This week in our ‘Blast From The Past’ series we’re looking at Georgia’s foremost alternative rock outfit – R.E.M. From the early 1980s to the late 2000s, the Michael Stipe led four-piece left an indelible impact on popular rock music.
The One I Love
Released in 1987, ‘The One I Love’ was R.E.M.’s first Top 10 hit. The song spawned a popular music video that was highly circulated by MTV, and within months of its release, American audiences were fast becoming infatuated with a new flavor of alternative rock. Hair-metal was becoming a thing of the past, and would eventually be replaced by a new genre known as grunge. ‘The One I Love’ was a hugely important step in this process, and rock music was in for a far more melancholic decade.
It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Drawing inspiration from Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, R.E.M,’s ‘It’s the End of the World’ is a fast-paced, karaoke singer’s nightmare. Despite it’s hard to follow lyrics, the song became a huge hit for R.E.M. upon its release in 1987. ‘It’s the End of the World’s origins can be traced back to another R.E.M. track titled ‘PSA’ (‘Public Service Announcement’). ‘PSA’ would later be reworked into the band’s 2003 single ‘Bad Day’.
Man On The Moon
Featured on R.E.M.’s seminal eighth studio album ‘Automatic For The People’, 1992’s ‘Man On The Moon’ remains a firm fan favorite to this day. Lyrically, the track pays tribute to the great Andy Kaufman and contains numerous references to the comedian’s glittering career. The song’s title was later used for the 1999 biographical film centering around Kaufman’s life. Not only is ‘Man On The Moon’ well respected by fans, but it is also reported to be a favorite amongst fellow musicians. During R.E.M.’s 2004 ‘Vote for Change’ tour, Bruce Springsteen is said of have requested to perform this particular song with the band every single night. Some praise.
Another musical heavyweight from ‘Automatic For The People’, ‘Everybody Hurts’ is possibly R.E.M.’s most well-known song. Upon its release in 1993, the track peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and entered the Top 10 in a number of countries worldwide. A large section of the song was written by drummer Bill Berry. It’s mournfully optimistic lyrics are said to have been made ‘intentionally direct’ so that teenagers could easily absorb the song’s message. It was used in the original film version of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Guitarist Peter Buck once quipped: “I’ve never watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but the idea that high school is a portal to hell seems pretty realistic to me.”
Losing My Religion
The quintessential R.E.M. track, 1991’s ‘Losing My Religion’ is not only one of the band’s best songs but one of the best songs in recent rock history. Built on a memorable mandolin riff, ‘Losing My Religion’, was created by chance, when guitarist Peter Buck was attempting to learn how to play the instrument. The track marked a noticeable shift in both composition and popularity for the band and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. It was later nominated for several Grammy Awards, winning two for ‘Best Short Form Music Video, and ‘Best Pop Performance by a Group’.