Kids
by MGMT

Album: Oracular Spectacular (2007)
Charted: 16 91

Songfacts®:

  • This song about being filled with such typical college feelings as naivety, idealism, nostalgia, happiness and sadness was originally part of MGMT's debut release, a 2005 EP "Time to Pretend." Cantora Records, who released the EP, was set up by a group of NYU students specifically to showcase the New York band's songs.
  • This song started out as a joke. "We used to think about how to make the most stereotypical pop song and that's one of the ones we did," band member Andrew VanWyngaeden told Q magazine. "You can break it down. That repeating progression has been used in a gajillion pop songs."
  • MGMT member Ben Goldwasser told The Independent November 21, 2008 that this song, "was a result of us being 19 years old, in this fantasy college world, which is a little bit like childhood because you don't have much responsibility."
  • This was first song that Goldwasser and VanWyngaeden ever wrote together on arriving at Wesleyan University. They arrived there in 2001 and graduated in 2005.
  • A USC student named Jon Salmon made a video for this song as a class project that he posted online in January 2008. It racked up millions of views, and when MGMT made an official video with their director Ray Tintori, they invited Salmon and the two actors who appeared in his fan video to appear in it. The three of them round out the space-age band playing in the forest with a dog nearby.
  • MGMT threatened to sue French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party after it used this song at its national congress in January 2009 without permission and also in online videos. Faced with the threat of a lawsuit, the UMP agreed to pay a financial compensation to the band. MGMT announced the settlement on their website saying: "We did not want to be 'typical Americans' and sue, despite the amazing monetary benefit and chinchilla coats and Navigators it would bring, instead we are using the settlement fee the UMP presented and donating it to artists' rights organizations."
  • VanWyngarden told Mojo May 2010 that Goldwasser "wrote the music for 'Kids' when he was 19, drunk in his dorm room. Then I wrote the lyrics on my 20th birthday, the night that we were gonna play it to people for the first time. I know that they're vaguely inspired by David Byrne's nostalgic lyrics, but it doesn't make any sense."

    He added: "I remember that I was thinking about musicians as having this big voice, and what are they gonna do with it? I was thinking we'd get everybody to realize that we're all little kids at some point - people that are evil and doing hideous stuff right now, like George Bush or whoever, they were once little innocent beings. Something simple like that. I'm glad that people like it. It's a catchy song."
  • This slacker anthem was named as the best track of 2008 by the journalists of the New Musical Express.
  • The video stars an 18-month-old toddler named Zachary who sees monsters everywhere he goes. His easily distracted mother is played by the avant-garde musician Joanna Newsom.

    Many parents were freaked out seeing the visibly distressed child. The scenes where he is with the creatures are not computer-generated, but his mother was nearby at all times. He was acclimated to the monsters early on so they weren't so scary.

Comments: 15

  • Estellatrois from UsaTo me, this song is about being the parent on an autistic child. The anxieties and fears they struggle with are unseen to us. Just as my high functioning autistic son, they may be happy and able to succeed in the right environment but disabled by invisible fears in another. We have children thinking they will be nothing but a joy and that, unlike other people or our parents, we won’t fail. Parenting is a big responsibility and giving birth to a child with higher needs can have some wicked ups and downs. It may not be something you would ever want to change or give up but it’s not the fairytale they showed us in children’s books. Trying at times but beautiful.
  • Bettina Gaztambide from Tampa Florida My comment is that music is suppused to be taken in ...and used for self meditating or some sort of self use but in a good way right? So we may all take it upon different or think is about helping environments lol anyways
    Others like Me, came here to see what the song is really about because I like knowledge. As in, I wanted to see if what I thought of this song or what I thought this song was about matched my thoughts and or if it was even correct.

    I didnt think it had to do with environment.
    Personally I think and what I thought was that it has to do with decision making,and how we don't have a choice when it comes to been a lil person at first almost like society. Kinda like,you didnt make the decision of becoming part of the government and or making yourself a number.
  • Chloe from Hershey, PaDid anyone think of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein? "A family of trees wanting to be haunted, control yourself, take only what you need from it."
    The boy in the book took what he needed from the tree in all stages of his life. The tree is a stump at the end of the book, and what was once a young boy is now an old man.
    The song parallels the book. Brilliant.
  • Carl from Palatine, Il"you picked the insects off plants" - seems like a reference to the use of pesticides, GMOs and other things that are done to "improve" our food, which really just make more food with less benefits.
  • Mathews from Lusaka, ZambiaLets have Peace. For Peace is a state of harmony with the environment and the planet.
  • Rebecca from Clarkesville, GaI agree with Florentino.
  • Melvin from Abington, PaThe Song is ALSO about one of the band members brothers who is mentally challenged. For those who don't know.
  • Brittany from ???????, Ohwhy does everyone assume they are talking about saving the enviornment?? I know there r tree huggers out there, but really. We cant have a well written, well proposed song without it being about saving the enviornment??!!! really people!
  • Sam from Edmonton, AbBut what about the other music video, why is everything so ugly and creepy?
  • Kevin from Green Bay, WiI think the verse beginning with "a baby is born...crying out for attention..." is about circumcision!
  • Tegan from Newcastle, AustraliaOMG Florentino! You can hear anything in a song if you want to. That doesn't influence the objective meaning behind the song, however...
  • Graham from North Bay, CanadaI heard this about Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone, can anyone confirm this?
  • Eric from Manhattan, NyThis almost goes hand and hand with Time to Pretend. They are saying you were living a carefree life as a kid not knowing the consequences like how killing bugs can hurt the enviroment.
  • Florentino from Athens, GaYou were a child,(beginning of human civilization) crawling on your knees toward it (slowly, but surely we started using natural resources)
    making mama(mother nature) so proud, but your voice was too loud(we started using earth's resources like we wouldn't run out)
    we like to watch you laughing,(we're all happy because of things like electricity, cars, and other things possible from natural resources) you picked the insects off plants
    no time to think of consequences(us taking Earth's resources without thinking about the repercussions like global warming)

    control yourself, take only what you need from it(don't take more than you need from the Earth)
    a family of trees wanting, to be haunted(I believe this is talking about the trees in the rainforests, and how they should be left alone)
    control yourself, take only what you need from him
    a family of trees wanting to be haunted

    the water is warm but its sending me shivers(global warming will make the oceans warmer, but he's shivering from fear)
    a baby is born, crying out for attention(if global warming does take effect, we'll be too busy with other things to pay attention to babies like we can now)
    memories fade, like looking through a fogged mirror(again, if global warming takes effect, we'll soon forget about our past, carefree lives)
    decision to decisions are made and not bought
    but i thought this wouldnt hurt a lot
    i guess not(I belive he means that we're talking about doing something, but we're really not and how we can't buy ourselves out of this mess and that we thought it wouldn't hurt to use all of the Earth's resources, i guess not)

    control yourself take only what you need from it
    a family of trees wanted to be haunted (x5)

    control yourself take only what you need from it
    a family of trees....
  • Joey from Los Angeles, CaSounds like they are talking about saving the environment??
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