Today marks the ten year anniversary of The Weeknd's influential mixtape House of Balloons. To celebrate, The Weeknd has released its original version, meaning all the original samples and mixes are finally available. What makes House of Balloons so remarkable is The Weeknd's unique ability to sing about the pain of parties and drugs in a way that glorifies and warns us of that lifestyle at the same time. Songs that came from this mixtape that helped to put The Weeknd on the map are "Wicked Games", "House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls", and "Loft Music". Although The Weeknd released this album without promotion-- no interviews and no pictures of himself-- he solidified his place in R&B. Let's examine how House of Balloons impacted other artists in the genre.
The anonymity of other R&B artists
The Weeknd released House of Balloons completely anonymously. No one knew his face, but all his listeners knew his voice. His anonymity only served to make his image (or lack thereof) more alluring. The Weeknd paved the way for artists like H.E.R. to release music without showing their faces.
Subject matter of popular music
What was your favorite song from 2011? "What's My Name" by Rihanna? Jennifer Lopez's "On the Floor"? "Glad You Came" by The Wanted? Music in the early 2010's was upbeat and celebratory, flaunting EDM beats and the joys of clubbing. The Weeknd sang about parties too, but in a totally different light. After House of Balloons dropped, we saw an immediate shift in the content of mainstream R&B music. We saw many artists mimic the way The Weeknd made agony sound enticing.
Alternative r&b shot into the mainstream
It's hard to say the experimental projects of artists like Bryson Tiller, Tinashe, or Partynextdoor would have their success without The Weeknd bringing alternative R&B into the mainstream.