My Favorite’s of All Time #5: The Weeknd’s “The Knowing”

I’ve mentioned a couple of times how The Weeknd’s music made its way into my life, so I won’t go over that traumatic story again lol but if you want more details, you can look here and here. I haven’t, though, talked about “The Knowing” and how much I’m in love with this song. So for the sake of trading one traumatic experience for one that’s less traumatic, let’s talk about my love for “The Knowing.”

this video. THIS. VIDEO. THIS VIDEOOOOOOOOOO.

lol I made this gif in 2013! from the tumblr archives
Now we’re lying about the nights
Hiding all it behind the smiles
Take a look at what you did
You probably thought that you’d break my heart
You probably thought that you’d make me cry
But, baby, it’s okay
I swear it’s okay

‘Cause I know everything
I know everything
I know everything
I know everything
I know everything
I know everything
I know everything
I know everything

I know what you did
I know
So I’ma let you taste her
I ain’t washing my sins
I ain’t washing my sins

I’ve never been in a situation where this song was relatable. I don’t know anything about having someone cheat or sleep around on me or deciding that cheating or sleeping around on someone else as a form of revenge. But the way Abel sings this song makes me feel the heartbreak of broken love every time I listen to it. This is the BEST vocal performance on House of Balloons (2011), and I’ll fight anyone that says otherwise. Of course the other songs on the project are just as amazing. “Wicked Games” is always a favorite; “The Morning,” “Loft Music,” and “Coming Down” are all amazing. But there’s nothing on House of Balloons that touches the rawness and vulnerability he gives us on “The Knowing.”

This is the first time on the project, and it’s at the end, where we get narrative that is personal and doesn’t rely on direct reference to drugs to feel things, though it’s implied from the environment set by the rest of the songs. And though the production is strong on this song, it still allows Abel’s voice to be the star of the show. There’s no pitching or slowing down of the vocals. The ends of words like “tongues” and “know” and “okay” are stretched out and echoed, like he’s speaking in a room by himself. The drums in the background act almost like his heart beating. They’re almost as loud as his voice. We wouldn’t really get this level of vulnerability and rawness again until Echoes of Silence and when he adds “Twenty Eight” and “Valerie” to the ends of House of Balloons and Thursday (2011) for the release of Trilogy (2012). And THE VIDEO!!!! I watched it again before writing this, so I could refresh my memory and grab some screenshots 😉 and wow. It has aged so gracefully.

It’s really interesting to think about where Abel is now in his career, especially since After Hours (2020) dropped recently. He’s a global superstar now, who has dropped several projects and countless music videos since the release of House of Balloons. The news and people all over the world are watching his every move. His songs are reaching #1 on the charts. 3 years later he’d contribute a song – “Earned It” – that was the main song for a movie that was expected to be a box office success (which it was). But not even 10 years ago, Abel was still a mystery to a fan base that was just starting to bud. I just…I’m so proud of him. Sometimes I want to snatch him away from the world and say “MINE!!!” but to watch him grow so much and still be just as excited about him dropping music as I was waiting for Echoes of Silence to drop 9 years ago is truly amazing. And all of that started with songs like “The Knowing” that introduced us to Abel, his music, and his mystery. Like with the music video (and really all of his older music), the song really just does NOT age.

And that’s what makes “The Knowing” one of my favorites of all time!


here’s something else you might like:

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