The next song on the countdown of the Top 100 Songs of the ’90s is from a band that needs no introduction. R.E.M. is one of the most popular alternative rock bands ever and while they peaked in terms of popularity around 1994, they have been a force in the rock music scene pretty much since their breakout hit in 1987,”The One I Love”. From 1987 to 1996 they released six albums, all of which were certified platinum in the United States. Although they never reached the coveted #1 ranking on Billboard’s Hot 100, they came very close in 1991 with “Losing My Religion” and their highest position to date at #4. They have an astonishing twelve Top 10 songs on the Mainstream Rock Charts and ten Top 10 songs on the Modern Rock Charts.
“Man on the Moon” was the second single released off of their critically acclaimed eighth studio album, Automatic For The People, in 1992. The song mixes in references to Sir Issac Newton, Charles Darwin and Moses, with the main topic being the late-great entertainer Andy Kaufman. The song inspired the name for the 1999 film “Man on the Moon”, a biopic of Andy Kaufman, and was used in promotion of the film.
The song best can be summed up with the famous double negative line, “If you believe there’s nothing up their sleeve, then nothing is cool.” It’s a great song because of its thought provoking lyrics and its timeless sound and deserves a its rightful place on the countdown.
The music video for “Man on the Moon” is also one of my personal favorites. It has all the important elements for a great music video: its filmed in black and white, it has the lead singer walking aimlessly in the desert, extras in a bar lip syncing the lyrics, and of course random images of lightning. All kidding aside, the music video fit well with the song and gets the job done quite nicely. Check it out!