Recorded in a farmhouse in Brownstown, Indiana, “Pink Houses” was inspired by a tableau that the heartland rocker witnessed on a highway overpass. Just as the song's opening verse tells it, there was an elderly African-American gentleman “sitting on the porch of his pink shack with a cat in his arms,” John Mellencamp told Rolling Stone. “He waved, and I waved back. That's how the song started.” This song, and the Uh-huh album it was taken from, won over previously skeptical music critics with its rootsy populist rock.
Listening to MGMT’s breakthrough song, one might interpret it as being about the excesses of rock stardom, but it’s actually about the duo’s pet praying mantis. Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden told Rolling Stone they got the idea from the insect's jerky movements. The mantis died, but the two bandmates kept the egg sack and allowed the hundreds of eggs to hatch. “We tried to name them all, but they died after a day,” said Goldwasser, with VanWyngarden chiming in, “But the praying mantis dance inspired us.”