20 Songs About Pretending

Photo of author
Written By Julia Mehalko

Julia is a music journalist with a passion for retro songs. She holds a degree in journalism from University of Nevada.

There are many songs about pretending, whether it’s about pretending to be someone you’re not, or pretending in a romantic relationship.

Below, we’ve listed 20 great songs about pretending in all its different varieties!

1. “Pretend” by Bad Suns

In Bad Suns’ 2014 song “Pretend”, the band discusses problems in a romantic relationship. The singer discusses how his girlfriend is upset with him and seemingly doesn’t trust him. As a result, this has caused significant issues in their relationship.

It seems as if the relationship might soon be coming to an end, even though the singer doesn’t want this to happen. He’s continuing to hold on, hoping that they can make it work — or pretend that everything is okay. He sings, “Tonight won’t ever end / Can we pretend, pretend, pretend?”.

2. “I Pretend” by Kim Carnes

Kim Carnes’ song “I Pretend” also discusses pretending in a romantic relationship. However, in this song, Carnes sings to her ex, who has left her for another woman. She wasn’t this man’s first choice, though she still loves him.

Carnes sings that she pretends all the time that he’s still with her. She pretends that he chose her and that he still loves her. At the very least, she pretends that he misses her, even though he’s happily with another woman!

3. “Pretend You’re Missing Me” by Betty Who

Betty Who released the 2017 song “Pretend You’re Missing Me” on the album The Valley. Similar to Kim Carnes’ song above, Betty Who also sings about missing an ex. Even though she’s moved on and is even dating another guy, she can’t help but miss her ex-boyfriend, who has also moved on.

She sings the lyrics, “I pretend you’re missing me, me / I’m not on your mind, but when you hear our song / At least pretend you’re missing me”.

She hopes that her ex is happy with his new girl. However, she also hopes he misses her, at least a little.

4. “Pretend You Don’t See Her” by Jerry Vale

Jerry Vale’s 1957 song “Pretend You Don’t See Her” discusses running into an ex who you still love. In this song, Vale sings to himself — or his heart. Throughout the song, he talks to his heart and tells himself to act as if he doesn’t see his ex-girlfriend.

It’s clear in this song that the still loves her and longs to be with her. But he can’t. Instead of making a scene, he just tells himself to work on pretending to be happy.

He sings, “Pretend you don’t see her my heart / Although she is coming our way / Pretend you don’t need her my heart / But smile and pretend to be gay”.

5. “Pretending” by Eric Clapton

In Eric Clapton’s 1989 song “Pretending”, Clapton sings about the breakdown of a romantic relationship. Clapton discusses how his relationship began to break down when he realized that his partner was pretending about how she felt. She was faking a smile, pretending to be happy, and pretending to understand.

He sings the lyrics, “Don’t be pretending about how you feel / Don’t be pretending that your love is real”.

6. “I’m Tired of Pretending” by Kitty Wells

Kitty Wells’ song “I’m Tired of Pretending” also talks about missing an ex! In this classic country song, Wells sings to her ex, who she says she’s still in love with. She’s tired of pretending that she has moved on, that she’s happy, and that she’s fine. Because she’s not!

She sings, “I’m tired of pretending that I don’t care for you / I’m tired of pretending that I found someone new / Each lonely night keeps lending an atmosphere that’s blue / I’m tired of pretending that I’m not in love with you”.

7. “Can’t Pretend” by Tom Odell

Tom Odell released his song “Can’t Pretend” on his 2013 album Long Way Down. In this song, Odell sings about realizing that he loves someone. He sings, “I guess that’s love / I can’t pretend”.

So, he isn’t acting like he doesn’t love anyone. Instead, he’s simply realizing that he does! As a result, he can no longer pretend that he feels differently, or hide his real feelings. He must confess how he feels.

8. “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots

Twenty One Pilots’ 2015 hit song “Stressed Out”, which appears on the band’s album Blurryface, follows the singer as he deals with his anxieties and longs for his childhood innocence and happiness.

The band sings, “We used to play pretend, give each other different names / We would build a rocket ship an’ then we’d fly it far away”. Here, he’s talking about playing pretend with friends and how easy life was.

Later in the song, he talks about playing pretend again, though this time he talks about how he used to play with pretend money. Now, however, he must make real money, and this leads to even more feelings of anxiety.

9. “Let’s Pretend” by Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson released his song “Let’s Pretend” on the 1977 album 1961. In the opening lyrics, he sings, “Let’s pretend we’re strangers for tonight / Let’s pretend we’ve never hurt each other / If you’ll pretend I never made you cry / Then I’ll pretend you didn’t find another”. 

In this song, he’s talking about how he wants to be with his ex, at least just for a night. He even admits that he’s never stopped loving her. However, he knows that there have been many issues between them — which is why he says that they should pretend they are strangers to each other.

10. “Call It Pretending” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1968 song “Call It Pretending” talks about a romantic relationship that continues to have issues. In this song, the singer discusses how his romantic partner continues to force him to leave her. However, he loves her and doesn’t want to.

He sings, “Should we make a brand new start / Or are you gonna break my heart / And leave me standing there pretending I don’t care?”. Even though she keeps pushing him away, he’s trying to make her realize that he truly loves her and has real feelings for her.

He’s done pretending as if he doesn’t care what she does or says!

11. “Just Pretend” by Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley released his song “Just Pretend” on his album That’s the Way It Is. Presley sings about a romantic relationship that has ended. However, he realized he was wrong in leaving his partner. Now, he wants to be with her again.

He sings, “Just pretend, I’m holding you / And whispering things soft and low / And think of me, how it’s going to be / Just pretend I didn’t go”.

He sings that he will be with her soon, as all his feelings are true. But, until he can be with her, they both can “Just Pretend” they’re back together!

12. “Airplanes” by B.o.B. featuring Hayley Williams

In B.o.B.’s 2010 hit song “Airplanes”, which features Hayley Williams from Paramore, the rapper sings about how much he misses the old days before he had fame. He misses those simpler times, and he sings about pretending a lot.

In the lyrics, Williams repeatedly sings, “Can we pretend that airplanes / In the night sky are like shooting stars? / I could really use a wish right now”.

13. “Water Under the Bridge” by Adele

Adele released her hit song “Water Under the Bridge” in 2014 on her album 25. In this song, Adele sings about a relationship where both of them are eventually realizing that they are meant to be together.

She sings that, because she believes they are meant to be together, they should stop playing with each other’s hearts. She sings, “If you’re gonna let me down, let me down gently / Don’t pretend that you don’t want me”.

So, she’s tired of him pretending that he doesn’t truly love her. If he wants to leave her, he can — though she seems to know he’s in this relationship for good, just as she is.

14. “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson’s 2005 hit song “Banana Pancakes”, which appears on his album In Between Dreams, talks about a rainy day that has kept him and his lover inside all day. However, Johnson finds the positive in this.

Throughout the song, he talks about pretending during this situation. Whether it’s pretending it’s the weekend or pretending they could live like this all the time, Johnson spins a rainy day into a positive moment.

15. “The Last Song” by Foo Fighters

In Foo Fighters’ 2005 song “The Last Song”, the band sings about attempting to move on from a friendship or relationship. Singer Dave Grohl discusses how he doesn’t want to sing any more songs about this person. So, this is the last song he’ll sing.

However, he also sings, “We pretend it doesn’t matter / We pretend it all away”. This occurs towards the end of the song. Therefore, he could be saying that he’s pretending it will be the last song for this person. Even though he feels done with them, he might be pretending — and another song about them may eventually appear again.

16. “Bobblehead” by Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera released her 2010 song “Bobblehead” on her album Bionic. In this song, Aguilera is singing about another woman who is acting like someone she’s not. Clearly, Aguilera doesn’t like fake people.

She sings the lyrics, “Why, oh, why pretend? / I know you got a brain, why don’t you use it?”. She doesn’t like that this girl is acting dumb and stupid around boys when she flirts with them. Aguilera wants her to act less like a “Bobblehead”.

17. “January Friend” by The Goo Goo Dolls

There are many meanings one can take from The Goo Goo Dolls’ song “January Friend”, as the lyrics are slightly vague. However, it does appear to be about a relationship that has ended, though they discuss pretending that they want to be together again.

The singer says, “Let’s pretend / My January friend / I wanted you again”.

18. “The Great Pretender” by Freddie Mercury

“The Great Pretender” was first released by The Platters in 1955, though Freddie Mercury’s popular version later came out in 1987. Mercury felt that this song explained how he felt about his public persona versus his real self perfectly.

In “The Great Pretender”, Mercury sings about how he acts as if he’s happy. However, in reality, he’s lonely and sad. He sings, “My need is such I pretend too much / I’m lonely but no one can tell”.

19. “Pretend It’s OK” by Little Mix

In Little Mix’s 2012 song “Pretend It’s OK”, they sing about trying to pretend they’re okay, even though they’re clearly not. They sing, “But sometimes it can get so hard pretending it’s okay”.

This pop song can be interpreted as a breakup song. However, it can also be seen as a song about someone who’s trying to pretend they’re okay in a difficult situation.

20. “Pretend” by Nat King Cole

Finally, let’s discuss Nat King Cole’s 1953 song “Pretend”. In this classic song, Cole sings about pretending to be happy and have the life of your dreams, just as he does. Because if you pretend, you will become happy.

He sings the lyrics, “Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue It isn’t very hard to do / And you’ll find happiness without an end / Whenever you pretend”.