Flim Flam Man
Seriously though, what the fuck happened to R.E.M? It's obvious that a number bands who established themselves in the 1980s have fallen off, probably all of them in fact. U2 hasn't made a good record in years (although I've never held them in the highest regard to begin with, so my opinion is somewhat jaded), and Kajagogoo has all but disappeared off the face of the earth. The last good Wang Chung record was the To Live And Die In L.A. Soundtrack, which I listen to every time I drive at high speeds through the L.A. River Basin.
But R.E.M. always cast themselves aside from those other supergroups (except for Wang Chung). They were constantly innovative, reinventing themselves for each new era. The mumbly jangle pop gave way to mandolins, which in turn gave way to songs about Andy Kaufman which gave way to crunching electric guitars and then finally.... torch songs? "Baby Yr Gonna Be A Star"?!? What was that all about? I know Michael Stipe has finally come out as a homosexual (still just as shocking as George Michael to me; I mean come on, the guy hosted the Sports Machine!) but it didn't mean he had to become a lazy middle of the road type crooner.
The last good record that R.E.M. made, in my humble opinion, was 1998's Up. At the time it just seemed like another great artistic achievement for the boys from Athens, something I would soon learn that I had taken for granted for many years. Yeah, of course R.E.M. is gonna put out a ground breaking new record. In hindsight, maybe we expected to much of them until they could finally no longer deliver. As for me, I like to put "Lotus" on repeat and pretend its 1998. Bill Clinton is in fat chick trouble, the Yankees seem unstoppable and George Michael just got arrested in a public bathroom. Possibly a private meeting to discuss Michael Stipe's future as new host of the Sports Machine?