In a recent interview with Variety, The Weeknd got candid about the far-reaching influence of his despondent alt-R&B sound, which he believes began with his 2011 project House of Balloons. Per the musician (born Abel Tesfaye), the R&B game took a dark turn, which he thinks is the direct result of the acclaimed mixtape. To further punctuate his point, he brings in one of the genre’s biggest names.
“House of Balloons literally changed the sound of pop music before my eyes,” The Weeknd proclaims in the interview. “I heard ‘Climax,’ that  Usher song, and was like, ‘Holy f**k, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry. But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”
…We’re just as stumped as you are. As you know, Ursherrr has been singing in falsetto for as long as he’s been around, which is a long time. Songs displaying his vocal prowess include “Confessions Part II,” “Burn,” and “There Goes My Baby,” which were released in 2004 and 2010, respectively, before Abel even began funneling helium into his house of balloons.
It’s very cute that Mr. Tesfaye believes he inspired this particular artist, but of course, fans disagreed with the claims (and why wouldn’t they?), taking to social media to burst his bubble.
“I promise you NO ONE ever heard “Climax” and thought “now this sounds like The Weeknd did Usher steal this ?” one Twitter user wrote, while another added, “For The Weeknd to even listen to Usher’s vocals on Climax and think hey, that’s what I do... is wild to me.”
Shortly after the comment began to circulate, Usher pettily posted a clip on his Instagram Story of him sanging his Grammy Award-winning song “Climax” (while lying down, no less). This kicked off the falsetto-friendly #ClimaxChallenge, where fans of the song are prompted to sing the song’s incredibly high-pitched chorus.
Eric Bellinger posted Usher’s clip and several others onto his IG page, writing as the caption “Big Bro jumped in to set the record straight!!!...Now all we waitin for is you @theweeknd.”
While we’ll be inside for the for foreseeable future, we’re hoping that The Weeknd can join in on the #ClimaxChallenge fun in order to showcase his (supposedly) game-changing vocals.
Update: 4/9/2020, 4:38 p.m. ET:
The Weeknd has responded to the noise surrounding his comment about Usher. After “Climax” producer Diplo explained that he was inspired by the “House of Balloons era,” adding that he came up with the title of the song before he created the beat. He noted he wanted the “dark edges” of R&B to be implemented into the song.
“Of course media blows things out of proportion and takes things out of context,” The Weeknd tweeted on Thursday afternoon. “Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on ‘Climax.’”