Even though I may be too young to remember first hand when they released their first official album or still care when they released their last one, is it the end of REM as we know it?
By: Ringo Bones
When I first heard the “amicable” REM breakup announced on the BBC - on the morning 7:21 AM of September 22, 20011 local time here in the Philippines – I first thought that it was just a mere “publicity stunt” to improve the band’s somewhat sagging popularity. After all, I didn’t even knew that their last major label album was released in March of 2011.
In subsequent interviews, REM frontman Michael Stipe and the rest of the band reassured their loyal cadre of fans that the decision to disband, though not an easy one, is amicable. The band reached a unanimous decision of not wanting REM to become a self-parodying nostalgia act. In their 30-year long career that started back in 1981, it wasn’t until 1987 that REM started to gain mainstream success with the release of the album Document and the regular airplay of The One I Love and It’s the End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) on mainstream FM. Even then, the band had to wait till the advent of th2e Seattle Grunge era of the early 1990s in order for REM to become truly synonymous with “alternative rock”.
Will REM’s retirement from the music scene eventually usher in a new generation of artist who are as good – if not better – than them? Sadly, after the multi-billion dollar global music industry was ruined by illegal file-sharing schemes like NAPSTER and its ilk in the very tail end of the 20th Century, it seems like “rock stars” that used to make millions of their musical talent is fast becoming an economic dinosaur. It may be the end of REM as we know it, but I’m still worried about the future of the global music industry and its ability to reward young and talented musicians who truly deserve fame and fortune.