Last night (March 4), Father John Misty stopped by Saturday Night Live to perform a new song from his forthcoming third album, Pure Comedy, titled "Total Entertainment Forever." The song's opening line — "Bedding Taylor Swift every night inside the Oculus Rift, after mister and the missus finish dinner and the dishes" — has caught a lot of people's attention.
In his song, Father John Misty's Josh Tillman says, the last thing he's doing is lusting after Swift; rather, he's holding a mirror up to society's "disturbing," obsessive, all-consuming taste for entertainment of all forms.
"Human civilizations," he tells Exclaim! over the phone from Los Angeles, "have been entertaining themselves in disgusting ways all through human history — I mean, whether it's lighting Christians on fire, or whatever. We have to consider that maybe there are ways in which we entertain ourselves now that are equally as disturbing. I think that that's important — to not assume that everything about the way we live is the direct product of progress."
He gets at that in the opening line of "Total Entertainment Forever." While he knew a lot of people might find it disgusting, Tillman sings about it because "That is real," and the technology, he says, isn't that far off.
"The fact of the matter is, I don't want that to happen to Taylor Swift. That is the worst thing I can think of; that is so horrible. But again, this plays into progress, where like, the internet was supposed to be this new democracy, a utopia of information where everyone had a voice and we were all interconnected, and we would experience true democracy — and it turned into pornography, followed only by outrage. The tools represent some kind of technological advancement, but if we can't act like more than angry ecstasy freaks with the most advanced technology in the world, then how much have we really progressed?
"And if you don't think that this virtual reality thing isn't going to turn into sex with celebrities, then you're kidding yourself. That face recognition stuff? I mean, there are people working on it right now. It's absurd. Someone sitting with this headset on, you know? Oh God, it's just, how many different ways do human beings need to masturbate?
"So on the album there are more than a few songs where I'm saying 'Is this progress? Like, is this really what progress looks like?'"
Pure Comedy is out April 7 courtesy of Sub Pop. Read more of Tillman discussing it here, and watch his SNL performance of "Total Entertainment Forever" below.
Dive into Taylor Swift's back catalogue via Umusic.