REM has released another cut off their upcoming album "Collapse into Now" due in stores on March 8th. Following the preview of Discoverer and It Happened Today late last year, the next new tune is called Oh My Heart.
I'm slightly more hopeful about this song than the previous two, which I discussed earlier in this blog post. Discoverer is a non-starter. It won't get better with more listens. The lyrics underwhelm and there's no discernable melody. It's like a beat poet reading arbitrary words over loud, unrelated music. It won't be getting any stars on my iTunes. I liked the beginning of It Happened Today until it was ruined by the lyrical napalm that is "hip hip hooray." If you can overlook that flaw, the song has a great melody and Stipe actually sings rather than shouts, which is always a good thing.
Oh My Heart has passion and a retro-REM sound that could put the song on Life's Rich Pageant. Although its verses are spoken, which I assume will be the norm for the now 51-year-old Stipe (Happy Birthday, Michael), there are glimmers of his voice at times in the second half of the chorus. That sound can still tug at my heart.
In honor of Stipe's birthday, I give myself a gift. Here are a few of my favorite Stipe performances:
The first two are from their first TV appearance on the David Letterman show.
From their first appearnace on MTV unplugged, in 1991:
Their second visit to MTV unplugged:
And finally, live versions of my two favorite REM songs: