Starboy
by The Weeknd (featuring Daft Punk)

Album: Starboy (2016)
Charted: 2 1
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  • Lyrics
  • David Bowie was the Starman, but The Weeknd claims the title of "Starboy" on the title track to his 2016 album. But while Bowie was telling a celestial story, The Weeknd is referring to his celebrity, giving us a look at his life of luxury and calling out the haters. "Made your whole year in a week," he claims.
  • The song was released on September 22, 2016 - the first day of autumn. The day before, The Weeknd teased it with a tweet: "i come alive in the fall time."

    He also revealed his new look in the tweet, with his famous dreadlocks cut off.
  • The "Starboy" is an alter ego The Weeknd created. He told Zane Lowe: "He's a more braggadocios character that we all have inside of us."
  • Daft Punk produced this track. The robotic duo previously worked with The Weeknd's cohort Kanye West on his 2013 album Yeezus.
  • The Weeknd mentions some of his cars in this song. Among them:

    "P1 cleaner than your church shoes" - a McLaren P1

    "All red Lamb just to tease you" - a Lamborghini

    "Pull off in that Roadster SV" - another Lamborghini, this one a Aventador Superveloce Roadster

    It's safe to say The Weeknd is a car guy.
  • When The Weeknd sings, "Look what you've done," there are a few ways to look at it. Here are three:

    1) Seeing as the first line of the song addresses the listener ("I'm tryna put you in the worst mood"), the "you" in "look what you've done" could refer to the listener again and music fans in general: the people who are consuming the music. They are the ones making him a star by buying his albums and seeing his shows, complicit in creating this cocky Starboy character.

    2) The Weeknd could be talking about the music industry, referencing the "machine" that produces these larger-than-life pop stars: the record executives, album producers, songwriters, publicists and image consultants. They are actually forming this Starboy character.

    3) What if the "you" is actually The Weeknd himself? What if he's talking to himself in that line? The Weeknd made a conscious decision to go from a mysterious underground artist in Toronto to a global sensation when he signed with Republic Records. After releasing his Trilogy mixtapes in 2012 and then his official major label debut Kiss Land in 2013, he still hadn't reached the level of success he was desperately craving, so he started making artistic choices that would get him there - duetting with Ariana Grande on "Love Me Harder," contributing two songs to the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack, and releasing "Can't Feel My Face" as the second single from his album Beauty Behind the Madness - all the while facing criticism from longtime fans for altering his sound from edgy and dark R&B to more radio-friendly pop. Maybe he regrets the change? Maybe he hates that he had to play the game in order to reach the level of success he wanted? Or maybe he doesn't really care.
  • Directed by frequent Weeknd collaborator Grant Singer, the video sees a masked Abel Tesfaye killing off his old persona, clipping his old hairdo, burning the contents of his wardrobe and smashing his glass-framed platinum records with a giant glowing cross. Daft Punk make a brief cameo in the form of a portrait on the wall.
  • The Weeknd has often written in his lyrics about his own drug use, and in the pre-chorus of "Starboy," there's speculation that he's describing his model girlfriend Bella Hadid snorting cocaine off of his newly-bought ebony wood table (or possibly a piano?). Does he love her because of her rumoured habit or does he love her despite it? Either way, it showcases the futile relationships he has with women. It's not the most endearing way to represent them (and specifically Hadid), so maybe it's another critique of the trivial life he leads as a pop star:

    20 racks a table cut from ebony
    Cut that ivory into skinny pieces
    Then she clean it with her face but I love my baby
  • Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, The Weeknd revealed that the Starboy album title was inspired by David Bowie. "I just love Bowie, I think he's the ultimate inventor," he said.
  • This song was partly the result of a happy accident. When The Weeknd was working with Daft Punk on the track "I Feel It Coming," he was getting direction from the producers through his headphones. "I was freestyling over it and trying to find a vibe with it," he told Zane Lowe in a Beats 1 interview. "While I'm recording the record, through the talkback I can hear some sort of feedback, some sort of drum loop. Every time Thomas [Bangalter] is like, 'Okay, next take.' So, I'm like, 'What the f--k is that? What is that sound?'

    So, I walk in and it's Guy-Man [Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo] on his phone or on his laptop or something and it's the drums of 'Starboy.' I'm like: 'What is that?' He's like: 'I don't know, it's just something on my phone.' I'm like: 'Put that s--t on the f--king speakers. Let me hear that.' And it's just this crazy, monstrous loop.

    So, I put 'I Feel It Coming' to the side and I'm like: 'I'm writing this.'"
  • The Weeknd also revealed to Zane Lowe how he didn't think this song had the potential of being a single. "I thought it was me just being Starboy," he said. "It didn't even feel like an album record. It just felt like a dope vibe. So I brought it back to Toronto and I played it for the team. They lost their f--king mind. [I played it] through a voice note because I didn't have the – I don't like sending any records so I had it on a voice note [laughs]. I played it on the speakers and everybody was like, 'Yeah, this is the next single.'"
  • The Weeknd sang this at the 2016 American Music Awards, flashing an uncharacteristic smile during the well-received performance.
  • There is a reference to Brad Pitt in the song:

    Let a nigga Brad Pitt
    Legend of the fall
    Took the year like a bandit


    This alludes to Pitt's 1994 movie Legends of The Fall. A few days before the song was released, Pitt and Angelina Jolie announced they were divorcing.
  • This song stands in stark contrast to the Bruno Mars hit "24K Magic," which came out around the same time. While Mars invites us to the party ("I just want to take you higher"), The Weeknd takes a more spiteful approach ("I'm tryna put you in the worst mood").
  • The line, "House so empty, need a centerpiece" is a boast, but it also reveals a downside of fame, as you can buy a big, fancy house but you'll rarely be there to enjoy it. For The Weeknd, this could take on a more profound meaning hearkening back to him regretting becoming a pop star. It's possible he feels so lonely that he's trying to fill that void with all of these meaningless objects, but it's not working. He still feels vacant inside.
  • The Weeknd took the stage as the musical guest on the October 3, 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live. During the show, he performed "Starboy" live for the very first time, crooning the song's lyrics as a giant white cross hovered over him. The Weeknd also performed another Starboy track "False Alarm" on the same show.
  • When the Starboy character was formed, The Weeknd made a drastic change in his appearance by cutting off his signature dreadlocks. He doesn't hear people trash-talking him because no matter the popular trends, he can follow any path and will always have a style that's his own:

    You talking 'bout me, I don't see the shade
    Switch up my style, I take any lane
  • When The Weeknd sings, "Coming for the king... I come alive in the fall time," he's alluding to his 2014 song, "King of the Fall."

    He also could be referencing the critically-acclaimed television show The Wire. With The Weeknd continually talking about being in danger, it's hard not to think of Omar Little proclaiming in Episode 8 of Season 1, "You come at the king, you best not miss." The Weeknd is echoing a similar sentiment. You can try to go to war with him, but he thrives best under siege, so you won't even get near the front gates.
  • What's a Weeknd music video if he doesn't kill himself in it? One of the most intriguing aspects about The Weeknd as an artist is the ongoing story throughout his videos. The plotline has been greatly analyzed and theorized, but a common theme is The Weeknd somehow getting harmed in them. He gets in a car accident in "The Hills," he's lit on fire in "Can't Feel My Face," he buries himself alive in the desert in "Tell Your Friends," and he shoots himself in the head at the end of "False Alarm."

    "Starboy" is no different. The video begins with the Beauty Behind the Madness Weeknd tied to a chair inside his house. A mysterious black-masked man puts a plastic bag over his head and suffocates him to death. The scene is so graphic that the television station MUCH in Canada didn't play that part. The next shot zooms in on a diamond-cross hanging from the black-masked man's neck as he fixes his probably super-expensive leather jacket and gloves. Mystery man takes off his disguise and shockingly reveals that it's actually The Weeknd underneath it, except he's cut off his distinct dreadlocks. He sings, "I'm tryna put you in the worst mood, ah" and the Starboy Weeknd is born.

    The new Weeknd sings and dances around his house admiring the walls covered in Beauty Behind the Madness memorabilia. He sees a glowing pink cross at the end of the hallway and becomes hypnotized by it. He then has his own kind of George Michael "Freedom! '90" moment when he breaks all the possessions from the Beauty Behind the Madness-era with the pink cross.

    So, basically, The Weeknd kills off his old self. He's reborn as the Starboy character and demolishes everything that represents his celebrity (well, except for his precious cars). One premise about the storyline that runs through his videos is that The Weeknd essentially sells his soul to the devil in order to become a pop star, which is possibly mirroring how he feels about his real-life relationship with the music industry. So the music video for "Starboy" supports the idea that The Weeknd is actually critically looking at his success and fame in the song by shattering everything that symbolizes it.
  • Starboy is a Jamaican slang term for a cool or important person. The Weeknd's purloining of the word was a point of contention with Nigerian singer and frequent Drake collaborator Wizkid, who has referred to himself as "the real Starboy." The term happens to be the name of Wizkid's label, Starboy Entertainment.
  • Somali-American poet and musician Yasminah accused Daft Punk and The Weeknd of ripping off her 1999 song "Hooyo" for "Starboy." According to TMZ, she filed a $5 million lawsuit in which she alleges The Weeknd and his producers stole the beat for their track. She also accuses them of using the "same hook, same key and a similar tempo."
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Comments: 1

  • Ren Nielsen from Layton, UtThe Weeknd likes to use play on words. The actual lyrics are "Let a nigga Brag Pitt". He also uses another play on words with "Star Trek roof in that Wraith of Khan" instead of Wrath of Khan...which is another automobile reference to a Rolls Royce Wraith. Another vehicle reference not mentioned above is the Bentley Mulsanne.
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