Shiny Happy People – REM

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………………..on September 3rd of 1991 REM releases the single “Shiny Happy People” from their LP “Out Of Time”. The title and chorus are based on a Chinese propaganda poster. The slogan “Shiny happy people holding hands” is used ironically – the song was released in 1991, two years after the Tiananmen Square uprising when the Chinese government clamped down on student demonstrators, killing hundreds of them. Kate Pierson from the B-52’s sang backup. She was in demand for her distinctive vocals after the B-52’s achieved mainstream success with “Love Shack” in 1989. R.E.M. and The B-52’s are both from Athens, Georgia. This was the second single from the album. A very light, happy song, it was a stark contrast to the very profound “Losing My Religion,” which was released first. Looking back at this song Michael Stipe recalls “I don’t regret that song. We made a lot of money off that song. That’s not why we wrote it. We wrote it because we were challenging ourselves. I grew up a child of the ’60s listening to The Monkees and the Archies and The Banana Splits. The guys threw me the stupidest song that sounded so buoyant and weird and I was like, OK, I accept the challenge. So it was bubblegum music made for kids. Don’t hate it. But I don’t want to sing it.”The guys can’t get away from this one.  Peter Buck remembers vacationing in the Amazon years after the song’s release and hearing it on the radio. He admits, “It sounded really, really good. If we did one of those per record, I could see how it could get a little embarrassing. But we only did it once.” The song reached #10 in the US and did slightly better in the UK where it peaked at #6.