Like the great poet Neil Sedaka once said, breaking up is hard to do. It’s bad enough with couples in love, but when a band splits up, everyone suffers. Sure there’s always some solo stuff to look forward to, but it’s always lame (let’s be honest). The magical blend of your now-defunct favorite band is gone forever…and it’s hard, man!
So the end of the world didn’t come, but the end of the year still approaches. In the spirit of second chances, this week’s Friday Face-Off salutes the Mayan Apocalypse that never was and 2013 yet to come. Does R.E.M.‘s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” or Britney Spear‘s “Till The World Ends” say, sayonara 2012, best? Vote after you read our case for each, while I figure out to do with all these cases of bottled water.
Heavy as our hearts may be with the news, R.E.M. are still broken-up. They haven’t let their split mean the end, though, and Michael Stipe himself has launched the Collapse Into Now Film Project, divvying up songs from their last album to a group of artists and filmmakers who will create accompanying visuals. Amongst the hand picked group is James Franco, who was given the album’s closer to work with. And boy — tragic starlets, tragically hip photographers, and the ever-congested 405, oh my! — did he deliver.
Here we have “Blue,” a James Franco-directed video that and stars Lindsay Lohan and features the song “Blue,” off R.E.M.’s final album Collapse Into Now. There’s hazy fly-over footage of Los Angeles and sludgy guitars here, Terry Richardson shotting photos of of Miss Lohan in a slinky black tank and Patti Smith singing there — and zeitgeist-y as it may be, the song is very good and the visuals pleasant. And so we let go of the who’s-who’s and how did this happen’s and, lo and behold, turns out it’s a pretty good video! What do you think?
If you’re looking to inject your day with a dose of pretty we suggest listening to singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson‘s cover of R.E.M.‘s classic “Nightswimming”. Michaelson took the piano-led original and infused it with her own magical vocal on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Layering her voice and putting the various melodies on loop, Michaelson was her own full a Capella band, radiating a cool charm as her mesmerizing voice melted like honey over the dynamic vocal backing track. And it’s not only Michaelson’s a Capella that’s amazing, her album, Human Again, is doing well too, sitting pretty at number one on the iTunes charts.
Michael Stipe Channels Obi-Wan Kenobi At Local Multiplex
Retirement seems to be treating the former R.E.M. frontman well, wouldn’t you say? [Confessions Of A Michael Stipe]
Scarlett Johansson Duets With Dean Martin (!!!)
ScarJo sings with the dead on the new edition of the late Dean Martin‘s album, My Kind Of Christmas. The actor-come singer’s vocals appear alongside Dean Martin’s on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and it’s quite lovely, really. [Stereogum]
R.E.M.‘s announcement earlier today that they’re “calling it a day as a band” after 31 years together hit the VH1 offices even harder than that earthquake did a few weeks back. As a means of aiding everyone accelerate through their own personal Kübler-Ross grief cycle, we reached out to a number of VH1 staffers and asked them to share their favorite R.E.M. memories. We sincerely hope that this feature is as instrumental in helping you reach your own personal Acceptance stage as it was for us. And if you have your own memories, please share them below in our comments section; we’d love to hear them!
“BEGIN THE BEGIN” (LIFE’S RICH PAGEANT, 1986) by TOM CALDERONE, PRESIDENT (@tomcalderone)
I was the program director of my college radio station, Buffalo State College’s WBNY, when Murmur came out. “Radio Free Europe” was the single, and R.E.M. was opening for the English Beat and Squeeze; that’s kind of what the pecking order was for them at the time. One day, their label called and said, “Hey, we’re selling a lot of records in Buffalo, and you’re the only radio station playing them, we want to have them come play Buffalo.” We said “Great!” So they played this place called the Lackawanna Sky Room. They told us, “We don’t really have much to play, we could use an opening act.” So we offered to help. At the time, the Goo Goo Dolls were so metal that it wasn’t the right call, but there was this other little band from Jamestown called the 10,000 Maniacs. We suggested them, explaining to them that this Natalie Merchant girl, she’s great, and the band’s really cool, and you guys will get along. That’s how the friendship between the bands began, back at the Lackawanna Sky Room. They were the nicest guys, incredibly giving to the college radio stations all across the country.
My favorite song by R.E.M. is “Strange,” which is actually a Wire cover. Of their originals, “Begin The Begin” is my probably my fave. It had a really cool edge to it, and sounded a little bit different than what they normally had done. It recently came to life to me again, about a year and a half or so ago, when The Decemberists did it live with Peter Buck on stage. I thought to myself, ‘I forgot how good that song was!’, so I revisited it again. Of their later material, “Crush With Eyeliner” was my favorite.
“EVERYBODY HURTS” (AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE, 1992) by SANDY ALOUETE, SVP MUSIC & TALENT RELATIONS
One of my former boyfriends was hellbent on buying the identical neon star from the cover of Automatic For The People, and he finally tracked one down outside of an abandoned motel in upstate NY. I loaned him the money to have it professionally cut down, I housed it for him in my parents? garage until he could clear out enough space in his Greenpoint apartment/recording studio, and then not long after he got the star, we broke up. Did I ever get the money back? Nope. Shouldn?t I by rights take the neon star for my very own? Yep. EVERYBODY HURTS.
R.E.M.‘s first single “Radio Free Europe” came out less than a month before MTV’s first broadcast, and since then their videos have been by turns innovative, fun, and artistic, in ways that were often uncommon at the time but totally normalized as the band (and MTV and VH1) grew old together. Their decision to call it quits is, for people of a certain age, the end of an era. To commemorate the band’s long and successful run, we went back through their music video catalog and selected their five best.
5. “Electrolite” (1996)
R.E.M. worked with basically every major music video director in the 1990s?most notably for the singles from Monster and New Adventures in Hi-Fi. (In the case of “Electrolite” it was Spike Jonze.) It’s easy to think of this as the band catching up after a decade of making music videos on their own or with Athens friends like Jim Herbert, but in retrospect what’s most striking about any of the videos from this period is how much they still feel like R.E.M. videos. The voice of a director like Jonze (or Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who gave their 1970s nostalgia a dry run in R.E.M.’s underrated “Tongue” video a year before perfecting it with the Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979″) can easily overpower an artist’s own visual aesthetic, but despite R.E.M.’s seemingly gentle touch, that never happened. The inflatable deer inhabiting “Electrolite” should make clear, though, that this was not due to too much reverence for the band. Bonus points for Mike Mills plays an accordion and a keytar.
R.E.M. have announced on their site this morning that they are breaking up. They posted the following message:
To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.
More to follow.
R.E.M. Call It A Day [REM HQ]
[Image: Getty Images]
Did you know Michael Stipe of R.E.M. had a Tumblr? Neither did we, but Stipe found a way to spread the word: he posted a time-lapse video of his bedroom and himself featuring a couple of full-frontal nude snapshots. Yikes! We’re kidding about Stipe’s intentions, of course?in fact, the video took almost two months to go viral?but you have to admit that the “artistic” presentation is sort of belied by the appearance of a cursor in each of the stills. The rest of Stipe’s Tumblr largely contains photographs of statues, but there’s also a cute post in which he gushes about “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. If you’re just looking for the explicit stills, you can click through below for screengrabs.
Ever Wanted To See Michael Stipe’s Dick? Here It Is. [Fleshbot via Stereogum]
[Image: Getty Images]
Nearly every truly iconic music video since 1984 has been nominated for at least one Video Music Award in its year of eligibility, but in the twenty-seven years that the ceremony has been held, only ten individual music videos have won five or more Moonmen. (This year, Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep” and Katy Perry‘s “E.T.,” featuring Kanye West, could potentially join the club.) These videos got the attention and praise of everybody in their respective years of release. But do they stand the test of time? What about their competition? Here’s our look at the ten most-lauded videos in VMA history.
Madonna, “Ray of Light”: Five VMAs (of eight nominations)
Concept: Madonna raves on fast-forward all over the planet.
Competition: “Ray Of Light” wasn’t the only video with eight nominations: Garbage‘s video for “Push It” had as many nods (though, ultimately, no wins). We’d totally forgotten about “Push It,” actually, and its stocking-masked nun heist/exorcism would be huge today, because it looks like a Lady Gaga video from the 1990s, and if there are two things music fans like these days, they’re Lady Gaga and the 1990s. The year of eligibility for this ceremony was also the height of jiggy rap, but while Diddy‘s five nominations were split among four videos (Puff Daddy and the Family: “It’s All About The Benjamins”; Notorious B.I.G. Featuring Puff Daddy: “Mo Money Mo Problems”; Mariah Carey Featuring Puff Daddy and the Family: “Honey (Remix)”; Puff Daddy & Jimmy Page: “Come With Me”), Will Smith got as many nominations just for “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” (though the video only won one Moonman).
Verdict: While we love “Push It,” the fact that we had to refresh our memory sort of proves that “Ray Of Light” was simply the stronger video that year. As for jiggy rap? Hype Williams was robbed, sure?none of the Best Direction nominees, even, were jiggy rap?but Diddy has gotten his fair share of VMAs over the years (and even hosted one of the ceremonies). HOLDS UP