"Cheerleader" as written by and Anne Erin Clark....
I've had good times
With some bad guys
I've told whole lies
With a half smile
Held your bare bones
With my clothes on
I've thrown rocks
Then hid both my arms

I don't know what good it serves
Pouring my purse in the dirt

But I-I-I-I-I don't wanna be your cheerleader no more
I-I-I-I-I don't wanna be your cheerleader no more

I've played dumb
When I knew better
Tried too hard
Just to be clever
I know honest thieves
I call family
I've seen America
With no clothes on

But I-I-I-I-I don't wanna be a cheerleader no more
I-I-I-I-I don't wanna be a cheerleader no more

I don't know what I deserve
But for you I could work

'Cause I don't wanna be a cheerleader no more
I don't wanna be a cheerleader no more
I don't wanna be a cheerleader no more
I don't wanna be a dirt eater no more
I don't wanna be a dirt eater no more
I don't wanna be a cheerleader no more

Lyrics submitted by j0nnynoname

"Cheerleader" as written by Anne Erin Clark

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Cheerleader song meanings
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  • +6
    Song MeaningI think it's just about all of the things she's done to change herself for all of these people, specifically guys. She's totally exposed herself and given up all her dignity to support or to get these people to like her but now she's saying she doesn't want to be their cheerleader no more, so they either take her or leave her. A great example is in the line where she says I played dumb when I knew better. It's a classic reference when people act stupid to get people to like them. But she's not going to do that anymore. She realized it just makes her a "dirt eater" or makes her no better but worse than what she was before.
    spammusibi29on September 07, 2011   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI like the interpretation that Annie is playing at being in a submissive position yet exerting all the power. There are definitely strong indications of deception in the first two verses (maybe not the 2nd half of verse 2), as Annie puts up walls (lies, clothes, hid, played, tried) while the object of her song (“you”) is fully exposed. While this subterfuge seems to put Clark in the dominant position, she only uses it to support and protect “you”. This sets up a one-sided relationship where her need to conceal her own vulnerability leaves her unable to be open to any help from her partner. She has put herself into the role of a “cheerleader” up on a pedestal, an impregnable tower of strength, but her position is untenable because it does not allow a functional relationship.

    This leads to a nice transition where Annie is hesitant to “pour my purse in the dirt”, and expose all the baggage she had been hiding therein, both the personal issues she had been afraid to share and the literal tools she used to maintain the deception (Makeup, Tissues, Drugs?, whatever else y’all ladies keep in there). Annie claims she “don’t know what good it serves”, BUT in the chorus she realizes that by dumping it all out in the open, she creates the possibility for an escape from the artificial “cheerleader” role and an honest relationship.

    Returning to the omitted 2nd half of verse 2, St. Vincent elaborates on the impetus for the change. I think I might be missing something with “honest thieves”, but it seems to be speaking of broken, imperfect people, who unlike Annie are honest about their flaws, and she admits that she accepts them and does not judge them too harshly. When she sees “America with no clothes on” this idea is expanded and Annie is able to see that she belongs even without the facade. Further Annie seems to apologize for the deceit that she is not what she had pretended to be with “I don’t know what I deserve But for you I could work”, committing to abandon her veneer of perfection and strive for honesty.

    I’m really digging this song, albeit a bit late to the party by way of a Comedy Bang Bang introduction. I think this interpretation also fits well with the A.V. Club St. Vincent interview. The idea of the sin-eaters (though transmuted to “dirt-eater and less prominent than originally planned) dealt with selflessly taking on the sins of others, and was not especially deceptive, except in the way all religious trappings can be seen to be, as well as the act that the serfs got some bread and booze out of the equation (contaminated with sin though it may be). On the other hand the “bird eater” is not selfless at all; the smug “cat that ate the canary” is self satisfied in the face of his deception. Annie embraces her messier reality and rejects both the mask and the saint. Finding the word that fit not only both of these themes but also the syllable count while simultaneously invoking the deep pop cultural resonance and connotation of “cheerleader” was a fine piece of lyrical dexterity.
    BkBJon May 12, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe song is about women and our penchant to take the blame and shut up when we should tell people to shut the fuck up, say what we mean and stop living this silent and complacent double life.
    Eggos=yumon November 11, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnnie Clark said in an interview with the AVclub:
    I had the entire song written except for the chorus. I had the “I, I, I, I don’t want to be a ‘blank’ no more” line, and my original–I probably shouldn’t admit this–but my original thing was “dirt-eater.” Because I was thinking of the people in medieval times who were sin-eaters, and I was thinking of a word that could describe that sentiment. I went through a million different ideas, like, “Wait, what’s this many syllables and can describe this thing that I’m trying to get at?” And there were a lot of really bad ideas. John was like, “Dirt-eater sounds like you have a scatological fetish.” I was like, “Oh no, gross.” And then we Google it, and it’s also some obscure racist term, so I was like, oh no, that’s not going to work. “What’s the word? What’s the word with this many syllables that’s going to describe what I’m talking about?” And if you’ll notice in the song, at the end I do sing “dirt-eater.” I also sing “bird-eater,” like a “the cat who ate the canary” sort of thing.
    jgwaggon October 18, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentAnnie Clark, a.k.a. St. Vincent, recently joined in promoting "Half the Sky," a book that became a movement that seeks to empower women worldwide. She offered her song, "Cheerleader," for the cause. Her comment is below.

    Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
    "Anything we can do to raise consciousness and help end the oppression of women worldwide is a cause I am fully behind. I chose the track 'Cheerleader' because I think it speaks to not wanting to be an idle object anymore. It’s about taking control of your own life and not kowtowing to the desires of others."
    - St. Vincent
    Brighthueon September 18, 2012   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI don't think it's necessarily about a relationship either. I think it's about waking up realizing the false person you're trying to be isn't the real you. You don't want to be a false person, or up in the air anymore, and you don't want to end up eating dirt either.
    hamburglron September 17, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI feel like a turn in the lyrics of the piece comes within this part:

    I know honest thieves/I call family/I've seen America/with no clothes on

    It's as though the observation of the deceit and corruption of others has made her not want to be a "cheerleader" anymore. Prior to this she had only been discussing her own deceit.

    And cheerleader, in this case, doesn't necessarily mean rooting for others. I think it means leading others into believing certain ideas by using false acts.

    Also, I agree with a lot of what sumeragi_slut has said. Whole lies with a half smile sounds like a display of manipulative power, not submitting to the wills of others (like what other commenters have suggested in regards to relationships and playing dumb to fit in). The words definitely indicate being in the position of power. Having good times with bad guys doesn't mean she was a victim. Expand your imagination or get some new experience of the world, women aren't always victims.
    elizabethmstron December 30, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI looove this song. I think its about a girl who is friends with a guy and doesn't want to help him with his relationships anymore (be his cheerleader) but wants to be with him
    rufioooon September 04, 2011   Link
  • 0
    Lyric CorrectionAwesome song! But, I hear, "I've thrown rocks, then hid both my arms," "Pouring my purse in the dirt," and "honest thieves" not "honesties"
    iansaunderson September 06, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhere does she mention all these men that people keep finding in her songs? ANALYZE THE TEXT AND ONLY THE TEXT–basic critical technique these days, people. Text-extrinsic interpretations are indefensible as, quite literally, no element of the text can be used to defend the interpretation if you're extrapolating beyond the presented information. Just because you "identify" with her lyrics and you've made a fool of yourself in pursuit of a man doesn't mean that's what Annie Clark is talking about here. I play dumb sometimes not when I want people to like me but when I want people to UNDERESTIMATE me. Not everyone lies, cheats, steals, and otherwise misrepresents their intentions exclusively in pursuit of a relationship with a man. Expand your minds.
    sumeragi_sluton September 14, 2011   Link

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