“Circles” by Post Malone presents a raw and emotive exploration of a faltering and cyclical romantic relationship. The overarching theme of the song revolves around a love that’s grown cold, a flame that despite efforts can’t be rekindled, resulting in a futile loop of running in circles.
In the opening verse, Malone’s lyrics, “We couldn’t turn around / ‘Til we were upside down” suggest a relationship in turmoil. The narrative of being turned upside down speaks to a deep upheaval that’s affecting the very foundations of the relationship. He states, “I’ll be the bad guy now,” insinuating that he’s assuming the blame for the relationship’s suffering. This points to a classic trope in hip-hop reflecting societal pressures and masculinity, where taking blame serves as a form of protecting one’s pride.
In the chorus, “Seasons change and our love went cold / Feed the flame ’cause we can’t let it go”, Malone lays the heart of the issue bare – the love in the relationship has waned, turning cold like changing seasons. The reference to the “flame” symbolizes a dwindling passion that both parties are struggling to keep alive. Despite their efforts, they’re stuck in a vicious cycle, or “running in circles”.
In the second verse, Malone reveals more about the relationship’s doom: “I knew that this was doomed from the get-go”. What may have seemed like something special was reduced to just the sexual aspect, as indicated by “But it was just the sex though, the sex though”. The line “And I still hear the echoes” suggests lingering memories or aftermath of the encounters. This unsentimental honesty adds a layer of relatability to the song, as it shines a light on the reality of surface-level relationships that are prevalent in today’s society.
The lines “Maybe you don’t understand what I’m going through / It’s only me / What you got to lose?” underscore the singer’s loneliness and the apparent lack of understanding from his partner. In the resolution to “Let it go”, Malone makes a call for acceptance of the circumstances and the need to break free from the detrimental pattern of running in circles.
Throughout this song, Post Malone employs a poetic technique and hip-hop narrative to tell a story of failed love, underlining the complexity, the struggle, and ultimately, the resignation that comes with cyclic, unfulfilling relationships – a common theme in contemporary hip-hop culture.