Song 357: MGMT, “Time to Pretend” (2007)


I considered writing about a deeper cut from Oracular Spectacular, but who am I kidding? “Time to Pretend”—giant, warm, and funny—was massively popular for a reason. Seven years and a bajillion  plays after I first heard it, I turn it up every time it comes on the radio. Because it is absolutely delightful.

MGMT has gone to great lengths to distance themselves from their debut, and I can understand why; no band actually wants to play their hits for the next 30 years. But I continue to find the record fascinating, from this song to “Kids” and “Electric Feel.” It sounds like a transmission from another planet, a fun world where pop music is laced with lasers and kooky alien hand gestures. I’ve clearly spent too much time thinking about this.

“Time to Pretend” is impeccably arranged. First of all, how great is that main synth line? It really does sound like some alien transmission, and its high pitch provides such a great counterpoint to those warm, booming notes underneath. Then you’ve got those punchy drums in between, which provide another counterpoint; they’re the treble clicking along in front of the bass.

This song is tongue-in-cheek about the excesses of fame, but the fact that it still works as an aspirational anthem—with its dreams of divorcing models and fatally choking on vomit—says a lot about our ridiculous starstruck culture. The song’s insane irresistibility is itself a comment on all of us.


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