March 14, 2011

Song Review: The Weeknd's "Wicked Games"

Perhaps the biggest winner from the recent trending of minimalist lo-fi R&B has to be actual R&B genre itself. Forget How to Dress Well and James Blake's spin on making it permissible for hipsters to give it a listen -- Toronto's The Weeknd is more in touch with the genre's sensual side than either has proved to be thus far. Not much is really known about the multimedia outfit other than there's more than one person footing the project and they have ties to Degrassi's finest wheelchair-bound rapper, Drake (He's actually been hat-tipping new tracks by the band on his blog.) Among them is the sultry standout, "Wicked Games." Self-deprecating, dark and grimy, this makes full use of both the "rhythm" and "blues" aspects of R&B. Whoever this male fronting the track is has a filthy mouth but a smooth-as-silk voice, dropping f-bombs and other foul words more like meaningful punctuation marks than expletives. Like every great R&B song, "Wicked Games" has a plot. In this case, it revolves around a strung out protagonist hotly in pursuit of a one-time lover who's playing heart games with the guy as he submissively goes along with it. While the track does include some shameless, cheeky quotable lyrics, it's The Weeknd's approach to reproducing the classic slow jam that lights this song ablaze. Icy guitar riffs kept to a minimum in the vein of The xx, deep synths and a slow R. Kelly-like "sex jam" beat -- The Weeknd may not be the first band to buck this trend, but they may be the first to have perfected it.

The Weeknd - "Wicked Games"

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