Sunday, January 31, 2021

"It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

Song#:  3391
Date:  01/30/1988
Debut:  83
Peak:  69
Weeks:  9
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  The alt-rcck band's fifth album, Document, proved to be their breakthrough becoming their first Top 10 (#10). It featured the track "The One I Love," which became their first Pop Top 10 single (#9).  For a follow-up, this wordy track was released. It did fairly well over at Rock reaching #16, but it may have been just a bit too much for pop radio and the song fizzled in the bottom half of the chart. Still, with the one hit and their growing fan base, the album would become their first to reach platinum status.

ReduxReview:  I always thought it was funny that this doomsday-themed song turned into a party track. But then again, it's the end of the world so why not crack a few brews and party? Especially when the sentiment at the end of the chorus is "I feel fine!" It comes off like a whatever or, more coarsely, a fuck-that-shit attitude, which is not a bad way to be if the world is ending. Although the single didn't do well when released, the song has had a long life span. A huge chunk of people know the track and at certain points in time (see below) it becomes inescapable. I liked the track when it first came out. Michael Stipe spewing out a slew of words along with the hooky chorus and jangly, quick arrangement was hard to ignore. It demanded attention and it got mine.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Whenever a potential apocalyptic-type event is imminent, it seems this song sees a surge in airplay and sales. An example is near the beginning of the COVID pandemic. The "end of the world" hook of the song seems to go along with events like that and it doesn't take long for it to get spins on radio, streaming, YouTube, etc. Perhaps the time that the song got the most attention was in 2012. Some folks posited that the Mayan long calendar would end its 5,000+ solar-year cycle right around December 21, 2012, and that the end of the cycle, or calendar, signaled the end of the world. The "prophesy" became a news item in 2011 and of course picked up speed as 2012 progressed. It seems the closer the doom date got, the more this R.E.M. song got attention. Apparently, a radio station in Canada ended up playing the song over 150 times just prior to the date. Of course, the world did not end and experts debunked the doomsday prophesy saying that the date was not the end of the Mayan calendar or end of the world, but it was the beginning of a new calendar cycle. Still, whenever some zealot comes along and gets news coverage for predicting the end of the world or some scary worldwide event happens, this song sees spikes in airplay and streaming.


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