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Music Discussions

The Pretender
09/18/2007

Main Point of Discussion: Who are you really?

The Music Video: “You’re the Pretender”

The Foo Fighters are once again on the charts with their sixth studio album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. It was released in late September 2007 and entered the Billboard 200 album chart at #3, selling 168,668 copies in its first week, and has since been certified gold.

The album was the band's fourth to have a song reach the top of the Modern Rock Tracks, with "The Pretender." With 18 weeks at the summit, "The Pretender" also set the record for longest stretch at #1 on Billboard's Alternative / Modern Rock chart.

The album is a 2008 Grammy nominee for Album of the Year and Best Rock Album, while "The Pretender" has been nominated for Record of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Hard Rock Performance.

But beyond all these charts… these guys sell out stadiums! Their tour is huge each year and a ton of young people are listening to them. In a culture that is dominated by hip hop, the Foo Fighters somehow manage to keep popping their heads up on MTV, on the charts and in stadiums in your city.

At THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY we like to use pop culture references to start Biblical conversation (just like the Apostle Paul used culture to start conversations about Jesus in Acts 17). This music video might be a good discussion starter in some circles. Use your discernment.

If you want, you can print out the lyrics (below) and give each student a copy to refer to.

MTV.com has the video on their site for free right now and iTunes offers the video as a download for $1.99. Ask the tech guy at your church how to play the video on a laptop through a projector.

Introducing the Music Video:
Many of you are familiar with and some of you are fans of The Foo Fighters. Well tonight we are going to show the video for The Pretender and ask, “Are we for real or a bunch of pretenders?”

Pass out a handout with the lyrics on it.
    Song Lyrics: "The Pretender"

    Keep you in the dark
    You know they all pretend
    Keep you in the dark
    And so it all began

    Send in your skeletons
    Sing as their bones come marching in...again
    The need you buried deep
    The secrets that you keep are at the ready
    Are you ready?
    I'm finished making sense
    Done pleading ignorance
    That whole...defense

    Spinning infinity, boy
    The wheel is spinning me
    It's never-ending, never-ending
    Same old story

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    You're the pretender
    What if I say I will never surrender?

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    You're the pretender
    What if I say that I'll never surrender?

    In time our soul untold
    I'm just another soul for sale... oh, well
    The page is out of print
    We are not permanent
    We're temporary, temporary
    Same old story

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    You're the pretender
    What if I say that I'll never surrender?

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    You're the pretender
    What if I say I will never surrender?

    I'm the voice inside your head
    You refuse to hear
    I'm the face that you have to face
    Mirrored in your stare
    I'm what's left, I'm what's right
    I'm the enemy
    I'm the hand that will take you down
    Bring you to your knees

    So who are you?
    Yeah, who are you?
    Yeah, who are you?
    Yeah, who are you?

    Keep you in the dark
    You know they all pretend

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    You're the pretender
    What if I say that I'll never surrender?

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    You're the pretender
    What if I say that I'll never surrender?

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    (Keep you in the dark)
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    (You know they all... pretend)
    You're the pretender
    What if I say I will never surrender?

    What if I say I'm not like the others?
    (Keep you in the dark)
    What if I say I'm not just another one of your plays
    (You know they all... pretend)
    You're the pretender
    What if I say I will never surrender?

    So who are you?
    Yeah, who are you?
    Yeah, who are you?
Transition Statement:
Some of the words we keep hearing over and over again in this song are “you’re the pretender, you know they all pretend.”

The Foo Fighters’ lyrics aren’t all that straight forward. They’re a little vague and that might be for good reason. Listeners can identify with these lyrics on many different levels.

But regardless of whether they are mad at the government or some other administration, it’s pretty clear that they are upset by some authority, and are angered by the fact that this authority lacks authenticity. We don’t want people who aren’t real or authentic. And this song makes it clear that some of us don’t want to be “played.” The song and video go even further to preach a message of “and we aren’t going to stand for this anymore!”

But I think the key message of the song is the frustration with those who aren’t real… the pretender. The song communicates this strongly in the last verses where it asks the question, “So who are you? Yeah, who are you?”

Jesus experienced the same frustration. It’s clear the Foo Fighters are mad – maybe at government or organized religion, but 2000 years ago Jesus was even more ticked off at a bunch of pretenders.

The question is, “Are you a pretender?”


Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:
  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What was your favorite Halloween costume you ever wore as a kid?


  2. ASK A FEW: What are some of the ways that we see people being “fake” today, saying one thing, but acting another?


  3. As we mentioned before, the Bible tells us that Jesus was also mad at a bunch of pretenders. There were at least three things Jesus saw that made him mad… let’s check them out.

    READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE:

      Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
      “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

      5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
      16 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. 17 But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. 18 Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

  4. ASK SOMEONE: According to the passage, what were the three ways people were being fake?


  5. ASK A FEW: What are some of the situations that you are tempted to be fake, so someone might think better of you?


  6. In another passage Jesus said…

    READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGE:

      Matthew 15:7-9
      You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
      8" 'These people honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me.
      9They worship me in vain;
      their teachings are but rules taught by men.

  7. ASK A FEW: What do you think it means when Jesus says, “they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me?”


  8. ASK A FEW: What are some ways we have honored Him with our words but have done the complete opposite?


  9. ASK SOMEONE: What do you think Foo Fighters mean when they say, “What if I say I'm not like the others? What if I say I will never surrender?”


  10. ASK A FEW: What would it mean to you to not be like the others and never surrender?


  11. AROUND THE CIRCLE: The song ends with the question, “who are you?” Take a moment to look up I John 3:1 and write down how God answers that question:
    I am ____________________________


  12. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How will knowing you are a child of God change how you live?


  13. AROUND THE CIRCLE: What are you going to do this week to be real and never surrender?

CLOSE GROUP IN PRAYER.

Wrap Up:

Tonight we had a chance to watch a pretty cool video about not being a pretender. I hope your discussion time was good and that you were challenged to never surrender at being real.

I hope you leave here tonight knowing that you are a child of God. That He loves you and that He will always love you. I hope that knowing that will change how you live.

Authenticity is huge with your generation. You guys are all about “keeping it real.” But today’s generation is also under incredible pressure to try to measure up to a certain standard- how we dress, how we talk, who we hang out with. The pressure to “fit in” sometimes tempts us to put up a front, to wear a mask… to pretend. I don’t know how many of you were pretenders before you walked in here tonight, but my prayer is that everyone who leaves here tonight will understand their worth as a child of God. That confidence paves the way to really being real and never surrendering.


Close in Prayer.

Written by Todd Pearage

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Comments on this post

   Dwayne         2/25/2012 8:58:16 AM

Great Message!

   Amanda         3/27/2011 3:16:05 PM

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