“Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weekend

The song, “Can’t Feel My Face”, connotes two different perspectives with regards to its meaning. The first being about a somewhat harmful love affair with a woman. Although he admits she has a negative influence on him, he can’t seem to let go because he is deeply in love.

The second perspective is that, the writer could have been using ‘She’ as a symbolic representation of something he’s addicted to, despite its damaging effects on him. The closest form of addiction the song fits is that of Cocaine. It has been widely suggested that it is really about the drug and its effects.

Song’s Narrative

The singer begins the song by drawing attention to the fact that he knows this person or thing will cause his death or cause the worst to happen to him, but they’ll both feel numb and stay forever young. If the singer was speaking about a woman, then he was trying to say that although he knows bad things are bound to happen because of her, he feels good and can live forever while he’s with her. This easily describes the side-effects of taking cocaine; causing numbness, while staying beautiful and young forever could be associated with the high level of energy which eventually results in an early death.

He goes on to reveal how this person or thing tells him not to worry about it because they can’t do without it. This sounds more like an addiction and how her presence even convinces him to carry on with it. She, however, tells him that he’ll never love again, which could either mean he will never find true happiness without her, or he will lose his sense of emotion because of the effects of the drug he’s addicted to.

The chorus is repeated severally and emphasis is placed on how he can’t feel his face (again describing numbness) when he’s with her but actually loves it. Here, the human disguise of the song fades away. The woman is actually a symbol for the drug, in this case Cocaine, and he can’t feel his face because his sense of feel is impaired when he’s high on the drug. He can’t interact with the outer world or experience any other form of fulfillment. At the same time, he can’t seem to escape because he’s caught real deep in it and loves it after all.

Can't feel my face

Release Date of “Can’t Feel My Face”

This track came out as the third single from The Weeknd’s second album, “Beauty Behind the Madness”, on 8 June 2015. It is a product of Republic Records, the Universal Music Group and The Weeknd’s own label, XO Records.

Interesting to note is that the track leaked in late-May 2016, about a week before it was officially released. On the same day it did legally come out, The Weeknd premiered the tune at an event called the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference which was held in San Francisco. And before he came on stage to do so, the audience was treated to a short speech by another popular Canadian musician, Drake.

When this track came out, The Weeknd was 25 years of age.

Writing Credits

The Weeknd served as one of the co-writers of this track, doing so alongside Savan Kotecha, Peter Svensson. The track’s two producers, Max Martin and Ali Payami, also co-wrote it.

According to The Weeknd this song was written in a relative blur, i.e. in only a 40-minute time span. Ali Payami went on to describe the experience as being “very natural”. And “Can’t Feel My Face” was actually a late addition to “Beauty Behind the Madness”, almost not even making the cut. 

Although the phrase ‘I can’t feel my face’ is sort of common colloquial jargon, it has been concluded that The Weeknd derived the line from Johnny Depp’s 2001 film “Blow” which, as its title suggest, is largely centered on coke. And the song itself has oft interpreted as being about the same topic.

“Can’t Feel My Face” meets with Global Success

Can’t Feel My Face went on to become one of The Weeknd’s biggest hits. It was deemed one of the best songs of 2015 by some of the most-reputable music publications in the industry, such as Time magazine, BillboardPitchfork and the Village Voice. In fact Rolling Stone actually dubbed it the number one song of that year, period.

Additionally the track received a couple of Grammy nominations, including for the highly-coveted Record of the Year distinction. However, it ultimately lost that category to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (ft. Bruno Mars). Moreover the Weeknd actually performed “Can’t Feel My Face” at that ceremony, which was held on 15 February 2016.

The song’s chart showing was also equally as impressive. For instance, it reached number 1 in nearly 15 nations. This includes doing so on the Billboard Hot 100 (in fact it topped 4 different Billboard charts), the UK R&B Chart and in other, we can say more-unconventional countries as far as American music is concerned. And these places include the likes of Japan, Mexico, Israel and South Africa. 

The track has also been certified octuple-platinum in Canada and the United States and multi-platinum in more countries than can be mentioned here. And just to note, it also achieved number one status on Billboard’s US Rhythmic year-end listing and overall proved to be one of the most-successful songs dropped in 2015. Indeed it charted in approximately 40 nations overall.

“Can’t Feel My Face” marks the first time The Weeknd reached number 1 the United States. It was also the first time mega-producer Max Martin had done so with a male soloist, even though he managed to achieve the feat 20 times prior otherwise.

Music Video

The official video to this song was helmed by Grant Singer. Grant is an artist who has directed a number of music videos for big-name artists like Ariana Grande, Future and Travis Scott. He also directed the music video to another song from “Beauty Behind the Madness” entitled “Tell Your Friends”, as well as working with The Weeknd again on his 2018 outing “Call Out My Name”. And the clip went on to be a major success story in and of itself, having exceeded 1,000,000,000 views on YouTube as of July 2019. Visually it is most notable for climaxing with a scene whereas The Weeknd is lit on fire.

Notable Performances

On 10 July 2016, The Weeknd also performed this track during Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tourmuch to everyone’s delight.  The venue was the MetLife Stadium located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. But the first televised live performance of “Can’t Feel My Face” rendered by The Weeknd was at the MTV Video Music Awards held on 30 August 2015.

On 7 February 2021 The Weeknd performed this song at the halftime show for Super Bowl LV. It is worth mentioning that the the Super Bowl Halftime Show itself is perennially one of the most-viewed events in the world.

Remix

There is also a remix of Can’t Feel My Face as put forth by Dutch producer Martin Garrix. And fans of the song can find that particular tune on the Japanese version of “Beauty Behind the Madness”.

“Beauty Behind the Madness”

The album “Beauty Behind the Madness” featured guest artists like Labrinth, Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey with tracks belonging to the genres Pop and alternative R&B.

The production team of the album includes The Weeknd himself and the following:

  • Kanye West
  • DaHeala
  • Stephan Moccio

This is a Grammy Award Winning Album (Best Urban Contemporary Album) that had singles from it reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and being nominated for the Academy Awards.

Ranking as 2015’s tenth best-selling album, it sold 1.5 million copies worldwide. It also won the Guinness World Record Award for being the Most Streamed album of the year.

There were 14 tracks listed on the album with 3 Japanese edition bonus tracks.

Prolific and well known songwriters and artists (like Kanye West, Christopher Pope and the like) co-wrote a number of tracks on the album.

In all, “Beauty Behind the Madness” was supported by 5 singles, namely:

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lol you’re reading far too much into it, hes just singing about how much he loves doing coke and how it numbs your face

  2. Ross says:

    No it’s because she sits on his face during bedroom fun

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