The Weeknd-Pretty (Video)

I’ve been really impressed with Kiss Land. There was potential for it to be a third successive Weeknd project (excluding Trilogy) that didn’t hold up all the way through, but it’s a very strong offering that has the right mix of progression and the trademark Weeknd sound.

This was arguably one of the LP’s standouts. It lands very close to his earlier work in capturing that dark, moody vibe, but builds on that by adding occasional flourishes of grandeur, and is overall a very addictive listen. It’s a slower yet equally intense track than his last two video releases, though this is far less busy, cutting out the urgent lighting and sharp scene changes for a single thread, story-based video that builds on the audio very well. Not safe for work/kids.

The video opens on a sombre, hesitant Weeknd making his way through the airport and into his car, to undertake a journey through a near-empty city at dusk. The city visuals are impressive, capturing the downbeat vibe of the track excellently, whilst the city’s gradual addition of lights and activity works in line with the track’s growth. Interspersed with the journey scenes are those of a female getting dressed, and eventually fornicating (yeah) with someone. It’s quickly evident that it isn’t The Weeknd, who then lets his badass streak loose, landing somewhere between hitman and spurned lover to close the video off in explosive and surprising circumstances. Simple storytelling, and the pacing, scenery and gritty colour palette add to that for an engrossing watch. Kiss Land out now.

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The Weeknd-Live For ft. Drake (Video)

The Weeknd’s Kiss Land album was officially released yesterday, and he looks to bump the buzz around that project with this video release. Viewed by many as a semi-reconciliation with Drake (despite the fact a problem probably never actually existed), it’ll get some buzz for that, but it’s also a strong choice based on their collective brand power, built on by their previous mainstream successes together (notably Crew Love).

My audio review was clear on the fact it didn’t quite sit alongside The Weeknd’s top tier work, but also praised this track’s individual merits. One factor that prevented full commitment to the song was its contrasting motivational and dark qualities, but this video does help with picking the element the track should have been highlighting, that being the darker, more atmospheric side. It’s a gritty, industrial clip that’s buried in a surly dimness, with many of the shots doused in a thick darkness, whilst the far-from-glamorous backdrops that both acts perform in front of adds a visceral, wintery vibe that definitely tucks the livelier side of the track away. In doing so, it definitely elevates the song quite considerably, giving it a much clearer direction and hence allowing for a strong audiovisual synergy.

If you weren’t into the audio on its own, give the video a go and it might just bring you around, if only a small amount. Kiss Land available everywhere now.

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Lil' Wayne-Dedication 5 (Mixtape)

Call it stupidity, but any hip-hop fan who got caught up in the mid-2000′s Lil’ Wayne whirlwind will understand the glimmer of hope some retain when his mixtapes land. Most readers are acutely aware I’m not a fan of most of his work (evidenced by the fact I simply don’t cover it any more), but that’s “album Wayne”- mixtape Wayne has always seemed a seperate entity, and hence that sliver of expectation that surfaces when he does release new tapes, even if he’s not been in-form for a while.

Notable features include The Weeknd, Chance the Rapper and T.I., with the latter particularly interesting as he joins Wayne on a remix of Jay-Z and Rick Ross’ Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit. There are a couple of eye-catching beats of that nature on this tape too, including New Slaves and Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe amongst others, and it’s those in particular that I’m keen on giving a try over any original material. Whether Wayne will disappoint once again or deliver is yet to be seen, but you can stream and/or download the project below.

Lil’ Wayne-Dedication 5

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The Weeknd-Kiss Land (Full Album Stream)

This seemed to both leak and be available for stream almost simultaneously, so whether this week-early release was a statement of confidence or a response to its online ‘availability’ is unclear, but it’s certainly found a home in many lives since its ‘release’ a few days ago.

Reviews appear to be mixed too. Many are calling it a return to House of Balloons form, whilst others have criticised its heavy pop influence, and noted a reduction in the raw ingredients that made The Weeknd so popular on his emergence 2 years ago. For me, the early single releases were fairly positive, and having just turned the stream on, the opening couple of tracks seem to have potential. In truth though, Belong to the World aside, nothing I’ve heard from the album has instantaneously gripped me in the manner so many of his previous tracks have, so it’ll be interesting to see how this fares when given a more thorough listen (and on better headphones). Stream over at NPR below.

The Weeknd-Kiss Land (Stream)

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The Weeknd-Live For ft. Drake

Right now, The Weeknd is relentless in his promotional run ahead of the upcoming Kiss Land album, and lets loose yet another single (the 4th, by my count) from the project, this time giving the reconciliation (if there ever really was an issue) between himself and Drake a tangible output.

Initially, you may struggle with this. It’s an unusual blend between motivational and creepily dark, but as the track progresses it’ll wear you down a little. The production opens with lonely, sombre guitar plucks for the first verse, before an intense, piercing percussion throws its weight around on the hook, almost entirely overshadowing the aforementioned guitar work, though it does remain there to offer consistency. Remnants of that drum line hang around for Drake’s verse to keep some of that vibrancy intact, and make the transition to the second and final hook rather less dramatic- credit goes to the dynamism of the board work for being non-static, unpredictable and flexible. It’s the lyrical output that lets this one down, with a sole focus on bragging and arrogance, which doesn’t really maximise the qualities of the atmospheric production they’re backed by. Though it’s not a performance on the level of previous Kiss Land releases, The Weeknd’s vocals are generally good throughout, and will undoubtedly help make this hook a popular, singalong effort within mainstream crowds (much like Crew Love), even if its nowhere near his best work. When Kiss Land drops on 10th September, I’ll likely be skipping this track.

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Lorde-Royals Remix ft. The Weeknd

I didn’t know the first thing about Lorde, but I’m now informed that she’s pretty big in her homeland of New Zealand and appears to be breaking some walls down with the US audience too. It’s also quite surprising that someone with a voice as mature-sounding as this is only 16 years old. Born in ’96. That makes me feel incredibly strange.

The original’s a rather minimal, sparsely-populated effort- The Weeknd and his team have kept the original’s natural atmosphere, and added a slightly darker, more atmospheric aspect to it via varying pitches of synth and a reinforced percussion that moves the track along as a more engaging pace. Vocally, The Weeknd’s contributions are primarily melodic adlibs and backing vocals, most notably around the middle third of the track, and though I’m in agreement with those who would have preferred a verse from The Weeknd, it’s also fair to say that this style of production doesn’t necessarily play to this strengths in terms of it being a very pop-heavy style, as opposed to his more familiar dark R&B angle. Nothing I’m going to revisit anytime soon, and something the grown-ups can probably skip, but the mainstream heads might find a place for it in their libraries alongside the original.

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The Weeknd-Love In The Sky

The build-up to the Kiss Land album continues, as The Weeknd quickly follows up the recent release of Belong To The World with this single. For a man regarded as both enigmatic and mysterious, it’s a surprisingly extroverted approach to the album’s hype trail, and given the quality of the material it’s one that I’m all for.

The previous two singles differed heavily from one another, and this continues the trend with a gentle, much softer approach that will definitely reel in the House of Balloons dedicates. The delicate vocals throughout are reminiscent of many of the works on that mixtape, and hence they’re a mesmerising, crisply-delivered set that really make the most of The Weeknd’s significantly improved (and rather philosophical) songwriting abilities here. He’s backed by a production that’s part-atmospheric R&B, part-alternative, with the airy synths and slow percussion creating an expansive backdrop, which is intermittently pierced by jagged guitars and occasional sharper bursts of drum work- those alternative elements help to add a level of intensity that makes for a natural evolution of his wintery, nighttime soundscapes, and assist in preventing the track’s sound from straying too close to his previous works. A good release, and another positive sign ahead of that album release.

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The Weeknd-Belong To The World (Video)

This track samples Portishead’s Machine Gun, but guitarist Geoff Barrow has publicly stated that they refused sample clearance, as “we usually give sample clearance to tunes we like. its got *** all to do with money!”. Clearly, he’s rubbed some people the wrong way, so I’d be surprised if this makes the cut for his Kiss Land album, rumoured for a 27th August release.

A recent interview with Complex suggested this LP may be an even darker, more negative turn for The Weeknd, and the spiky nature of this certainly packs in a little of that downbeat mood. That being said, it’s certainly not as wholly aggressive as the album’s title track, progressing through a dark opening into a melodic, more uplifting style that borders on outright positivity. The production is expertly put together, opening primarily with Portishead’s stuttery percussive sample for a gritty, rather industrial opening that sets up for a sharp, jagged soundscape; that expectation is slowly broken, as the production introduces increasingly expansive synths, a hint of strings, and most importantly The Weeknd’s progressively emotional vocals. His performance is stellar throughout, gliding over the unexpected twists of the production with consumate ease and keeping a consistent melodic strand running through the unpredictable beat. The lyrics are much stronger than his previous releases too, with an emotional outpouring that much tighter around the edges, and geared more around capturing a synergy with the production than expressing arrogance.

The video’s a very likeable watch. Much like the Kiss Land video, it’s set in Japan with a heavy cyberpunk influence, combining dark, industrial scenery with bright technology for a gritty yet futuristic vibe that benefits from a surprisingly emotive performance from the oft-expressionless crooner. An audiovisual that I’d certainly recommend giving full attention, and I’d argue it’s his strongest video to date. Hopefully, an audio release comes soon.

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The Weeknd-Kiss Land (Video)

Not safe for work, school or young folk. Seriously. This gets pretty (porno)graphic.

The Kiss Land (still not cool with that title) audio came as a 7 minute double-part track, and here The Weeknd takes the more aggressive, arrogant second half and delivers some visuals to support his upcoming album release of the same name.

The clip features a heavy Japanese theme, filmed in a trippy, grainy format that has a part-surveillance, part-poor quality streaming style to it, and it serves to add a lot of realism to the video. Doing away with perfect lighting and countless filters makes the various activities that take place seem all the more seedy, whilst giving the brief animated transitions a creepy, Big Brother (Orwellian, not the terrible TV show) feel that I expect is intentional- The Weeknd is keen to harmonise that ‘this ain’t nothing to relate to’, and whilst his life may be watched intently from the outside by fans and label executives, the truth isn’t anything they’d necessarily be accustomed to being a part of. The various pornographic acts taking place around The Weeknd pick up the sleaze of both the production and some of the lyricism and most certainly amplify it; it’s brave, as it pretty much ensures this will get zero TV airtime, but you sense this is a more rebellious Weeknd who probably doesn’t care. A dark audiovisual with unashamed levels of seediness- I’m all for it. iTunes is your friend.

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Juicy J-One of Those Nights ft. The Weeknd (Video)

On the audio’s release, it was apparent that it was mostly a Weeknd track with a little Juicy J thrown in. Juicy’s only contribution is a verse around halfway through the track, and a couple of adlibs, with the rest of audio completely built around The Weeknd’s soft vocals and the dark, moody production; a good thing, believe me.

The video represents that odd dynamic quite clearly too. It’s almost entirely focused around The Weeknd looking rather depressed and moody; whilst his emotionless expression certainly fits the sombre vibe of the track, it moves away from ‘cool disassociation’ to ‘grumpy teenager’ before too long, and hence it becomes a little cringeworthy. With that said, his brief moment of animated activity is a rather unnerving and surprising turn, offering a wide smile when faced with a loaded gun, which again enhances the rather depressive vibe of the video. Juicy’s visual contributions are drinking and hitting on a barmaid, before shooting a man (the robber) in the back of the head; clearly breaking the stereotypes of hip-hop with that one. Nonetheless, a fitting clip to a solid audio.

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The Weeknd-Kiss Land

The title of his upcoming album (and a track here) is still completely ridiculous, but despite it sounding like a theme park for teenagers, the musical output makes up for that stupidity and has The Weeknd back on strong form after some patchy releases in the last 18 months.

The first half boasts a good blend of atmosphere and energy, and whilst the beat will undoubtedly draw many comparisons with works from House of Balloons (such as Loft Music), it pushes slightly away from the smooth vibe of that project and into a more disorienting style. That comes courtesy of a collection of sharp melodies and screams (yep) that create a sense of psychedelia, whilst the prominent and bassy percussion adds an intensity and drive that wouldn’t have fit on the aforementioned mixtape, and instead shows growth in his beat selection. The second part slows things down, similar to the transitions on his previous two-part tracks, and though it retains some of the same melodies there’s more emphasis on the atmospheric aspect. The addition of constant backing vocals create a rather haunting aura, whilst the synth and percussion work intertwines to make the soundscape slightly darker, and they help to add moody layers into an otherwise intense, vibrant production.

Vocally, the first segment has The Weeknd on a much more positive style, with his lyricism focused around ladies of interest and of course his self-assurance, with the verses delivered in a near-rap that slowly morphs into all-out harmonies in the hook, a section in which he gives rightful room to the production to lead. The second half’s more subdued production allows his vocal work to be spotlighted, and hence his output is both more emotive and lyrically aggressive, with a more negative, isolated outlook in certain segments. Both good tracks, and signs that his official debut album can’t be too far away.

I should apologise for the poor formatting here. Reviewing two songs in one is not easy.

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Juicy J-One Of Those Nights ft. The Weeknd

weeknd juicy
Having thought this had been released some time ago, I was surprised to see it loitering in my inbox this morning. Pleasure to have it though, and despite my general avoidance of Juicy J’s material, this is pretty much a Weeknd track with a bit of Juicy J thrown in (much like his recent Rich Hil feature).

The production’s packed in a massive amount of layers, containing dark synths, percussion that moves between piercing and atmospheric, distant vocal samples, and what almost sounds like a distorted accordion somewhere in there: it’s a fusion between their two worlds, as it combines The Weeknd’s aura-filled style with the punch and verve of Juicy’s energy. The former has exclusivity over almost the entire first half, crooning out a smooth intro that segues nicely into his confident verse that switches between blunt near-raps and soft vocals, before moving down into the drifty hook. It’s a diverse and enjoyable performance, setting Juicy up for a passable extended verse, and finally switching back to the vocals that most listeners will want. Undoubtedly, The Weeknd dominates this, and hence it’s a strong effort.

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The Weeknd-Twenty Eight (Video)

The Weeknd returns with a brand new video, this time for one of the new tracks found on Trilogy. This song arguably has the most long-term durability of the trio, helped further by this being his strongest visual to date, retaining his distinctive brand of minimalism and mystery but lacing it with plenty of subtext.

The duality of an old suit pitching to The Weeknd and ignoring his heartfelt vocals with the intimidating club bouncers pushing dancers on stage seems to suggest a parallel between entertainers and strippers, the implied message being that they’re both pushed into performing for money on demand. The Weeknd’s heavily-monitored surroundings also adds to the ‘controlled environment’ theory, whilst the revelation of the man speaking a different dialect crudely displays how an artist’s individuality is irrelevant to the language of money spoken by label executives. The second half of the video works closely with the song’s context by detailing The Weeknd’s experiences with a dancer, and whilst he remains stuck within the confines of the controlled film set, he offers her the sense of freedom he himself desires, expressed physically in her freeform movements in the pool; alternately, it can be viewed she’s his captive as much as he’s the film crew’s captive, particularly as she poses for his camera. An enjoyable watch either way, and his most rounded visual to date.

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Ricky Hil-Nomads ft. The Weeknd

ricky hil
Let’s be honest: no-one is reading this for the Ricky Hil inclusion. Most hip-hop heads shun the guy, and rightfully given he’s basically made a career from using the fortunes of his father (Tommy Hilfiger, for those uninitiated) to secure top-level producers and features for his work.

I naively praised some of his past work, not quite realising it was the production mostly carrying the tracks, and this is another example. The beat’s gloriously dark, combining wailing guitar plucks with a rolling production and a pack of atmospheric synths into a wintery effort that would garner much praise in the hands of a more likeable artist. Thankfully, this ends up being more a Weeknd track as he ends up on vocal duty for the most part. It’s the type of beat that suits The Weeknd superbly too, with his high notes gently riding along the aforementioned guitar plucks, before switching to a more empassioned delivery on the re-introduction of the percussion. A good listen if you cut off that first portion, and you can download it (as part of the full album…) here.

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The Weeknd-Radio 1 Maida Vale Session

The Weeknd’s been a busy man this week, and he follows up the highly-praised performance on Jools Holland’s show with this 4-track radio performance.

His abilities as a live performer are tested with his choice of songs, and once again he passes with flying colours. Wicked Games is mostly the same as the aforementioned TV performance in terms of quality, and it’s the other three that most will want to go for. The Zone‘s surely one of his most difficult tracks to perform given the sheer variety of vocal deliveries, but he does an excellent job throughout (and in one take!), though the unecessary and sharp guitar blasts in the first third ruin the soft vibe of that segment.

The Knowing is one that has to be delivered with a feathered touch, and the fragility of the track’s lyrics and vocals are captured well in the opening half, and though The Weeknd’s vocals do hit a couple of rough patches toward the final third, the instrumentation is at its peak here in its progressive nature. I wasn’t wholly enamoured with the studio version of Montreal, but this live performance has really brought me around to the track, and again that’s helped greatly by some strong instrumentation work, whilst the vocal work is unerringly consistent throughout this one. A good set of performances throughout, and I hope to hear more soon.

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The Weeknd-Wicked Games (Live on Jools Holland)

I saw many of you commenting on this last night, and if like me you didn’t get around to catching the TV show, you’ll want to give this a watch.

Surprisingly, this was The Weeknd’s first live TV performance. I say surprisingly because the poise and quality he demonstrates from start to finish here are at levels any veteran would be absolutely delighted with, even more so given the relative difficulty of the vocal work on this one. Compared to some of his considerably-ropier performances very early on in his career, the progression he’s made as a vocalist (and an entertainer) is one that deserves much praise.

The progressive nature of the instrumentation and backing vocals combine excellently too, with the first half of the track emanating an intimate, acoustic style vibe, before his accompanying acts increase the depth and intensity to provide a strong climax for what is a thoroughly entertaining performance all-round.

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The Weeknd Mural, Time Lapsed

Just a short promo clip for The Weeknd’s recently-released Trilogy, but worth a watch as it’s certainly something a little different from the usual promo clips you see floating around.

It appears as though he commissioned an artist (or a group of artists, it’s difficult to tell) to paint a mural of himself on the side of a building, and the artwork actually comes out rather well. So well in fact, you can pinpoint the exact origin of the scene they chose-it’s taken from his Rolling Stone video, and interestingly shows not only The Weeknd’s downbeat face but the camera pointing at him too. The end product is an insanely good piece that manages to create depth of field and fantastic lighting effects using only black, white and grey, and I’m sure this will be a nice bit of extra promotion for that album release. Very unique, and very likeable.

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The Weeknd-The Zone ft. Drake (Video)

The generosity continues with another release, though this one was more expected given it’s included with the iTunes pre-order. Nonetheless, it’s a pleasure to have it a week prior to Trilogy‘s release.

Viewed by many as the outstanding track from Thursday (I disagree, for the record), The Zone was arguably The Weeknd’s mainstream breakout, helped by the appearance of his good friend Drake. The remastered audio cuts out the dead time before the latter’s verse, whilst also improving the intensity of the background vocals-both are touches that definitely improve the track and give it much more depth.

The video fits the moody nature of the audio rather well. Outside of the early clips of the love interest, the video is mostly bathed in darkness and full of shadows, frowns and a general reflectiveness that culminates in the early bright, positive scenes turning dark and negatively charged in the second half. To borrow one of his other song titles, it’s a party and after-party sort of duality that builds very organically throughout the video, and cleverly the video’s key emotional changes take place after the camera focuses on the lead character’s eyes: there’s nothing beyond the surface in this relationship (I’ll be making love to her through you), and when he keeps looking for it, things fall apart. Worth a watch if you liked the audio, and look out for Trilogy next week.

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The Weeknd-Trilogy Trailer 3

The rate at which he’s churning out releases is very surprising. Whilst I’m fully aware he’s at the business end of a promo cycle, his ‘out of nowhere’ style was something that built his brand across the 3 mixtapes that compile Trilogy, and hence the reverse in quantities of pre-launch material is staggering.

Don’t mistake that for a criticism though. Almost everything he’s released throughout October has been of great quality, and has helped solidify his status as one of the premiere R&B artists around right now. This brief clip is no different, with a snippet of Till Dawn (Here Comes the Sun) thrown in (meaning the first trailer was Twenty Eight), and the early signs once again being very positive for the new material. The production sounds dark and atmospheric, whilst the vocals are passionate and dominant, utilising the formula that makes some of his music so deliciously addictive and hopefully we’ll get to hear more of his improved songwriting to boot. Trilogy arrives on 13th November, and the buzz is at record levels.

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The Weeknd-Enemy

Earlier this week, the enigmatic singer promised a gift for his fans ahead of the release of Trilogy, and his generous streak continues with this hit of unreleased material.

If this is any indication of his new material on Trilogy, and forthcoming additional work, we’re in for some excellent listening. Enemy combines the slower, darker production stylings of Echoes of Silence with the desire-filled vocal deliveries of House of Balloons, and the end product is one that’s as perfect a slice of winter music as has been released by anyone this year. Soft key melodies, hints of guitar and crashing yet intermittent percussion combine for a backdrop with far more depth than you’ll first realise, and also one that’s got a hint of dynamism as elements fly in and out throughout the near 5-minute track. The vocal work is superb, from the tender intro to the more cool, attitudinal hook, whilst the lyricism is much improved from his more structure-less early days. Huge fan of this, and I’m hoping the audio gets dropped off soon.

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The Weeknd-Trilogy Trailer 2

He took to Twitter yesterday to reveal both the pre-order for Trilogy (US iTunes for now) was available and also took time to put out another short clip ahead of that 13th November release date. He also announced ‘something for the fans’ to be released on Thursday-my inclination looking at that preorder is that it’ll be the video for his collaboration with Drake, The Zone.

The first trailer showcased one of the 3 new tracks set to be included and this one does the same thing, opting for a quick blast of Valerie (meaning the first trailer was either Till Dawn or Twenty Eight) accompanied by a rather upset lady surrounded by balloons, slightly reminiscent of the House of Ballons and (an inverted version of) the middle of the Thursday cover. Given that the track is attached to the end of the Thursday section on the album, I suspect it’s meant to be the latter. As this clip progresses, his vocals become incredibly impressive and that’s sure to make for good listening on the end product; let’s hope that’s the case on 13th November.

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The Weeknd-Trilogy Artwork and Tracklist

We’ve already had videos for Rolling Stone, the Trilogy trailer and Wicked Games, and now we get another new release from The Weeknd. This time, we get the artwork and tracklisting for Trilogy, the upcoming 3-part album he’s dropping off on 13th November.

As has been discussed several times across the above posts, this compilation is made up of remastered versions of the tracks from his three projects to date: House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence. In addition, we’re getting 3 new tracks split across the 3 individual projects, with a new track appended to the end of each one, and hopefully that’s a sign that they’ll be a diverse bunch to keep in line with the preceding 9 tracks.

The full list is available below.

→ Continue Reading

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The Weeknd-Wicked Games (Video)

Having released a remastered version of this track from House of Balloons around a month ago, The Weeknd follows that up its official visuals ahead of that 13th November release date for Trilogy.

Funny thing to say, but this coupled with his recent video release for Rolling Stone suggest he’s a little closer to removing that veil of mystery and becoming a more ‘regular’ artist. Good thing? Not sure, but it hasn’t compromised his minimal nature as this video will attest to. All shot in monochrome as you’d expect, and full of the dark, moody elements that make his work so viscerally appealing, including (but not limited to) borderline angry, attitudinal face shots, shadowy dancing and late night walks. The combination works excellently to highlight the desperation of the vocal and lyrical work, showcasing that ‘tell me you love me‘ line to be much more downbeat than the lively remastered production would suggest. It’s an easy watch accompanied by an audio that benefits from the rework, in addition to being a combination that very much stays on-brand as far as The Weeknd’s general approach to his art goes, regardless of whether his mystery is slowly peeled away.

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The Weeknd-Trilogy Trailer

Tuesday 13th November is the date that The Weeknd releases remastered versions of House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence as an entire compilation, but what’s probably getting his fans most excited is the prospect of new music to also be included with the collection.

The trailer’s in the typically-minimal style he prefers, composed of a night sky with a bright firework show, and comes backed by a 30 second slice of new material with plenty of potential. The somewhat aimless and contrived style of some of the work on the latter two mixtapes isn’t present here, with a slow, atmospheric production that feels as though it’s set to evolve into something with more meat as the snippet develops, whilst the vocals are engaging and packed with much more passion. Look out for more from Trilogy to drop soon.

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The Weeknd-Rolling Stone (Video)

One of the first releases we got from the then-upcoming Thursday, and now it’s the first visual we get in anticipation of his upcoming Trilogy album, set to contain all three of his mixtapes remastered for a 13th November delivery. It’s hard to believe this is only his second video, though many ignore The Knowing due to its conceptual style.

Taking inspiration from The xx’s Islands, there’s a groundhog day-style repetition created by the camera, slowly zooming outwards before resetting. Unlike that video however, there are some changes between transitions that are much more pronounced, as The Weeknd is given his first chance to personalise and fully visualise his music by having the clip centred around his performance of it. In keeping with his branding as a whole (The Knowing video aside), it’s very minimalist and is probably what he needs to have that ‘D’Angelo breakout moment’-no frills, just focus on the music and the man making it. The monochrome filter helps achieve that by removing colour distraction, whilst small touches such as blurring the female’s hands as they wrap around him, changing her hand positions and her ultimate removal all add up to a clip that keeps you looking out for those deft changes. Leftfield observation for the day: as The Weeknd’s face becomes blurred at the end, he ends up looking a little like Death with a dark cloak and light face. Adds a potentially interesting twist to the lyrics if that was intentional.

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Wiz Khalifa-Remember Me ft. The Weeknd

Word got around about these two working together a few weeks back, and that collaboration surfaces as part of Wiz’s upcoming O.N.I.F.C. album, currently set for a 4th December release. I’m sure most of you aren’t too fussed about that though, and are here for the featured guest.

No word on who helmed the production but it sounds like The Weeknd’s team of Doc McKinney and Illangelo, with plenty of atmosphere and dark soundscapes packed into the verses and a Wiz-tailored step up for the hook. The Weeknd does a solid job with the vocals on the hook, keeping them at his unique, ethereal best whilst injecting some intensity and energy to keep pace with the production’s various twists and turns. Whilst Wiz’s verses don’t feel as though they take full advantage of the beat’s vibe, they were unlikely to defy expectations and are essentially standard Wiz raps about his lavish lifestyle. His highlight moment comes in his more serious bridge toward the final third of the track, his voice switching from a piercing pitch to something more subtle and fitted to the production. A decent effort that should be a hit for Wiz, and another boost to The Weeknd’s hook reputation.

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The Weeknd Signs Deal With Universal Republic

A quick blast for you Weeknd fans starved of material and/or updates. He’s been courted by more labels than you can begin to imagine (including the now-obligatory flirtation with Diddy and Bad Boy), but has joined the Universal Republic roster alongside Florence and the Machine, Taylor Swift and more. That doesn’t mean his situation is cut and dry though, as he can still ink a deal with a Universal subsidiary such as Cash Money.

He’s long been speaking about re-releasing his three hugely-popular free mixtapes as a physical and digital trilogy collection, and this deal comes with a release date for that project-13th November. It’s set to not only include the remastered versions of every track he promised, but also some new and previously-unheard material. Plenty to look forward to, and I’m sure one or two pieces of material will break prior to that date.

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JoJo, Drake and The Weeknd – Demonstrate (JAYBeatz Remix)

I don’t normally do ‘mashups’ but this one’s been getting a lot of traction over the last few days and hence it’s worth giving a chance at least. Or, so I thought. Maybe it’s my all-consuming dislike of Drake’s Take Care single (mainly because it desecrates the Gil-Scott Heron version), but there’s something about the track that seems to permanently keep me at arm’s length.

It could be that it feels like one long intro, with no clear anchor point, though with that said there are some high points, most notably toward the second half of the track where the Drake/Rihanna samples are dialled back in favour of The Weeknd and JoJo’s vocals and production. There are certainly other points where the remix works, however as with all mashups come the moments where too much is happening, confusing the listening experience. Good, but the Take Care sample ruins it for both overcomplicating the production and generally existing in life. For the download, head to the stream’s official page where one is hosted in the description.

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The Weeknd-Our Love

One from the vaults that has emerged this weekend, presumably recorded in his previous musical stint as part of The Noise.

In honesty, this track isn’t one I’ll be playing again. Clearly, this was a formative period for The Weeknd, shown by the relatively bland pop style of the track which is extremely simplistic from start to finish: the lyricism is paint-by-numbers pop stuff, the hook is worryingly lightweight, and the production doesn’t really bring anything to the table. However, to reiterate this is clearly very old material during the early part of his career, and hence you can’t really criticise the guy. Instead, it’s a good look into just how his material has evolved, and proof that some good can come out of talents who are seemingly generic pop voices.

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