|Single by The National|
|from the album Boxer|
|Released||June 23, 2008|
|Genre||Indie rock, post-punk revival|
|Label||Beggars Banquet Records|
|Producer(s)||Peter Katis and The National|
|The National singles chronology|
"Fake Empire" was written by Bryce Dessner of The National. Commenting on the song's initial concept, he said, "Conceptually I said I would love to write a song that was based on a certain polyrhythm, the four-over-three pattern, which is what you hear in the piano. It's something I, personally, have never heard in rock music. What's interesting is the song sounds like it's in four, but it's in three. The harmonies and the way I'm playing the piano music are actually incredibly simple – sort of like "Chopsticks" simple – with this really weird rhythm. At the end we said, 'Oh, wouldn't it be cool if we had a horn fanfare?' so Padma [Newsome] wrote this very Steve Reichian minimalist horn fanfare."
Lyrically, "Fake Empire" is a commentary about a generation lost to disillusion and apathy. Vocalist Matt Berninger further explained to The Quietus that it is about "where you can't deal with the reality of what's really going on, so let's just pretend that the world's full of bluebirds and ice skating."
The National made their network television debut when they performed "Fake Empire" on the Late Show with David Letterman on July 24, 2007. In the television series Chuck, the song appeared in the episode "Chuck Versus the Break-up" on October 13, 2008. "Fake Empire" also played during the final scene of the pilot episode of NBC's police drama Southland, as well as over the concluding scene and credits of the 2008 film Battle in Seattle. An instrumental version of the song was featured in Barack Obama's campaign video "Signs of Hope and Change" during his 2008 United States presidential campaign, and the song was also played at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The members of The National supported the presidential candidate; they put Obama's face on a fundraising T-shirt with the text "Mr. November", taken from the name of a song from the band's third album, Alligator. In the fifth season premiere episode of the teen drama television series One Tree Hill, several songs by The National were featured, including "Fake Empire". It was also featured in Person of Interest, at the end of the episode Sotto Voce, 9th episode of the 5th season.
Allmusic considered "Fake Empire" one of The National's best songs, and described it as a song that "begins as a dead-of-night ballad that echoes Leonard Cohen, then peppy brass and guitars turn it into something joyous." Mark Mordue of WAToday called "Fake Empire" "one of the great rock'n'roll songs" of 2007. He described it as "a romantic-sounding tune marked by a quiet declaration that 'We're half awake in a fake empire,' [which] married the lonely-guy blues of a New York night to a veiled critique of American imperialism. In short, it expressed the feelings of being lost inside a dream." Stylus Magazine ranked "Fake Empire" as the 7th-best song of 2007.
- DL and promo CD (BBQ 417)
- "Fake Empire" – 3:27
- "Without Permission" – 3:37
- "Fake Empire" (Live) – 3:42
- Matt Berninger - vocals
- Aaron Dessner - guitar
- Bryce Dessner - guitar, piano
- Bryan Devendorf - drums, percussion
- Scott Devendorf - bass
- Tim Albright - trombone
- Thomas Bartlett - keyboards
- CJ Camerieri - trumpet
- Marla Hansen - backing vocals
- Jeb Wallace - French horn
Ryan Lewis also released a song called "Fake Empire" on the album The VS. [Redux] in 2010 together with Macklemore. It samples the "Fake Empire" refrain, therefore making it a remix rather than a cover.
Anna-Lynne Williams released a version of the song as Lotte Kestner on her 2011 album Stolen.
- "Sound / Fake Empire - Single (Promo)". The National. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Richardon, Derk (2007-06-21). "The National's brand of intelligent art-rock quietly hooks listeners in". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Fake Empire by The National - Songfacts (accessed December 28, 2015)
- "Now Playing: The National – "Fake Empire"". CBS. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Chuck: Episode 2.3, "Chuck vs. the Breakup"". BuddyTV. 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Southland: "Pilot"". AV Club. 2009-04-09. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Battle in Seattle (2007) soundtrack". IMDb. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Hogan, Marc (2008-10-29). "You Can Vote However You Like". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "The National Team Up With Obama To Bring "Signs Of Hope & Change"". Stereogum. 2008-09-03. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Lopez, Korina (2008-09-17). "The National's fame starts to live up to the name". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "One Tree Hill music". The CW. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Boxer review". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- Mordue, Mark (2008-08-10). "Crouching tiger, hidden dragon". WAToday. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Top 50 Songs of 2007". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-23.
- "Rock and pop reviews". Irish Times. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2010-03-19.