currently in Portugal preparing for another leg of his globe-trotting After Hours Til Dawn Tour, worked on The Idol soundtrack alongside Sam Levinson and Mike Dean. “It’s such a labor of love and such a collaborative project,” he said. “You’ve got three maniacs in the studio … it’s a very cohesive body of work.”
Described as “very experimental, but still pop,” The Idol soundtrack also features production contributions from Across the Spider-Verse soundtrack curator and frequent Weeknd collaborator Metro Boomin.
The Idol is set to premiere on HBO Sunday (June 4). “I feel great because everyone involved feels great,” The Weeknd told Lowe of the show’s premiere. “We’re all so proud of what we made. It’s controversial. It is. And as you know, I’m no stranger to it. Sam is no stranger to it. We’re just excited for people to finally watch it and come up with their own opinion.”
Watch his interview with Zane Lowe above.