Meaning of “Pretender” by Carlie Hanson

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

Carlie Hanson’s “Pretender” delves deep into the facade people often put up to navigate the complexities of their internal and external worlds. The song intricately explores themes of self-deception, the struggle with authenticity, and the personal battles that lie beneath the surface of our presented selves. It’s a raw and unfiltered look at the ways we lie to ourselves and others to cope with our realities. Hanson touches on the irony of pretending to be something we’re not, only to find that this act can sometimes lead us further away from our true selves. The song is a poignant reminder of the importance of confronting our truths, no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

Curious about the mask we all wear sometimes? “Pretender” by Carlie Hanson is your next stop. Dive in to uncover the layers of pretense we wrap ourselves in.

“Pretender” Lyrics Meaning

“Pretender” kicks off with a powerful opening line, “Pretender, what you are / Mirror in the fog,” immediately setting the tone for a song that’s about confronting the murky reflection of oneself. The mirror, obscured by fog, symbolizes the unclear and distorted self-image one might have when living behind a facade. This metaphor extends to the idea that our true selves can become so obscured by our pretenses that even we can’t see them clearly.

As the song progresses, “Talk, all you do is talk / Everything’s a front” criticizes the superficial layer of interaction that often dominates our social exchanges. Hanson points out the emptiness of words when they’re used as a shield to hide true feelings or intentions. This notion of “everything’s a front” and the following line, “It’s funny ’til it’s not,” captures the transient nature of pretense—initially, it may seem harmless or even amusing, but it eventually leads to a more profound disconnection from reality and self.

The chorus, “Do you see yourself at all? / Is your heart so out of touch?” directly questions the listener (or the protagonist’s own reflection) about self-awareness. Hanson is probing whether this pretense has gone so far that one has lost touch with their own heart and true feelings. The repeated questioning of “Why you always in the mud? / What the fuck is your problem?” indicates a frustration with this ongoing struggle to maintain a facade, highlighting the difficulty of breaking free from the cycle of pretense.

“I microdose my constant need / To give myself false hope,” these lines are particularly revealing. They suggest a coping mechanism where the individual gives themselves just enough illusion to keep going, despite knowing deep down that it’s not real. The transformation of “my tears turn into gold” speaks to the idea of finding value in one’s pain through the act of pretense, yet acknowledging, “I’m pretending that it’s worth it all,” reveals a conscious awareness of the act and its futility.

Towards the end, the repetition of the word “Pretender” serves as a stark reminder of the song’s central theme, while the phrase “Mirror in the fog / Watch it wearing off” suggests that, over time, the pretense begins to fade. This fading could imply either a clarity coming through or the loss of one’s sense of self due to prolonged pretense.

In “Pretender,” Hanson captures the complexity of human emotions and the lengths to which people will go to avoid facing their true selves. The song serves as a mirror, reflecting back the often uncomfortable truth about the facades we build and the necessity of confronting them to find genuine connection and self-understanding.

Why Was “Pretender” Written?

The song likely stems from a period of introspection and personal observation, possibly influenced by Hanson’s own experiences or those close to her. The vivid imagery and emotional depth suggest a familiarity with the feelings of disconnection and disillusionment that come with maintaining a facade. This background gives “Pretender” its authentic voice, resonating with listeners who have faced similar struggles. It’s a musical exploration of the human condition, encouraging a reflective look into our own lives and the roles we play.