The composition Time to Pretend by the American duo MGMT became one of the biggest hits of 2008. Then it was included in the lists of the best songs of the year by several authoritative publications, including Time, Rolling Stone and NME magazines. Interestingly, this funny track with ironic lyrics and catchy melody was born partly thanks to insects.
Here is what the members of MGMT themselves told about the history of the creation of the song and its meaning:
We wrote “Time to Pretend” in our last year of college. The music was inspired by the praying mantises that lived in our house. The female laid eggs and died, and we transferred them to a model of a pirate ship. The eggs hatched into little praying mantises that climbed on the ship’s rigging and it was crazy… So the music was inspired by our praying mantises who liked to dance to The Clash, and the lyrics talk about how we envision ourselves as rock stars… living in an imaginary rock star life.
Impressed by such an unusual spectacle, the musicians composed a melody, which they called “The Mantis Sailing Home” (“Praying Mantises Sailing Home”). Over time, it turned into the song “Time to Pretend”, the main idea of which Ben Goldwasser explained as follows:
[Песня] implies this fantasy, this joke that we’re rock stars with packed stadiums. It’s not like we were ever going to live that lifestyle – we didn’t really want to – but now that we’re playing big festivals and touring all the time, it’s different. Something has become true. This is rather strange. I don’t think fame is really the main part of the fantasy. We wanted to get to the stage where we could do really scandalous things. We wanted to get really crazy on stage.
The Independent, 2008
The title “Time to Pretend” came after the lyrics were written, which – contrary to popular belief – is not autobiographical.
A reporter for Digital Spy magazine asked Andrew Van Wyngarden how he feels about the fact that many listeners believe that the lines about drugs and debauchery with stars are related to the real life of the band members. To this the musician replied:
I think it’s cool. I think it’s cool that people can listen to a song and feel offended. Some will think that this is serious, that we are really drug addicts, while others will see an element of irony in this. Confusion is all I can count on as a songwriter!
The song was first released on an EP back in August 2005 when the band was called The Management. In March 2008, the track was released as the first single from the album Oracular Spectacular. It was re-released in the UK a year later.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, “Time to Pretend” was recognized as one of the best songs of 2008 by various publications, and Rolling Stone also included it in the updated list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
The music video for “Time to Pretend” was directed by Ray Tintori. There are obvious references to the novel “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding and the film “The Sacred Mountain” by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
- iTunes has been heavily criticized for releasing “Time to Pretend” for download because it contains swear words and drug references.
- The band played the song twice on The David Letterman Show.
Time to Pretend lyrics by MGMT
I’m feelin’ rough I’m feelin’ raw I’m in the prime of my life
Let’s make some music make some money find some models for wives
I’ll move to Paris, shoot some heroin and f*** with the stars
You man the island and the cocaine and the elegant cars
Let’s record some music, make some money, marry some models
I’ll move to Paris, shoot heroin and f*** the stars
You will have an island, cocaine and cool cars. This is our decision to live fast and die young.
We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun.
Yeah it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do?
Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute? We chose to live fast and die young
We have a dream, now let’s have some fun
Yes, it’s too much, but what else can we do?
Find an office job and commute in the morning? Forget about our mothers and our friends
We were fated to pretend
We were meant to pretend I’ll miss the playgrounds and the animals and digging up worms
I’ll miss the comfort of my mother and the weight of the world
I’ll miss my sister, miss my father, miss my dog and my home
Yeah I’ll miss the boredom and the freedom and the time spent alone
I will miss my mother comforting me and the burdens of the world
I will miss my sister, I will miss my father, I will miss my dog and home.
Yes, I will miss boredom and freedom and time alone
Love must be forgotten. life can always start up new
The models will have children, we’ll get a divorce,
We’ll find some more models, everything must run its course
Love must be forgotten, life can always be started anew
Models will have children, and we will get divorced
We’ll find other models, everything should go on as usual We’ll choke on our vomit and that will be the end
We were fated to pretend
We were meant to pretend
“Time to Pretend” is a gem of space rock that pokes fun at the stereotypical rock star lifestyle of coke and hookers over loud synth sounds.
Kevin O’Donnell, Rolling Stone