Kiss Land

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Kiss Land
Studio album by The Weeknd
Released September 10, 2013 (2013-09-10)
Recorded 2012–2013[1]
Genre R&B
Length 55:38
Label XO, Republic
Producer Brandon "Bizzy" Hollemon, Danny Boy Styles, Harry Fraud, Jason "DaHeala" Quenneville, Silkky Johnson, The Weeknd
The Weeknd chronology
  • Kiss Land
  • (2013)
Singles from Kiss Land
  1. "Kiss Land"
    Released: May 17, 2013 (2013-05-17)
  2. "Belong to the World"
    Released: July 16, 2013 (2013-07-16)
  3. "Love in the Sky"
    Released: July 30, 2013 (2013-07-30)
  4. "Live For"
    Released: August 20, 2013 (2013-08-20)
  5. "Pretty"
    Released: October 2013
  6. "Wanderlust"
    Released: March 31, 2014 (2014-03-31)

Kiss Land is the debut studio album by Canadian recording artist The Weeknd. The album was released in the United States on September 10, 2013, by XO and Republic Records. Kiss Land was supported by six singles: "Kiss Land", "Belong to the World", "Love in the Sky", "Live For", "Pretty" and "Wanderlust". The album's sole guest appearance comes from frequent collaborator Drake. The album's production was primarily handled by Danny Boy Styles, The Weeknd himself, and Jason "DaHeala" Quenneville.

Background[edit]

On March 17, 2013, The Weeknd announced his debut album would be titled Kiss Land.[2] In July 2013, Amazon.com revealed that the album would be released on August 27, 2013.[3] On July 22, 2013, it was announced that the album would be pushed back from August 27, 2013, until September 10, 2013.[4][5] In July 2013, during an interview with Complex, The Weeknd described the album, saying:

"Kiss Land symbolizes the tour life, but it’s a world that I created in my head. Just like House of Balloons symbolizes Toronto and my experiences there, but it’s a world that I created. When I think about Kiss Land, I think about a terrifying place. It’s a place I’ve never been to before that I’m very unfamiliar with. A lot of it is inspired by filmmakers like John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, and Ridley Scott, because they know how to capture fear. That’s what Kiss Land is to me, an environment that’s just honest fear. I don’t know who I am right now and I’m doing all these outlandish things in these settings that I’m not familiar with. To me, it’s the most terrifying thing ever. So when you hear the screams in the record and you hear all these horror references and you feel scared, listen to the music because I want you to feel what I’m feeling. Kiss Land is like a horror movie."[6]

He also explained the album's second single "Belong to the World", saying: "Belong to the World" is about falling in love with the wrong person. There are some songs where I talk about the same person, but I like to make every song about someone else. Thursday is a conceptual album. Whatever that situation was, I spent the whole album focusing on that situation."[6] He also explained where the title Kiss Land came from, saying: "I didn’t want to call it Dark World or something so generic. The title came from a conversation that I overheard and those words stuck out. Someone said, “Kiss Land” and I thought, “That’s going to be the title of my album.” It sounds so ridiculous. When I put [the title] out everyone was like, “What the hell? This is going to be corny. It’s going to be all lovey-dovey."[6] On July 21, 2013, the album cover was released.[7] On September 1, 2013, the entire album was made available for streaming on NPR Music.[8]

Singles[edit]

On May 17, 2013, the first single "Kiss Land" was released.[9] On June 25, 2013, the music video was released for "Kiss Land".[10] On July 15, 2013, the music video for the second single "Belong to the World" was released.[11] The song was released the following day on July 16, 2013.[12] On July 30, 2013, the song and music video were released for "Love in the Sky".[13]

On July 30, 2013, "Love in the Sky" was released digitally as the third single from Kiss Land.[14] On August 20, 2013, the track "Live For", which features Drake, impacted mainstream urban radio[15] and was released along with the pre-order of the album on the iTunes Store.[16] It was released as a digital single three days later,[17] and its music video followed on September 11.[18] In October 2013, "Pretty" was serviced to urban contemporary radio in the United States.[19] On September 20, 2013, the music video for "Pretty" premiered on Vevo.[20] "Wanderlust" was released as the sixth single in the United Kingdom on March 31, 2014.[21]

Commercial performance[edit]

Kiss Land debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, selling 96,000 copies just two thousand copies short of Keith Urban's Fuse, which took the number one spot that week.[22] In its second week the album sold 26,000 more copies bringing its total album sales to 122,000.[23] In its third week the album sold 15,000 more copies bringing its total album sales to 137,000.[24]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 65/100[25]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[26]
Billboard 84/100[27]
Entertainment Weekly B+[28]
Exclaim! 6/10[29]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[30]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[31]
Now 4/5 stars[32]
Pitchfork Media 6.2/10[33]
Slant Magazine 2/5 stars[34]
Spin 7/10[35]

Kiss Land was met with generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 65, based on 31 reviews.[25] In Chris Payne's Billboard review, Kiss Land was awarded an 84/100, with Payne remarking that Kiss Land is "blissfully hi-fi headphone candy that's not far from the Weeknd's mixtape trilogy, but with an added flair for the dramatic."[27] In a review from Clash, Grant Brydon noted that "rather than upgrading to studio album status by hiring an all-star cast of contributors, ‘Kiss Land’ sticks to the familiar formula of 10 tracks, as per the mixtapes, with a single guest appearance from previous collaborator Drake. Tesfaye hasn’t turned to gimmicks for ‘Kiss Land’. Instead, he’s managed to transcend his previous efforts via the scaling up the sonics and simply maintaining the quality of this excellent record."[36] In a more critical review, Anupa Mistry of Spin gave the album a seven out of ten, saying that "Kiss Land plays like a more considered, better-mastered continuation of Echoes of Silence, not anything dramatically different. And in that way, the dude from Toronto who created a shift is saying that he'll shift again only when he's ready."[35] Andy Kellman of AllMusic gave the album two and a half stars out of five, saying "Kiss Land is more personal, more human, and will draw his fans closer to him. The slightly wider vocal range and additional expressiveness don't hurt his cause. For those who aren't as easily drawn into Tesfaye's world, this will seem roughly as insufferable and as bleakly aimless as the earlier material."[26]

Jesse Cataldo of Slant Magazine gave the album two out of five stars, saying "The music is never up to the conceptual task, and the album too often settles for numbing backdrops, with songs like "Belong to the World" and "Wanderlust" resembling wan impersonations of Bad-era Michael Jackson."[34] Ian Cohen of Pitchfork Media gave the album 6.2 out of 10, saying "Kiss Land is technically the Weeknd’s fourth album in two and a half years, and without the ear-turning innovation of the earlier work, all you can muster in reaction to its worldview, the same one that's been delivered repeatedly without variation, is, “Maybe it’s you, man.” Which in a way, vindicates it: Kiss Land sounds every bit as isolated and singular as Tesfaye feels."[33] August Brown of the Los Angeles Times gave the album three and a half stars out of four, saying "For an act founded in anonymity and reserve, it turns out the Weeknd's most convincing work of art is Tesfaye's own rollout as a star and storyteller. "Kiss Land" is a rough place to visit. But then again, when it comes to sex and loneliness, we've all been there."[31] Omar Burgess of HipHopDX gave the album three out of five stars, saying "This album is a polished, lateral step with an accompanying barcode for Weeknd’s fans. And outsiders looking to understand his appeal are likely better off downloading the three mixtapes that preceded the album."[37]

Sean Delanty of Tiny Mix Tapes gave the album two stars out of five, saying "In this way, Tesfaye’s work here is rather inscrutable, a difficult mess to make sense of — and even more difficult to sincerely engage with. I think I’ll end my review, then, with his words, a thought-provoking couplet from the outro of the album’s title track: “This ain’t nothing to relate to/ Even if you tried, you tried, you tried."[38] Corey Beasley of PopMatters gave the album a five out of ten, saying "It’s easy to catch the way Kiss Land attempts to turn Trilogy’s afterparty ennui into a big screen, on-the-road, b-movie melodrama (something like Only God Forgives, with even less of a plot). Still, the punches seem half-pulled, and the production glides by without much of an impact."[39] Mike Madden of Consequence of Sound gave the album three and a half stars out of five, saying "Apart from its mild lyrical slips, Kiss Land doesn’t really have any cosmetic issues, just relative shortcomings when you consider the singular thrills his 2011 output offered. The 23-year-old Tesfaye will almost certainly make a bigger, better record soon. For now, Kiss Land works fine as one of the year’s most fearless pop releases."[40] Julia LeConte of Now gave the album four out of five stars, saying "Kiss Land is proof for the unconvinced: the Weeknd is a star whether he wants to be or not. And his voice. Oh, that delicious falsetto. Even seven-and-a-half minutes isn’t long enough."[32] Stephen Carlick of Exclaim! gave the album a six out of ten, saying "The latest effort from the Weeknd is a mixed bag, but it can't be said that Abel Tesfaye is resting on his laurels. While many criticized his second two mixtapes, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, for being subpar reiterations of what he did so perfectly on House of Balloons, Kiss Land is anything but a retread."[29]

Accolades[edit]

Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly named it the fifth best album of 2013 saying, "a nearly hour-long head trip in which sexual obsession, betrayal, addiction, and big-ticket trust issues tangle like limbs under silk sheets. It's Tesfaye's delicate falsetto — and dark, distinctly '80s guitar and synth sounds — that envelops you everywhere else. It's a weirdly exhilarating experience, with the bonus effect of torpedoing the make-believe encouraged by cheery online dating profiles."[41]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Professional"  
6:08
2. "The Town"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Balshe
  • Quenneville
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
5:07
3. "Adaptation"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Balshe
  • Quenneville
  • Sting
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
4:43
4. "Love in the Sky"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Balshe
  • Quenneville
  • Richard Munoz
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
4:27
5. "Belong to the World"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Balshe
  • Quenneville
  • Beth Gibbons
  • Geoff Barrow
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
5:07
6. "Live For" (featuring Drake)
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
3:44
7. "Wanderlust"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Balshe
  • Quenneville
  • Munoz
  • Joseph Bostani
  • Selfia Musmin
  • Albert Tamaela
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
5:06
8. "Kiss Land"  
  • Silkky Johnson
  • The Weeknd[b]
  • Danny Boy Styles[b]
  • Quenneville[b]
7:35
9. "Pretty"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Brandon Hollemon
  • Quenneville
  • Ricky Hilfiger
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
  • Brandon "Bizzy" Hollemon[a]
6:15
10. "Tears in the Rain"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Schofield
  • Balshe
  • Quenneville
  • Danny Boy Styles
  • The Weeknd
  • Quenneville
7:26
Total length:
55:38
Notes

Personnel[edit]

  • The Weeknd – executive producer, instrumentation, primary artist, producer[43]
  • Drake – featured artist[43]
  • Danny Boy Styles – engineer, instrumentation, producer[43]
  • Jason Quenneville – composer, engineer, instrumentation, producer[43]
  • Pharrell Williams – composer, producer[44]
  • Kavinsky – instrumentation, primary artist, producer[45]
  • Andrew Coleman – arranger, digital editing, engineer[46]
  • Mike Larson – arranger, digital editing[47]
  • Nick Valentin – assistant engineer[48]
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing[43]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

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