House of Balloons

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House of Balloons
House of Balloons by The Weeknd.png
Mixtape by The Weeknd
Released March 21, 2011
Genre PBR&B[1]
Length 49:34
Label XO
Producer
The Weeknd chronology
House of Balloons
(2011)
Thursday
(2011)

House of Balloons is the debut mixtape by Canadian singer 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, indie rock, and dream pop tones[2]Contributions to the mixtape's production came from Canadian producers Doc McKinney, Zodiac, Illangelo.

Music[edit]

The album's eclectic music uses samples of songs by Beach House and Aaliyah's 2001 song "Rock the Boat".[3] The title track heavily samples Siouxsie and the Banshees' 1980 single "Happy House".[4] The track "The Knowing" samples "Cherry-Coloured Funk" by Cocteau Twins.[5] 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.[6] 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".[7] Paul Lewster of The Guardian views that, although more than half of the mixtape features samples, only the title track makes it "evident".[8]

Promotion[edit]

The song "High for This" was featured in the promo for the final season of the HBO show Entourage in July 2011.[9]

On November 24, 2011, The Weeknd’s first official music video, for his song “The Knowing,” hit the Internet on his Vimeo page.[10] 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.[11] 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.”[12] The Weeknd occupies different spaces as an Ethiopian man who immerses himself within a predominantly white culture of ecstasy substance abuse. This culture is portrayed through House of Balloons' mixtape artwork, which exhibits solely white women. The Weeknd's popularity also grew because of his mysteriousness. During the release of this project, very few people knew what The Weeknd even looked like because all of the pictures of him were in the dark/shadows. He later makes note of his mysterious identity by saying "When you're used to my face, and my mystery fades.." The obscurity of The Weeknd's identity, sound, and racial dynamic is what collaborated to give him an increase in popularity at the time of his first few music projects.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 87/100[13]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[14]
The A.V. Club B+[15]
The Boston Phoenix 3.5/4 stars[16]
Consequence of Sound B[17]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[18]
Now 4/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork Media 8.5/10[20]
PopMatters 9/10[21]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[22]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[23]

Upon its release, House of Balloons received rave reviews from music critics. Preceded by a string of low-profile buzz single releases throughout 2010, the mixtape attracted significant interest due to the then-anonymous identity of the individual behind The Weeknd. Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating based on reviews by industry professionals, gave House of Balloons a rating of 87, indicating "universal acclaim".[13] Sean Fennessey of The Village Voice was impressed by the mixtape, calling it "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."[24] Maegan McGregor of Exclaim! stated that House of Balloons "easily stands as one of the year's best debuts so far, hipster, Top 40 or otherwise."[25]Sputnikmusic's Tyler Fisher said that "despite being a free album, House of Balloons feels like a true album, a true labor of love."[23] Tom Ewing of The Guardian felt that while The Weeknd's vocals and lyrics on House of Balloons "aren't especially strong by R&B standards," much of the album's attention was attracted by its strong command of mood.[26] In a review for MSN Music, Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention ((3-star Honorable Mention)),[27] indicating "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure."[28]

In December 2011, Metacritic determined that House of Balloons was the third best-reviewed project of the year.[29] Additionally, the mixtape was featured on several music critics' and publications' end-of-year albums lists. Complex called it the "best album of 2011;"[30] Stereogum ranked it number 5;[31] The Guardian ranked it number 8;[32] The A.V. Club ranked it number 6;[33] SPIN ranked it (as well as Thursday) number 13;[34] while Pitchfork ranked it number 10.[35] As a whole, House of Balloons was the seventh most frequently mentioned album in music publications' year-end Top Ten lists.[36]

The mixtape was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[37]

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.[38]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "High for This"  
Dream Machine 4:07
2. "What You Need"  
  • Tesfaye
  • Jeremy Rose
  • Jeremy Rose
  • The Weeknd
3:26
3. "House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls"  
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
5:41
Sample credits

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh (August 14, 2011). "R&B Records With an Indie Affect". New York. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Matt Carney, "New Music Tuesday: 'House of Balloons' by The Weeknd," The Oklahoma Daily, April 19, 2011.
  3. ^ various authors (2011-12-19). "The 25 Best Albums of 2011". complex.com. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  4. ^ Neyland, Nick."The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons". Pitchfork. 2011-03-28.
  5. ^ whosampled (2013-03-02). "The Weeknd's The Knowing sample of Cocteau Twins's Cherry-Coloured Funk". Who Sampled. Retrieved 2013-03-02. 
  6. ^ Colly, Joe (2011-03-29). "Album Reviews - The Weeknd - House of Balloons". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-03-29. 
  7. ^ "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011 - Our list of the best songs of the year". Pitchfork. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-01-11. 
  8. ^ "Best albums of 2011, No 8: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". The Guardian. December 7, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ Osei, Anthony (22 May 2011). "The Weeknd Entourage". complex.com. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  10. ^ from xoxxxoooxo 1 year ago not yet rated (2011-11-24). "The Weeknd - The Knowing (Official Video) on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  11. ^ "Video: The Weeknd "The Knowing"". Complex. 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  12. ^ "Video: The Weeknd: "The Knowing" | News". Pitchfork. 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  13. ^ a b "Reviews for House of Balloons by The Weeknd". Metacritic. Retrieved July 11, 2013. 
  14. ^ Kellman, Andy. "House of Balloons – The Weeknd". AllMusic. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  15. ^ Rytlewski, Evan (April 5, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  16. ^ Battan, Carrie (April 27, 2011). "The Weeknd | House of Balloons". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  17. ^ Koren, Daniel (April 13, 2011). "The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  18. ^ Pott-Negrine, David (August 3, 2011). "Album Review: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  19. ^ Ritchie, Kevin (March 31, 2011). "The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Now. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  20. ^ Colly, Joe (March 29, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  21. ^ Beasley, Corey (May 9, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". PopMatters. Retrieved April 7, 2015. 
  22. ^ Hermes, Will (April 5, 2011). "House of Balloons". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b Fisher, Tyler (March 25, 2011). "The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  24. ^ Fennessey, Sean (March 23, 2011). "Love vs. Money: The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and R&B's Future Shock". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  25. ^ McGregor, Maegan (March 28, 2011). "Get the Latest from the Weeknd, Teenage Kicks, TV on the Radio and More in This Week's Click Hear Roundup". Exclaim!. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  26. ^ Ewing, Tom (March 24, 2011). "The Weeknd's VIP Area Exposé Was Made for the Indie Crowd". The Guardian. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  27. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 20, 2012). "Odds and Ends 005". MSN Music. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  28. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Key to Icons". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved November 11, 2015. 
  29. ^ "The Best Albums of 2011". Metacritic. December 30, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  30. ^ "The 25 Best Albums of 2011". Complex. 2011-12-19. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  31. ^ "Stereogum's Top 50 Albums of 2011". Pitchfork Media. December 5, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Best albums of 2011". The Guardian. December 7, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  33. ^ "The best music of 2011". A.V. Club. December 6, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  34. ^ "SPIN's 50 Best Albums of 2011". Spin. December 12, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2012. 
  35. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 50 Albums of 2011". Pitchfork Media. December 15, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  36. ^ "2011 Music Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. January 7, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2012. 
  37. ^ "2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List announced". aux.tv, June 16, 2011.
  38. ^ "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011". Pitchfork. December 12, 2011.