Favorites Friday – The Weeknd, “Wicked Games”

the-weekndI’ve been away this weekend, and you know what they say about hotel wifi: it sucks. Luckily, we can use our imaginations and act like it is still Friday night. For my next installment of musical favorites, we’ll start with my first song I ever heard by The Weeknd. Of course, I downloaded “Crew Love” on Drake’s Take Care, but I had no real inclination to listen to that song more than a couple of times. It took hearing Abel’s solo work to realize my love for the singer.

I have written about The Weeknd plenty before, and you may know that his “Adaptation” ranks in my Top 50 all-time favorite songs. “Wicked Games” may not be an all-timer, but it still stands as an excellent piece and one of the best songs by The Weeknd. The tune is gritty and unfiltered, releasing an emotional opening-up to Abel’s mistress.

The vocals echo a bit but stay rather pure (oftentimes it sounds almost live, especially on the chorus). The beat is simplistic, but features usage of multiple instruments and is subtle enough to carry along the vocals.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9/10

You can check out the song below:

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Hear It First – Mike Will Made-It ft. The Weeknd, Swan Lee and Future, “Drinks On Us”

drinks-on-usDespite a less-than-relevant 2014, Mike Will Made It grabs an artist we love and two artists we cannot stand to make a song that is not necessarily terrible. Swan Lee’s verse is much better than anything I have heard by him, and Future sounded like more of the same. The beat is signature Hip-Hop but does feel a little repetitive.

The Weeknd is the best part of the song, which makes it good that he has the most singing time. You can check out the song below and hear it first:

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Billboard Hot 100 Favorites #1

billboard

In honor of hitting 5,000 views today, I decided to do something special. Just because I write about less-than-mainstream music sometimes does not mean I have no ounce of soul. AKA I do not consider myself a hipster. If you do, go ahead, but I thought I would share my favorite mainstream music picks. So let’s jump right into this, I’ll even give quick ratings!

Disclosure: I will not write about songs that I have already given “Hear It First” articles. These songs and their positions are as of the week of January 17, 2015 on the America (‘Murica!) chart. You can read about each song below the jump:

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Music Recommendation – Single – The Weeknd, “Earned It”

the-weekndSaddle in, get your lotion out, and enjoy the movie. 50 Shades Of Grey is a movie now, and as our human race has proven countless times already, we can blow (ha) things out of proportion and capitalize on our terribleness as a species. At least The Weeknd is entertainment’s savior and can make something like this somewhat bearable by helping give it a good soundtrack.

Notice that The Weeknd makes Earned It sound a bit more Pop-like and easy to play on the radio. The song feels repetitive and lyrics are brief. However, the lack of crude character is refreshing (similar to how Love Me Harder was) and shows the diversity in The Weeknd’s music. The strings and beat sound spectacular and the drums carry everything together well. The song is layered well, though feels a bit lackluster and boring.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.25/10

After reading my horrible first paragraph joke (or mis-attempt at one) you can – nay, may, stream the song below. You’ve…earned it:

-Austin Heath

Favorites Friday – Ellie Goulding, High For This (Cover)

I get it, it is Saturday (Sunday for some of you), but we all forget things and this entire week I feel like I have been a day behind for whatever reason. So let’s just pretend today is Friday (or very early Saturday depending on where you live) so I feel less pathetic. So hooray, it’s Friday! What are your plans for this lovely weekend? Spoiler Alert: Depending on where you live, it might snow.

Ellie Goulding’s cover of The Weeknd’s High For This is the subject of this installment of Favorites Friday. Most of the time, if The Weeknd is involved, I will give it a listen. I loved the original High For This, but something about Goulding’s voice on it made it even more likable. Together, I feel like these two would have made an incredible duet, but to each their own. I just want what I can never have.

So the real question of this post is this: Who dun-done it better? To be honest, it depends on your musical preference. Ellie Goulding’s version is much different from The Weeknd’s. In the end, despite my preference for RnB, I can almost definitively say that Ellie Goulding’s rendition is the better of the two. It is simply more entertaining and relies on both vocals and the complex beat.

That being said, I know a number of listeners who do not find Ellie Goulding’s voice appealing. Her sound is unique and stands out against other artists, and while I can go about saying I prefer British Pop over American, Ellie Goulding’s voice can over-do it for me at times. She is on point on this song though, and it is truly only dependent on whether or not you like her voice that proves if you will enjoy this song.

So overall, I would give the cover a 9.75/10. One of the best covers out there, a great change-up to the song and still an amazing piece. It’s a bit old but definitely worth sharing. Go ahead and check it out if you have not already below, as it is still one of my favorites over a year later:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – The Weeknd, Drunk In Love (Remix)

Beyonce’s Drunk In Love was a big hit but its remix by The Weeknd was even better! Despite having over a million listens, I feel like this one deserves a little spotlight. If you’ve already heard this one you might as well skip this, but I want to share this awesome song.

Though a bit more explicit, The Weeknd’s version of Beyonce’s song is pretty damn good throughout. The hook drops so perfectly without ruining the vocals, and the track doesn’t ever seem to get old or boring.

Overall, I would give the song a 9.5/10. This is an excellent remix, though I didn’t like the pauses in the song at times, and the second verse is a little disappointing at first (though the lines are decent). I still recommend a listen if you haven’t heard it already:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Ariana Grande ft. The Weeknd, Love Me Harder

I’m not going to lie, I have a huge crush on Ariana Grande. Her music may not always be my thing, but she caught my heart a long time ago. Same goes for The Weeknd actually. ❤

That was very unprofessional but I will continue on. While I don’t believe this should be a viable collaboration, Love Me Harder actually features good vocals from both artists. The producers deserve a big thanks for the consistency in the beat they brought, which helps really define the song.

Unfortunately, the song makes Ariana Grande kind of sound like a b*tch. Obviously she did not write it but it just sounds like a spoiled girl in a relationship. I also agree with those who say that these two are in completely different wavelengths on the music they sing about. However the song itself is catchy and I try to look past that. The ending voice-overs on the hook are very good and the song is great from start to finish.

Overall I would rate that song at around 8/10. My complaints aside, it is still definitely worth a listen below:

-Austin Heath

EDIT: And here’s the live performance on SNL last night:

Music Recommendation – Single – Sia ft. The Weeknd and Diplo, Elastic Heart

Elastic Heart is a little well known, but deserves some appreciation. A rare team Sia and The Weeknd work together on vocals while Diplo keeps the beat pumping throughout the song. Sia sounds decent, providing the usual sound she brings. The Weeknd really steals the show with his verse in the middle of the song. Featured in the most recent Hunger Games movie, Elastic Heart brings RnB and Electronic music together into one.

Unfortunately, the beat does overpower the vocals a bit. The Weeknd’s part features a bit of a relaxed moment, and he seems to be heard despite the chaos of the song between Sia shouting her parts and Diplo trying to play over it.

I personally enjoy listening to the song, but I can see how plenty of people would not be so interested. I know when I first heard it I was a little skeptical, but I still recommend a listen. Overall, I would give Elastic Heart a 7.75/10. Give it a listen below and see if you like it:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – The Weeknd, Adaptation

Haven’t posted much today, but this song will make up for it. I love The Weeknd, and you’ll learn that throughout this blog as time passes. However I find Adaptation a very under-appreciated track. Better put both earphones in for this one.

This song puts you in a zone, with the beginning and finale sampling a slowed down version of The Police’s Bring on the Night after providing some of Abel’s vocals The beauty of this song is the uniqueness of the sound and how different this is from his usual music. It feels as though this has much more meaning, and he brings it in with an incredible voice and perfect sampling for the particular subject.

Overall, I have to give this one a 9.75/10. Song is quite incredible, but something is lacking in the first stanza that, had it been more reeling, would have made this a perfect 10. I personally love this song, my favorite all-time Weeknd song. Definitely check it out below:

-Austin Heath