MGMT: “Time to Pretend” sounds (too much) like other songs that were written before it?

A commenter pointed out that there was a similarity between Styrofoam’s remix of “the Postman” by American Analog Set (off of 2002’s Updates) and MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” (off of 2008’s Ocular Spectacular and 2005’s Time to Pretend EP). Not overly familiar with the latter song, I went to check it out. The opening sequence does bear a passing resemblance.

When I listened to the song and once the vocals came in, I heard a much strong resemblance to another song I knew. Harmonically, rhythmically and melodically, parts of it are much closer to Her Space Holiday’s “Sleepy California” (off of 2003’s The Young Machines). Granted the vocal line in quested is pretty is someone monotonous–heck, even HSH acknowledges his singing limitations (“Like that kid who asked me if I knew I couldn’t sing/ That’s like asking a blind man if he knows that he can’t see”)–but “Time to Pretend” made me immediately think of “Sleepy California”.

But you can decide for yourself:

MGMT – Time to Pretend (mp3, 2008, also came out on a 2005 EP)

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American Analog Set – the Postman (Styrofoam remix) (mp3, 2002)

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Her Space Holiday – Sleepy California (mp3, 2003)

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11 Responses to “MGMT: “Time to Pretend” sounds (too much) like other songs that were written before it?”

  1. Liz says:

    I hate to disagree, but I’m with your dear reader on this one. I can hear a bit of a similarity between all of them, but I would certainly say that the MGMT track reminds me a lot of the Styrofoam remix, but I am less convinced about the similarity to Sleepy California.

    Maybe it is like how I thought some Fanfarlo songs reminded me a lot of Beirut, and you thought I was crazy. Perhaps it is my musical ignorance? Or perhaps a non-literal thinking thing? I don’t know, but I’d agree with your reader.

  2. Will says:

    This is interesting because I always thought that Her Space Holiday’s “The Weight of the World” sounded a lot like Primitive Radio Gods’ “Phonebooth” (http://youtube.com/watch?v=0LKVZ4NTfUc). I guess when you’re dealing in computer blips and beats, you end up sounding like somebody else.

  3. k says:

    weird – i hear american analog in it – not so much her space holiday. except for the part where he misses his mom.

  4. Joseph Scott says:

    I thought they were biting ‘Up The Junction’ by Squeeze (same chords and similar melody on the verse).

  5. Bottom line, it’s rock music: 99.9% of it is derivative in one way or another. To call out one particular band is silly: aping off other musicians is part of the rock tradition. That being said, I don’t even really hear the correlation between these tracks very clearly, but that’s all subjective I suppose.

  6. Jeff from Chichago says:

    For those of you who apparently don’t hear the similarities between the MGMT and HSH song, just listen to the melody of the lyrics in the verses of both songs. They follow the almost exact tune. It’s fairly obvious they are similar, I don’t know how some of you didn’t notice when listening to them both..

  7. Rachel from Colorado says:

    I was just listening to “Time to Pretend,” and I was asking myself if this was a cover of another song because it sounded SO much like something else.

    Which, of course, I couldn’t pinpoint. Which, of course, was driving me insane. Until Mgmt gets to those lyrics: “I’ll miss the comfort of my mother…” and *that’s* what made me realize is sounds just like Her Space Holiday’s “Sleepy California,” especially with those lyrics, “I never thought I’d say this but I miss my mom.”

    So I Googled “Time to Pretend sounds like” and found your blog. I probably should have just Googled first. Ha.

  8. Mary says:

    Rachel from Colorado – I did the same thing! I kept listening to the song over and over and couldn’t figure out what song it reminded me of, even though Sleepy California is on my iTunes playlist too. I googled “mgmt time to pretend sounds like” and this blog popped up! I love the internet.

  9. ho says:

    mgmt are trustfund kids. so they can’t be bothered.

  10. c a r i says:

    no, it’s not any of those songs!

    can anyone help in 2011? hah..
    the song I’m thinking of what from the 90’s
    it was on MTV..

    argh!!!

  11. Billy says:

    Sounds like “To Be Someone” by The Jam

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