After weeks of teasing fans with Instagram posts suggesting a new album was in the works, The Weeknd dropped a six-song EP on Thursday night. The album, titled My Dear Melancholy, seems to address the singer’s high-profile relationships with both Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid (and leads us to believe he may be the male incarnation of breakup song aficionado Taylor Swift).
Of course, there’s only one way to get to the bottom of this … It’s time to dust off our 11th grade literature analysis skills and dissect each and every one of the 28-year-old’s heartbreaking tracks.
1. "Call Out My Name"
In this lilting (and somewhat tragic) song, The Weeknd sings of a love gone afoul because the subject of his affection was conflicted (considering reuniting with an ex, perhaps?).
I want you to stay, even though you don’t want me
Girl, why can’t you wait? (Why can’t you wait, baby?}
Girl, why can’t you wait ‘til I fall out of love?
OK, so that’s a pretty basic breakup refrain, could refer to either Bella or Selena (or I don’t know, some high school girlfriend?), but here’s where it gets *interesting*:
I said I didn’t feel nothing, baby, but I lied
I almost cut a piece of myself for your life
Guess I was just another pit stop
‘Til you made up your mind
“ALMOST CUT A PIECE OF MYSELF FOR YOUR LIFE”—could he be referring to Selena’s kidney transplant? It would be a pretty literal interpretation, yes, but it could check out.
“Guess I was just another pit stop ‘til you made up your mind” seems to once more address Gomez’s internal conflict as she “made up [her] mind” and decided to get back together with Justin Bieber.
2. "Try Me"
My Dear Melancholy’s second track is an ode to a former flame who’s with another man.
“Babe, he ain’t around, pick up your phone, baby,” The Weeknd croons. “You’re the best I ever had,” he continues, encouraging his ex to get in touch.
Most telling, however, is a phrase hidden in one of the song’s final verses:
Don’t you mess with me
The way I kissed your scars
The way I fixed your heart
Again, this is a very literal interpretation, but Ms. Gomez does in fact have scars from the kidney transplant she underwent last summer. And as for fixing her heart, everyone knows Sel’s been through a lot of heartache with on-and-off-again ex Bieber.
BUT, it’s also very possible this song is alluding to Bella and one of her rumored beaus. In fact, the next song on the album makes us wont to believe this interpretation.
3. Wasted Times
This song is pretty savage, and almost certainly about Ms. Hadid.
The track opens with an unambiguous (and hurtful!) statement:
Wasted times I spent with someone else
She wasn’t even half of you
In the chorus, The Weeknd wonders about this mystery lady’s current romantic liaisons.
And now I'm askin', who do you belong to now?
Who you give that love to now?
Who you pullin' up on?
Who you gettin' sprung for now?
And what they got that I ain't got? 'Cause I got a lot
Don't make me run up on 'em, got me blowin' up their spot
'Cause I ain't got no business catchin' feelings anyway
I ain't got no business catchin' feelings
Again, this could refer to Hadid, who hasn’t been confirmed as in a relationship with anyone since her and The Weeknd’s split, though rumors have abounded.
Now, here’s where things get pretty indisputable … The Weeknd refers to the woman in question as a former equestrian (“You were equestrian, so ride it like a champion”). Oh, and who has Abel dated who happens to be a former (nearly Olympic) equestrian? Ding ding ding! Bella Hadid.
4. "I Was Never There"
Ooh, track No. 4 is pretty rough, opening with a ridiculously depressing first verse:
What makes a grown man wanna cry?
(Cry, cry, cry, cry)
What makes him wanna take his life?
His happiness is never real
(Real, real, real, real)
And mindless sex is how he feels, ooh, he feels
“It was like I was never there,” he sings in the chorus, perhaps an allusion to Gomez (and the media’s) quick leap from all things Selena + The Weeknd to Jelena.
Ooh, when no one know what love is
And I know it ain't you for sure
You'd rather something toxic
So, I poison myself again, again
'Til I feel nothing
In my soul (in my soul)
“Something toxic,” is likely calling out Gomez and Bieber’s notorious rollercoaster of an on-again, off-again relationship.
5. "Hurt You"
Maybe even more bleak than “I Was Never There,” The Weeknd begins “Hurt You” with the type of emo poetry you’d find in my eighth grade diary:
And now I know relationship’s my enemy
So stay away from me
I’m warning you
He goes on to proclaim that he doesn’t actually want a relationship, just sex (“’Cause if it’s love you want again, don’t waste your time. But if you call me up, I’m f—kin’ you on sight”).
So I’m thinking this is sort of the acceptance phase in Abel’s post-Selena grief. He spent the previous tracks telling her to come back (bargaining), putting her down, calling their relationship “wasted time” and describing how she made a mistake by getting together with another guy (anger), and now he’s ready to accept and learn from his loss—he’s still down for casual sex though, make no mistake.
“I don’t wanna hurt you,” he sings, but based on the lyrics as a whole, it seems like he’s really saying that he doesn’t want to get hurt. So maybe he’s actually still in the denial phase?
The album closes with what can be interpreted as the final step in Abel’s grieving process (more acceptance than denial this time).
He bids Selena (probably) adieu, and tries to “end it with a smile.”
Enjoy your privileged life
'Cause I'm not gonna hold you through the night
We said our last goodbyes
So, let's just try to end it with a smile
The song also makes a possible reference to Gomez’s Lupus and consequent kidney transplant.
And I don't wanna hear that you are suffering
You are suffering no more
'Cause I held you down when you were suffering
You were suffering
Gomez and The Weeknd’s 10-month relationship spanned pre- and post-op.
“They said our love is just a game, I don’t care what they say,” Abel croons in the bridge, a potential allusion to the press/public’s ongoing theory that Selena and The Weeknd’s relationship was a publicity stunt. He's putting the rumors to rest once and for all.