Is R.E.M. underrated by new music nerds?

I've been in a R.E.M. phase in late 2018, they kept me going through the toughest period of my life. A lot of their stuff especially in their incredible 1987-1996 run means a lot to me and have been pivotal in growing my music taste but emotion aside I think quality-wise they were one of the greatest rock band of all time, if not one the best band. I actually think this is not a hot take.

What I think is an interesting thing to discuss is how R.E.M. are relevant to new audiences of my age (I'm 20 btw) like all the music nerds that grew on the Internet (RYM or /mucore) or the music channels or profiles on YouTube and Instagram that review or examine music.

I think that in this demographic area R.E.M. are underrated or more specifically they are put inside the categories of "Gen X bands" like U2 or similar. And i think it's a shame because they have one the best musical palettes of all time provided by really skilled musicians and an incredible and eclectic vocalist and songwriter like Michael Stipe. A band that even when they became globally famous they managed to stay coherent to their sound (until at least the early 90s) and political ethic. Their material should get more recognition among younger audiences like mine considering the huge influence they had on a lot of artist.

What do you think?


@yyzsantabarbara, it's probably not a coincidence that two of THE THE's best (and most consistent) albums were when Johhny Marr was a member of the band [Mind Bomb & Dusk].

@jcwilson makes a very good point: "they (REM) were also pivotal in showing that underground alternative bands could hit it big."

Being able to walk that tightrope between being both "cutting edge" and "commercially accessible" is tough and deserves some recognition.

@seola30 You have a lot of company across the Boomer (my demographic), Gen X, and Millennial generations in your regard for REM. I had grown tired of R&R/pop in the late 70s and transitioned to Classical with a bit of Jazz. I was complaining about pop music in the late 80s to a friend who said I would like REM- he was right.

"Just a thought—does anyone else think seola30 is a bot?"


Rel, after seeing @seola30 repost the entire original question, then post a link to an Android App, THEN write "I got this..." under the link, I asked myself the same question.  Like you, I apologize if incorrect...but not a whole lot. F**ing bots are truly ruining a vast number of already dubious forums.

Reading the comments, I have no idea what the this thread is about other than bringing up 80s bands. 

Going back to the OP, I have to make a few comments that I usually do about this subject matter. What people who are learning about new bands miss is the context in which the bands formed and developed. 

First, there is the time. In the mid-70s, the main way to hear music was the radio. Corporations were buying up radio stations and playing certain formats. In the 1960s and into the mid-70s there were stations that played new stuff and/or album oriented music. That started getting rare and the music that was played on the radio became stale to a lot of us coming of age during that period. You had the stars of the 60s and 70s continuing to have airplay and then it was Top 40. Other than that it was radio silence. 

Colleges started their own radio stations and you had to (as the Replacements so smartly said "Left of the Dial" to hear interesting stuff. REM formed while this was going on. Their history was fairly random, some guys who got together and played parties at old abandoned places. Michael Stipe was incredibly shy on stage and you can watch their initial appearance on David Letterman on YouTube. Stipe won't even talk to David Letterman on camera. 

One thing I admire about REM is their decision to make it a complete group effort. They voted on things and I believe it had to be unanimous. They split all profits equally so there was no jealousy or issues about one member getting attention or all of the money. And it is a band you can say where all of the members contributed greatly to the music. Even the drummer contributed to songs and some well known songs he has songwriting credits such as Everybody Hurts, Man on the Moon, Driver 8, and Can't Get There From Here. 

There were many bands around the same time who were doing similar stuff and sometimes better stuff. REM worked their way up and earned their position and fame. I think Michael Stipe's development into a charismatic lead singer was a very important part of that. 

I'd say there stuff, at the beginning sounded very much like indie rock and they developed into an arena-rock band. I personally like their indie rock first four or five albums better than their arena rock stage for the most part. 

For some of the other posts, I's say that my favorite "The the" album is "Infected." While I like Marky's contributions, I think the pinnacle for the Ramones is "Rocket to Russia" which had Tommy. Tommy didn't really want to be part of the band, he wanted to produce and he continued to act in that capacity. But he was a big contributor to the Ramones' sound and speed.  Good call out to Mitch Easter and Don Dixon and a reminder that Mitch Easter was in his own band Let's Active in North Carolina making similar jangle/indie/pop stuff.