And now for something completely different. After weeks of being steeped in the indie and alternative world for the past few weeks, we swagger into the world of R&B by checking out the new track from The Weeknd, “Belong to the World.”
Nick Porcaro: The Weeknd yet again returns with a tale of debauchery and depravity—but this time, it appears he’s met his match. The deuteragonist in “Belong to the World” is one with fame and fortune as her primary concern; this girl seemingly shows little concern for the finer subtleties in a relationship. Her “gift of nonchalance” drives Abel wild, his passion punctuated with dramatic string loops and pulsating drum electronics. “Belong to the World” is lyrically refreshing, sonically satisfying and possibly The Weeknd’s strongest work to date. Verdict: add to playlist
Jason Stives: Up to this point The Weeknd has only resonated greatly with the online music critic community and various hip hop circles, not by any fault of his own but the big break for the man known as Abel Tesfaye has yet to come. However, “Belong to the World” in this current plight of dance oriented Top 40 seems destined from some notoriety in leu of next month’s apparent release date for his new record. I find myself split on the overall appeal of this number with the lyrical content coming in top notch over the repetition of its beat. Yes, this song has been under fire for sampling Portishead without their knowledge (which if true is a rather dick move) so knowing this ahead of time sets position of this track in a certain branch of unoriginality. However, it’s that pulsating machine gun sound that lends to the wide open world feel that the song has.
Lyrically it’s a distinct take on the old rap adage of a woman being everyone’s woman with belonging to the world showing the heartbreak of not being exclusive to someone you love. Everything on this end works but something never catches completely on the hook which explains my weariness. But the track is fierce and the intensity keeps the song in the listener’s ear through its duration. A first listen doesn’t necessarily allow the song to sink in fully but it works on many levels that I feel that while it won’t be the soundtrack to my party per say it will be to many others and deserves to be because it knows its audience. Verdict: Add to the Playlist
Joe Zorzi: The Weeknd has always been great at creating a mood with his music and “Belong To The World” is no exception. This track is big. The drums are intense and the synth strings really add a great texture. The chorus may be my favorite thing he’s done to date. This song has the potential to get The Weeknd out to a much larger audience. I have high hopes for what The Weeknd releases next. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.
Jason Kundrath: When the Weeknd first emerged in 2011, it was a striking change of pace for r&b. These weren’t your ordinary slow jams. This was the sound of something darker, sinful and searching, but still sexy in a drugged-out after party kinda way. But I guess the after party can’t go on forever. And while I respect mastermind Abel Tesfaye for mixing it up on the new single “Belong to the World”, something here doesn’t work. Aside from the epic – and epically pretentious – video, the track is anchored by a beat that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Nine Inch Nails album. It’s taut, pummeling, and relentless. And in my opinion, it would be much better served with a seething Trent Reznor on top of it. For me, Tesfaye’s emo-soul crooning doesn’t suit it at all. Of course, It would be another story if he delivered a massive hook in the chorus, but as it stands, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the song. Verdict: One and done
Bill Bodkin: Ever wonder what 112 would sound like if Trent Reznor produced them? This is the end result and it isn’t good. The Weeknd’s “Belong to the World” is about as generic as an R&B ballad can be — longing, on-my-knees-begging-for-you-to-come-home vocals and lyrics that are paint by numbers. Basically, this is a OneRepublic song — all style and no substance. Remember when R&B singers used to have fire and soul in their voices? Not so much here. The beats to the song are good, but after the first 30 seconds they become very repetitive and actually overpower the vocals. I’ve heard a lot about The Weeknd this year and how awesome they are — based on this song alone, I have no desire to hear anything more from them. Verdict: One and done.
Final Verdict: While we’re still waiting on a few votes, the ‘yays’ have it. They recommend that this new joint from this R&B group is worth checking out.