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Friday, October 31, 2003
A Velvet Rope thread posts a Slate article about REM and how their fans all seem to think they suck, but at different times, and for different reasons, few of which have to do with the music.

R.E.M.'s fans have been saying "R.E.M. sucks" since 1984. Reckoning, the band's second album (not counting the Chronic Town EP), sucked because it wasn't Murmur. The next album, Fables of the Reconstruction (or was it Reconstruction of the Fables?), sucked because it was too soft. Life's Rich Pageant was louder but sucked because it was intelligible. The Top 10 Document sucked because it was too popular. Green, the first album R.E.M. put out that wasn't on the IRS label, sucked because it was too Warner Bros. Out of Time sucked because it was too pop. Automatic for the People—well, nobody thought Automatic sucked. But all the albums since Automatic: They suck.

So, let's be clear. R.E.M. does not suck. They're the best rock band of the last two decades of the 20th century.


But one thing breeds hope in the R.E.M. fan's heart that the band can avert its transmogrification into an alt-rock Eagles or Rolling Stones: Maybe it's easier to bear the cross of middle-aged rock stardom when a good chunk of your fan base has been accusing you of being washed up since before you were 30.

From almost the beginning, there's been something backward-looking about R.E.M. fandom, a secret wish that R.E.M. never become more than a heralded but middling-selling college band from Athens, Ga.—even though such obscurity would mean that the vast majority of R.E.M. fans engaged in this Edenic pining would never have discovered them.

The responses to said article then go on to, amusingly, give a case study of said phenomenon.

- "The personal feeling that sustained itself up to 'Document' just got lost during & after 'Green'."
- "These days, one gets the feeling that REM is existing just to exist."
- "A pal loaned me a bootleg of them on an Athens' radio station - it might have been right after Chronic Town. And I closed my eyes and remembered a period of time when frat boys would kick your ass for playing that shit loud. Those were the days. When R.E.M. came through town, even though they were dumping tickets, I didn't feel the urge to see Stipe forget half the lyrics. I saw them when it mattered. This night is for the tourists."
- "Add to that the fact that they haven't had a great album since AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE."
- "Both bands started well, but eventually became co-opted as "fake alternative" for the mainstream. Both bands allowed it to happen. Both bands welcomed it. Stipe and Bono are so similar, bloated, vain, self important, long winded dullards. They work their causes and beliefs in an effort to maintain postition in the limelight, all the while pretending to shun it. Really, it's gross. Both bands musical output has been nothing short of derivative. REM has been writing the same goddamn song for about twelve years now. There's only ONE pride of Atlanta, and that's the B-52s, my friends."
- "rem were great, but not since automatic. it's just weak filler from that point on. and just to echo what alot of others have said here...these guys are totally faking it for the cash at this point."

It is kind of sad that people won't let themselves enjoy New Adventures or Up or Reveal, all of which are great; New Adventures is better then every album except Automatic and Murmur in my book.