Artist of Week(nd): The Weeknd

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.