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I’ve made no secret just how much I love this song, but I wanted to wait until I had a clearer read on the lyrics, considering the only recordings of it we have are bootlegged live versions thus far.

The lyrics I list below are subtly different from those I’ve seen anywhere else, and they haven’t been agreed upon by the brain trust at the Vault, so this is nowhere near Vault canon, but it does represent what I honestly hear based on all of the various performances available. What follows is my favourite vocal performance of the song where Grace adds diminuendo runs I haven’t heard anywhere else, ones I hope made it into the studio version.

 

Before I list the lyrics and break them down line by line I just need to say just how much of a leap this song is for Grace. That’s not to say that everything up to this point is inferior, but rather that what came before is very different from this melancholy beast. “Poseur” is a work of subtle genius where Grace doesn’t rely on what I have previously described as “power words” to reach the listener’s subconscious, but rather works with subtle word play, intricate phrasing and melodies/rhythms that are not intuitive, but challenging. You can, however, tell that this is a Grace song, such are the many intricately woven themes that compliment and contrast but still create harmonious and dissonant imagery at various points throughout the song but which still work toward a holistic end.

Let’s get to it then…

Full Lyrics:

[Verse 1]
We were hanging with your rich kid city friends
Ones that I don’t know
Not sure what to say, say it anyway
Isn’t how I thought it’d go
 

[Pre-Chorus]
And even if I’m faking it
Pretending to be confident
I’m pathetic, I’ll admit
Asking
 

[Chorus]
Would you call me a poseur?
Or would you call me a friend?
After all that I’ve told you
Was this time well spent?
I don’t know what to say
 

[Verse 2]
Did you just take me here just to show me off
To that girl you used to know?
Everybody here is looking at me weird
So I just put on a show
 

[Pre-Chorus]
And even if I’m faking it
Pretending to be confident
I’m pathetic, I’ll admit
For asking
 

[Chorus]
Would you call me a poseur?
Or would you call me a friend?
After all that I’ve told you
Was this time well spent?
I don’t, I don’t, I don’t
 

[Bridge]
Who am I kidding
If I can’t convince myself?
And who are you kidding
I was ever someone else?
On the train home
I will stare at my phone
To hide my thoughts of what I might know
 

[Outro]
Would I call you a poseur?
Are we more than just friends?
After all that I’ve told you
Was this time well spent?
I don’t know what to say
 

I don’t know what to say

Lyric Breakdown:

Verse 1:

“We were hanging with your rich kid city friends”

Here we find Grace painting “establishing shots” in short form as she often does, and better than anyone else in the business. Immediately we’re thrust into what we can imagine is a very posh metropolitan setting, possibly a party or a club, with the young man who has been featured in all of her songs post-“Stray”.

Once that image has been fixed in our minds, with a mere nine short words, Grace immediately introduces some chaos and uncertainty into the mix…

“Ones that I don’t know
Not sure what to say, say it anyway
Isn’t how I thought it’d go”

Here’s where the phrasing and song structure deviates from her standard form by beginning the pre-chorus with “And” that kind of knocks us back on our heels a bit struggling to find purchase before she tips us sideways with…

Pre-Chorus:

“And even if I’m faking it
Pretending to be confident”

Grace is recalling how she felt like a fish out of water immersed in a scene with which she wasn’t familiar, but was trying to overcome it by not cowering, but trying her best to not appear weak. It should be noted that she says next is something she feels about herself but is choosing her words very precisely to have the greatest passive-aggressive impact on her romantic interest…

“I’m pathetic, I’ll admit
Asking”

Chorus:

“Would you call me a poseur?
Or would you call me a friend?”

I find it interesting and creative how she begins the question in the pre-chorus and then concludes it in the chorus. Here, of course, is the crux of the song where she challenges the young man to define what it is they mean to each other, or rather how he perceives her. Is she a pretend-girlfriend, or the real deal, and further is she even a friend if neither of the previous two options? The question seems like it’s full of self-doubt on the surface, but when you really listen to the question it’s not a “pathetic” question, nor is Grace “pathetic” for asking. She is actually confidently challenging him, calling him out on what she perceives is his own artifice regarding his treatment of her through rhetoric.

“After all that I’ve told you
Was this time well spent?
I don’t know what to say”

Man, that is some powerful passive-aggressive rhetoric right there, where she reminds him that after all of the intimacy she has attempted to share with him he returns the favour by treating her poorly by placing her in an awkward situation she wasn’t prepared for and then follows it up by returning to the theme introduced in “Waste My Time” (yes, I do believe this coming EP, or series thereof, represents Grace’s first concept album) with “Was this time well spent?” Grace may simply be referring to this get-together with the “rich kids”, or she may be questioning the entirety of the relationship. Grace leaves it up to the young man and the listener to decide. The “I don’t know what to say,” that punctuates the chorus is a wonderful expression of dismissive disappointment.

Verse 2:

This verse really turns up the conflict dial…

“Did you just take me here just to show me off
To that girl you used to know?”

Again, while on the surface this song may seem to paint Grace as insecure this line demonstrates that she is very aware of her own self-worth and is full of confidence because she’s acknowledging that she is someone worth showing off, and is very resentful that she’s being treated as nothing more than a trophy, especially to an old-girlfriend, or possibly a girl the young man was not able to close-the-deal with and is attempting to “show her what she is missing” by parading Grace in front of her. Very tacky behaviour and Grace is having none of it, or at least she won’t once they are alone. In the meantime she plays along to get past this awkward social situation…

“Everybody here is looking at me weird
So I just put on a show”

Pre Chorus 2:

“And even if I’m faking it
Pretending to be confident
I’m pathetic, I’ll admit
For asking”

Chorus 2:

“Would you call me a poseur?
Or would you call me a friend?
After all that I’ve told you
Was this time well spent?”

The chorus repeats as before, but ends with a new line. Rather than being obtuse and rhetorical with the previous “I don’t know what to say” she slams the young man with a crystal clear declarative statement…

“I don’t, I don’t, I don’t”

Bridge:

The bridge crystalizes the situation and really challenges the young man…

“Who am I kidding
If I can’t convince myself?
And who are you kidding
I was ever someone else?”

Grace is admitting here that she doesn’t feel for him the way she once tried to believe she did and further demands that the young man she is with deals with the fact that she neither cannot, and will not, change herself for him or anyone else. Again, this song isn’t about an insecure Grace, it’s about Grace taking a step back and evaluating a relationship that was doomed to never work out as she intellectually recognized in “Waste My Time” but was not yet prepared to deal with emotionally. It’s about her extricating herself from a situation where her worth wasn’t being recognized appropriately but was being abused for her companion’s selfish gains. This is a strong and very confident Grace speaking, but she is doing so very casually. She isn’t screaming about her frustration as was the case in “Don’t Like U” and “The City”. No, this is Grace coming to grips with the realization and acceptance that this relationship can no longer continue (again, I feel that these post-“Stray” songs must be analysed collectively rather than individually).

“On the train home
I will stare at my phone
To hide my thoughts of what I might know”

There it is, Grace painting another scene, one now removed from the gathering of “rich kids” where it’s just her and the young man whom Grace is now ignoring by staring at her phone because she knows now that it’s over, but is too emotionally exhausted to deal with yet another scene and more drama.

Outro:

Here Grace reverses the question posed in the choruses…

“Would I call you a poseur?
Are we more than just friends?
After all that I’ve told you
Was this time well spent?
I don’t know what to say

I don’t know what to say”

I assume this will be the final track on the EP as it certainly feels like an ending, but you never know what other tricks Grace has up her sleeve.