Hypocritical Singing

Hypocritical singing is like singing, but with hypocrisy.

It could be directly self-referential, i.e. the character is contradicting themselves within the song, or the song contains both lyrics which propose a maxim and also break that same maxim: for instance, a song about being truthful which itself contains lies.

It could also be a character singing about a maxim whilst breaking that maxim in their actions rather than the song itself: for instance, a song about being truthful sung while the character is on their way to deliver false information.

Sometimes Played for Laughs, in the form of Hypocritical Humor. Also can be used to show that a character should not be trusted.

Related to and may overlap with Lyrical Dissonance.


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  • "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid is a slight variation in that Ursula, while trying to get Ariel to make a deal with her, sings of how she [Ursula] uses her powers to help people. The song's hypocritical in that Ursula makes herself seem to come off in the very best light. While she does help people, she compares herself to a saint, but she also always has something to gain from her deals, and she goes out of her way to make sure that those under contract will fail to uphold their end of the bargain.
  • Meg's "I Won't Say I'm In Love" from Disney's Hercules

    Films—Live Action 
  • Fred Astaire's "I Won't Dance" number in Roberta.
  • In High School Musical 2, one of the characters sings about how he doesn't dance. Which is odd, considering that he was doing perfect choreography in the last movie.
  • In Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins sings the kids to sleep with "Stay Awake".
  • Muppet Treasure Island has 'Professional Pirate,' with the lyrics:
    We'd never stab you in the back; *guy with a knife in his back falls in front of the singer's feet.*
    We'd never lie or cheat; *one pirate steals another's watch.*
  • Singin' in the Rain has dignity. A lot.

  • The Hobbit: When pressed to do Bilbo's dishes, the dwarves begin to sing about smashing his plates and destroying his property, while actually taking care to do no damage at all. The last line of the song (Which didn't make it into the film adaptation) mentions that wrecking Bilbo's property like that would displease their host, which is why they won't do them.
    That's what Bilbo Baggins hates/So carefully, carefully, with the plates!

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Saturday Night Live, Justin Timberlake showcased his singing talents with a song saying that he wasn't there to showcase his singing talents.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Musical Episode "Once More With Feeling" has two examples:
    • "I'll Never Tell", in which Anya and Xander list all the secrets they're keeping from each other.
    • "Rest In Peace", in which Spike sings of wanting Buffy to leave him alone, but he wants the exact opposite of that.
    Spike: (watching Buffy run like hell when the song ends) So...you're not staying, then?
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend lives for this trope. The best example is "I'm A Good Person", in which Rebecca actually threatens the people around her with a knife in order to get them to say what a good person she is.

  • Justin Bieber:
    • "Never Say Never"
    • "One Time". Justin insists that he's only going to "tell you [this] one time", then repeats it over and over again.
  • Jonathan Coulton with "Not About You". Where he proceeds to make the song all about the one it's not about.
  • Monty Python's "Never Be Rude to an Arab", which is not exactly polite.
  • Genesis's song "I Can't Dance" is a very catchy song about how they have no musical talent.

  • In Thenardier's song "Master of the House" from Les MisÚrables, he sings about what an honest and decent innkeeper he is, all while constantly cheating and conning everyone in the inn.
  • "Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted" from The Mikado. Many productions have Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum punctuate "This, oh, this, is what I'll/he'll never do" with kisses. Pooh-Bah also has this line in "So Pardon Us": "To our prerogative we cling, So pardon us, So pardon us, If we decline to dance and sing, Tra la la la la la..." while dancing and singing.
  • In The Drowsy Chaperone, "Show Off" is all about how Janet doesn't want to show off anymore, complete with an encore.

    Western Animation 
  • Or in The Simpsons during the all-singing clip show when Homer says, 'Singing is the lowest form of communication." Marge says, 'But you sing all the time," and Homer replies, "No I don't, I hate to rhyme."
  • In Phineas and Ferb, the Ear Worm song "Ain't Got No Rhythm" is about librarian and former rockstar Swampy saying that he lost his ability to make rhythm after he fell asleep in a metronome factory... despite making a spontaneous and incredibly catchy improvised rhythm as he sings this. Phineas even points out how clearly untrue this is.
    Phineas: But listen what you're doing right there!
    With that stamp and a book
    You've got a real nice hook
    Sounds to me like you've got rhythm to spare