While the Weeknd's debut album was one of the most popular releases on the Canadian indie scene last year, it was the lead single “Love In Vain” that set the buzz in motion. A dark and pulsing ballad about the pain that a relationship can bring, Ovo has been heralded as the new rockstar of the 21st century, as well as a return to form for one of the Canadian music industry's hottest young stars. Here, we take a look at how the Weeknd made his mark on the Canadian music scene, and what it means for him and his career moving forward.
After making the leap from his native England to Canada, The Weeknd made his first visit to Vancouver, Canada, where he had a memorable performance on “The O'Reilly Factor.” The appearance, which featured the use of synths similar to those used by Kanye West and other major artists such as Beyonce Knowles, is the only known recording of the weekend's live performance. In this clip, which has garnered more than 7 million views on YouTube, The Weeknd raps about getting into a bad altercation with a friend over a girl; he talks about his drug abuse; he raps about his past love interests; and he even sings about his troubled past. It seems like all the lyrics are written to express The Weeknd's mental struggles, as the video makes clear that he is at once very much a sensitive person and extremely confident of his abilities.
One of the biggest reasons why fans have taken to loving The Weeknd is because of the way he has captured the unique sound of a traditional Canadian song with his own unique vocals. While many of his songs have featured heavily sampled vocals, the Weeknd's voice is not one that is overly over-used, but instead, rather, it adds a lot of character to his songwriting. While some may view the Weeknd's voice as a nuisance, others are more likely to see it as an artistic expression that is unique to him. For the most part, the weekend has been able to capture a unique sound using a few different instruments. With that in mind, the use of the piano in his “Love In Vain” song, as well as the use of the guitar in the “Wicked Game” is not only representative of The Weeknd's personal style of songwriting, but also gives the song an emotional appeal that goes beyond the basic instrumental elements.
Although there is little doubt about the fact that The Weeknd's musical tastes are far removed from the mainstream, he has managed to attract a devoted fan base of fans thanks to the sound and feel of his work. Whether it is the distorted guitars in “Earned It” or the drum beats in “Redemption,” his work is a result of his ability to combine elements of both country and techno in order to create unique music. For example, The Weeknd frequently utilizes synthesizers and keyboards, while other instruments also play key roles throughout the mix. These include a brass section in “Earned It,” a drum kit in “Redemption,” and a choir in “Wicked Game.” As well, it should be noted that he has created some truly incredible music using classical instruments such as a violin, cello and violin case in “Wishful Thinking.” While these elements do not necessarily appear in his other songs, they are still integral to the overall composition.
The Weeknd has also made good use of a number of samples to enhance the effect of his music. While a number of the tracks on his previous albums did not feature any samples at all, he has been able to find creative ways to add these to songs that make them stand out. The weekend has also been able to combine vocals and instruments in interesting ways to create songs that sound like they are being played live on the radio, such as on “Whip It,” “LOL”The Hills.”
The Weeknd's reputation as an exciting and progressive artist has allowed him to have the ability to capture the imagination of his audience with the production techniques that he uses to create his music. From the use of the guitar in “Wishful Thinking,” to the use of drums in “Wicked Game,” to the use of synthesizers in “Redemption,” to the use of vocoder technology in “The Hills,” The weekend has managed to achieve the level of production success that many of his contemporaries have enjoyed in recent years. His ability to take elements from several genres and blend them in new and interesting ways has allowed him to build a strong reputation as a unique voice in the music industry.