It’s been about eight months since The Weeknd and Bella Hadid’s last breakup, but time apparently hasn’t healed the wound in the 30-year-old R&B singer’s heart. The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) poured his emotions and post-relationship thoughts into one track after another in his new album, After Hours, on March 20. “Damn I can feel Abel’s pain. this is 100% an album for Bella hadid,” one fan tweeted, reflecting the sentiments of many listeners on Twitter. To prove their point, fans gathered around one obvious piece of evidence that Abel wasn’t just crooning about any other pretty face.
In “Escape From L.A.,” Abel sings at one point, “She got Chrome Hearts hanging from her neck.” Yes, as in the same streetwear brand that Bella has done multiple collaborations with — most recently, the Hellz Bellz Capsule Collection for eyewear that dropped in Dec. 2019! Even more interestingly, Abel dropped this designer reference after singing about — wait for it — having sex in a studio. “She closed the door and then she locked it / For me, for me / We had sex in the studio /Nobody walked in,” Abel sings in the verse, raising just about everyone’s heart rates. Of course, this “she” remains a mystery. But fans had theories, nonetheless.
“Escape from LA is inspired by bella hadid.. chrome hearts????? oh yes abel we know you love her,” one fan tweeted, while others thought the song was actually a “diss track” about Bella (at one point, Abel calls this “she” a “cold-hearted b–ch.”) Meanwhile, others were convinced that other tracks were essentially shout-outs to Bella. Some even swore they heard Bella’s laugh in “Snowchild.” One such fan tweeted, “Is that Bella’s laugh in Snowchild? Lol My boy’s in love fr.”
If there’s anything that would inspire a new album of R&B music, it would be heartbreak. Before the release of After Hours, The Weeknd told CR Men that he threw himself into his music as a way to cope with his pain. “I don’t like to leave my house too much,” he said, “It’s a gift and a curse, but it helps me give undivided attention to my work. … Even when I’m not working, I’m always somehow still working. It distracts from the loneliness, I guess. … I feel confident with where I’m taking this [new] record. There’s also a very committed vision and character being portrayed, and I get to explore a different side of me that my fans have never seen.”
Abel got me missing Bella Hadid and I’ve never even met her
— Mateen (@Promethateen) March 20, 2020
Fans thanked Bella and Abel’s other high-profile ex, Selena Gomez, for “inspiring” his new song “Heartless” when it was released earlier in 2020. With lyrics that address a recurring lover — “You just came back in my life / You never gave up on me (Why don’t you?) / I’ll never know what you see (Why won’t you?)” – it’s not that hard of a stretch to think that Bella had some hand in shaping the song. As for Selena, who also released an album recently, though she released two songs about Justin Bieber, Rare went without mention of her short-lived romance with Abel.
Many took his last release, 2018’s My Dear Melancholy, as being about Selena and Bela. Still, he told CR Men that his previous record wasn’t his way of deliberately insulting his former lovers. “I try not to read too many reviews, especially if it’s negative, but I never made My Dear Melancholy with the intent on saying f-ck you to anybody. It was just how I felt at the time. The sonic environment felt fitting for how I wanted to tell that story. I feel like I have sonic ADD, and I can’t just stick to one sound, and I feel like it irritates a lot of listeners, but it’s just how my mind works.”