“Time To Pretend” by MGMT

On “Time to Pretend”, MGMT seems to be referring to stardom and how different it is from the average person’s life. As seen in the lyrics, the writers are fully aware of what this new lifestyle they are embracing entails and are fully prepared to live it despite the hypocrisy involved.

The verses see them describing a typical rock star life which involves focusing on creating music, making money and enjoying life’s pleasures. They further talk about how as rich musicians, they’ll travel more frequently, marry models, attend huge parties, take drugs, and drive fancy cars. And in doing all these fun things, they go on to mention how it would probably make them forget about their family and loved ones in the process.

In the chorus, the writers address how they have made a choice to live a life of stardom rather than resort to the common 9 to 5 rat race lifestyle which they satirize as unsatisfying. Though they admit the consequences of their decision in the second verse which includes missing their family, normalcy, freedom and life back at home they still stick with their decision. The concluding chorus predicts how their lives will probably end, yet they view it as their fate and fully embrace it.

MGMT has explained that the song was written during their senior college year and inspired by some prayer mantises in their house.

Release Date of “Time to Pretend”

This song originally came out as part of MGMT’s 2005 EP, which itself is entitled “Time to Pretend”. Since then it has undergone a revision and was officially released as part of the band’s debut album, “Oracular Spectacular”, on 2 October 2007. And in the latter case, being handled by Columbia Records and RED Ink Records, it also served as the lead single from the album. It was then followed by the following hit singles:

Time to Pretend, i.e. the version that is featured on “Oracular Spectacular”, was produced by Dave Fridmann. He was brought on by Columbia Records after MGMT had signed with the label.

Success of “Time to Pretend”

This song, which was largely attributable to the band catching major-label attention in the first place, was originally conceived sort of like a prank.

Yet “Time to Pretend” has gone on to make it onto the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time lists as compiled by both Rolling Stone and NME. It even broke the top 100 in the latter case.

Writing of “Time to Pretend”

MGMT members Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser wrote this song while they were seniors in college, doing so on their laptops (the pair actually hooked up at Wesleyan University). And they were initially inspired by an insect – a praying mantis actually – which resided in their house. In fact the original title of this track was actually The Mantis Sailing Home.

The sound of the tune itself was inspired by ABBA’s 1976 classic “Dancing Queen“, which MGMT copied in the outro.

Chart Performance and Media Usage

“Time to Pretend” charted in a few nations, including making it onto the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.

However, as alluded to above, the song proved to be greater than its chart showing. And accordingly it has enjoyed a regular presence in pop media. This includes being featured on a host of television shows, movies, videogames and commercials.


Time to Pretend is also on record as being covered by a number of artists in various venues. For example, Weezer covered this at the 2010 Reading Festival in England.

Music Video

The music video to this track, which had Ray Tintori as its director, referenced some older media. One would be a film entitled “The Holy Mountain” (1973) by Chilean-French filmographer Alejandro Jodorowsky. And the second would be “Lord of the Flies”, the classic, 1954 British novel written by William Golding.


Time to Pretend describes the realities of deciding to lead a rock star lifestyle with all that such persons stand to gain or lose along the way.

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