MGMT is an American band based in Brooklyn, New York, consisting of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden. They achieved a commercial breakthrough with the release of their first major label album, Oracular Spectacular. On the pair's sophomore release, Congratulations, the duo reflect on their massive rise in popularity. VanWyngarden told Q magazine: "The title ties into this cynical philosophy I have. It's like, Congratulations, you're Bono, you've made it. But what do you really have? You still don't have any answers."
VanWyngarden explained the acoustic title track to the San Francisco Examiner: "The song 'Congratulations' itself is pretty dark. It's us trying to deal with all the craziness that's been going on since our last album took off. Sometimes it just doesn't feel natural."
VanWyngarden explained to the NME that the title track is an in-joke: "We actually decided to call it 'Congratulations' while we were writing the songs for the first album and we thought we should stick with that because it means something different new. We think it's excited. We're excited because a lot of people will see it as a pat on the back to ourselves and really it's a bit more sinister and sarcastic than that."
The song's lyrics also refer to the worldwide recession, and how MGMT magically floated on top of it. VanWyngarden told Spin Magazine: "I was working on the lyrics while we were on the road. Some of it is about the worldwide economic crisis and how - thankfully - we were able to continue making music through it. But it's also from the perspective of other musicians, and about how fame and all the stuff it affords doesn't get you any answers. Maybe that's a cynical outlook."
The striking video was shot in widescreen and shows the duo walking in the desert with an unusual creature that slowly decays along the voyage. The clip was directed by Tom Kuntz and edited by Steve Gandolfi, who explained to the video trade publication Studio Daily: "I love the track and probably listened to it 1,000 times and it never got old. Tom wanted the mood to be moving and thoughtful, with time for the narrative to unfold. The edit followed suit. Everything – each shot, frame, movement, is all choreographed in time with the music. Every edit made worked within this very strict visual orchestration. Tom also carefully considered every way in which the clip might be viewed – including on the iPhone – so we experimented with framing and tech specs so that it would be received well in any situation."
Kid Cudi sampled this for his Indicud track, "Immortal." Ben Goldwasser commented to NME: "I think it's funny to hear a song like that with a really huge beat underneath it."