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Music Review: R.E.M. – “Everybody Hurts”

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Just the other day, I felt like life was overwhelming me. I couldn’t get to sleep, started breathing heavily, and thought I was having a panic attack. I did what I usually do when I get to such a low point in life, listen to music. The first song that I played on my computer was “Everybody Hurts,” by REM, which is just about the greatest record ever made.

This song surprisingly only peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993, but instantly became a favorite among, not only the general public, but R.E.M. fans as well. Some of the lyrics include; “If you're on your own in this life/the days and nights are long/When you think you've had too much of this life, hang on.” The song became an inspiration for many to ride out the bad times and hang on for better days. The most important theme of this song, however, is that you are not alone; there are plenty of others that share your feelings.

It’s not just the lyrics that are impressive, Michael Stipe gives one of the most heartfelt vocal performances I’ve ever heard on a record. Many may criticize his voice for being technically poor and too nasally, but his voice gives more warmth and feeling than most other singers. The music in the song is slow and simple, but very effective.

The music video for “Everybody Hurts” is a perfect companion to the single. It basically shows a traffic jam where people’s thoughts are interpreted by words at the bottom of the screen. Finally, at the end of the video, all the drivers become so miserable that they just leave their cars and head off to something better.

R.E.M. went on to have more hits after “Everybody Hurts,” but seemed to crash, commercially, with their album New Adventures in Hi-Fi, released in 1996. Still, many critics consider that album, as well as subsequent R.E.M. albums, to be great musical works that prove that artistic greatness doesn’t always equal commercial success.

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About Daryl D

  • JC Mosquito

    Automatic for the People was the first album by REM theat I didn’t like right off the bat. But I grew to like it, and now consider it one of their best.

    Having said that, I haven’t liked anything they’ve released since then.

  • toe knee

    daryl…as fan of r.e.m., please respect your readers enough to at least spell the lead singer’s name correctly. It is spelled “Stipe”, not “Stype”.

  • daryl d

    Sorry about that. I hate it, myself, when somebody does a review and spells a name wrong, especially if it’s a negative review. I’ll write a letter to the editor to see if he can change it.

  • Not that I want to 5000% disagree with you, but I’ve always thought that “Everybody Hurts” was the first R.E.M. song that truly sucked. Melodically, lyrically, and performatively, I’ve long considered it a Mister Rogers song for adults.

    That said, the Wayne’s World parody of it is hysterical.

  • zingzing

    michael j. west– you haven’t ALWAYS thought that about r.e.m. there was a time when you thought ALL r.e.m. sucked. and it certainly wasn’t the first rem song to suck. rem sucked a lot of the time. they were also great a lot of the time.

  • TamD.

    Ugh. “Everybody Hurts” is right up there with “Shiny Happy People” and “Radio Song” for having some of the most trite lyrics ever; especially the “now it’s time to sing along” line. However, I will agree that the singing on EH is perhaps Stipe’s most heartfelt since “SO Central Rain”. NAIHF was a mess–but that was part of the charm. I thought it was a treasure trove for fans, and I still find it an interesting album to listen to from start to finish. Can’t say that about … what was that last REM CD called?? REM could still turn it around if they would rehire Berry, get Buck to play some actual chords, and let Mike Mills sing more. Oh yeah, they’d have to get Stipe to stop writing crap like “I’ll be Pounce Pony/Phony baloney”, too.

  • JC Mosquito

    They were a great rock n roll band in the beginning, but they don’t seem to play a lot of rock and roll anymore, do they?

  • jerry

    This is one of those songs that sounds depressing as can be but you can’t help but listen to it all the way through. I always like R.E.M’s more uptempo numbers but I can say I dig this one too.

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  • REM

  • Rob

    That Waynes World was hilarious. It cut back to the studio and Garth was crying and Wayne said something along the lines of, “well if you haven’t killed yourself after watching that, coming up next is…” I wish it was on youtube

  • mark

    GARTH (subtitled thought): I think I’m gonna hurl.
    WAYNE (subtitled thought): Good call.