Song of the Day: Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever

photo by Dave Lichterman

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Total Entertainment Forever” by Father John Misty, from his 2017 album, Pure Comedy, on Sub Pop.

Father John Misty – Total Entertainment Forever (MP3)Josh Tillman started his music career in the backdrop, keeping rhythm for Fleet Foxes and typically opening shows for other performers, but the Fleet Foxes drummer was catapulted into the spotlight after he rebranded himself as Father John Misty. While his eight(!) solo albums from the 2000’s were beloved by a few, his first two albums as Father John Misty – 2012’s Fear Fun and 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear – were lauded by critics and fans a like for his smart use of satire and irony in the country-tinged album of ballads. Tillman spent the following years as the closest thing the world had to an “indie-rockstar,” with his song writing finding a home on songs by pop stars like Beyonce and Lady Gaga. For a musician who distinguishes his art from entertainment and who turned down an audition on Stranger Things to avoid further attention, it didn’t seem like Tillman’s ideal role. His growing disdain for the entertainment industry was captured in on-stage rants, and his 2017 project Pure Comedy includes many jabs at popular culture and how it interacts with the world.

Leading with the slightly controversial line “Bedding Taylor Swift/Every night inside the Oculus Rift,” song of the day “Total Entertainment Forever” first brings the theme of entertainment into Pure Comedy as the second track. On it, Tillman explores a not-so-distant reality in which everyone is constantly entertained and plugged in to the point of numbness over a playful piano line paired with acoustic guitar. And while Father John Misty’s vocal and lyrical prowess have always stolen the show, on “Total Entertainment Forever,” they have fierce competition from a punching horn and saxophone combo. The result is a song warning about the perils of humanity’s entertainment complex, that is immensely entertaining itself. Don’t be fooled though, because while Father John Misty may be entertaining, his music is undeniably art.

Father John Misty will be in Seattle to play the Paramount Theatre on May 24th. For more tour dates and FJM info, check out his website and Facebook page. In the meantime, watch Macaulay Culkin play a crucified Kurt Cobain in the newly released official video for “Total Entertainment Forever” below:

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