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Stepford Smiler / Music

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  • Marina & the Diamonds' "Teen Idle" manages to do this with just one line:
    (cheering) Feeling super! Super! Super... suicidal...
  • One of the interpretations of BTS' "Fake Love" is that it describes the relationship many Kpop idols have with their fans, with companies creating an idealized, sanitized version of artists through make-up, editing, and control of their image through Contractual Purity, which idols maintain in order to make their fans happy.
    Why you sad? I don't know, I don't know
    Smile, and say I love you
    Look at me. I even gave up on myself
    Even you can't understand me.
    • The entire concept of the LOVE YOURSELF album series - which "Fake Love" is part of - is based on the idea of a person hiding their true self (sadness, pain, mental illness, external or internal flaws) from their loved one to maintain the relationship; "Fake Love" and LOVE YOURSELF: Tear is the point where the person realizes they've lost themself in the process, and the relationship becomes unsustainable due to being based on lies. This concept (which as shown above, has also been interpreted as a commentary on idols) is made especially explicit in "Outro: Her":
      Is not the one you know
      Make up to wake up today too
      And dress up to mask on
      In order to become the me that you love
  • Smokey Robinson:
    • "Tears of a Clown" is practically the musical Trope Codifier.
    Now if there's a smile on my face
    It's only there trying to fool the public
    But when it comes down to fooling you
    Now honey, that's quite a different subject
    But don't let my glad expression
    Give you the wrong impression
    Really I'm sad, oh I'm sadder than sad
    You're gone and I'm hurtin' so bad
    Like a clown I pretend to be glad
    • Also "The Tracks of My Tears":
      So take a good look at my face
      You'll see my smile looks out of place
      If you look closer, it's easy to trace
      The tracks of my tears
  • The song "Happy Go Lucky" by Steps is made of this trope.
  • "Facade" by Disturbed.
  • In the planned music video for "Rhinestone Eyes" by Gorillaz, there's a sequence where Crazy Cyborg Noodle goes on a killing rampage while wearing a creepy ear-to-ear grin, which ends with a close up of her crying eye.

  • "Centuries of Damn" by Death Grips is an intensely sad example of this trope.
    To centuries of damn
    I've never been so yawn
    Can't believe I'm still standing
    Can't believe life take this long
  • The subject of "Everybody's Fool" by Evanescence is somewhere between Depressed and Empty. In the video, the dissonance between the facade and the emptiness inside results in some
    Look, here she comes now
    Bow down and stare in wonder
    Oh, how we love you
    No flaws when you're pretending
    But now I know she never was, and never will be
    You don't know how you've betrayed me
    And somehow you've got everybody fooled
    I know who you really are
    You're the one who cries when you're alone
  • Morrissey (in his solo career after The Smiths) has "When I Last Spoke To Carol" where she said:
    I've hammered a smile across this pasty face of mine
    since the day I was born in 1975.
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  • Everclear's "Wonderful" hints at this.
  • The song "Ah, but Underneath" from Follies. The entire song sings about a woman who seemed to be something on the surface, but was something different underneath the top layer. But that layer, too, was "just a shell," and so it continues. The very last line is "Sometimes when the wrappings fall, there's nothing underneath at all!" making this Emptiness.
  • The chorus of Taylor Swift's "Tied Together With A Smile" is about a depressed childhood friend of Taylor's who had anorexia.
    And no one knows
    That you cry, but you don't tell anyone
    That you
    Might not be the golden one
    And you're tied together with a smile
    But you're comin' undone
  • "Smiling Faces Sometimes", sung by The Temptations, the Undisputed Truth, David Ruffin solo...
    Smiling faces sometimes
    Pretend to be your friend
    Smiling faces show no traces
    Of the evil that lurks within...
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  • "The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most" by Dashboard Confessional is about a Depressive:
    Buried deep as you can dig inside yourself, hidden in the public eye
    such a stellar monument to loneliness.
    Laced with brilliant smiles and shining eyes,
    perfect makeup, but you're barely scraping by.
  • Lady Gaga:
    • "Dance in the Dark": "Baby loves to dance in the dark / cuz when he's looking she falls apart".
    • "So Happy I Could Die": "I do my hair / I gloss my eyes / I touch myself all through the night."
  • "Lucky" by Britney Spears. The video shows it perfectly!
  • The song "Eight Hundred" by Pinocchio-P.
  • Skin's "Nothing But" rings as either Depressed or Empty. The entirety of the song has lyrics which insist that the narrator is happy ("I feel nothing just joy, and pride, and happiness.") but the tune denotes a sense of Lyrical Dissonance.
  • The song "Gift from the Princess who Brought Sleep" by mothy. More specifically, the character who sings it, Margarita Blankenheim (played by Vocaloid Hatsune Miku).
  • Emilie Autumn:
    • Compared to her other, much deeper songs about sadness/depression, "Willow" can come off as this.
    I'm not unique in this
    Nor am I special, sweet or kind
    I court a thousand smiles
    Yet I keep my own to hide behind
    But, oh, what beautiful things I'll wear
    What beautiful dresses and hair
    I'm lucky to share his bed
  • Mr. Smiley from the Mustard Plug song of the same name is a variation of the classic smiley-face badge thing. He's Unstable- he goes nuts and kills his entire family.
  • Nick Cave's "Good Son".
  • Insane Clown Posse's "Mr. Happy" details the day-to-day life of a friendly serial killer who is all smiles unless deprived of victims to strangle.
  • Eduard Khil, to the point of Memetic Mutation.
  • David Bowie's "D.J." is sung from the perspective of a Empty radio deejay who's "got believers" but is losing his mind and approaching Unstable status; the Concept Video contrasts his happy public facade with his increasingly violent, despairing nature in-studio. "I am a D.J., I am what I play/Can't turn around, no, can't turn around..."
  • The Beatles' "I'm A Loser," mostly written by Lennon:
    Although I laugh and I act like a clown
    Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown
    My tears are falling like rain from the sky
    Is it for her or myself that I cry?
  • Queen's "The Show Must Go On" describes Emptiness (it could also fit Depression):
    Inside my heart is breaking
    My make-up may be flaking
    But my smile still stays on.
    • For what it's worth, the Reality Subtext (the song was written and recorded as Freddie Mercury as entering the final stages of dying of an AIDS-related illness) heavily supports a Depressed interpretation of someone desperately trying to put a brave face on tremendous pain and unhappiness.
  • The Simon and Garfunkel song "Richard Cory," based on the Edward Arlington Robinson poem. The song's chorus, an Everyman wishing he could be Richard Cory, becomes ironic when repeated one final time after we learn about Cory's suicidal depression.
  • The protagonist in Jonathan Coulton's song "Good Morning Tucson", a morning news anchor who keeps his trademark smile going even as he's trying to get through his day's work, interviewing guests he doesn't particularly care about, and literally setting the studio on fire, watching it burn down around him.
    This year has been a little crazy for the Andersons,
    You may recall we had some trouble last year.
    The Robot Council had us banished to an asteroid,
    That hasn't undermined our holiday cheer!
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Happy House".
  • The song "The Great Pretender" describes this kind of person, who puts on a happy facade to hide their sadness about losing a lover.
  • The song "Shallow" by Poets of the Fall could be the Empty Smiler's Anthem.
    More in my face
    Than is my taste
    I grow so weary I'll surrender.
  • The Rise Against song "The Approaching Curve" is about a relationship built around this trope by both sides; the relationship is falling apart, but according to the lyrics "They'll remember, only our smiles 'cause that's all they've seen. Long since dried, when we are found, are the tears in which we had drowned..." Overall, it makes the song about a tough breakup even sadder than it was before.
  • "Go Away" by Delain is a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to a Depressed person who puts all their effort into putting on an act instead of solving their problems.
  • "On the outside they would smile, laughing, joking all the while; On the inside, they would cry, painful truth they try to hide."
  • Go relisten to "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin. That bouncy, happy a cappella track hides one grim song.
  • Paramore's "Brick By Boring Brick" has shades of this:
    Well you built up a world of magic/because your real life is tragic.
  • Charlie Chaplin's "Smile":
    Smile, though your heart is aching...Smile, even though it's breaking...
  • The Kinks' "I'm Not Like Everybody Else":
    And make out I smile though I wear a frown
  • "Don't Let It Show" by The Alan Parsons Project.
  • "Leave a Scar" by Marilyn Manson describes an Unstable person:
    I'm well aware I'm a danger to my self
    Are you aware I'm a danger to others?
    There's a crack in my soul
    You thought was a smile
    My smile is a chainlink fence / that I have put up
  • Sting's "I'm So Happy That I Can't Stop Crying", about a man who keeps a happy facade while going through a divorce.
  • "Apple Pie" by the Bastard Fairies is very unsympathetic look at one of these.
  • The Supernaturals' appropriately named song "Smile":
    You'd better smile, smile, smile
    Cause that's all that you've got left
    Your life's a mess, you've been cut adrift
  • Sia's "Chandelier" is about a depressed Hard-Drinking Party Girl who turns to a night of drunken debauchery to try and push down a gnawing sense of fear and distress.
    Help me, I'm holding on for dear life
    Won't look down, won't open my eyes
    Keep my glass full 'til morning light
    'Cause I'm just holding out for tonight
    • She also has "Unstoppable":
    Leave my sunglasses on while I shed a tear
    It's never the right time, yeah, yeah
    I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am
  • Very much in the same way, Tove Lo portrays one of these in her song Habits, especially in the music video. The Hard-Drinking Party Girl persona of her alter ego in the song is just a facade to cope with losing "her" lover, and the facade crumbles at several points in said video.
  • "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez is sung from the POV of a girl discussing her family. Despite her dad's infidelity, mom's alcoholism, the Domestic Abuse between them, and her brother's drug use they maintain a normal, happy family image to others.
    Places, places, get in your places.
    Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
    Everyone thinks that we're perfect.
    Please don't let them look through the curtains.
  • The video for Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" opens with teenagers walking along as mindless zombies entering a burger joint and walking out with burgers and shakes eerily grinning and nodding their heads.
  • The narrator of Kelly Clarkson's "Cry" seems to be convincing themselves to become one of these.
  • priscilla ahn's "Fine on the outside" (used as the ending theme to When Marnie Was There). The title explains it all.
    So I left home
    I packed up and I moved far away
    From my past one day
    And I laughed
    I sound fine on the outside
  • "Imitation of Life" by R.E.M. is about how people try to hide their insecurities while trying to be happy. The song's music video shows this by being a 20-second clip played backwards and forwards taking place at an outdoor party with all kinds of little mishaps going on throughout.
    This sugarcane, this lemonade,
    This hurricane, I'm not afraid.
    Come on, come on,
    No one can see me cry...
  • Vienna Teng's "The Tower" is about a woman trying to seem stronger than she really feels.
    She carries the act
    So convincingly the fact is sometimes she believes it
    That she can be happy the way things are
    Be happy with the things she's done
  • "These Are The Lies" by The Cab is a Suspiciously Specific Denial laden song about a man lying to himself and others about not having feelings for his ex-girlfriend.
    I've got a new girl and she's my whole world/And I don't care if you're not sleeping alone
    'Cause life is so good, I'm doing so good/Don't spend hours sitting here by the phone
    'Cause I don't think about you every single night/I'll be fine without you
    I can be fine when I'm not beside you/I'm moving on
    No, I don't cry about you/No, these ain't tears in my eyes about you
    Gonna be fine if I die without you/Baby I'm gone
    These are the lies that I tell myself at night/These are the lies that are keeping me alive
  • The Script's "Six Degrees Of Separation" is about someone who is depressed after a breakup but tries to act like they're happy.
    Fake a smile
    Yeah, lie and say, "I'm better now than ever"
    And your life's okay
    Well it's not, no
    You're doing all these things out of desperation
    Oh, woah
    You're going through six degrees of separation
  • Hinted in the second verse of Hall & Oates' hit "Everything Your Heart Desires":
    You tell me your best friend's world seems beautiful
    But don't be fooled, it's nice work if you can get it
    What goes on behind closed doors, you don't know
    Maybe she cries herself to sleep every night
  • Lovers & Liars: The song "I'm Not Him" revolves around trying to get close to a person who was in an abusive relationship. The person being spoken about is a Depressed type:
    "You smile on the outside and die from within"
    "You lock away your secrets behind your body and skin"
  • "She Walks Her Life Laughing" by Mashina Vremeni. The final verse says how nobody notices how "she who walks her life laughing" cries every night.


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