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The Weeknd

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Not to be confused with Weekend.
The Weeknd
TheWeekndBillboard.jpg
The Weeknd in 2015
Background information
Birth name Abel Tesfaye
Born (1990-02-16) February 16, 1990 (age 25)
Scarborough, Canada
Genres PBR&B
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
Years active 2010–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website theweeknd.com

Abel Tesfaye (born February 16, 1990), known by his stage name The Weeknd (/ˈwkɪnd/ WEE-kind), is a Canadian PBR&B[1] singer, songwriter and record producer. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to YouTube under the name "The Weeknd". He released three nine-track mixtapes throughout 2011: House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, which were critically acclaimed.[2] The following year, he released a compilation album Trilogy, consisting of remastered versions of the mixtape material and three additional songs. It was released under Republic Records and his own label XO. In 2013, he released his debut studio album Kiss Land, which was supported by the singles "Kiss Land" and "Live For". His second album, Beauty Behind the Madness, which has produced top-five singles: "Often", "Earned It" and "The Hills" and the number-one single: "Can't Feel My Face", was released on June 8, 2015.

The Weeknd has received praise from several music publications, including Pitchfork,[3] MTV,[4] BET,[5] Rolling Stone,[6] XXL[7] and The Source.[8]

Early life[edit]

Tesfaye was born on February 16, 1990 in Scarborough, Ontario. He attended Samuel Hearne Middle School.[9][10] He is of Ethiopian descent; his parents emigrated from Ethiopia in the 1980s.[10][11] He grew up listening to a variety of music genres, including soul, quiet storm, hip hop, funk, indie rock, and post-punk.[12] Since Tesfaye's father was never around when he was growing up, and his mother was constantly working, his grandmother took care of him most of his young life. Because of this, Tesfaye speaks fluent Amharic; it was the first language he learned.[13]

Tesfaye says he adopted the stage name, "The Weeknd," after dropping out of high school at the age of 17 and, along with a fellow crew-member, "left one weekend and never came home." The spelling was modified to avoid copyright issues with a Canadian band already named the Weekend.[11][14]

Career[edit]

2010–11: Career beginnings and mixtapes[edit]

In Toronto, Tesfaye met producer Jeremy Rose, who had an idea for a dark R&B musical project called "The Weeknd". After trying to pitch the idea to musician Curtis Santiago, Rose played one of his instrumentals for Tesfaye, who freestyled over it, and they began working on an album. He produced three songs—"What You Need", "Loft Music", and "The Morning"—and others that Tesfaye rapped on, which Rose ultimately scrapped. Rose let Tesfaye keep the tracks he had produced under the condition that he would ultimately be credited for them.[15] However, in December 2010, Tesfaye uploaded "What You Need", "Loft Music", and "The Morning" to YouTube under the name "the Weeknd",[16] though his identity was initially unknown.[17][18] The songs drew attention online through word of mouth, including a blog featuring the songs posted by Toronto-based rapper Drake,[15] who also helped generate interest in the Weeknd.[19] They subsequently received coverage from outlets such as Pitchfork Media and The New York Times.

On March 21, 2011, Tesfaye released the nine-track mixtape House of Balloons for free through his website.[20] It featured production by Illangelo and Doc McKinney, although it did not credit Rose for his tracks.[15] House of Balloons was met with critical acclaim,[21] and was named as one of ten shortlisted nominees for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize.[22]

In July, The Weeknd embarked on a tour and delivered his first performance at the Mod Club in Toronto. The hour-and-a-half long performance created buzz about him.[23] His next performance took place at Toronto’s Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. He collaborated with rapper Drake and appeared as one of the special guests to Drake's second Annual OVO Fest on July 31, 2011.[24] During the summer, the press noted that The Weeknd refused to participate in interviews and chose to only communicate via Twitter.[25] His second mixtape Thursday was released on August 18, 2011, as a free digital download from The Weeknd's website, and was well received by critics.[26] The Weeknd's third mixtape, titled Echoes of Silence, was released on December 21, 2011.[26][27] Upon this release, the three 2011 mixtapes were collectively known as the Balloons Trilogy,[28] each receiving critical acclaim and growing Tesfaye's fanbase.[9]

2012–14: Touring and major label releases[edit]

In April 2012, The Weeknd began his US tour by performing at the Coachella Festival.[29] He and his band visited various major cities,[29] and culminated in New York, where two sold-out shows were positively reviewed by Rolling Stone.[6] Tesfaye and his tour band continued in major European festivals, including the Primavera Sound Festivals in Spain and Portugal,[30] Wireless Festival in London,[31] plus concerts in Paris and Brussels. At his debut UK show in London, he covered Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" in front of an audience which included Katy Perry and Florence Welch.[32] In June, it was reported that the Balloons Trilogy had been downloaded 8 million times and that it would be formally released later in the year.[32]

The Weeknd performing at Massey Hall October 17, 2013.

In September 2012, the Weeknd signed with Republic Records in a joint venture with his own imprint label XO.[33] The compilation album Trilogy was released in November, consisting of remastered versions of the mixtapes and three additional songs.[34][better source needed] It also officially credited Rose as a producer and writer on three songs from House of Balloons.[35] Trilogy charted at No. 5 on the Canadian Albums Chart, and No. 4 on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 86,000 copies.[36][37] Shortly after in December, the BBC announced that the Weeknd had been nominated for the Sound of 2013 poll.[38] In May 2013, Trilogy was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and double platinum by Music Canada.[39][40]

On May 16, 2013, the Weeknd premiered the title track to his debut studio album Kiss Land,[41] which he said will be released on September 10.[42] It was also promoted by the singles "Belong to the World", "Live For" featuring Drake and the Weeknd's The Fall tour beginning in September.[43][44] Kiss Land received generally positive reviews from music critics.[45] 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.[46]

The Weeknd also appeared on the soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, contributing "Devil May Cry" and featuring on "Elastic Heart" by Sia, the second single from the soundtrack.[47][48] In February 2014, The Weeknd remixed the Beyoncé single "Drunk in Love." The remix was more of a cover, as The Weeknd tweaked the beat to fit better with his version of the song, that is told through the male perspective.[49]

On June 26, 2014, The Weeknd announced that he will be headlining the King of the Fall tour, essentially a mini-tour across America in September and October 2014. ScHoolboy Q and Jhené Aiko were confirmed as support acts.[50] The announcement came the day after The Weeknd released his new song, "Often", on SoundCloud, leading to speculation that the tour will unveil more new material from him.[51] On July 20, 2014, The Weeknd released another track titled "King of the Fall" to promote his upcoming tour, which started in September. On September 30, 2014, the song "Love Me Harder" was released which is a duet between The Weeknd and Ariana Grande,[52] the song went on to peak at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. On December 23, 2014, he released "Earned It", the song was released as a single from the 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey, which has peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

2015–present: Beauty Behind The Madness[edit]

On May 27, 2015, The Weeknd released a music video for a new song "The Hills".[53] The song was later released as a digital download as the first single from The Weeknd's second studio album dubbed, Chapter III. "The Hills" debuted at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the week's "Hot Shot" debut; it later reached number 5.[54][55] In addition to the single's official release, a further three songs were leaked online in the corresponding days.[56] On June 8, "Can't Feel My Face", one of the leaked tracks, was officially released as a second single following a performance of the song by The Weeknd at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on the same day.[57] The song debuted at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached number 1 on the Hot 100, making it his third top 10 hit and his first number-one hit in the United States.[58][59] On July 4, The Weeknd headlined FVDED in the Park in Surrey, BC, Canada. On July 9, The Weeknd's second studio album, Beauty Behind the Madness, was announced for a release of August 28, 2015. The Weeknd continued to promote his 2015 album by headlining summer music festivals, including Lollapalooza in Chicago, the Hard Summer Music Festival in Pomona, the Summer Set Music and Camping Festival in Somerset, Philadelphia's Made in America Festival, Austin City Limits in Austin, and Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival.[60] 'The Madness Fall Tour 2015', The Weeknd's North American tour to promote his new album was announced on August 20, 2015, and will begin in November.[61]

In Billboard's Hot R&B Songs chart for the week of July 25, 2015, The Weeknd held down all of the top three spots, with "Can't Feel My Face" at #1, "The Hills" at #2 and "Earned It" at #3.[62] This made him the first artist in the history of that chart to earn this distinction.[62]

Artistry[edit]

The Weeknd cites R. Kelly, Michael Jackson and Prince as his main inspirations.[63]

The Weeknd's songs are "built around a fogged, crepuscular production",[64] and feature slow tempos,[65] rumbling bass, and forlorn echoes.[10] The Weeknd sings in a falsetto register,[66] and exhibits a pleading, anxious tone. J. D. Considine finds his singing's "tremulous quality" similar to Michael Jackson, but writes that he eschews Jackson's "strong basis in the blues" for a more Arabic-influenced melisma.[67] His music incorporates samples that are unconventional in R&B production, including punk and alternative rock.[67] Marc Hogan of Spin says that The Weeknd's samples tend "to draw from rock critic-approved sources, though generally ones that already share elements of his sexual menace", with samples of artists such as Beach House, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Aaliyah.[68] The Weeknd worked mostly with producers Illangelo and Doc McKinney, whom Pitchfork Media's Ian Cohen credits with developing "a state-of-the-art R&B template" with The Weeknd.[65] In concert, The Weeknd reappropriates their digitized productions with a suite-like arena rock aesthetic.[10]

His emotional, plaintive lyrics often express feelings of hurt and deal with subject matter such as sex,[64] drugs, and partying.[10] Hermoine Hoby of The Guardian characterizes the Weeknd's songs as "narcotised-slow jams" and delineates their message as "partying is an existential experience, sex is fraught with alienation, and everything registers as unreal and unsettling."[64] The Guardian‍ '​s Paul MacInnes interprets The Weeknd's trilogy of mixtapes as "a rough trajectory of party, after-party and hangover".[69] Anupa Mistry of the Toronto Standard observes throughout his mixtapes a "cast of supine, stoned zombie-women ... whose legs willingly part after being plied with substances and who morph into threats only when [he is] coming down and feeling vulnerable."[10] The Weeknd viewed that, by singing vulgar, ignorant lyrics in an elegant, sexy way, he is paying homage to R. Kelly and to some degree Prince.[70]

Music journalists associate The Weeknd with PBR&B, an emerging wave of recording artists whose music expands on the sound and sensibility of R&B.[64] Mistry writes that he "will be obsequiously praised as the future of R&B music – because [he] is a black singer, not because he’s making quantifiable, canonical R&B".[10] AllMusic's Andy Kellman categorizes him as an "alternative R&B act".[9] Prior to his major label deal, The Weeknd withheld his identity and maintained an enigmatic, shadowy persona while releasing his mixtapes online. On social media outlets such as Twitter, he suffixed his name with "xo".[64] According to Hoby, it is meant as an emoticon for "a kiss and a hug",[64] while VH1's Zara Golden said that it is instead a reference to his recreational use of ecstasy and oxycodone.[71]

Discography[edit]

Concert tours[edit]

Headlining[edit]

  • The Weeknd Fall Tour (2012)
  • The Weeknd Kiss Land Fall Tour (2013)
  • King of the Fall (2014)[72]
  • The Madness Fall Tour (2015)[73]

Opening[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "House of Balloons – The Weeknd". Metacritic. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  3. ^ Colly, Joe (March 29, 2011). "Album Reviews – The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  4. ^ Rob Markman (December 8, 2011). "Drake's Boy The Weeknd Drops My Favorite 2011 Album". MTV. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Weeknd". Bet.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Krishnamurthy, Sowmya (April 29, 2012). "The Weeknd Mesmerizes at Bowery Ballroom". Rolling Stone (New York). Retrieved May 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Weeknd Partners With Republic Records". Xxlmag.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ "The Weeknd – Initiation". Thesource.com. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
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  12. ^ Roberts, Randall (December 17, 2012). "Review: Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd, has hall smoldering". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Weeknd Reveals How He Got His Name... And Where The ‘E’ Went". MTV News. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Weeknd Reveals How He Got His Name... And Where The 'E' Went". MTV. Retrieved September 15, 2013. 
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  16. ^ Caramanica A-Train, Jon (December 26, 2010). "Screams That Charmed, and Other Overlooked Highlights". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  17. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (March 4, 2011). "The Playlist – The Weeknd – What You Need". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
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  22. ^ "The 2011 Shortlist|Polaris Music Prize"
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  31. ^ "Wireless line up 2012". wirelessfestival.co.uk. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
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  33. ^ Hampp, Andrew (November 12, 2012). "The Weeknd & Reps Talk Clearing Samples, Touring For 'Trilogy' Release". Billboard (New York). Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
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  49. ^ Ashley Lee. "[AUDIO] Beyonce's 'Drunk in Love': Kanye West, The Weeknd Release Remixes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
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  51. ^ "Ida Maria Gets Exclamatory". Music News, Reviews, and Gossip on Idolator.com. 
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  54. ^ "Billboard Hot 100, June 13, 2015". Billboard.com. 
  55. ^ "Billboard Hot 100, June 13, 2015". Billboard.com. 
  56. ^ "The Weeknd, Lil Mama & Maroon 5: Real-Time Twitter Chart Rewind Ep. 52". billboard.com. Retrieved 18 June 2015. 
  57. ^ Kreps, Daniel (June 8, 2015). "Hear the Weeknd's Funky New Song 'Can't Feel My Face'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 17, 2015. 
  58. ^ Trust, Gary (July 1, 2015). "Wiz Khalifa No. 1 on Hot 100 'Again,' Selena Gomez Debuts at No. 9". Billboard. 
  59. ^ Trust, Gary (August 10, 2015). "The Weeknd Tops Hot 100 With 'Can't Feel My Face,' One Direction Debuts at No. 3". 
  60. ^ "The Weeknd's new album is coming Aug. 28". usatoday.com. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  61. ^ "The Weeknd announces The Madness Fall Tour". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  62. ^ a b "Alone on the podium: The Weeknd becomes first artist to take over Billboard R&B chart". CBC Music, July 17, 2015.
  63. ^ Scott, Damien (July 15, 2013). "The Weeknd: Kiss And Tell (2013 Cover Story)". Complex. Retrieved June 9, 2015. 
  64. ^ a b c d e f Hoby, Hermione (November 8, 2012). "The Weeknd: Sounds and sensibility". The Guardian (London). section G2, p. 12. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
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  66. ^ Robbins, Winston (December 7, 2011). "Rookie of the Year: The Weeknd". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  67. ^ a b Considine, J. D. (November 17, 2012). "How The Weeknd became R&B’s next big thing". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  68. ^ Hogan, Marc (October 26, 2012). "The Weeknd Imbues 'Enemy' With the Smiths' Seductive Power". Spin (New York). Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  69. ^ MacInnes, Paul (November 15, 2012). "The Weeknd: Trilogy – review". The Guardian (London). section G2, p. 23. Retrieved January 6, 2013. 
  70. ^ Morgan, Nakiya (July 15, 2013). "The Weeknd's Kiss Land Album Captures First Experiences Outside Of Toronto". MTV News. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  71. ^ Golden, Zara (November 16, 2012). "Who Is The Weeknd? 5 Things You Should Know". VH1. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  72. ^ Davis, Justin. "The Weeknd Announces "King of The Fall" Tour". Complex. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  73. ^ Martin, Paley (August 21, 2015). "The Weeknd Announces The Madness Fall Tour With Travi$ Scott, Halsey & Banks". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 21, 2015. 

External links[edit]