• Kathleen Maurer

10th Anniversary of 'House of Balloons' by The Weeknd


The Weeknd just celebrated his 10 year anniversary for his debut mixtape, House of Balloons. The best way to describe this album is dark... but in a good way.


Muck like his album Beauty Behind The Madness, it has a really heavy bass with shadowy vocals that appear like they are coming from the back of the song. This ~vibe~ of mystery is entrancing and intriguing.


His first song, "High For This", talks a lot about how he is warning someone that they should be high in order to prepare for what is about to come. My question is to whom is this directed towards? The audience, a third party, or himself? And what should we be high for? The album? I don't really know and drugs are bad, so don't do them.


Anyway, his next song, "What You Need", talks a lot about how a frequent lover in his life is often going back and forth between The Weeknd and another guy claiming that even though the other guy is "good for her" and is "what she wants", The Weeknd is what she needs to truly satisfy her and her dark love.


His third track, "House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls", is definitely the more lively of the songs. The beginning reminds me a lot of "Flashing Lights" by Kanye West. It has a very similar dragging bass that hits with a limp. This ~7 minute long song is actually a lot of fun to dance to when you're crying in the club. It then transitions to the second part of the song that gets much darker and grungy. Like you get a really skin crawly vibe from this song but not because the song is bad it's just kind of terrifying. The best way to describe it is if you were crying in the club to "House of Balloons" you're swaying in the alley behind the club trying to make it to the Uber home in "Glass Table Girls".


His fourth track, "The Morning", definitely shows a new dawn after "Glass Table Girls". The chill electric guitar solo in the beginning with the heavily held synth keyboard really does feel like a 6 am walk home. It's uplifting in an almost sad way. Like, you made it through the night, but you really just want to get to your apartment just to sleep on the couch. It's odd but its the song I keep going back to. Maybe I should talk to someone about that. Hmm.


The next track, "Wicked Games", goes back to the narrative that even though The Weeknd and his lover keep feeding into their own darkness, it's what they both crave more than anything. He goes back to the idea that he is what she needs. This songs a lot slower than his other songs on the mixtape.


"The Party & The After Party" reminded me a lot of Gorillaz's Plastic Beach because of the chime like synth piano in the beginning. I really like the high pitched background vocals in this song because it adds an extra flair. But can we take a minute to just talk about his great beach like electric guitar during "The After Party"? It's very R&B and when it's accompanying him in the beginning it is just... nice.


"Coming Down" really does feel like you're falling. His "lalalassssss" in the beginning of the song and that continued groovy guitar makes me feel like I'm floating. It's weird but really cool because everything in this song is dragged and feels super distant. Super trippy.


His eighth track, "Loft Music", does sound like it has some slight lo-fi influences in the way that the drums and guitar mix. It also sounds kind of like Hamilton which is weird. SPOILER: I think it is lowkey very similar to when Eliza's sister goes into her monologue about how she kind of loves Hamilton but loves her sister and her happiness more. The vocals of "Loft Music" are just very much in that low and soft beginning with that rise and volume graduation at the end.


His penultimate track, "The Knowing", is low and draggy in a very swayed and sad way. I'm gonna be honest, I don't like this song. The chorus is semi-redeeming but I'd have to be DEEP in my bag to really vibe with this one. It just feels like The Weeknd is at his breaking point with this one.


His final track, "Twenty Eight", is a story of betrayal over a girl telling her friends a lot of information about her and The Weeknd's intimacies. He uses a really heavy drum and a repeating background chorus to pour his heart out about how he would of loved her and kept her if she hadn't treated him like a pawn to be lost, won, or traded.


Dear The Weeknd,

I hope you're doing well. This mixtape was super dark but it slapped. I'm kind of concerned with how much I liked "The Morning" but it's okay.


This mixtape would be great for anyone that just wants to get through a really hard night but remember to always reach out to your resources for help and support. If you are a fan of The Weeknd, I would easily recommend that you give House of Balloons a listen.



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