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Welcome to the Pop Song Professor! My name's Clifford, and I explain song lyrics so that you can know what your artists are saying and can enjoy your music more. 

What does "Rockin'" by The Weeknd mean?

What does "Rockin'" by The Weeknd mean?

What does "Rockin'" by The Weeknd mean?

This last weekend, I spent more than 30 hours creating and editing videos explaining songs from The Weeknd's album Starboy. This week, I'm going to be explaining all of those songs again but here on the blog. I hope you're ready for some good description of The Weeknd's amazing album and are ready to go deeper behind the lyrics.

Also, here's the video I made for "Rockin'." I go deeper in the blog post, but the video is a nice summary.

"Rockin'"'s Lyrics' Meaning

"Rockin'" is about a relationship that The Weeknd wants to be as simple and sex-focused as possible. The song is a crazy, funky dance song that sounds like "good times." And like the sound, The Weeknd wants the lyrics to communicate a fun-now mindset. The woman in the relationship wants things to get serious, but he's more than happy with letting the relationship stay wild and carefree.

Verse 1: Too Many Girls

It's in this stanza that The Weeknd introduces the central concept of this song. He sings, "Yeah, people always talk about the ones that got away / I just seem to get the ones that always want to stay." Tongue-in-cheek, he complains that he's an exception to the age old problem of people wishing they had tried harder to build a relationship with an exceptional possible mate. His problem is more unique. Women tend to want to settle down with them, but he's not ready for that and wants to keep having fun. He wants to keep "rockin'."

The Weeknd explains why he doesn't want to settle down when he sings, "I'm just too distracted with the life I'm tryna' paint." He's saying he's busy building his celebrity and can't be bothered to focus on someone else in a serious relationship. But ironically it's that fame that causes the problem: "Say, I got all these women too attracted to the fame." They want him because of what he values more than them.

He continues, "Not too many niggas that will end up in the way / Nothing's gonna' stop me; Imma get it either way." He feels he's destined for greatness and won't let anyone stop him--these women or people who want to hurt him and are perhaps jealous of his success.

Pre-Chorus: The Big Question

It's in the pre-chorus that The Weeknd prepares for the thesis of his song: "Why would you wanna take away from this moment? / We can own it." He worries that committing to a relationship and thinking about the future right now would ruin the euphoric, exciting experience they're having right now. Likely enough, that experience (based on the word "rockin'") is either sex or just a wild, fun-fueled lifestyle.

Chorus: Don't Stop "Rockin'"

In the chorus of "Rockin'" The Weeknd tells us the thesis of the argument he's laying out. He first sings, "You don't have to spend your life with me / You don't have to waste your energy." He seems pessimistic about the possibilities of the relationship going well and suggests that it'd be a "waste" of her time to try.

He gives the central idea when he sings, "We can just be rockin' / I just want your body next to me / 'Cause it brings me so much ecstasy." He really does want this relationship to just be about fun in general and sex in particular. The Weeknd will be satisfied with his time with this woman if they can just have a good time together and be able to go their own ways when it's over.

Verse 2: Getting Crazy

The second verse of "Rockin'" doesn't seem to fit into the narrative especially well, but it does continue the basic idea that The Weeknd wants to do his own thing, rather than be distracted by a relationship. He sings, "You see me texting, baby, you see those missed calls." He's trying to contact her, and she hasn't responded yet maybe because she wasn't paying attention to her phone. In any case, she's missed him declaring that he's about to act wild. He sings, "I'm actin' reckless baby, I'm 'bout to lose it all." He's following his own impulses and is letting her know that he's likely going to go do his own thing, which, in this case, happens to be getting wild. Not only does "[t]his liquor got me crazy, mixed with that Adderall," but he's also "focused on the beat"--either actual music or a metaphor for the life he wants to be living.

Bridge: Repetition. Yay!

In the bridge, The Weeknd simply repeats from earlier the question "Why would you wanna take away from this moment?" And that's the central idea of "Rockin'": the fun we're having right now is worth more than the possible pain of what not succeeding in getting what we could have in the future.

"Rockin'" Deeper Song Lyrics Meaning

I really like the sound of "Rockin'" and I appreciate it because there's actually something here to think about and talk about. It's not an empty pop song and it posits a lifestyle and ideas that we should be thinking about and grappling with. In this case, I think the big question is to ask whether we agree with The Weeknd (who, by the way, is just a character Abel Tesfaye has created, not Abel Tesfaye himself). Do we believe in the power of a single moment over what could be in the future?

I worry that what we're seeing here is fear of the future and of failure. When he equates trying to "spend your life with me" with wasting "your energy," I worry that maybe this suggests some fear on his part that a relationship won't last. Maybe he thinks the only actually attainable good parts of a relationship are the early stage ones--the euphoria, the excitement, etc.

I think it's unfortunate that he believes this. Many relationships do get better as they get older, but it's through hard work and dedication. Maybe that doesn't accurately reflect what The Weeknd is saying here in "Rockin'," and maybe there's more to this relationship than meets the eye. And that's actually a cool thing about Starboy. It's a complicated album with a lot to say. And a lot of the songs connect to each other and continue to tell this same story.

That's all for now. Be sure to check out some of my other posts on star voice songs thanks for reading.

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