Song of the Day #4,615: ‘King of Comedy’ – R.E.M.

My lord, has it really been 27 years since R.E.M. released Monster? I remember being taken aback by the volume and aggression of this album coming on the heels of 1992’s Automatic For the People, but mostly loving the results.

R.E.M. said they wanted to make a loud album after the mostly acoustic Out of Time and Automatic For the People, and Monster certainly fit the bill. Soaked in reverb, this mashup of glam rock and grunge sounds like nothing else in the band’s catalog, for better and worse.

As bonus material on a recent 25th anniversary reissue, producer Scott Litt remixed the original lineup to bring Michael Stipe’s vocals up in the mix and downplay some of the distorted guitars. The band wasn’t wild about the new versions, saying the originals captured what they wanted to say at the time.

Listening to the remix on Amazon Music, I tend to agree. The new versions are an “easier” listen, but they lose something that made the original such a bracing departure for a band at the peak of its popularity.

[Verse 1]
Make your money with a suit and tie
Make your money with shrewd denial
Make your money expert advice
If you can wing it
Make your money with a power ply
Make your money with a buyout bribe
You can lie
As long as you mean it

[Chorus 1]
I’m not king of comedy
Grease the pig, give a squeeze
(Squeeze me)

[Verse 2]
Make your money with exploitation
Make it holy illumination
Say a prayer at every station
Don’t forget to ask for mercy
Make your money with a pretty face
Make it easy with product placement
Make it charged with controversy
I’m straight, I’m queer, I’m bi

[Chorus 2]
I’m not king of comedy
I’m not your magazine
I’m not your television

[Verse 3]
Make your money, make it rich
Make it young and make it quick
Make your money on the jukebox, baby
Let’s pick up sticks
Make your enemies make your moves
Make your critics fumble through
Make it smart and make it schmooze
Make it look easy

[Chorus 2]
I’m not king of comedy
I’m not your magazine
I’m not your television
I’m not your movie screen

I’m not commodity
I’m not commodity
I’m not commodity
(All together now)

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,615: ‘King of Comedy’ – R.E.M.

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    I believe I have been on record for 27 years as not being a fan of this album. This is really where REM lost me and never got me back. If I had no tolerance for this grunge sound in my 20’s, I certainly have less so in my 50’s.

  2. Amy says:

    While this is not an album I turn to, I loved “Crush with Eyeliner” from the start and appreciated then and now what they wanted to do with their sound on this album.

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