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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 "Starboy" by The Weeknd mean?

What does "Starboy" by The Weeknd mean?

What does "Starboy" by The Weeknd mean?

I know I'm doing this out of order, but I already explained "False Alarm" by The Weeknd even though it came out after "Starboy." On the other hand, I did release a video explanation of "Starboy" last week, so you can still watch that here or on my YouTube channel.

Now, with my videos, I like to keep things short and to-the-point, but here on the blog, I go a little more in-depth with my song explanations. 

Psst! Check out my podcast! You can subscribe on iTunes!

The Meaning of the Lyrics of "Starboy"

Verse 1

In the first verse, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) sings about who he is and how he's changed since his last album came out. He sings, "I'm try'n'a put you in the worst mood," to explain what he's about to do. Since he's going to sing about his own personal success, which is considerable, he's saying that when he's done, we'll be unhappy with our lives.

He continues by singing, "P1 cleaner than your church shoes / Milli point two just to hurt you." A P1 is a very expensive type of car that Abel owns and whose specific car, according to Genius.com users, is worth about $1.2 million dollars.

He continues by mentioning his "[a]ll red Lamb[orghini] just to tease you." And, he sings, "[n]one of these toys on lease too." He didn't have to borrow money to purchase them like most anyone else would have to do. He simply purchased them or was given them.

As if the cars weren't enough, he also claims that he "[m]ade your whole year in a week too," in which he's referring to how much he's made compared to most people's salaries. Of course, after making over $50 million dollars since his last album, he probably made most people's salaries in less than a few hours.

To complete this first verse of "Starboy," The Weeknd sings about his "bitches." He claims that both his "[m]ain" and "[s]ide bitch" are "out of your league." Apparently, not only does he have better cars and more money than nearly everyone, but he also can have higher standards for the physical appearances of his sexual partners/love interests.

Pre-chorus

In the pre-chorus of "Starboy," The Weeknd sings about drug use, his "baby," and his lifestyle. His house was "so empty" that it needed "a centerpiece." So, he paid "20" thousand dollars to buy "a table cut from ebony," a rare, expensive wood. On this table, his "baby" "cut[s] that ivory into skinny pieces / Then she clean it with her face," which prompts Abel to sing, "Man, I love my baby."

The "ivory" is a reference to cocaine powder, since cocaine is also white. His "baby" is snorting the cocaine after divvying it into lines on the table, the black color of which highlights the stark presence of illegal drugs. We're not sure why this prompts Abel to mention that he loves his "baby," but perhaps it's because he's glad that she's joined him in the lifestyle that he enjoys.

The last half of the pre-chorus is more bragging, with The Weeknd singing, "You talking money, need a hearing aid," since when anyone else talks about how much money they're making, the amount is so small that it's metaphorically hard for him to even notice it.

In addition, when others talk about him, he "don't see the shade," since he feels that criticism can't touch him when he's been so successful. He finishes: "Switch up my style, I take any lane / I switch up my cup, I kill any pain." This is a reference to two things: one, he'll do what he wants, and, two, he uses drugs or other distractions to medicate any emotional pain he feels.

Chorus

In the chorus of "Starboy," The Weeknd sings directly to his audience, acknowledging that they put him where he is. He sings, "Look what you've done / I'm a motherf****n' starboy." Now, according to Urban Dictionary,a "starboy" is "a womanizer, a philanderer, a man who has sex with many women." But the fact that Tesfaye refers to himself as a "motherf****n' starboy" suggests that he may be self aware and knows that who he is and where he's at may not be the best.

He wants his fans to know this: if they don't like who he is, then they only have themselves to blame since they've purchased his albums and attended his concerts. They've done this, and he's only riding the wave that they've created.

Verse 2

On the second verse, The Weeknd sings about how "[e]veryday, a n***a try to test me" and "end me." Of course, he doesn't let that happen and simply "[p]ull[s] off in that Roadster SV," another one of his fancy cars. He sings, "Pockets overweight, gettin' hefty / Coming for the kind, that's a far cry"; he's got too much money to worry about anyone trying to "end" him.

He sings that he comes "alive in the fall time," which is probably a reference to him releasing Beauty behind the Madness in late August last year, that album becoming so popular, and him beginning to release singles for his next album in the fall this year.

He finishes the verse by singing, "No competition, I don't really listen / I'm in the blue Mulsanne bumping New Edition." A Mulsanne is a fancy car, and New Edition is an R&B groups from Boston that was formed in 1978.

Verse 3

In this final verse of "Starboy," The Weeknd sings, "Let a n***a Brad Pitt," which Genius.com users think is a reference to finding success quickly. Abel then refers to himself as the "[l]egend of the fall" who "took the year like a bandit." He released his album at the beginning of the fall last year and did extremely well.

He sings that he was able to buy his "mama a crib and a brand new wagon"--a house and a car. He sings that now she's hitting "the grocery shop looking lavish." "Star Trek roof in that Wraith of Khan" is a reference to a lit up ceiling in one of his cars, and "Girls get loose when they hear this song" talks about parties getting started when his music comes on.

"100 on the dash get me close to God" is a reference to him risking his life when he speeds and bringing himself dangerously close to "meeting his maker" if something goes wrong. Of his lifestyle, he sings, "We don't pray for love, we just pray for cars," which seems to be a small hint at the emptiness that he perceives in the celebrity lifestyle, almost as if he knows that he's being distracted from what's really important.

Deeper Thoughts on "Starboy" by The Weeknd

"Starboy" is an intense song with what seems like a powerful message. Tesfaye is never very clear on what the deeper point of this song is, but the last line of Verse 3 ("We don't pray for love, we just pray for cars") and the repeated lines of the chorus ("Look what you've done / I'm a motherf****n' starboy") hint at some self-awareness that his lifestyle may not be all that healthy.

I can't completely confirm this, but it is my theory that Abel is resigned to going along with whatever happens and that fame and celebrity are happening right now. He's embraced those things as shown in the above bragging, but he seems to acknowledge that there are other parts to a celebrity than just his or her status. Otherwise, I think he'd just enjoy being a starboy and not worry about whether he was one or not. The fact that he realizes that he's a womanizer means he's either fully embraced it or is maybe a little saddened by this status he's earned.

But the fact that he swears right before it makes it seem that he's just a little flippant about that status, almost as if he knows that's what he is, but he doesn't want to completely accept it. And if anyone's to be blamed for it, he wants it to be someone else--in this case, his fans.

Like I said, it's a difficult point to prove, and there's really not enough to go off of in this song, but the fact that "Can't Feel My Face" is an ode to drugs that acknowledges the drawbacks of drugs suggests that Abel is capable of being this self-aware and that maybe he really doesn't want to be a "starboy."

Helpful Resources

  1. Lyrics
  2. Video
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