This week’s Artist of the Week is a singer named The Weeknd (that’s not a typo, that’s actually how it’s spelled). He is a 22 year-old Canadian R&B recording artist and record producer who has recently started making waves in the hip hop and R&B community by way of achingly passionate lyrics, the sound of smoke slipping between his teeth and a falsetto you wish would never stop.
The reason I chose to make The Weeknd this week’s Artist of the Week is because he has a new album dropping today (November 13th) titled Trilogy. The album has been released under Universal Public Records, to whom he recently signed, as well as his own label, XO. In the ultimate form of flattery and high expectations, iTunes has made The Weeknd’s song “Twenty Eight” this week’s single of the week on iTunes.
The Weeknd (whose real name is Abel Tesfaye) is reasonably new to the music scene, having dropped his first free album titled House of Balloons (click the link for the free download) in March 2011. The album was extremely well received by fans (many of whom discovered him via his YouTube videos), putting him on the map almost instantly, with songs like “Loft Music” and “High For This” leading the way.
In addition to the overwhelmingly positive feedback he’s received from fans, several higher-ups in the music biz have noticed him as well, such as Drake, who not only gave him a few buzzes by quoting lyrics on Twitter but also ended up contributing to his debut album. The video below is for The Weeknd’s song “The Zone” which features Drake.
Somewhat recently, British pop star Ellie Goulding did a cover of his song “High For This”, which fans of both musicians have absolutely devoured. Similarly, several DJs have laced The Weeknd’s songs with even more beats and bass than they had to begin with, turning them into extremely sensual club jams.
While it’s hard to accurately translate The Weeknd’s dark and addictive nature into words, Pitchfork’s Joe Colly gave a pretty good attempt in an article reviewing House of Balloons: “What makes this whole thing work in an album context is that all the thematic and sonic pieces fit together– these weird, morning-after tales of lust, hurt, and over-indulgence (“Bring the drugs, baby, I can bring my pain,” goes one refrain) are matched by this incredibly lush, downcast music.”
I decided to try describing The Weeknd’s sound using my senses: If his songs were a picture, it would look exactly like the cover art of House of Balloons, featuring bare breasts and scattered balloons, all in black and white. If his songs were a smell, it would be a mix between strong perfume, weed and a faint twinge of mold, like the kind that would go undetected for years in an old NYC apartment. If his music were a feel, it would be a combination of facial hair stubble and thin sheets. If it were a taste, it would be black licorice and smoke.
But don’t take my word for it- check out his songs for yourself. His is the kind of music that will be different and unique to each individual person, like some darkly sexual and drugged out snowflakes. See if you can find a way to describe your Weeknd.
This week on MK’s Corner I was happy to have entertainment journalist Adam Bernard on the show to talk about music, pop culture, journalism, Hurricane Sandy, WVOF and anything else that happened to pop into my head. He showed up wearing a cool band t-shirt and a smile, ready to talk about anything and everything I wanted to. “It’s your show,” he kept saying. “You call the shots.”
I first met Adam during a news writing class at Fairfield University where he came in as a guest speaker to talk to journalism students about what it’s like to be an entertainment writer. He talked about a variety of things, ranging anywhere from the various artists he’s met, to the roller coaster nature of being a freelance writer, to the fun and unique lifestyle that comes with being a full-time journalist. I ended up writing an article about his thoughts on blogging and how his blog, Adam’s World, has helped him land jobs throughout his career.
Anyway, when I had Adam on the show last night I didn’t want it to be an interview (which was kind of a selfish move, because I already knew way too much about him and didn’t want to be bored.) Instead, I wanted it to be a general discussion between two people who both happen to love music and writing. When it got down to it however, we talked about way more than just music and writing.
While it would be impossible to recall every topic that came up, the ones that come to mind are bedwetting PSA’s and why they are a thing, Nick and Nora-esque NYC adventures and how everyone should have one, an upcoming event in Brooklyn that Adam’s a part of called Remixing the Fan Experience and exactly what it takes to be considered a boss on Twitter (“blue check or bust, yo”).
Unfortunately, due to my lack of technological savvy and propensity to get flustered by flashing lights and wires, I was unable to record last night’s show. That said, I’m going to try to figure it out and once I do, I’ll start posting them on these post-show write ups. That way people can enjoy MK’s Corner anytime, catch up on old episodes, listen to songs I’ve played, etc. How fun, right?! Right.
Here’s the playlist from last night’s show: