Contender
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart Lyrics


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Look what you've done
Look what you've done
What do you have now?
Things that never come
Another year in a dead room
Is it time to come down?

Another crowded scene
You saw the boys in white sing "I'm a pretender"
But you never were
You never were a contender
A contender

I heard your same old tune
Singing city sins like you were the first one
Gave up books for film
Gave up film for time
Now that you've got none

At the back of a crowded scene
You saw the boys in white sing "I'm a pretender"

At the back of a crowded scene
You saw the boys in white sing "I'm a pretender"
But you never were
You never were a contender
A contender




You never were a contender
You never were a contender

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's song Contender depict a sense of disappointment and loss of direction. The song is directed towards someone who once had potential, but ultimately failed to live up to it. The lyrics “Another year in a dead room, is it time to come down?” suggest that the person the song is directed towards is stuck in a rut and unsure of how to move forward. Similarly, the lines “Gave up books for film, gave up film for time, now that you’ve got none” imply that the person once had interests and aspirations, but has lost sight of them.


The chorus of the song emphasizes this lost potential with the repeated line “But you never were a contender,” implying that the person was never truly passionate or dedicated enough to achieve their dreams. The reference to “the boys in white” singing “I’m a pretender” signifies that the person never truly belonged or fit in with a specific group or scene, and was simply going through the motions.


Overall, the lyrics of Contender are both poignant and relatable for anyone who has experienced similar feelings of disappointment or disillusionment.


Line by Line Meaning

Look what you've done
Reflecting on the consequences of past actions


Look what you've done
Emphasizing the gravity of the previous line


What do you have now?
Questioning the value of current possessions


Things that never come
Regretting missed opportunities


Another year in a dead room
Feeling trapped in a stagnant environment


Is it time to come down?
Contemplating a change of course


Another crowded scene
Describing a typical social situation


You saw the boys in white sing "I'm a pretender"
Observing others who project a phony persona


But you never were
Conveying a sense of authenticity


You never were a contender
Acknowledging a lack of success or recognition


A contender
Repeating the concept for emphasis


I heard your same old tune
Recognizing a pattern of behavior or conversation


Singing city sins like you were the first one
Expressing a disdain for cliched or unoriginal ideas


Gave up books for film
Trading one interest for another


Gave up film for time
Prioritizing other aspects of life over hobbies or passions


Now that you've got none
Suggesting a sense of emptiness or regret


At the back of a crowded scene
Revisiting a previous memory


You saw the boys in white sing "I'm a pretender"
Recalling a specific observation


But you never were
Reiterating the idea of authenticity


You never were a contender
Bringing closure to the central theme of the song


You never were a contender
Repeating the closing statement for importance




Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: KIP BERMAN, KURT FELDMAN, ALEXANDER ARTHUR NAIDUS, PEGGY WANG

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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