Smile Like You Mean It

Album: Hot Fuss (2004)
Charted: 11
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Songfacts®:

  • This is about two-faced girls with fake smiles and fake conversations. "It was very personal to me, and that's one of the things that's amazing about music - we all bring our own meaning to songs," Brandon Flowers recalled to NME in 2013. "It was quite a sophisticated song for where we were at that time, I think." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dave - Springfield, MA

Comments: 26

  • Arielyz from Milwaukee, WisconsinIn my perspective, I felt like the song was about a father who didn't get to see his kids grow up and about domestic violence. When being in a violent relationship either with a partner, friends, or family, most people say "Smile Like You Mean It."
  • Taylor from LaniganPersonally when listening to this song I had two beliefs on what it was about. One being domestic abuse and the other about being queer. (I know it is about neither but this is just how I view it) Often people in abusive relationships feel they need to stay in them so as not to disappoint or disgust those around them so they pretend to be happy in their relationships. Queer people growing up often debate whether they should just pretend to be straight and get married to someone of the opposite sex. The phrase "Boy, someday you'll be a man, and girl, he'll help you understand." Works in both of these cases. Men being victim to domestic assault might feel weak bringing up that they are being abused so they feel the need to "be a man". Women are often told just to get on with what they are victim to and should just "understand" where their significant other is coming from. Queer children growing up are told/forced to be more masculine and feminine against their wishes. The phrase "Smile like you mean it" is like telling people in abusive relationships to fake it through the pain in order to make others happy. They might also feel that trying to get out of the relationship will put them in serious danger. When used in the context of queer people it is saying to fake it through a relationship to please those around them or because they are scared of coming out in case it puts them in harms way. In each scenario the person isn't happy but will pretend to be for one reason or another.
  • Anonymous from NowhereI think that the song might be written from the perspective of a father who didn’t get to watch his children grow up.
  • Jamie from Roseland, NjI don't know who will agree, but I feel like this song is from the point of view of a father. I think it is a father reminiscing about raising his children in the town he grew up in, in both a nice and melancholy way. Like in the first few lines, saying "Boy, someday you'll be a man, and Girl, he'll help you understand," is talking about him teaching his children to understand the world. Also, during the bridge, he says "someone will drive her around down the same streets that I did." I think he is talking about seeing his children, specifically his daughter, growing up, and this line is him talking about how his daughter found a boyfriend or significant other, and how now he drives her around, instead of the father being the chauffeur that most parents are for their children. He is chronicling his memories of himself and his children.
  • Katie from Ches. City, Mdawsome song. i love the killers so much, and the music video is cool to but u may want to check the meaning
  • Paris from Cardiff, United Kingdomthis song means so much to me and all i've been through these past months- god i love the killers
  • Simon from Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdomthis song only really struck a cord today. i have listened t it for years, but today as i soon approach 21 it hit me.
    i think its about his life slipping away from him and his looking back thinking how he should have appreicated his younger days more and perhaps a younger love more.
    at least that's how it feels to me
  • Theresa from Murfreesboro, TnThe Killers really made this song memorable. I love everything about it - synths, keyboards, and lyrics. This song is too good to be true.
  • Dan from Wausau, WiWow i just found this site an i love it. i have read everyones views on the song and almost all of them have a point. I agree with Tayo, Estacada, OR. music is meant to be talked about. otherwise there really is no point for it. and as for diz.....just shut up will you? all you do is bring your negativity in here. we dont need it.
  • Heyland from Noneofyourbussiness, KsWhat I always thought it meant was there isn't second chances, you have only one life, use it wisely. (Save some face, you know you only have one)
  • Donna from Las Vegas, NvJust wanted to thank Matthew in Calgary and Tayo, Estacada, OR for responding to Diz, York, PA. She seems to be the type that does things and doesn't know why lol. I found this site today and have been looking up Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, No Doubt, Elton John...there's SO MUCH meaning behind song lyrics and she's on the wrong website with those comments!
  • Jeff from Austin, TxThis is my favorite song of the 00s. Which isnt really saying much, but it's a really great song.
  • Matthew from Calgaryto diz in york, YA IT MATTERS if you don't understand the song then what's the use of listening to it?
  • Trent from Great Falls, MtDavid Gray does a cover of this song. Acoustic of course. Its very good =)
  • Jay from Green Bay, WiI totally agree with Joe from San Diego. Anyone who's read The Great Gatsby can clearly see this song symbolizes it perfectly. "Change your ways while your young"-Gatsby changed his ways and learned how to live rich when he was young. "Sunsets on the Eastside"-Gatsby watched sunsets on East Egg, where he longed for Daisy. "Dreams aren't what they used to be, some things slide by so carelessly"-no one had the courage to try and achieve their dreams like Gatsby and just let them slide by. "Someone is calling my name from the back of the restaurant"-when Tom saw Nick and Gatsby at the restaurant and Gatsby suddenly disappeared. "Someone will drive her around down the same streets that i did"-an allusion to when Daisy hit Tom's mistress with gatsby's car, someone will drive the car around just as he did. And more than anything, the refrain and title "Smile Like You Meanm It" is talking about how almost everybody in the book puts on fake smiles in order to please themselves and those around them. Most of all, the song is just saying to be real to yourself and others, you have to pursue your dreams in order for them to become reality, and smile like you mean it. It talks about how mostly everyone in the book lived their piddly, unimportant lives while Gatsby was the only one who lived for something he believed in, Daisy. Live life for something that's true to you, even if it doesn't work out best in the end, at least you'll live for something.
  • Joe from San Diego, CaI swear that this song is a big allusion to The Great Gatsby. There are a lot of possible connections. i.e. "Sunsets on the Eastside" (East Egg,) themes of partying but not truly being happy (smile like you mean it) and having to grow up in the face of loss.
  • Mike from London, EnglandI think this song has two aspects.
    One is bittersweet with nostagia - we all grew up somewhere as a kid, but we werent the first kids to do that there, and we wont be the last - all feeling and going through the same kinds of things - "someone playing a game in the house i grew up in"
    houses in particular hold memories.
    If only we could see all the many gatherings, parties,weddings, wakes, moments of passion and sadness that the four walls of an old room have seen.
    The other point of the song is to warn us/youth to savour the defining and lovely times of our lives/childhoods - people grow into adults, move away and old family die - therefore dont squander these times without appreciateing them. smile like you mean it, enjoy the times you have with those you love, lest you regret it when the time comes you can no longer recreate the memories.
  • Katie from Tuscaloosa, AlI watched the vid for this song (very cool, byt the way) and there's one part where he's talking to these two kids, basically telling them what to expect and what to do when they grow up. Then it goes on showing scenes of colorful rooms full of people, then all of a sudden the rooms are empty and gray. I thought I'd share that, it might explain the meaning of the song a little bit.
  • Dustin from Grand Rapids, MiI think this song is about following your ambitions while you're young, and how even if life doesn't go how you planned, you should still try to enjoy it.
  • Vanessa from Montreal, CanadaI think this song is about the irony and melancholy of life and how it's so short and meaningless, but we have to still live it blissfully. also, that "dreams arent what they used to be" once you learn you dont have much of a purpose. this song is awesome and slow and sad
    Vanessa, Montreal, Canada
  • Tayo from Estacada, OrApparently Diz from PA doesn't understand that music isn't just for listening. Songs, especially good songs, make you think, make you want to talk about the song and it's meaning, invoke some sort of emotion, etc. The great thing about most good songs is that they have multiple meanings. Artists, good ones, want to make people talk about their art. Now Diz, go back to your little world of listening to music just to listen and stop posting here. This is a site where we discuss songs and their possible meanings, obviously you don't get that.
  • Diz from York, PaDoes it really matter what the song's about if it's a great song? I mean, it's fun to know, lets you listen to it in a whole nother way, but it doesn't matter. A good song's a good song. If it matters so much to you to know what it's about, then you need a life.
  • Hayden from Northampton, EnglandIm not sure if this song is about two faced girls but sure sounds good for a song though... I do not have any doubts about this song its just a brilliant song thats it!!!
  • Cara from Perth, AustraliaIts not about meaninglessness! (Is that even a word..:S) its about making the most of life, and being genuine. Well, thats my impression anyway. be glad to hear anyone elses....:D
  • Truth from My House, Icelandit's not about two faced girls... it's an existentialist song suggesting that, ultimately, our lives have no real purpose or meaning, and that once this at first depressing thought is accepted we can live our lives freely.
  • Andrea from Des Moines, IaOne of my favorite Killers songs.
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