House of Balloons

House of Balloons is the debut mixtape by Canadian singer The Weeknd. It was released as a free download on March 21, 2011, then was later released by XO. The mixtape was also released on his official website. Its music incorporates electronic and urban genres, including R&B and soul, along with trip hop, indie rock and dream pop tones.[2] The contributions to the mixtape's production came from Canadian record producers such as Doc McKinney, Zodiac and Illangelo, among others. On November 13, 2012, The Weeknd released his three-part compilation album Trilogy, where the first part is the House of Balloons mixtape.

House of Balloons
Mixtape by
ReleasedMarch 21, 2011
GenreAlternative R&B[1]
The Weeknd chronology
House of Balloons
Singles from House of Balloons
  1. "Wicked Games"
    Released: September 25, 2012
  2. "Twenty Eight"
    Released: November 13, 2012

In September 2013, The Weeknd revealed that the House of Balloons is a real place, located at 65 Spencer Ave in Toronto.[3]


The album's eclectic music uses samples of songs by Beach House and Aaliyah's 2001 song "Rock the Boat".[4] The title track heavily samples Siouxsie and the Banshees' 1980 single "Happy House".[5] The track "The Knowing" samples "Cherry-Coloured Funk" by Cocteau Twins.[6] Joe Colly of Pitchfork Media observes "weird, morning-after tales of lust, hurt, and over-indulgence" complemented by "lush, downcast music" on the album, and compares its "specific nocturnal quality" to that of The xx's 2009 self-titled debut.[7] Pitchfork Media's Eric Grandy writes that the title track has The Weeknd "emoting in an androgynous falsetto one minute, muttering unbelievable curses the next".[8] Paul Lewster of The Guardian views that, although more than half of the mixtape features samples, only the title track makes it "evident".[9]


The song "High for This" was featured in the promo for the final season of the HBO show Entourage in July 2011.[10] On November 24, 2011, The Weeknd’s first official music video, for his song "The Knowing," hit the Internet on his Vimeo page.[11] The song was first released on House of Balloons and the video was directed by French filmmaker Mikael Colombu, who has also worked with singer Cee Lo Green.[12] The nearly eight-minute clip is described by authors Carrie Battan and Amy Phillips of Pitchfork as, "a time traveling, Afrofuturist, science fiction battle of the sexes that demands to be watched in HD."[13]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB+[17]
The Boston Phoenix[18]
Consequence of Sound[19]
Drowned in Sound8/10[20]
Rolling Stone[25]

House of Balloons received widespread acclaim from critics, and is considered by many to be one of the most influential R&B releases in recent years.[26] Preceded by a string of low-profile buzz single releases throughout 2010, the mixtape attracted significant interest due to the then-anonymous identity of the individual behind The Weeknd. Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating based on reviews by industry professionals, gave House of Balloons a rating of 87, indicating "universal acclaim".[15] Sean Fennessey of The Village Voice was impressed by the mixtape, calling it "patient, often gorgeous, and consistently louche... with the sort of blown-out underbelly and echo-laden crooning that has already made Drake's less-than-a-year-old Thank Me Later such an influential guidepost."[27] Maegan McGregor of Exclaim! stated that House of Balloons "easily stands as one of the year's best debuts so far, hipster, top 40 or otherwise."[28] Sputnikmusic's Tyler Fisher said that "despite being a free album, House of Balloons feels like a true album, a true labor of love."[29] Tom Ewing of The Guardian felt that while The Weeknd's vocals and lyrics on House of Balloons "aren't especially strong by R&B standards," much of the album's attention was attracted by its strong command of mood.[30]

In December 2011, Metacritic determined that House of Balloons was the third best-reviewed project of the year.[31] Additionally, the mixtape was featured on several music critics' and publications' end-of-year albums lists. Complex called it the "best album of 2011;"[32] Stereogum ranked it number 5;[33] The Guardian ranked it number 8;[34] The A.V. Club ranked it number 6;[35] SPIN ranked it (as well as Thursday) number 13;[36] while Pitchfork ranked it number 10.[37] As a whole, House of Balloons was the seventh most frequently mentioned album in music publications' year-end top ten lists.[38] The mixtape was named as one of the longlisted of nominees for the 2011's Polaris Music Prize.[39] The mixtape's title track, "House of Balloons" was placed on Pitchfork's list of top 100 songs of 2011 at number 57, while "The Morning" was number 15.[40]

Track listing

1."High for This"4:07
2."What You Need"
  • Tesfaye
  • Jeremy Rose
  • Rose
  • The Weeknd
3."House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls"6:47
4."The Morning"
  • Tesfaye
  • McKinney
  • Montagnese
  • Doc McKinney
  • Illangelo
5."Wicked Games"
  • Tesfaye
  • McKinney
  • Montagnese
  • Rainer Millar Blancheur
  • Doc McKinney
  • Illangelo
6."The Party & The After Party"
  • Rose
  • The Weeknd
  • Blanchaer
7."Coming Down"
  • Tesfaye
  • McKinney
  • Montagnese
  • Doc McKinney
  • Illangelo
8."Loft Music"
  • Tesfaye
  • Rose
  • Legrand
  • Scally
  • Rose
  • The Weeknd
9."The Knowing"
  • Doc McKinney
  • Illangelo

Sample credits

  • "House of Balloons / Glass Table Girls" contains a sample of "Happy House" performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
  • "The Party & The After Party" contains a sample of "Master of None" performed by Beach House.
  • "Loft Music" contains a sample of "Gila" performed by Beach House.
  • "The Knowing" contains a sample of "Cherry Coloured Funk" performed by Cocteau Twins.
  • On the version of the mixtape originally published online, "What You Need" contained a sample of "Rock the Boat" performed by Aaliyah.


Region CertificationCertified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[43] Silver 60,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
sales+streaming figures based on certification alone


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  2. Matt Carney, "New Music Tuesday: 'House of Balloons' by The Weeknd," Archived 2013-11-05 at the Wayback Machine The Oklahoma Daily, April 19, 2011.
  3. "The Weeknd Reveals Origin Of Name, "House Of Balloon" Whereabouts & More On Reddit". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  4. various authors (2011-12-19). "The 25 Best Albums of 2011". Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  5. Neyland, Nick."The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons" Archived 2012-07-23 at the Wayback Machine. Pitchfork. 2011-03-28.
  6. whosampled (2013-03-02). "The Weeknd's The Knowing sample of Cocteau Twins's Cherry-Coloured Funk". Who Sampled. Retrieved 2013-03-02.
  7. Colly, Joe (2011-03-29). "Album Reviews - The Weeknd - House of Balloons". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  8. "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011 - Our list of the best songs of the year". Pitchfork. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-01-11.
  9. "Best albums of 2011, No 8: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". The Guardian. December 7, 2011. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  10. Osei, Anthony (22 May 2011). "The Weeknd Entourage". Retrieved 2012-03-16.
  11. from xoxxxoooxo 1 year ago not yet rated (2011-11-24). "The Weeknd - The Knowing (Official Video) on Vimeo". Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  12. "Video: The Weeknd "The Knowing"". Complex. 2011-11-24. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  13. "Video: The Weeknd: "The Knowing" | News". Pitchfork. 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  14. "House of Balloons by The Weeknd reviews". AnyDecentMusic?. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
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  17. Rytlewski, Evan (April 5, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  18. Battan, Carrie (April 27, 2011). "The Weeknd | House of Balloons". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  19. Koren, Daniel (April 13, 2011). "Album Review: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  20. Pott-Negrine, David (August 3, 2011). "Album Review: The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  21. Lea, Tom (April 1, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". Fact. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  22. Ritchie, Kevin (March 31, 2011). "The Weeknd – House Of Balloons". Now. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
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  24. Beasley, Corey (May 9, 2011). "The Weeknd: House of Balloons". PopMatters. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  25. Hermes, Will (April 5, 2011). "House of Balloons". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
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  27. Fennessey, Sean (March 23, 2011). "Love vs. Money: The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, and R&B's Future Shock". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on May 12, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  28. McGregor, Maegan (March 28, 2011). "Get the Latest from the Weeknd, Teenage Kicks, TV on the Radio and More in This Week's Click Hear Roundup". Exclaim!. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  29. Fisher, Tyler (March 25, 2011). "The Weeknd – House of Balloons". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  30. Ewing, Tom (March 24, 2011). "The Weeknd's VIP Area Exposé Was Made for the Indie Crowd". The Guardian. Retrieved March 29, 2011.
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  39. "2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List announced" Archived 2015-10-02 at the Wayback Machine., June 16, 2011.
  40. "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011". Pitchfork. December 12, 2011.
  41. "House of Balloons – The Weeknd". AllMusic. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  42. "House of Balloons by The Weeknd". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  43. "British album certifications – The Weeknd – House of Balloons". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 17, 2019. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type House of Balloons in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
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