What does “True Colors” by The Weeknd mean?
“True Colors” is one of my favorite tracks from The Weeknd’s album Starboy because it’s one of the few that highlights and focuses on a true emotional maturity on the part of The Weeknd. The song is about a lover who has a dark past that The Weeknd feels he needs to hear about from her rather than from someone else. He asks her to explain and does so in an understanding, kind, and empathetic way.
“True Colors” Lyrics Meaning
“True Colors” is an interesting and deep song that represents a unique point on the Starboy album. Most of the record is about sex or The Weeknd’s success, but “True Colors” is an attempt to pass mercy onto a loved one. It’s an interesting song, and I think you’ll like it.
Verse 1: Let’s Just Talk About It
In the first verse of “True Colors,” The Weeknd sings, “Tell me the truth / Baby girl, who else been with you.” He wants to know who she’s had sex with, and he knows that “[i]t’s gon’ come to my attention either way.” Sexual encounters like that have a way of becoming rumors, and he’d rather hear about it from her than someone else who may only have secondhand information or who may use it maliciously against her and The Weeknd. Plus, if hears it from her, then it’s a sign that she’s ready to move on.
He lets her know that he “understand[s]” and that “we all had a past.” Perhaps she already knows about his, but he lets her know that he has one to, so he’s not planning on judging her harshly or unfairly. He finishes, “I’d much rather hear the truth come straight from you.” He wants openness and honesty in the relationship.
Pre-Chorus: Trustful Sex
The Weeknd, here, gives his reasons for wanting her to tell all. He sings, “So if I love you / It’d be just for you.” He wants to be able to love her for who she is and not some fake, dishonest version of herself. Plus, he sings, “So when I’m touching you / Can I trust in you?” When they’re having sex, he wants to know that she’ll be focused on him and not thinking about some other guy. If she opens up about her past, it’ll be a sign to him that she’s moving on past those relationships.
Chorus: Secrets Coming to Light
In the chorus of “True Colors,” The Weeknd sings, “Girl, come show me your true colors / Paint me a picture with your true colors.” He wants her to reveal her past and to trust him with it. He explains his inquiries by saying, “[T]hese are the questions of a new lover,” and calls what she’d be saying to him “confessions of a new lover.” They’re both new to this relationship and need to start fresh.
Verse 2: Trust Is the Key
Here, The Weeknd tells her that he’ll “accept what [she’s] been through” if she tells him what she’s done. He sings that “[w]hat’s done is done / Now that [he’s] the only one.” He’s satisfied that she’s not currently cheating on him with anybody, so he is secure in the idea that he’s “the only one,” but he wants to know about the past. Others have been telling stories about her, and maybe she’s even been lying to him up to this point because he sings, “And I don’t believe all this inconsistency / I’ve been hearing different stories about you.” There’s a lot of gossip going around, and he wants to cut through to the truth.
Bridge: Prove Yourself
In the bridge of “True Colors,” The Weeknd sings about the positive outcomes of her divulging her secrets. He sings, “Baby, show me you’re a keeper.” If she trusts him in this way and admits her dark secrets, he’ll know that she’s really someone he should value. In addition, he’s worried that if she doesn’t open up soon that it’ll be hard for him to keep going in the relationship. He sings, “It’s been hard for me to keep up / You’ve been tryna keep me in the dark / But, baby girl, I see you.” Maybe not maliciously, but certainly consciously, she’s been trying to keep him from finding about her past, but he understands her and knows what’s going on and wants her to open up.
“True Colors” Deeper Song Lyrics Meaning
I like “True Colors” so much because it seems to show some emotional maturity on The Weeknd’s part. Of course, The Weeknd is a character creation of Abel Tesfaye’s, so not everything The Weeknd does should reflect on the artist himself, but it’s sometimes hard to think good of Abel after so much of the stuff that The Weeknd does. “True Colors” seems to be a moment where he sat back and evaluated things for a moment and acted like a truly good person to someone who was hurting.
I don’t know the situation, so I can’t comment on whether it was the perfect decision or not, but he handles it well, with empathy and understanding for someone who’s made mistakes–a thing the character The Weeknd would understand after many of the mistakes he’s made.
If you have any theories or ideas about what this song means on a deeper level, I’d love to hear them!
Thanks for reading! I’m a college English instructor, university writing center director, and online entrepreneur (college for under $15k, anyone?) who cares deeply about TRUTH and MEANING. I’m married to the gloriously beautiful Wife April and love to swing dance and juggle. Check out my YouTube channel where I explain even more songs!