UPDATE: Diplo and the Weeknd have both responded to the latter’s previous comments on Usher’s “Climax.” “The production on Climax lends itself to House of Balloons era The Weeknd,” Diplo tweeted on Thursday. When I heard those early records they blew my mind – soulful in their silences, and a spacey iconic voice that felt uniquely internet. the idea of R&B having dark edges was what I wanted to bring to Usher.”
The Weeknd added, in part, “Usher is a King and always an inspiration so it was flattering to hear what him and Diplo did on climax. XO”
Self-distancing is giving many the time to reflect on the past, process simmering emotions, and air old grievances. For the Weeknd, this meant he had the opportunity to share his thoughts on a 2012 Usher song in the middle of his Variety cover story. “I heard ‘Climax,’ and was like, ‘Holy f—, that’s a Weeknd song.’ It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry,” Weeknd says. “But the older I got, I realized it’s a good thing.”
Predictably, Usher also had time on his hands to respond, albeit in a roundabout fashion. On Instagram Live, the singer shared a series of videos that feature him re-listening to “Climax” to reacquaint himself with the notes before launching into a falsetto rendition of the song. The peak of the performance comes when Usher knowingly looks directly at the camera and adds an addition to the last line of the song, “Can’t take it back, nigga.” For those around in 2012, you’ll remember that the original song does not include Usher’s shady delivery. Usher then launched the “#ClimaxChallenge,” which saw fans (some successful, most not) trying to recreate the hook’s iconic falsetto.
Usher takes to his Instagram stories to sing his hit song “Climax” after The Weeknd claimed he copied his style in the song. pic.twitter.com/NWVVEuLPo0
— Pop Crave (@PopCraveMusic) April 9, 2020
It’s unclear what part of “Climax” the Weeknd feels is directly attributable to him. At the time, the Weeknd was best known for his hazy, drug-riddled escapades — not the EDM-driven acrobatics of “Climax” — so it may just be that it was delivered in a falsetto. In a 2012 interview, Diplo — who produced “Climax” — described the influences Usher brought to the studio. “Usher came in here with a very clear idea that he wanted to work on a new pop sound and he wanted to push it further with the styles and the depth of the tracks,” he told The Guardian. “Him and his entire crew, like his A&R and band member Natural, are all very, very in touch with what is happening in music. They put me on to Monsters Of Folk or Grizzly Bear being influences from the start.”
Now the world waits for the Weeknd to contribute his falsetto version of “Climax,” or to launch the #CantFeelMyFaceChallenge — either works.