Conan Gray’s “Winner”: A Breakdown
Updated: Oct 6
Getting his start on Youtube, singer-songwriter Conan Gray has been making music publicly since about 2013. With two studio albums out, he has risen to fame totalling a monthly listener total of 23.8 million Spotify listeners. Recently, he released a song titled “Winner”. With gut-wrenching lyrics, the story told in this song is a complex one.
It’s clear to make the assumption that this song is not about a romantic relationship, rather a familial relationship. A caregiver of Gray’s is the subject of this song. Gray tells listeners in the first line that he was only fourteen years old when he made the decision to leave the place he was stuck in. He paints this picture of dirtiness and loneliness. Gray mentions how even the filth in the home is urging him to leave. It knows that he doesn’t deserve to be living in such a place. Not only is the filth of the house empathizing with Gray but is also terrified of the person who left him like that. This goes to show how truly unpleasant the person may be.
The main point of this song is this person being the winner. This in itself is a juxtaposition. The person is the winner, something that is seen as a great accomplishment and a life changing experience. However, they are the winner of making Gray feel the worst he’s ever felt in his entire life. Them being the winner in this situation is not something to be proud of. It’s shameful and an embarrassment. Gray himself is congratulating this person on their win in an extremely sarcastic way.
Overall, “Winner” by Conan Gray is a song about manipulation, failures, and betrayal. Gray is able to fit so much emotion and story into every aspect of the song. The vulnerability required for such a song is admirable. Seeing what Gray makes in the future will certainly be a treat for all.