Examining Lyrics: The Weeknd, ‘Starboy’
Canadian R&B standout The Weeknd Returns with ‘Starboy,’ an album filled with intriguing lyrics worth analyzing.
Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, took a risk on his third studio album, Starboy. He dropped the highly anticipated new LP on Black Friday. While most labels avoid Thanksgiving week for new releases, issuing Starboy at a questionable time showcases how his star has risen. His sophomore album Beauty Behind the Madness was a huge commercial success, earning him two Grammys. Undoubtedly, The Weeknd expects more big things from Starboy, a big urban-pop effort meant to appeal to numerous audiences.
“None of these toys on lease too, ah / made your whole year in a week too, ya / Main b*tch out your league too, ah / side b*tch out your league too, ah.”
- Commentary: The Weeknd is flexing his muscles in this particular quote. He’s rich and can have any girl that he wants.
“Look what you’ve done / I’m a motherf*ckin’ starboy.”
- Commentary: People have turned The Weeknd into star without question. Beauty Behind the Madness, released in 2015, marks his commercial breakthrough.
“And I’ve seen her get richer on the pole”
– “Party Monster”
- Commentary: There’s no way around it – this is a stripper reference.
“I’m like, got up, thank the lord for the day / woke up by a girl, I don’t even know her name / woke up by a girl, I don’t even know her name / (woke up by a girl, I don’t even know her name) / got up, thank the lord for the day.”
– “Party Monster”
- Commentary: The Weeknd thanks God for seeing another day and wakes up next to a girl he hooked up with, whom he doesn’t know her name.
“I’m the realest, she said I’m the realest / head be genius, dick game be the meanest.”
– “Party Monster”
- Commentary: The Weeknd brags once again, showcasing his cockiness.
“Bathroom stalls for the powder nose (she loves) / High heel shoes with the open toes (she loves) / she’s got a good time wrapped in gold (she loves) …”
– “False Alarm”
- Commentary: The Weeknd squeezes in a cocaine reference at the top of the quote. The rest paints the girl as high maintenance and shallow, into material things.
“She loves everybody / can’t you tell by the signs? / She loves everybody / she gets off all the time / it’s a dark philosophy / and it haunts her constantly / it’s a false alarm to me / she’s a false alarm.”
– “False Alarm”
- Commentary: The girl is willing to do whatever to get money and material things, hence why it’s a “dark philosophy.”
“I just won a new award for a kids show / talking ‘bout a face numbing off a bag a blow / I’m like god damn b*tch I am not a Teen choice / god damn b*tch I am not a bleach boy.”
- Commentary: The Weeknd can’t believe he won a Teen Choice Award for his single “Can’t Feel My Face,” which is about being numb off drugs. He knows he is not a role model by any means.
“Everybody knows it, all these n*ggas know me / Platinum off a mixtape, sipping on that codeine / pour I in my trophies, roll until my nose bleed / I’mma keep on singing while I’m burning up that OG.”
- Commentary: Again, The Weeknd is not a role model. He has plenty of vices.
“You don’t have to spend your life with me / you don’t have to waste your energy / we can just be rockin’, yeah / we can just be rockin’, yeah.”
- Commentary: This quote is all about hooking up. This is temporary, not permanent.
“I hear the secrets that you keep / when you’re talkin’ in your sleep / I hear the secrets that you keep, keep, keep / when you’re talk, talkin’, talkin’”
- Commentary: She is not being honest with him…
“Wipe the / lust from your eyes / I see that you’re not mine / I can see the lust in your eyes / you can’t hide it / you can’t be the one / I realize, we’re divided”
- Commentary: She’s not into him…she has secrets, but she doesn’t hide them very well.
“Girl, come show me your true colors / paint me a picture with your true colors / these are the questions of a new lover / true colors, true colors”
– “True Colors”
- Commentary: He wants to see her for who she is – the truth.
“I ran out of tears when I was 18 / so nobody made me but the main streets / cause too many people think they made me / well, if they really made me then replace me / Homeless to Forbes List, these n*ggas bring no stress / I feel like Moses, I feel like I’m chosen / and if you ain’t my n*gga then your girl single to me / I don’t give a damn if a n*gga said he knew me…”
- Commentary: Interestingly, Chris Mench of Genius questions if “Sidewalks” references a former producer with whom The Weeknd has bad blood with. Even if the previous statement is an ambitious interpretation, it is clear that The Weeknd pays ode to the streets for making him tough.
“She lick it up just like a candy / she wanna make them leave their family / she trying to live a life so fancy / she wanna pull up in a Bentley / she ain’t got time for lovin’ / Louis Vuitton her husband / she rather die in lusting / she rather die in the club, till she six feet under…”
– “Six Feet Under”
- Commentary: She’s shallow – all she cares about is money at any cost.
“Cause she loves to lay / I learned the hard way / she loves to lay, I’m all to blame / I learned the hard way…”
– “Love to Lay”
- Commentary: She doesn’t care about a dedicated relationship – she only cares about hooking up. The Weeknd essentially turns the tables on her here.
“A lonely night / baby girl I loved you on a lonely night / it was the only time / and if I led you on then I apologize.”
– “Lonely Night”
- Commentary: The Weeknd doesn’t love her. He just needed her on this particular night, hence, a one-night stand.
“Heaven in her mouth, got a hell of a tongue / I can feel her teeth when I drive on a bump / fingers letting go of the wheel when I cum…/ David Carradine, I’ma die when I cum…”
– “Ordinary Life”
- Commentary: The Weeknd describes a particular sex act, illustrating he lives no ordinary life.
“Angels all singin’ in monasteries, yeah / my soul is buried in LaFerraris / I’m sorry, I’m sorry / Halos are given to ordinary lives / no, this ain’t no ordinary life.”
– “Ordinary Life”
- Commentary: He is no saint. While he should be more concerned about spiritual things, The Weeknd is obsessed with money, fame, sex, etc.
“Even though we’re going through it / and it makes you feel alone / just know that I would die for you / baby I would die for you, yeah…”
– “Die For You”
- Commentary: The Weeknd shows more maturity here, seemingly committing to his significant other.
“You’ve been scared of love and what it did to you / you don’t have to run, I know what you’ve been through / just a simple touch and it can set you free / we don’t have to rush when you’re alone with me // I feel it coming, I feel it coming, babe…”
– “I Feel It Coming”
- Commentary: While sex still plays a role here, The Weeknd seems to embrace love and a true relationship on this standout.
How does Starboy stack up? All in all, it is a worthwhile, enjoyable album. That said, Starboy is too long in duration. Had The Weeknd trimmed the album, it would’ve been more effective. While he doesn’t cover new ground on album three, there is something for everybody. A classic? No, but successful overall.
Gems: “Starboy,” “Party Monster,” “False Alarm,” “True Colors,” “Sidewalks” & “I Feel It Coming”