The Real Meaning Behind The Weeknd's 'Too Late'

In The Weeknd's music video for "Too Late," he continues the story from another of his hits, "In Your Eyes." Both tracks find a home on his 2020 album, After Hours, and the running storyline is the loss and reattachment of his head. We can explain.

In "In Your Eyes," directed by Anton Tammi, his character pursues a young woman he sees dancing at a club. To save herself, she chops off his head with an ax. Yup, it's as graphic as it sounds. The Weeknd's head makes a second appearance in "Too Late," where two young women are driving down the road and stop to pick up his head. They are heavily bandaged around the face from plastic surgery. The rest of the music video features their fascination with his head, so they chop the head off another man and reattach The Weeknd's head to his. Umm.

The entire album is a challenge and The Weeknd discussed this with Variety, explaining what inspired the project and the short film for After Hours. "[W]e have this guy go through a complete breakdown, which looks like a possession — I'm being dragged by an invisible force through the subway. Is he possessed, or is he just broken? Is he imagining it? My perspective as a viewer is that it's actually happening to him, but to a third person watching it's just some guy going crazy," he said.

With the larger tone for the album set, what does "Too Late" really mean? Keep reading.

The beautiful melody and uncomfortable feelings behind "Too Late"

The After Hours album was controversial because of the ongoing themes of blood and bandages. The cover itself sparked conversations when fans saw that The Weeknd had a bandaged, broken nose and a crimson, red jacket. "Too Late" was no different. 

The Weeknd spoke with Variety in April 2020 about the headspace he was in for the creation of After Hours. "I really wanted you to feel uncomfortable when you heard it, I really wanted to get inside the head of the person who hates himself and hates life and hates the person who made him that way," he said. 'Head' being the operative word here.

"Too Late" is an interesting take on normal, human reactions. As Rolling Stone points out, any normal person would be horrified to find a human head, but the ladies in his music video are "enamored" and ultimately seduce his head, while it's attached to another man's body.

There's an interesting theme of desperation and apology to the song, as the chorus reads: "It's way too late to save our souls, babe, yeah/ It's way too late, we're on our own/ I made mistakes, I did you wrong, babe, yeah/ It's way too late to save my—." He never completes the final line, which could indicate that it was, in fact, too late.

So if you're looking for a comfortable experience, that's not what you'll find here. Instead, per The Weeknd's usual magic, you'll get transcendence and some very strange visuals.