Formed by Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden as freshmen at Wesleyan University, MGMT emerged as one of the most buzzed-over bands to sprout in the tail end of the 2000s, playing a distinct blend of electronic rock and psychedelic pop. Their music was hipster-identified but caught on with a wide audience —including Paul McCartney, who picked MGMT to open for him in 2009.
On the strength of their Time to Pretend EP in 2005, MGMT— initially called "The Management" until another act bearing that name claimed ownership of the name — were signed by Columbia Records prior to the release of their neon-bright debut album Oracular Spectacular in 2007.
The album's sound drew comparisons to everything from Sixties psychedelic acts to Nineties Britpop bands to more contemporary artists like Muse and the Flaming Lips, whose producer Dave Fridmann worked on Oracular. The album kicked off with "Time to Pretend," an eruption of dizzying keyboards and handclaps with a chorus that seemed to boast MGMT's mission statement, "This is our decision, to live fast and die young. We've got the vision, now let's have some fun." "Time to Pretend" was later named by Rolling Stone as Number Three on the list of Best Songs of 2008. Oracular spawned to more major singles, the rapturous "Electric Feel" and the explosive "Kids," a New Order-inspired rave-up that further helped propel MGMT into the mainstream.
MGMT was soon recruited to play major festivals around the world, from Bonnaroo, Coachella, SXSW and Lollapalooza to Glastonbury, Roskilde, Reading and Leeds. Goldwasser and VanWyngarden also found themselves opening for the likes of Radiohead, M.I.A., Beck and, by special request, Paul McCartney, who loudly championed MGMT and asked them to open for him during his concerts at Boston's Fenway Park in August 2009.
Jay-Z asked MGMT to appear on his Blueprint 3, but the collaboration didn't make the album's final track list. However, MGMT featured on tracks like Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" and Flaming Lips' "Worm Mountain" in 2009. MGMT's music became so widespread that even French President Nicolas Sarkozy used the song "Kids," without permission, in campaign videos and conferences, leading MGMT to sue the French president. The case was settled in May 2009, with Sarkozy's party offering to donate money to musicians' charities.
MGMT were nominated for two more awards at the 52nd Annual Grammys in 2010: Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance by a Duo (for "Kids"). Their second album Congratulations is due out in the summer of 2010.
Tame Impala, MGMT, Spoon, Alt-J, Solange, Justice, Nick Murphy, Future Islands also booked for second-annual New York City festival
"It would be so inappropriate for us to be like, 'Let's make music for the 20-year-olds,'" says Xavier de Rosnay of French electronic duo