House of Balloons

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House of Balloons
Mixtape by The Weeknd
Released March 21, 2011
Genre PBR&B[1]
Length 49:34
Label XO
Producer Doc McKinney, Dream Machine, Illangelo, Jeremy Rose, Rainer, The Weeknd
The Weeknd chronology
House of Balloons

House of Balloons is the debut mixtape by Canadian recording artist, The Weeknd, released as a free download on March 21, 2011, through his website. Its music incorporates electronic and urban genres including R&B and soul with trip-hop and dream pop tones.[2][3][improper synthesis?] Contributions to the mixtape's production came from Canadian producers Doc McKinney, Zodiac, Illangelo.


The album's eclectic music uses samples of songs by Beach House and Aaliyah's 2001 song "Rock the Boat".[4] The title track heavily samples Siouxsie and the Banshees' 1980 single "Happy House".[5] The track "The Knowing" samples "Cherry-Coloured Funk" by Cocteau Twins.[6] Joe Colly of Pitchfork Media observes "weird, morning-after tales of lust, hurt, and over-indulgence" complemented by "lush, downcast music" on the album, and compares its "specific nocturnal quality" to that of The xx's 2009 self-titled debut.[7] Pitchfork Media's Eric Grandy writes that the title track has The Weeknd "emoting in an androgynous falsetto one minute, muttering unbelievable curses the next".[8] Paul Lewster of The Guardian views that, although more than half of the mixtape features samples, only the title track makes it "evident".[9]


The song "High for This" was featured in the promo for the final season of the HBO show Entourage in July 2011.[10]

On November 24, 2011, The Weeknd’s first official music video, for his song “The Knowing,” hit the Internet on his Vimeo page.[11] The song was first released on House of Balloons and the video was directed by French filmmaker Mikael Colombu, who has also worked with singer Cee Lo Green.[12] The nearly eight-minute clip is described by authors Carrie Battan and Amy Phillips of Pitchfork Media as, “a time-traveling, Afrofuturist, science fiction battle of the sexes that demands to be watched in HD.”[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 87/100[14]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[15]
The A.V. Club B+[16]
Beats per Minute 86%[17]
Robert Christgau (3-star Honorable Mention)[18]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[19]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[20]
Pitchfork Media 8.5/10[21]
Popmatters 9/10 discs[22]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[23]
Sputnikmusic 4/5[24]

Upon its release, House of Balloons garnered acclaim from music critics. Preceded by a string of low-profile buzz single releases throughout 2010, the identity behind The Weeknd was kept secret from the public which attracted significant interest. House of Balloons received the 'Best New Music' title at[25] Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating based on reviews by industry professionals, gave House of Balloons a rating of 87 based on 16 reviews indicating 'Universal Acclaim,' also making it the eighth highest scoring R&B release ever.[14] Tom Ewing of The Guardian stated that although the vocals and lyrics on House of Balloons "aren't especially strong by R&B standards," the Weeknd is receiving "so much attention" as a result of its "command of mood."[26] Sean Fennessey of The Village Voice called the album "impressive" and added, "It's patient, often gorgeous, and consistently louche ... with the sort of blown-out underbelly and echo-laden crooning that has already made Drake's less-than-a-year-old Thank Me Later such an influential guidepost."[27] Maegan McGregor of Exclaim! also praised the album: "Packed full of sex, drugs and some downright killer production, this easily stands as one of the year's best debuts so far, hipster, Top 40 or otherwise."[28] Sputnik Music's Tyler Fisher said that "despite being a free album, House of Balloons feels like a true album, a true labor of love."[29]

In December 2011, Metacritic determined that House of Balloons was the third best-reviewed project of the year.[30]

Additionally, the mixtape was featured on several music critics' and publications' end-of-year albums lists. Complex called it the "best album of 2011;"[31] Stereogum ranked it number 5;[32] The Guardian ranked it number 8;[33] The A.V. Club ranked it number 6;[34] SPIN ranked it (as well as Thursday) number 13;[35] while Pitchfork ranked it number 10.[36] As a whole, House of Balloons was the seventh most frequently mentioned album in music publications' year-end Top Ten lists.[37]

The mixtape was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[38]

The mixtape's title track, House of Balloons, was placed on Pitchfork Media's list of top 100 songs of 2011 at number 57, while The Morning was number 15.[39]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "High for This"   Abel Tesfaye, Adrien Gough, Henry Walter Dream Machine 4:07
2. "What You Need"   Tesfaye, Jeremy Rose Jeremy Rose, The Weeknd 3:26
3. "House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls"   Tesfaye, Martin McKinney, Carlo Montagnese, S. Ballion, P. Clarkex, J. Martin, S. Severin Doc McKinney, Illangelo 6:47
4. "The Morning"   Tesfaye, McKinney, Montagnese Doc McKinney, Illangelo 5:15
5. "Wicked Games"   Tesfaye, McKinney, Montagnese, R. Millar Blancheur Doc McKinney, Illangelo 5:25
6. "The Party & the After Party"   Tesfaye, Rose, Millar Blanchaer, V. Legrand, A. Scally Jeremy Rose, The Weeknd, Rainer 7:39
7. "Coming Down"   Tesfaye, McKinney, Montagnese Doc McKinney, Illangelo 4:55
8. "Loft Music"   Tesfaye, J. Rose, Legrand, Scally Jeremy Rose, The Weeknd 6:04
9. "The Knowing"   Tesfaye, McKinney, Montagnese, E. Fraser, R. Guthrie, S. Raymmonde Doc McKinney, Illangelo 5:41



  1. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh (August 14, 2011). "R&B Records With an Indie Affect". New York. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of The Complex Decade," Complex, April 2, 2012.
  3. ^ Matt Carney, "New Music Tuesday: 'House of Balloons' by The Weeknd," The Oklahoma Daily, April 19, 2011.
  4. ^ various authors (2011-12-19). "The 25 Best Albums of 2011". Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  5. ^ Neyland, Nick."The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons". Pitchfork. 2011-03-28.
  6. ^ whosampled (2013-03-02). "The Weeknd's The Knowing sample of Cocteau Twins's Cherry-Coloured Funk". Who Sampled. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  7. ^ Colly, Joe (2011-03-29). "Album Reviews - The Weeknd - House of Balloons". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  8. ^ "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011 - Our list of the best songs of the year". Pitchfork. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-01-11. 
  9. ^ "Best albums of 2011, No 8: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". The Guardian. December 7, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  10. ^ Osei, Anthony (22 May 2011). "The Weeknd Entourage". Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  11. ^ from xoxxxoooxo 1 year ago not yet rated (2011-11-24). "The Weeknd - The Knowing (Official Video) on Vimeo". Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  12. ^ "Video: The Weeknd "The Knowing"". Complex. 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  13. ^ "Video: The Weeknd: "The Knowing" | News". Pitchfork. 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  14. ^ a b "House of Balloons Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  15. ^ Kellman, Andy. "House of Balloons - The Weeknd". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  16. ^ Rytlewski, Evan (April 5, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  17. ^ Stringer, FM (May 4, 2011). "Album Review: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Beats per Minute. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Robert Christgau review". 
  19. ^ "CoS review". 
  20. ^ Pott-Negrine, David (August 3, 2011). "Album Review: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Drowned in Sound. Silentway. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Pitchfork review". 
  22. ^ Beasley, Corey (May 9, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". Popmatters. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Rolling Stone review". 
  24. ^ "Sputnik review". 
  25. ^ "The Weeknd: House of Balloons | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. 2011-03-29. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  26. ^ Ewing, Tom (2011-03-24). "The Weeknd's VIP Area Exposé Was Made for the Indie Crowd". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  27. ^ Fennessey, Sean (2011-03-23). "Love vs. Money: The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and R&B's Future Shock". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  28. ^ McGregor, Maegan (2011-03-28). "Get the Latest from the Weeknd, Teenage Kicks, TV on the Radio and More in This Week's Click Hear Roundup". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  29. ^ Fisher, Tyler (2011-03-25). "Staff Review - The Weeknd - House Of Balloons". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  30. ^ "The Best Albums of 2011". Metacritic. December 30, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  31. ^ "The 25 Best Albums of 2011". Complex. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  32. ^ "Stereogum's Top 50 Albums of 2011". Pitchfork Media. December 5, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  33. ^ "Best albums of 2011". The Guardian. December 7, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  34. ^ "The best music of 2011". A.V. Club. December 6, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  35. ^ "SPIN's 50 Best Albums of 2011". Spin. December 12, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2011". Pitchfork Media. December 15, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  37. ^ "2011 Music Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. January 7, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  38. ^ "2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List announced"., June 16, 2011.
  39. ^ "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011". Pitchfork. December 12, 2011.