I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Social Climb" by iDKHOW mean?

What does "Social Climb" by iDKHOW mean?

“Social Climb” Lyrics Meaning

(The following blog post is a transcript created by Xalma of the below video.)

Today we're talking about "Social Climb" by iDKHOW; and Dallon Weekes, the bass player and the lead singer of the band already gave us some of the secrets and the story of what's going on in the song; and as usual, we'll be taking a deeper look into some of the lyrics, and we'll be talking about the music video as well.

As we all know, the phrase "Social climb" refers to somebody who wants to get to a higher social states; so you come to a busy scene where there's lots of people doing lots of things; people have money, people have fame, people have respect from their bigger social group, people who are popular or famous; and so you get closer to those people, and you want to get respect from those people; and "Social Climb" as Dallon explains, is about LA social scene; and some of the crazy destructiveness that goes on in there; he says that it's inspired by some of the more toxic aspects of LA culture; he also said that he was inspired to write the song by being in a crowded Hollywood party, feeling completely alone.

So we've seen some really cool social critique from iDKHOW so far; I think "Do It All The Time" was absolutely incredible, critiquing the music industry, and just sort of fame in general; and how a lot of people in their music are just doing whatever they want, and it makes them sound so cool, but really if you were a real person and not just some character you created, that wouldn't work; you couldn't live life like that, and we kind of see that same thing happening here in "Social Climb"

Verse One

Come break some hearts now, tear them out
File in for amusements with the crowd

"come break some hearts out, tear them out" sounds so casual; like "let's go and and hurt some people's feelings", and really that's not so good, is it? but in the social scene that they're describing, he's saying that this is kind of a common thing; and "file in for amusement with the crowd" means that we get joy out of watching people's hearts break, right?!

Oh, but be advised, participation is required
Doing things not typically allowed

He means that if you're gonna be here for this, you "got" to be here for this thing, you got to take part in this, otherwise you're going to be seen as an outsider, and people won't want to hang with you; so you kind of got to go along with that group-think, doing things not typically allowed.


Feels like we're having a good time
It's true, a wonderfully good time

I really like the subtle uncertainty in that first line; it "feels" like we're having a good time; so he says that this seems like what a good time should be, yeah?! but is it really? Well, he confirms in the second line "it's true, a wonderfully good time"; but I hate to break it to you; but if you're actually having a good time, you're probably not asking yourself "am I having a good time?", you know? So the fact that he had to affirm it, shows a little bit of an unreliable narrator here; bringing into question, whether this is actually fun, or whether this is just bad.


When I'm with you
(Woah-oh-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh-oh)
When I'm with you
(Woah-oh-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh-oh)
When I'm with you
(Woah-oh-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh-oh)
When I'm with you
(Woah-oh-oh-oh, woah-oh-oh-oh)
When I'm with you

That seems to be kind of just either about some fictional person, who suggested the types of amusements they're taking part in, or just talking to that crowd in general; those would be my two guesses; though I leaned towards the second.

Verse Two

Defend your factions, cut the lines

So there is some drama here, there is some cliques that you align with, and some cliques other people align with; and if somebody says something we got to get all dramatic and whatnot.

Leagues of social climbers are abound

And so there is all of these people that are out here, who want to be part of this scene, who want to be popular and cool, but they got to play the game.

Oh, but be advised, no restitution comes tonight

Which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it; if you go and do something wrong, and you don't have to pay restitution, then great, you just got away with something; but if somebody does something bad to you, they just got away with it too! As they don't have to pay restitution to you; so there are fewer rules, which means that you kind of have to watch out for yourself in the situation.

‘Less we lay unconscious in the ground

And that's just death; the only restitution is death; so don't be so crazy that you die.


But if the lights don't stop me
No one's got control of what I do
'Cause it's a good time

The lights could refer to a lot of different things; it could be the light of day, you know, after a party ends; it could be the police lights; I believe that lights are kind of a symbol in this case; a symbol of organization, control, and putting things in their place; it is seeing what's happening, knowing the truth, understanding things; and so when those lights appear, they kind of put a little bit of an end to this foolishness.

You can see how cleverly this whole thing is being put together; there's a lot of aspects of this atmosphere of this crowd; but they aren't stated too overbearingly; I really like this line, "come break some hearts now, tear them out", it is just said so loosely; and like "it feels like we're having a good time", these take some real lyric writing skill, you know; to be able to say something without meaning it; but also still letting that be apparent; and I think that's a lot of what's happening in this social scene, and in this song; things are being said, and are being done, but they don't actually mean what we think they do; if anything comes down to anything, it's that when you are part of the "social climbers", it's not what it seems.

Then if we take a look at the music video, we see that it is presented by the Telex foundation, which -I believe- was also the same foundation that presented the "I Do It All The Time" music video; at the beginning of this one is like a title screen, which says "Thought Reform:", and the corporate guide to social reconditioning, which sounds very 1984-ish, which would make sense (if it was, because this one is from the late 1970s); because if you go and look at all of their music videos; I think all of them are actually said to have been old footage found from the 1980s; and I believe one even ends in 1984. It does seem like everything is kind of leading up to that big 1984, that George Orwell referenced there; especially when you talk about "thought reform" and "the corporate guide to social recognition" companies that are going to be getting people to think what they want them to think; and in this case, as with "I Do It All The Time", I think that the company that's doing the thought reform is actually Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

So the whole music video is a music video, but it's within this commercial-ish, teaching you how to get people to think what you want them to think; and you basically see the guys playing their instruments, but you also see that they are kind of like at this party, or this event; and we keep seeing these elements listed across the screen, those elements of this party that are supposed to be helping us reform thoughts. You are supposed to have an opulent location, you are supposed to have fancy-looking people, a talent showcase; and the talent showcase here is somebody swallowing fire; but I think the theme that they're getting at, is they're talking basically about a music video shoot, or about the representations of wealth, and the people on top; that the social climbers are trying to get to. Then we see a seance, with the clear reference to the Illuminati there; suggesting maybe this idea of their needing to be some element of control for some darker force; and then we see slightly crazier things, like communal behavior synthesis, or requisite social conditioning; and I think that these are starting to get a little bit more intense, and a little bit more overt; and they are just trying to basically send messages to people, messages of how they should act, and what they should be like; and I really think that what's being said, or at least my personal theory is that, this is about music videos, and how no matter what you're watching, or who you're watching, or what music video by who; there is always a message being sent of what life should, could, or would be like.

So yeah, a lot is happening in this music video, and in the lyrics. The only other thing I'll mention is the white shadow; I think about halfway through the video, you can see this guy, all in white, with sort of like a skeleton mask; I think that he actually shows up in all but one of their other music videos; they haven't explained who that person is, or what it represents; but Dallon Weekes has left some cryptic tweets, basically saying that that white shadow was always behind him, and always watching him; and there's one music video where he looks to the shadow to say like "can you help me?" or "did I do a good job?", and the shadow nods as in "no, you're in trouble!"; and because they do a lot of social commentary, I'm wondering if maybe this could be a reference to like an old fan-base, a relationship, it could be the record label, but it's also very possible that it's kind of like an internal monologue, or that voice inside your head, telling you that you're not good enough, or something like that.

That's all I got for you today, guys. Don't forget to check out the music video for "Social Climb" yourself, and let me know if there is anything I missed; and leave me a comment if you have a theory of who that white-skeleton-guy is.

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