The Weeknd – Thursday

Ethan Woy, Staff Writer

When it comes to The Weeknd’s newest mixtape, Thursday, many music fans weren’t just thirsty for it – they were parched. Just a few weeks after hearing the universally acclaimed, out-of-nowhere release House of Balloons, any fan’s hype level for the next chapter of the three-part trilogy should be through the roof.


Besides some tweets in May saying Thursday was coming soon along with two “singles” in “Rolling Stone” and “The Birds Part 1” released within the same timeframe, there wasn’t much news behind the mysterious mixtape. Abel Tesfaye did, however, host his first concert in early July and later performed at OVO Fest on the 31st. But once the lights turned off at Molson Amphitheatre, he went back into hiding and the release date of Thursday was still unknown.


On the 16th, Abel simply tweeted “this one…” Everyone knew what was finally coming soon. Two days later (obviously on a Thursday), the highly anticipated mixtape was released on his website. Just shortly after, the site crashed, which caused many people to search for alternate links. In just the first day alone, Thursday was downloaded over 180,000 times; an incredible number for a still relatively unknown artist.


Listening to House of Balloons for the first might not impress people. However, a few more listens should do the trick. With many more listens, it can be among one’s favorite projects of 2011. Unlike the first mixtape, Thursday should make a very good first impression.


The entire tape sort of plays off  “Wicked Games” from House of Balloons. Still heartbroken from a previous relationship, the nine-track project unravels as a story, documenting Abel’s process of finding girls to hook up with. However, the story’s antagonist doesn’t provoke the same feelings that the other girls do.


In the opener “Lonely Star”, Abel meets what could be his next hook up. The girl doesn’t have much of a past because of a lack of relationships, so Abel takes her under his arm and shows she can have whatever she wants. However, it’s a ploy to sleep with her. After getting some drugs in her system, she starts bringing his plan to life.


“Welcome to the other side,” he cries out in “Life of the Party” – a signal of the transformation the girl has made since the previous song. She’s starting to become exactly what Abel wanted her to be; from the innocent, lonely girl to a drug-induced whore. The title track “Thursday”, reiterates that she’s not different from the rest and that his feelings for her drastically change from day-to-day.


The Drake-assisted “The Zone” is not only one of the best songs from the tape, but it also reiterates the fact that she isn’t anything more than a hook up to him. Their first time together is more influenced by the codeine he’s been drinking than actual feelings. Drake’s verse doesn’t necessarily tie in with Abel’s story but it fits the theme of the tape and closes out the song perfectly.


Abel feels the need to remind the girl in “The Birds Part 1” that falling in love with him will be useless, because he’s done this exact thing plenty of times. But her response in “The Birds Part 2” is that she already fell in love with him and wants him to wait till she loses her feelings for him before he inevitably cheats on her.


But with her statement “it won’t be long till I fall out of love” from the previous song, she insists that she doesn’t want this to explicitly end. “Gone” is like “The Zone”, piecing together their next hook up. The possible shifting of his intentions show up here when he allows her to drink the codeine that he values so much.


“Rolling Stone” shows Abel at his most vulnerable state. The morning after the party, he starts questioning his feelings and thinks he might actually want this girl to love him. He’s worried about how the ineluctable fame will have women want him for that reason and not for himself. Confusion sets in at the end though because he is still unsure of what he wants. One line he’s singing “I’ll be different”, the next is “I think I’ll be different” and then finally “I hope I’m not different.”


And that brings us to the tape’s closer, “Heaven or Las Vegas”. It briefly touches on a lack of a father figure in Abel’s life, but the main theme of this song is how he feels like a king or a god because he has everything he wants in life: drugs, girls and friends. Whether this is like heaven to him or is more like Las Vegas remains to be seen (or rather, heard).


Comparing this to House of Balloons is tough, because they’re both incredible mixtapes and some of the best projects in 2011. House of Balloons has better highlights (“What You Need”, “Wicked Games”) but Thursday is a more complete listen. The production is just as good, if not better as its counterpart and nothing seems out of place. The story flows beautifully and is also relatable in many aspects (one aspect not being the hardcore drug use found throughout the tape).


It seemed impossible at first, but The Weeknd did it. He somehow topped an absolutely brilliant debut and as of August 26th, this is the 2011 project of the year.