Wednesday, 2 March 2011


The free Überlin giveaway at iTunes UK can't have been a coincidence, as immediately following that comes a new music video for the song. Many R.E.M. fans around the Internet are unhappy that they don't get to see the whole band - so far we've just had Michael being carried upstairs by a group of men, in black and white. As interesting an experiment as it was, we wanted something a bit more mainstream... and something which Peter and Mike could be involved in too.

Sadly, our prayers have not yet been answered - in fact, the complete opposite has happened. Not even Michael appears in the new music video, as he has instead given complete artistic control to another director, by the name of Sam Taylor-Wood, who in turn has decided to create a video revolving around a man (Aaron Johnson) dancing down a street in London. Not only that, but it's her boyfriend!

He's wearing an R.E.M. T-shirt. That's about where the connections between the video and the music end.

Oh yeah, and it's not even in time with the song.

Granted, some of the moves Johnson pulls off are nothing short of spectacular, involving flipping himself around a lamp post and jumping over a bicycle. Never in a million years could I do that! But the point is, the concept is all wrong. The character portrayed in the song Überlin seems to me like a reserved, tired individual, who is looking for solitude - the last thing I would expect him to do is strut down a street pulling off dance moves and doing squirrel impressions (see above). No... this is just all wrong. And did I say it wasn't even time with the song?

There's a place for obscure art in this world, and there's a place for things that appeal to the general public. Music videos fall under the latter category, an idea which R.E.M. sometimes just don't get - in 1984, the first twenty minutes of Reckoning were put to film. The video was - wait for it - the band members walking round a farm.  Well, perhaps I'm being too harsh here, as it was quite a good movie, with interesting camera effects and editing, but the public at large would not want to see Left of Reckoning (for that was its name). No, what they wanted was something like Man on the Moon, with Peter serving drinks at a bar and Millsy shooting pool! Or was that just me?

Überlin was a fantastic, emotive and moody song, a quality lost as soon as you press 'play' on the flash player. The video, for UK users, can be found here.

Now, as my hand is cramping (thanks to a massive post I did last night on Collapse Into Now), coupled with the fact that my doctor has warned me of repetitive strain injury, I think I'll stop there... but not before sharing with you my favourite R.E.M. music video: Near Wild Heaven. Check it out - it's much better than the band's most recent offering.

And have I mentioned it wasn't even in time with the song?

Yours truly,

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