This is the title track of British indie rock band White Lies' third album. The record loosely tells the story of a girl leaving home for some unnamed metropolis. Bassist and lyricist Charles Cave told NME that it's based on friends of his moving away. He explained: "I'm envious and I think they're very brave for doing it, going away and starting again – is that irresponsible, or is it irresponsible to not look for something better?"
This song finds the disillusioned girl leaving her small provincial town for the Big City. Cave told NME: "She's got a horrible room downtown. It's the first time she's owned a TV."
Cave told The Sun: "'Big TV as come to represent the vacuous ambition this girl has. It sits totally out of place with her small, humble home in this new city.
It's a superficial badge of achievement or success that is as empty as the black screen on its face. It's disposable and will be outdated soon, possibly like the city. The album is a story of empty hope in many ways or at least the mortality of satisfaction. At one point or another you'll just want to change the channel.
The cover artwork for the album is an oil painting titled Pilot 2 by New York City artist Michael Kagan. Cave told The Sun: "He was suggested by a friend and he was a White Lies fan and keen for us to use his paintings. Although space travel is in no way referenced lyrically on the album, the imagery still seemed to sit very well with the songs and music on Big TV."
Cave told Digital Spy that the album title originated from a rather silly joke. "We were with Kings of Leon on tour in America," he recalled, "and our keyboard player Tommy said, 'It'd be cool if we had a bit more to do in the dressing room', and Harry (McVeigh, vocals) interjected, 'Why you banging on about getting a massive TV?' Tommy was like, 'I didn't say anything about it being massive'. But as soon as he denied it, that's when we all went in for it. We took it so far over the next few weeks we were texting his girlfriend at 1, 2 in the morning about getting this 'big TV'. So that's been in our minds for a while!"
He continued: "We were working on that song ('Big TV') and when it got to the chorus, I was thinking, 'What is the epitome of this vacuous, shallow desire for modern success?' and all I could think of were these horrendously vulgar-sized TVs that people seem to have, even if they've got a tiny, tiny apartment. Then I thought, 'Imagine if this actually makes it [as the chorus]' - it's almost like a post-joke. We held off from telling Tommy for a really long time that we even had a song with that, let alone the album name!"