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My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd mean?

WHAT IT MEANS: "Can't Feel My Face" is about COCAINE. Skip down to "The Meaning" section to see how! "Can't Feel My Face" comes from The Weeknd's upcoming album Chapter III and is a synthy, poppy dance-esque track with some of the rhythm and soul of an R&B jam. The song was produced by Max Martin of Taylor Swift fame, and is a departure from Abel Tesfaye's (Weeknd's real name) usual style which is generally overtly R&B. (Think of his "Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey and of his "The Hills," which both feature the slow methodical melodies associated with R&B.) More than those songs, "Can't Feel My Face" seems a direct appeal to mainstream pop.

Want to skip the long blog post? Just watch the video!

 

Don't forget to check out my podcast on this song for a super thorough explanation! You can subscribe to my podcast on iTunes!

The Weeknd 

The Weeknd 

What does "Cant Feel My Face" by the Weeknd mean?

The Weeknd is 25 years old and was born in Ontario, Canada. In addition to singing, he also plays the keyboard. According to Wikipedia, The Weeknd is named so because one weekend, at age 17, he and a friend dropped out of high school. According to Wikipedia, "The spelling was modified to avoid copyright issues with a Canadian band already named the Weekend." After a songwriting plan failed, The Weeknd took to YouTube where he was noticed by Drake. After that, a mixtape, and a tour, his career took off and eventually brought "Can't Feel My Face" to listeners, which leaked on May 25th and was officially released on June 8th.

"Can't Feel My Face" Lyrics Meaning

"Can't Feel My Face's" first verse begins on a dark note: "And I know she'll be the death of me, at least we'll both be numb." The song seems to be about a woman who threatens to hurt the narrator. However, he reasons even if she does kill him, they'll feel nothing together--him because he'll be dead and her because, apparently, she's heartless.

Abel Tesfaye sings, "And she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come." Even if he wants to beat her at her own game or to escape, he'll never succeed; bad things are practically fated to happen. "But," he sings, "at least we'll both be beautiful and stay forever young / This I know, (yeah) this I know." Youth and beauty are enviable things; while he's with her he feels these things. At times, she makes him feel good and like he can last forever in a wonderful, golden world.

In the pre-chorus, The Weeknd sings that his female friend told him to not "worry about it" and to "worry no more." She wants him to relax and give his worries to her--to trust her that she'll take care of him despite how many times she's hurt him. Obviously, this relationship is anything but healthy. What's even more troublesome is that he then sings, "We both knew we can't go without it." It's almost as if he's addicted to this relationship and partially because "[s]he told me, 'You'll never be in love.'" If he leaves this woman, he's afraid he'll never truly be happy and that as good as he feels with her is the best he can feel.

The Weeknd 

The Weeknd 

And the chorus is where the disguise melts away. The "woman" is not a woman after all; she's actually a metaphor for an addictive drug. Because the narrator is using drugs, he's "numb"; "the worst is yet to come" because addiction gets stronger; when he's high, he'll feel "beautiful" and "forever young"; and the drugs' primary job is to keep him from worrying. Of course, because he's addicted, he feels like he "can't go without it."

What tips the listener off (if he/she hasn't found out by now) is the song's title and first line of the chorus: "I can't feel my face when I'm with you." Being high apparently keeps him from physically being able to feel his face. Not only does it impair his sense of feel, but it also removes from him part of his humanity--his face through which he and the world view each other. Of course, the habit is difficult to escape, and The Weeknd sings, "But I love it, but I love it," unable and not wanting to break with his "lover."

Interestingly, while the "woman" tells the narrator he'll "never be in love," he still loves this drug. Perhaps that's the struggle for The Weeknd's narrator. He personifies his drugs as a woman because he knows it (like a jealous and hurtful lover) is what keeps him from really experiencing emotional fulfillment and enrichment in life.

The Weeknd 

The Weeknd 

The second verse differs little from the first except for the third line which is changed from "She told me, 'You'll never be in love'" to "All the misery was necessary when we're deep in love." While he'll never truly be "in love" under the drug's influence, he's deep in the experience and willing to go through pain to feel the thrills that come with this "lover."

Maybe the song is actually about a drug-like woman?

When I first heard "Can't Feel My Face," I thought so too. I thought the woman was real and that she was so harmful and terrible a person that The Weeknd described her as a drug to explain how hurtful she was. But after reading around on the Internet, I changed my mind and decided that if so, it was difficult to explain lines like "at least we'll both be numb" and "But at least we'll both be beautiful and stay forever young." I agree with most listeners that "Can't Feel My Face" is about drugs and not about a woman.

What did you think about "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd? Do you think it's about drugs or about a woman? Did you like the song?  Thanks for reading!

 

Clifford Stumme
Clifford Stumme

Thanks for reading! I’m a college English instructor, university writing center director, and online entrepreneur (college for under $15k, anyone?) who cares deeply about TRUTH and MEANING. I’m married to the gloriously beautiful Wife April and love to swing dance and juggle. Be sure to follow me on Facebook!

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