Their psychedelic pop songs “Kids” and “Time to Pretend” off their album Oracular Spectacular are instantly recognizable, but MGMT – the New York duo Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser – never intended to become household names.
“Being famous was never the goal,” VanWyngarden, 26, told the Honolulu Advertiser earlier this year of how he and Goldwasser, 27, started the band after meeting as freshmen at Wesleyan University. “We acted like pop stars on our campus of 3,000 people. We would play little living room parties and act like we were playing stadiums. It was all part of the joke.”
That “joke” has now turned into a Best New Artist Grammy nomination for the twosome, whose next album Congratulations will be released this spring. Here are five fun facts about this folksy new wave revival duo:
1. They said no to Jay-Z.
Jay-Z, who’s collaborated with everyone from Rihanna and Kanye West to U2 and Beyoncé, had asked his fellow Broooklynites to work on a track for his latest album, The Blueprint 3. “They worked together but the cut didn’t make Jay’s record,” a source tells PEOPLE. “MGMT turned me down,” Jay-Z told Gotham magazine.
2. They took on the president of France – and won!
In 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement party used the band’s song “Kids” at a party conference and in videos without permission. Although the party apologized and made a symbolic offering of 1 Euro to smooth things over, MGMT rejected the offer and proceeded with a legal case. “What made us decide to act was the fact that France was trying to pass this strict anti-piracy legislation at the same time that would punish illegal downloaders,” VanWyngarden told the San Francisco Examiner. “It was pretty blatant of them to do that, so we tried to make a point of taking action.” MGMT settled the legal dispute earlier this year for an undisclosed amount and donated the money to charity.
3. There’s only one right way to say their name.
The proper way to pronounce the band’s name has been the subject of much Internet debate. What’s the correct way? Say the individual letters: “M-G-M-T.” Saying, “management,” is just wrong. The confusion may lie in the fact that the band’s original name was “The Management,” which they shortened to MGMT after discovering that another artist had the rights to it.
4. They’ve been romantically linked to Kirsten Dunst.
Although reports claimed that VanWyngarden was in a relationship with Dunst following her split from Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell in 2007, it’s not true. But Dunst did briefly date MGMT drummer Will Berman in 2008, sources tell PEOPLE.
5. They’ve appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba!
Following in the footsteps of Jack Black, Sugarland, Andy Samberg and fellow Best New Artist Grammy nominees The Ting Tings, MGMT appeared on the popular Nick Jr. kids’ show – a favorite of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie‘s family – in October, treating kids to a psychedelic performance and video of “Art Is Everywhere.”