Britrock, meet R.E.M.

Time for another music post.

Something occured to me today: there are a few British rock bands that are really into R.E.M. A few years back, when I saw Radiohead at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, Michael Stipe joined them on stage for a couple of songs (including an excellent version of “Karma Police”). I thought nothing of it at the time; R.E.M. played the night before and had Thom on for a few songs, so it seemed like they were just returning the favour. Then a couple of years later, on Austin City Limits, Coldplay bring in a surprise guest to accompany them, and sure enough, it’s Michael Stipe. They even played an R.E.M. song (“Nightswimming”) and another unreleased one. Now, most recently, it’s the Editors doing a cover of “Orange Crush”. Originally done live, it made its way onto The OC. R.E.M. then did an unplugged version of “Munich”.

I’m curious as to where this connection comes from. There’s no denying that R.E.M. has had a noticeable influence on many pop-rock musicians, as well as fans of the genre. What interests me is the British angle to this. There isn’t really a single R.E.M. song that comes to mind as being in a style that is typical of Britrock, or Britpop for that matter. Is it the British love for the well-made pop song?

Hmm…I have a feeling this will occupy more of my thoughts than it should over the next few days.

Published in: on April 29, 2008 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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