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Shiny Happy People
May 7, 2010 3:46 AM   Subscribe

Shiny Happy People will survive monsters, Doctor Who, Donkey Kong, and chipmunks.
posted by twoleftfeet (38 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The thing about "Furry Happy Monsters" is -- REM hates doing "Shiny Happy People". It got played to death in concert and they're sick of it. But then someone from Sesame Street approached them with this idea and they thought, "....Oh, how could we NOT?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:56 AM on May 7, 2010


Space Ghost: Okay then, sing that song, sing that, "Shiny Shiny People" song.

Michael Stipe: No.

Space Ghost: I'll get you started. (sings) "Shiny shiny people, shiny shiny people..."

Michael Stipe: I hate that song, Space Ghost.

Space Ghost: Oh, me too, Michael, me too. Say, Mike, do think I'm a shiny shiny person?
posted by explosion at 4:04 AM on May 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yup - REM hate Shiny Happy People enough that they consciously took it off their best of album.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:08 AM on May 7, 2010


It's not a _bad_ song but it would definitely be ok if I never ever heard it ever again ever. Oddly, I think that every time I hear it.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:16 AM on May 7, 2010


I didn't mention the innumerable aerobic workout versions of the song.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:30 AM on May 7, 2010


Man, I love that Kate Pierson muppet.
posted by Shohn at 4:59 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


No. No, it didn't.
posted by koeselitz at 5:54 AM on May 7, 2010


Wrong, @From Bklyn, it IS a bad song. One of the worst ever, in fact. Jump the shark bad.
posted by readyfreddy at 6:00 AM on May 7, 2010


Too early in the morning for the Chipmunks version, argh!
posted by Calzephyr at 6:03 AM on May 7, 2010


Michael Stipe on Space Ghost
posted by empath at 6:31 AM on May 7, 2010


I didn't mention the innumerable aerobic workout versions of the song.

On a hunch, is Michael Stipe simply following in the age-old SNL tradition of mocking Joe Cocker?

Also, I'm an REM fan, and that video was outright painful to watch. No wonder the band's spent the greater part of the past 20 years trying to forget about it.
posted by schmod at 6:52 AM on May 7, 2010


Was that the Black Stig chasing the Doctor and Martha?
posted by bayliss at 6:58 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't mention the innumerable aerobic workout versions of the song .

I am indifferent to the song (although I worked in a stereo store in the summer of 1991 and heard REM's Out Of Time approximately eleventeen thousand times so you'd think I'd be sick of it all). However, that video left me with a very strong conviction that when the B-52s biopic gets made, Maggie Gyllenhall has to play Kate Pierson.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:37 AM on May 7, 2010


About 35 seconds into the first listen of Shiny Happy People. That was the instant I stopped buying R.E.M. albums, going to their concerts, wearing their T-shirts. Not out of anger or anything, just out of a sense of "boy I could care less what this band does anymore." Hard to believe that was 20 years ago. I don't think I've even listened to them since. And I was a huge R.E.M. fan before that, every release from the Chronic Town EP onward (yes, I'm that old). Even bought a Rickenbacker, wore horn-rimmed glasses, wrote bad poetry, and was way into folk art.

That's how bad this song is. It killed lifelong fans in 35 seconds.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:39 AM on May 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


It got played to death in concert and they're sick of it.

I don't think it ever (maybe a handful of times) got played in concert.

/R.E.M. fanboy
posted by Senor Cardgage at 8:41 AM on May 7, 2010


it's a good song, tbh.
posted by empath at 8:52 AM on May 7, 2010


About 35 seconds into the first listen of Shiny Happy People. That was the instant I stopped buying R.E.M. albums, going to their concerts, wearing their T-shirts.

Orange Crush didn't turn you off, but this song did? ;)
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on May 7, 2010


R.E.M. were so much better when their lyrics were unintelligible instead of unintelligent.
posted by chavenet at 9:33 AM on May 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I liked the song. I had no idea there was so much hate.
posted by Malice at 9:38 AM on May 7, 2010


@Slarty Bartfast, that means you missed out on Automatic for the People. The more fool you.
posted by valrus at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2010


Orange Crush didn't turn you off, but this song did? ;)

Okay, now them's fighting words.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I gave up REM for good after Out of Time came out. Not merely because it was mediocre, but because of the day that my mother walked into my room while I was listening to it and said she thought it was great.
posted by cowboy_sally at 10:11 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've written and recorded this song a dozen times. You find a hook that the whole band is grooving on, you think it's a great hook, man this is going to be a great song. How about if we throw in this other part right here, that's totally different, just to shake things up? Maybe a third part there with horns, yeah maybe it doesn't go *quite* right, but man it's still a great hook. Ok, I'll go and write some lyrics. Except I'm not really coming up with good lyrics, well, I'll maybe just force these to work, no one really listens to the lyrics, right? Ok, let's put it all together and record. Yeah, maybe everyone's not really enjoying playing the song anymore, but remember how great that hook was that day we came up with it? Maybe if we get our friend to sing back up, or add some strings. Yeah, that'll spice it up. Ok, we've spent weeks on this, let's give it a listen...

Oh my god, it's a piece of crap. What the hell were we thinking? This cannot ever see the light of day.

It's a mistake, a song writing error, perfectly cringeworthy. Absolutely nothing works in it. It happens to everyone. Except R.E.M. decided to put it on their album, at the height of their popularity. Under pressure from the record label? Or just too lazy to care? Or poor judgment?

I admit that I've heard some perfectly respectable stuff from R.E.M. subsequent, but after this I couldn't see the band as more than a bunch of guys with moderate talent screwing off with guitars and drums, just like me in my basement, not the Important Artists I used to see them as. Nothing wrong with that, my only point is that it's just a really really bad song.

In retrospect, I think Orange Crush is another example of flawed song writing, but not as unredeemable as Shiny Happy People, and I liked the video quite a lot.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:14 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, it's a piece of crap. What the hell were we thinking? This cannot ever see the light of day.

They sold a million copies of it, I'm sure they're pretty okay with releasing it.
posted by empath at 10:24 AM on May 7, 2010


I've written and recorded this song a dozen times.

Millions of people liked or loved (some fraction probably still like/love) Shiny Happy People. So are you really sitting on a dozen songs that would make millions of people happy simply because you personally don't care for them?

(Or maybe it would only make those people shiny happy, which sophisticated people like us know isn't really good for them anyway, the plastic, brainless fools.)
posted by straight at 10:39 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


REM hates it? Well, fuck 'em. They wrought this sappy sounding catchy song, may it haunt them the way I hope "Who Let the Dogs Out" haunts the Baha Men.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:40 AM on May 7, 2010


Okay, now them's fighting words.

Lighten up, Francis. ;)



Musical preferences are subjective. I probably happily listen to stuff that would make you want to claw your ears off and vice versa.
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on May 7, 2010


Recording it showed REM was capable of wry irony (as opposed to the bitter kind), hating it showed it even more. Not their best song, but if you put it in a B-52s album rather than an REM album, it's downright shiny.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:48 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


So are you really sitting on a dozen songs that would make millions of people happy simply because you personally don't care for them?

That, and the fact that I'm 40, I have a job, a mortgage, and a family. You see, I'm a musical genius, a would-be rock star who has been denied his rightful fame, fortune, and chicks all because my wife insists I spend my day off pulling weeds and baby sitting. Someday I'll show all those assholes at the office and soccer practice. This is the narrative I have chosen and I'm sticking to it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:52 AM on May 7, 2010


Oh come on now. Shiny Happy People is the perfect song for everyone: Actual Shiny Happy People can interpret it at face value and see it as a celebration of their plastic, sheltered, convenient lives. The rest of us know it's a sarcastic satire and a commentary on the hopelessness of chasing aesthetic happiness in a meaningless world. Win-win!
posted by Skwirl at 10:57 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


To continue the dorkery, I can't find an instance of it being played *in concert*. I can, however, find multiple instances of them having to play it on television. Which alone would be enough to sour me on it.

h/t The R.E.M. Timeline

For R.E.M. fans, Out Of Time was our Born In The USA moment, when everyone we ever knew started caring about a band they never cared about before. But those people left, eventually, and believe it or not, they're still fantastic live. The albums have been a mixed bag ever since Bill Berry left but live it's worth it to go and get the occasional "Harborcoat" and compare Michael live to what he was like in, oh, say, 1985. I think it's awesome.
posted by micawber at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what? I way harshed on the song. It's not that bad, and it did spawn Furry Happy Monsters. I'm clearly not one of the song title subjects.

I may need a hug.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:05 AM on May 7, 2010


"Furry Happy Monsters"; Doctor Who scenes overdubbed with REM's originals; a vid of someone playing "Shiny Happy People" on the Donkey Kong bongo game; and the Chipmunks' cover.
posted by WCityMike at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2010


I've been an REM fan from the beginning, and I love the song, and love the video, too. They all look so young and adorable.
posted by feste at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2010


As I remember it, in the early interviews for "Out Of Time", Michael Stipe was saying that he "genuinely hoped" Shiny Happy was sincere. Time passed (they toured it, the vid was a big hit, we all got the damned thing stuck in our ear) and eventually (inevitably?) the song disappeared from the set list.

Ah, the trials and tribulations of proto-hipsterism.
posted by philip-random at 12:09 PM on May 7, 2010


The thing about "Furry Happy Monsters" is -- REM hates doing "Shiny Happy People". It got played to death in concert and they're sick of it.

It was never played in concert. They played it during 3 short TV performances in Spain, Holland, and New York, but never on the concert stage. (There was no tour to support Out Of Time.)
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 3:26 PM on May 7, 2010


I rather like the song, even if it doesn't quite fit in the normal REM vibe. REM is, actually, my perfect example of a band that comes out with albums where I think all but two of the songs are terrible... but oh, those two are FANTASTIC.

(side note: Nothing survives a meeting with the Doctor. Unless he's feeling merciful that day. )
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:03 PM on May 7, 2010


I refuse to acknowledge that REM existed in any form whatsoever after 1990.
posted by koeselitz at 5:52 PM on May 7, 2010


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