Smoke and Mirrors- Is it All What it Seems?

Smoke and Mirrors is a song off of Gotye’s Making Mirrors album, glorious album, by the way. The song in question has a sound similar to that of lounge music and, although it may seem straightforward, could it be hiding something in plain sight? What if the song is more than meets the eye? Autobots, Roll Out!


You’re a fraud and you know it
But it’s too good to throw it all away
Anyone would do the same
You’ve got ’em going
And you’re careful not to show it
Sometimes you even fool yourself a bit
It’s like magic
But it’s always been a smoke and mirrors game
Anyone would do the same

So now that you’ve arrived well you wonder
What is it that you’ve done to make the grade
And should you do the same?
(Is that too easy?)
Are you only trying to please them
(Will they see then?)
You’re desperate to deliver
Anything that could give you
A sense of reassurance
When you look in the mirror

Such highs and lows
You put on quite a show
All these highs and lows
And you’re never really sure
What you do it for
Well do you even want to know?
You put on quite a show

(Mother)
Are you watching?
Are you watching?
(Mother)
Are you watching?
(Mother)

You’re a fraud and you know it
And every night and day you take the stage
And it always entertains
You’re giving pleasure
And that’s admirable, you tell yourself
And so you’d gladly sell yourself
To others

(Mother)
Are you watching?
(Mother)
Are you watching?
(Mother)
Are you watching?
(Mother)
Are you watching?

Such highs and lows
You put on quite a show
All these highs and lows
And you’re never really sure
What you do it for
Well do you even want to know?
Yeah you put on quite a show


I’m changing up my style to see what fits, so tell me in the comments if you like the Benson Hedges format more, or this one, thank you!


The term “Smoke and Mirrors” Holds a facade, a false face with real things happening behind the screen.

In the first stanza, the speaker addresses “you” as someone who is a fraud, and “you” know it, but it’s too good to throw it all away (Lines 1-2). This makes whatever “you’re” doing seem terrible, false, dishonest.  The speaker seems to condescend to “you”, by saying that anyone would do the same (Line 3), given the opportunity “you” have, and “you” have an opportunity to trick people, you do it with great success, taking advantage of each and every last possible weakness and trick. You’ve got ’em going, and “you’re” careful not to show it, hell, sometimes “you” even fool “yourself” a bit (Lines 4-6). “You’re” so good that “you” don’t even try anymore, “you” know what you’re doing, “you’re” taking advantage of people, riling them up and letting them destroy themselves for you. It’s like magic, but it’s always been a smoke and mirrors game, anyone would do the same in your position (Lines 7-9). “You’re” almost magical, “you’re” so good. A manipulator, someone irredeemable. But, who can blame you, given your opportunities.

So, now that “you” arrive, well, “you” wonder what it is that “you’ve” done to make the grade, and should “you” do the same (Lines 10-12)? “You” have second thoughts sometimes. Is that to easy? Are “you” only trying to please them? Will they see, then, you’re desperate to deliver anything that could give you a sense of reassurance, when you look in the mirror(Lines 13-19)? Perhaps “you” think of “yourself” as a helper, manipulating people, yes, but also making them feel better in the process? Though, this could be an illusion “you” set up for “yourself” to make “you” able to look “yourself” in the mirror.

Such highs and lows, well, “you” put on quite a show, but “you’re” never really sure what “you” do it for. Do “you” even want to know? Well, you put on quite a show (Lines 20-26). “You put on quite a show” and “Highs lows” are both repeated twice, showing that this job is always big, but not always rewarding. “You’re” second guessing your deception, but overall go along with it. Perhaps you love the thrill? Or maybe you love the money.

Mother, Are you watching? Are you watching, mother? Are you watching(Lines 27-32)? “You” are shown to refer to the speaker’s mother, which brings a whole new layer into this.

You’re a fraud, and you know it. Every night and day, you take the stage(Lines 33-34). Mother’s deceiving, constantly, never resting to see what she does, but it’s okay to her, because, it always entertains (Line 35). This is how she justifies it to herself. You’re giving pleasure, and that’s admirable, you tell yourself, and so you gladly sell yourself to others (Lines 36-39). I’d say this is a way of saying that she’s happy to do this deception, I mean, it’s making her customers happy, right? She’s not giving it up.

This is the same as the first chorus, asking if mother is seeing what she’s doing to them.

Such highs and lows, well you put on quite a show (Lines 48-49). Mother is still, after all this playing her little deceptive game. All these highs and lows, and you’re never really sure what you do it for. Do you even want to know? Yeah. You put on quite a show (Lines 50-54). Again, the speaker asks why you’re deceiving all of these people, taking what they need from them, and rarely feeling remorse.

Mother is a person not worried about the troubles of other people, but only in her own illegitimate earnings.


What do you guys think? Am I right? Or am I all Smoke and Mirrors? Feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think.

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