Bork Laser and the Sunshine Band (or "How The Weeknd [Potentially] Ruined Contemporary R&B")

Let me start out by saying that I didn’t start out as a Weeknd fan. Are they called Weeknders? Is that a thing?

If a “Weeknder” is a thing,
is it also created by Disney?

Anyway, due to some suggestions from high school acquaintance (and social revolutionary) Nick Brady, the homie Drizzle and, ironically enough, Dezeray, I gave The Weeknd a chance. I had a hard time getting into the music (I mean, I don’t pop pills on the reg, nor do I have sex with women who’ve got hopped up off coke and has her jaw clenching on some super-sized papers), but once I got into it, I appreciated that the guy did music that was slightly different from what I’d heard before. It was raw music, albeit a bit whiny and self-indulgent at points, which kind of transcended genre boundaries.

Plus, it gives me a reason.

It wasn’t pantywetter R&B, but it wasn’t exactly “Kid Cudi Sings 2.0” either. It was something that wasn’t really heard too often. As a sidenote, due to my trips to strip clubs, specifically The Ritz (and especially on nights where most of the non-white girl strippers worked), “Panty Wetter” is ruined for me, as is The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games,” a/k/a the basis for the title track from Thursday Daemons. #BlameLaToya.

Anyhow, when I first heard a Weeknd track, it was 2011 (like everyone else). Fast forward about two years later. And it seems like every R&B track that isn’t adult contemporary R&B and/or by an artist that is still a bit old-school has that “Abel Tesfaye and the Infinite Sadness” feel to it. Rap songs have women getting loose on Molly and other “harder-than-your-average-weed” drugs more than they have them blaming it on the Goose Ciroc. Some even have women getting incredibly gone off of Molly and being all but date raped, which is another story entirely that I won’t touch (because it’s been touched ad nauseum). #UOENO. Am I surprised by this? No, because it’s what happens. An artist makes a “hot sound” (even if it’s influenced by Prince, Maxwell, The-Dream, and even MJ) and people want to emulate it. After a while, the artist who came up with the sound eventually begins to phone it in in some regard (in other words, they become a bit overexposed and their music starts to sound the same) and their “pre-mainstream” fans wish they’d return to “the old shit,” while the new fans tell the old fans to “buy the old album.”

Maxwell + drugs + Drake co-sign +
fuckery + drugs + sadness + drugs =
Weeknd. Kind of

Nevertheless, I’d argue that The Weeknd has, in some way, potentially ruined contemporary R&B. How? While he’s not the first (or last) artist to turn the genre on its head, he’s one of the first in the Pitchfork-led era to amass such a large following (that hasn’t been out in the musical world before, such as Miguel or Frank Ocean). This often leads to, as mentioned, imitators–and then leads to a game of “who hit it [it being “the notes”/”the message of the song(s)”] first and who hit it the best.” Only, in this sense, there’s no Ray J to mitigate the fuckery to. The Weeknd, in some ways, has become a meme himself, akin to the aforementioned Bork Laser meme WWE fans created when they didn’t want to have their videos taken down because of copyright issues.

In making almost parodic R&B (“fuck music” that you should not want to have sex to, ever), he himself has in some ways become a parody on almost Kid Cudi-meets-Amanda Bynes-levels. Do I still like his music? Yes. Do I wish that The Weeknd’s style hadn’t reignited the desire for this type of music? Yes. Will I buy Kiss Land? Eh. I don’t like the title. To me, a halfway-educated-on-Weeknd’s-shit fan of the dude, the title doesn’t say shit other than “uh-hyuck, this is a overly sexualized parody of Wonderland that will make you and everyone around you cringe with lines about just wanting to hear your body talk.”

Meh. Maybe I’m just thinking ’bout it a bit too much. Maybe I should shut up and just listen to the music. But, Speed without questioning shit isn’t Speed at all. That’s one of the differences between me and you.

Speed on the Beat

Whatever you need to know about me, you can find out on

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