The Weeknd – “House Of Balloons / Glass Table Girls”
This is one party that I wish I wasn’t so late to. Hell, by the time I got there the party was over.
I discover The Weeknd when “Can’t Feel My Face” hits the airwaves in 2015, which I think is a catchy tune so I download it. I check out samples of few other songs and decide it’s not for me. Yep, I’ll just stick with that one song and add it to my upbeat party mix. Cool.
Then comes 2016’s “Starboy” – which I hear at a night club/bar as I’m halfway to my goal of not remembering a damn thing from the night – and I think to myself that it’s the greatest fucking song ever. Spoiler: it isn’t, but consuming copious amounts of alcohol helps.
Skip ahead four years and After Hours is receiving all kinds of acclaim on sputnikmusic dot com; I’m skeptical, but I dive in. As I’m clicking “play”, I peruse the album’s ratings and I see that Doof gave it a 2/5. I immediately raise one eyebrow and my expectations as well.
Fast-forward another two hours and I’m finding After Hours to scratch an itch that R&B rarely does for me. I slap an admittedly hasty 4/5 on it,but I still find myself more intrigued by everyone’s comparisons to this “Trilogy.” I press on, and download the whole thing on an impulse.
As House of Balloons begins, I’m immediately sucked into its world: drugs, alcohol, endless parties, money, and beautiful women; what’s not to like? By the time the title track “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” is over, nothing else The Weeknd previously wrote even matters to me anymore. This is the new standard for pop/R&B.
Freeze time at the present. I’ve basically had “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” on repeat for over a month now. It’s actually frustrating because I find myself trying to dive deep into a new release so that I can digest its contents, formulate an opinion, and then review it. Instead, I get a couple songs in and then “This is a happy house (A happy house) / We’re happy here (We’re happy here)” forcibly enters my mind and refuses to relent until I find a way to play the song, yet again. It’s more than just insanely catchy though; Tesfaye’s production is unlike anything I’ve heard in the pop/R&B sphere in the last 10 years. The song’s seamless transition halfway through its 7 minute runtime also helps – you can feel the entire mood of the song swing. This isn’t anything like the R&B I’ve heard on the radio – this is art. “House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls” has forced me to re-evaluate R&B as a genre entirely. I always viewed it as a “fun” genre primarily meant for carefree surface-level listens, but there’s a surprising amount of depth and musical/technical merit beyond that damned infectious chorus.
Had I jumped aboard the hype train nine years ago, I might not have had such an unfair/inaccurate opinion of R&B for such a long time. I suppose it’s better to start late than never. Who’s ready to party like it’s 2011?