What does Smile Like You Mean It mean?

The Killers: Smile Like You Mean It Meaning

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Album cover for Smile Like You Mean It album cover

Song Released: 2005

Smile Like You Mean It Lyrics

Save some face, you know you've only got one
Change your ways while you're young
Boy, one day you'll be a man
Oh girl, he'll help you understand
Smile like you mean it
Smile like you mean it

Looking back at sunsets on the Eastside


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 20th 2007 !⃝

    This song is about being genuine, respecting and appreciating love and not being a flirt. I can prove this in a breakdown of the important lyrics and although long, if you read it all you'll understand what the song is about:

    "Save some face, you know you've only got one": This means exactly what it says, and refers to kissing or making out with everyone you meet and that you should "save some face" for someone you actually love.

    "Change your ways, while you're young": If you keep flirting and misleading people and not commiting then this lifestyle will stay with you and you'll never find true love even when you're older.

    "Looking back, at sunsests on the Eastside. We lost track, of the time": You grow up fast, and this refers to the point previously made about changing your ways before it's too late.

    "Dreams, aren't what they used to be. Some things, slide by so carelessly" - The most important line in the song, completely summing up the meaning. People used to have values and morals about love and relationships and now society is obsessed with sex...dreams aren't what they used to be indeed. The second line is talking about love, and how in our efforts to seek quick, meaningless pleasure, love slides by.

    "And someone will drive her around, down the same streets that I did": Describing someone that is a flirt, and is having a quick, meaningless 'relationship' with another guy soon after she had one with him.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    May 27th 2008 !⃝

    I think it's about a man looking back on his life and remembering his first love or a certain girl he loved. At the time he was dating the girl he was miserable and smiled but didn't really mean it, he didn't really listen to her or take interest and without him even realising it he loses her to another man. While he's remembering he realises how much he loved her and how if he'd actually smiled like he meant it he might have not lost her.
    This memory of the girl reminds him how easily you can lose things and how time passes you by really quickly and you should embrace what you have when you have it or live to regret it like he did.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Feb 5th 2008 !⃝

    I've heard that this song is about facetious people, perhaps the kind who lie to everyone and themselves to get them through life. They grin and bear whatever they have to but are miserable inside.

    The singer is saying 'change your ways while you're young.' To me, the message to this person is ... don't make yourself miserable trying to please everyone else.
    To me, the Occam's Razor of this song is pointing out the fact that a real smile and what is behind it is much more beautiful than a fake one.

  4. anonymous
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    Jun 21st 2019 !⃝

    It’s about a guy who has passed away, and is looking back in time ........ the song writer..... “and someone is playing a game in the house that I grew up in”........

  5. anonymous
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    Nov 15th 2012 !⃝

    As a bit of an older fan I took this in like live in the moment with family and friends while your young they go away fast.Smile like you mean it means smile even if you are not happy at the moment.In the video Brandon is watching the past parties with both family and friends and looking back on the past always brings up nostalgia.This song always struck me like that in ways remembering the past with fond or longing memories.Someone in the house he used to live in.Driving down the same streets that I did.A new generation of families living in his past home and memories but only brandon can explain the lyrics so however you interpret them it's all good but that song had me tearing up at times.

  6. anonymous
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    Mar 11th 2012 !⃝

    the phrase "smile like you mean it" makes me think of a fake smile. like you actually don't mean it, but you should do so, so that those around you don't notice your pain.

  7. anonymous
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    Dec 6th 2011 !⃝

    It's about appreciating things and people in your youth.When time goes by you look back on people living in the house that you lived in.I took it as nostalgia and fleeting youth.Trust me smile like you mean it even when you feel like shit.He's looking back on parties and family and friends.I made a short story long but I always loved this song because it rings so true wheh you get older and look back.

  8. anonymous
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    Feb 24th 2011 !⃝

    In the song, it quotes, "and someone is playing a game, in the house that i grew up in", i think the video is set in his old house, and in it, are couples talking, which also refers to him talking about how she'll be driven around by some over guy, just like how it was with them.

  9. anonymous
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    Feb 11th 2011 !⃝

    I think this song is about a break-up. The girl has broken up with "the boy" and he cannot accept it, so the narrator tells him "to save some face, you know you only got one". So the boy should some kind of save his reputation and pride and just let her go.Futhermore he should "change [his] ways while [he's] young" de facto he should find a better way to deal with rejection and let her go with a real smile (smile like you mean it).
    In the second verse the boy remembers his realationship with the girl and how they drifted apart at the end (Dreams aren't what they used to be). Their good times and love just "[slided] by so carelessly" that he, the boy, almost missed the moment their realationship became different (in a bad way).
    The last verse is about the future prediction the boy might have. In this future scenario he is togheter with someone else (and someone is calling my name from the back of the restaurant) and he has a kid with this someone (and someone is playing a game in the house I grew up in). Also the girl found someone else, who "[drives] her around on the same streets that [he]did".
    This shows that he accepted the fact that they cannot be together and believes they're going to be happy without each other.

  10. anonymous
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    Oct 10th 2010 !⃝

    Is it possible that this song has no meaning and it exists for the sole purpose of being awesome?

  11. anonymous
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    Sep 24th 2010 !⃝

    This doesn't address the whole song but I think almost all but one of the interpretations here did not list "save some face, you know you've only got one" as meaning to save your dignity, honour and reputation.

  12. anonymous
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    Aug 23rd 2010 !⃝

    I think this song is about leaving the troubled times in the past and moving on. I'm not sure if this is intended for a certain person, or people, but it seems as though he wants someone to learn from his mistakes. "someone will drive her around down the same streets that I did" to me sounds like these troubled times will always occur with people but you have to get out of that lifestyle, and grow up.

  13. anonymous
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    May 1st 2010 !⃝

    I think this song has its own personal message to everybody. To me its about moments and wasting time, regrets and such. sometimes were so miserable that we just sit by smiling fakely and let time flow by instead of making the most of it, so I think he's not just saying smile like you mean it but smile and mean it.
    from "And someone is calling my name" to "On the same streets that I did" i think he's refering to how he took those things for granted. Alot of people think that the girl he refers to is his daughter- I have to disagree. The song was written by Brandon and Mark and unless they were trying to see things through the eyes of someone they knew then I doubt it was a daughter, Im pretty sure Mark doesn't have a daughter and Brandon has two sons so perhaps its refering to an old lover like other people have suggested?

    anyway i love this song and the tune is amazing. The killers are amazing XD

  14. anonymous
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    Mar 24th 2010 !⃝

    I think the song is about time.. about how sometimes it moves so quickly. Note that throughout the song he keeps mentioning the passing of time:

    "change your ways while your young"

    "one day you'll be a man"

    "we lost track of the time"

    "some things slide by so carelessly" (or sat, doesn't change the meaning either way) - I don't think he's only talking about the relationship, but rather time itself. So many events, important ones, seem to happen by without any effort at all.

    I think the line "and someone is calling my name from the back of a restaurant" is really key here as well. Especially with the video of him walking around as a ghost. I don't see him necessarily seeing himself as dead, but rather present but absent, simply not paying attention. It's like he's actually there but he's so detached from his own life it doesn't even matter.

    And I think that's what the title of the song is about. "Smile like you mean it". If you're just moving along, merely enduring your life rather than living it, it's hard to smile like you mean it. You can't offer compassion, sympathy, or empathy, if you are so detached from your own life that things are happening to you rather than being the master of your own time.

  15. anonymous
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    Jan 24th 2010 !⃝

    I think some of the meaning is to appreciate your youth and famiy and friends.As you get older you look back on your past home and events and you wil feel nostalgia and miss them.I've always had trouble listening to this song because of the images and remembering past friends and boyfriends and of course famiy.Smile like you mean it to me ust means even when you feel you can't stand your family or they get on your nerves fake it when your down so you never look back with regrets.You can't get the past back.Just my take on the song.

  16. musicsetsmefree
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    Sep 2nd 2009 !⃝

    This song is a wake-up call to guys (and maybe, perhaps girls) that are selfish and put their loved one (their girlfriend/boyfriend) beneath them, neglect them, etc... Life has a way of coming back to haunt or help you, depending on the choices you make.

    It's hard to listen to sometimes

  17. anonymous
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    Aug 19th 2009 !⃝

    My gosh! does every single Killers song have to be connected with Jenny and Andy?

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  18. anonymous
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    Jul 27th 2009 !⃝

    i think it means looking after his family after death and giving advice to his children and spouse. when he talks about " and someone will drive her around on the same streets that i did", it might be about his daughter, and how she will be growing up, and getting a boyfriend and he will drive her around the same streets her father used to, when they would have father-daughter time, and smile like you mean it is talking about how they should be happy, even if he is gone, and the "oh no, oh no, oh no no no" bit is about how they shouldn't be sad, it is as if he sees one of his children becoming depressed about their fathers death and telling them that they should be happy and that he will watch over them

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