Album: Kiss Land
Producer: Silkky Johnson
If you thought Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye was going to tone down his whole I'm-not-sure-what-this-is-but-I-know-it's-naughty vibe in advance of his major label debut, please think again. If anything he's more debauched and trippy on "Kiss Land," the first single off his Republic Records/Universal Music Group debut of the same name, than on any of his previous releases.
"Kiss Land." What is that exactly? If you were expecting some sort of amusement park ride, well, you may be right, but it's not one for the kiddies. The song starts cinematically, with a single synth chord that crescendos toward a whistle you'd expect to hear at the carousel at the Little Shop of Horrors. Then The Weeknd comes in with his ethereal falsetto, and sure enough, this is not a PG-13 ride. "When I got on stage, she swore that I was six feet tall/But when she put it in her mouth, she can't seem to reach my/Ballin' ain't an issue for me..."
That's how this guy kicks off his bid for mainstream success—in a way only he can. Only The Weeknd could make anonymous groupie sex sound so sweet and scary (and only he could get away with that ridiculous double entendre pun between the second and third lines). There's another seven minutes of song after that (it manages to get weirder and raunchier), but those first 30 seconds are all you need to know to understand The Weeknd's ambition. Dude is going for it; watch him do his thing. —Jack Erwin