MGMT are the latest group to appear on the insightful music podcast Song Exploder, and the indietronica duo pulled apart their beloved breakthrough single “Time to Pretend” — both the original EP version and the rerecorded take they included on their debut album, 2005’s Oracular Spectacular. Over the course of the pod, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser explain how the song was originally created through playing and pushing with pre-made synths, and “became kind of an ironic missions statement-type thing” about stardom and celebrity.
[articleembed id=”164680″ title=”Q&A: Hrishikesh Hirway, the Musical Surgeon Behind the 'Song Exploder' Podcast” image=”164681″ excerpt=”It's subtle, but towards the end of the Postal Service's "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," there's a faint, ghostly hum blended almost seamlessly amidst melancholy synths”]
When they signed to Columbia Records, they explained, the label wanted them to rerecord the song so that they had the rights to it. They worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Fridmann for the new version, and decided to spice it up a bit, adding live drums and some great easter eggs. “We wanted it to be the exact tempo of ‘Dancing Queen,’ by ABBA, which it is,” they explain, adding that they even snuck in the exact piano riff from the infamous earworm into the trail end of their track. “We’ll probably get in trouble for saying this,” they laugh.
Stream the full episode of the Radiotopia podcast below.