"Congratulations" as written by and Andrew Wells Vanwyngarden Benjamin Nicholas Huner Goldwasser....
Dead in the water
It's not a paid vacation
The sons and daughters of city officials
Attend demonstrations
It's hardly a sink or swim
When all is well if the ticket sells

Out with a whimper
It's not a blaze of glory
You look down from your temple
As people endeavor to make it a story
And chisel a marble word
But all is lost if it's never heard

But I've got someone to make reports
That tell me how my money's spent
To book my stays and draw my blinds
So I can't tell what's really there
And all I need's a great big congratulations

I'll keep your dreams
You pay attention for me
As strange as it seems
I'd rather dissolve than have you ignore me
The ground may be moving fast
But I tied my boots to a broken mast

The difference is clear
You throw it in your cauldron
Rust and veneer, dusk and dawn
Steinways and Baldwins
You start with a simple stock of all the waste
And salt to taste

But damn my luck and damn these friends
That keep on combing back their smiles
I save my grace with half-assed guilt
And lay down the quilt upon the lawn
Spread my arms and soak up congratulations


Lyrics submitted by owenp277

"Congratulations" as written by Benjamin Nicholas Huner Goldwasser Andrew Wells Vanwyngarden

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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  • +8
    General CommentFirst of all, I have to say, Congratulations is an incredible album. I am really impressed with what they did.

    Does anyone else get a sense that these guys are seriously trying to distance themselves from the people who only liked the "hits" on the first record? Obviously this album is significantly less mainstream-friendly, and they are refusing to put out any singles. Plus I see this song as them feeling almost guilty at all the praise they are getting.

    This is how I see it. They have said before their plan has always been to infiltrate popular culture, then freak everyone out. But they have also said that on Oracular Spectacular, most of the songs were masked with irony, and that that album is not truly "them." So they infiltrated, but now they see that they are only known for the facade of irony they put up on OS. So they decide that now they are reasonably popular, its time to show the world who they really are, and they know that "popular" culture may not completely embrace their new persona. So they are purposefully distancing themselves from what they used to be. It's a theory, its probably wrong.

    Anyway, specifically about this song; to me, its about how the fame and adulation they have gained is not only strange to them, but it's not for the reasons they want. They are skeptical to accept this fame, because it has come because of the aforementioned ironic facade. Also, they are making fun of the petty problems that come with fame. "Its hardly a sink or swim when all is well if the ticket sells."
    LizardKingJM71on March 22, 2010   Link
  • +6
    General Comment"As strange as it seems, I'd rather dissolve than have you ignore me"

    Beautiful.
    brknon July 21, 2010   Link
  • +6
    My InterpretationThis song really makes me relax and feel like I'm floating in a pool, drifting down a river, out to sea, etc. It's interesting the amount of water imagry in the lyrics, begining with "Dead in the Water" and "Sink or Swim" and then "Broken Mast" (which is a part of of a ship) and closing with "Soak up". Here's my breakdown of just the first stanza which I believe really sets up what the song is about:

    1. Dead in the water
    It's not a paid vacation
    2. The sons and daughters of city officials
    Attend demonstrations
    3. It's hardly a sink or swim
    When all is well if the ticket sells

    1. "Dead in the water" is an expression that means something is going nowhere So if you're going nowhere, even if you're not having to work hard, it's just not enjoyable, wheras a paid vacation is very enjoyable because it is deserved as break from real accomplishment/work and of course, you're getting money while enjoying yourself.
    2. Demonstrations are often made in oppostion of what elected City officials stand for and City officials wouldn't ever be caught at them so it's ironic that their children are often the ones that can be found at them objecting to the things that their parents stand for.
    3. "Sink or Swim" is often a sales job training reference where a new person is given a rush course in what to do/how to sell and then they either "Sink" (fail to make the company money and get fired) or "Swim" (succeed at selling. meet their quota and keep their job) this is a very hard way to make a living because the pressure is immense and most people sink, thus the high-turnover in sales related jobs. So really as long as your successful at what your doing, what is there to worry about.

    1. I take this to mean that MGMT is conflicted about getting boatloads of money if they aren't advancing in their music and making what they feel is better music, so eventhough they get paid one way or the other, they would like to make different music and then maybe they would feel more deserving of the praise and money their getting.
    2. This probably doesn't make sense to us fans (since we prob love all their stuff)however, that's the difference between us and them. Just like City Officials and their children, they have the same issues - but they are opposing eachother on them.
    3. They haven't had as much pressure on them to this point and maybe they even feel what they've done so far isn't nearly that hard because they've succeeded with most of what they've put out there even if they didn't think it was the best music. But really no one wants to hear a rich music artist complain when their tickets to shows are selling out - but that's exactly what MGMT feels like doing, so they're conflicted and really eveyone's telling them to just be happy and enjoy the "Congratulations" so they made a very sarcastic and cynical and awesome song about it. The hand clapping at the end really justifies it too, fantastic touch ;-)

    Merlinpwr19meston November 12, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commenthow the fuck did you get the lyrics and it hasn't even come out yet?

    my favortie so far is "it's working".
    tell me when you get those lyrics.
    empireofstereonon July 20, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti think it's about wanting praise, but not wanting to admit you want praise, thus putting on false modesty when inside, all you want is a congratulations...

    "But I've got someone to make reports
    That tell me how my money's spent
    To book my stays and draw my blinds
    So I can't see what's really there"

    it sounds like a touring musician, people take care of him, do everything for him, etc. but all he wants is a congratulations, but still continues to pretend he doesn't want it:

    "I save my grace with half-assed guilt"

    but finally, he can revel in the "great big congratulations"

    "Spread my arms and soak up congratulations"
    boiledgooseon May 14, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI saw a video where MGMT dedicated this song to Jimi Hendrix so I think his death may have had something to do with the lyrics.

    Dead in the water
    It's not a paid vacation
    The sons and daughters of city officials
    Attend demonstrations
    It's hardly a sink or swim
    When all is well if the ticket sells

    The first lines refer to a rockstar's early death. I think the demonstrations he is refering to are vigils whenever someone famous dies, such as kurt cobain's vigil. The agents etc. only care about ticket sales. They don't care what effect it has on the rockstar's life.

    Out with a wimper
    It's not a blaze of glory
    You look down from your temple
    As people endeavor to make it a story
    And chisel a marble word
    But all is lost if it's never heard

    Some people glamorize the deaths of rockstars going out in a "blaze of glory", but they're saying its really not. Its just another death. News reporters will make it a story as with any superstar's death.

    But I've got someone to make reports
    That tell me how my money's spent
    To book my stays and draw my blinds
    So I can't see what's really there
    And all I need's a great big congratulations

    They're saying that they've reached the rockstar level. Congratulations they've reached the rockstar level, but with that comes all the bad things about being a star as well.

    I'll keep your dreams
    You pay attention for me
    As strange as it seems
    I'd rather dissolve than have you ignore me
    The ground may be moving fast
    But I tied my boots to a broken mast

    People always dream about being a rockstar. They'll be a rockstar so you don't have to basically. They like the fame and are maybe a little egocentic.

    The difference is clear
    You throw it in your cauldron
    Rust and veneer, dusk and dawn
    Steinways and Baldwins
    You start with a simple stock of all the waste
    And salt to taste

    I took this as MGMTs way of making music. Steinways and Baldwins are types of pianos. They mix up waste of previous songs and influences of previous bands throw it in a cauldron, add some salt, and come up with a new song.

    But damn my luck and damn these friends
    That keep on combing back their smiles
    I save my grace with half-assed guilt
    And lay down the quilt upon the lawn
    Spread my arms and soak up congratulations

    They've chosen this life so damn the things it comes with, fake friend etc. They're halfway guilty about being able to play music and be famous for it. All they can do now is accept congratulations for reaching their goal of being rockstars even though maybe it isn't everything is cracked up to be or what they envisioned.
    mgmtphanon May 22, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThere are a lot of repeating themes in this album and this song touches on a vary important one. They are expressing their doubts, regrets, and uncertainties about being famous. I think that it happened so fast for them and all they really want is for someone to appreciate their music for the talented music that it is, not just because it is what all the frat parties are playing.

    I think everyone is missing the point if you are arguing about whether this album is better than their last, if they are trying to trick people, if they are trying to avoid labels, if they are trying to deter the hardcore indie listeners. You have missed the point completely. They want people to hear this album, which is the type of music they feel in their hearts, and say "Wow, MGMT is a very talented band with a lot to offer." They are very versitile and should be recognized for being a well-rounded group of talented musicians that know the mechanics of writing damn good songs. All this arguing about their image and their "fake" fans is just nonsense.
    hittheswitch13on August 27, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI do agree with some of the points made about the song, but personally, I think it's more about being under-appreciated or being underrated for what you're doing. And honestly, I think it's seen in some of the lyrics, especially:

    "And chisel a marble word
    But all is lost if it's never heard"

    "I'll keep your dreams
    You pay attention for me
    As strange as it seems
    I'd rather dissolve than have you ignore me"

    People pay attention to music for the wrong reasons, or they don't pay attention to the music/lyrics to a song at all and they completely ignore it. I think the whole point the song is trying to make is that they just want to be "praised", i.e "congratulated" for their hard work. I think that's why the applause fits so well at the end of the song - sometimes it's just a matter of being praised, even if it's small.
    xpwoppaon April 28, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm diggin it, can't wait to hear how this is all gonna sound on the album and finally get myself to one of their shows! What do you guys think the lyrics mean? When I read them at first they seemed all over the place, they could've meant a bunch of different things. ..But it could be about the relationships with their parents?
    slightlyalteredon December 24, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Opinionuncomfortable about the fame is understandable, i imagine it's not very human, but guilt is unnecessary . it's funny because this is another great song - congratulations.
    allemanon March 24, 2010   Link

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