R.E.M. appeared on MTV’s Unplugged twice, a decade apart, in 1991 and 2001. The band was arguably a bigger deal on the earlier performance, which followed the release of the multi-platinum Out of Time and hit single ‘Losing My Religion.’
They would go on the achieve massive success through the mid-90s but by the new millennium things had changed. Drummer Bill Berry left the band and their most recent releases sold less than anything they’d recorded since joining a major label.
Note: I write these posts in advance, so as I’m scheduling this one, I have no idea if looming Hurricane Irma has laid waste to South Florida or spared us the worst of her wrath. I’m going to optimistically assume the latter and proceed as if it’s business as usual.
I roll my eyes at the Facebook equivalent of chain letters, where users are expected to post a certain thing in their status each day and encourage all of their friends to do the same. However, one I saw recently struck me as pretty good fodder for my blog, if not my Facebook page.
Ah, here we have my first truly difficult Round Three pick in Montauk Madness. R.E.M. vs. Bob Dylan. Two acts I’ve loved and obsessed over since the tenth grade.
R.E.M. got here by unanimously defeating Stew in Round One then winning a surprisingly tight contest against Rihanna with just 55% of the vote. Bob Dylan had an easier path, besting Miranda Lambert with 78% then Eminem with 89%. I’m still pissed the random sorting put Lambert in that position. Continue reading
One of the unfortunate trends of Montauk Madness’ first round was the failure of many women to advance. Of 32 acts appearing in Round Two, only four are female. That is down from 15 of the original 64 participants.
Chalk up the poor performance to some very difficult matchups (Miranda Lambert and Shakira faced Bob Dylan and The Beatles, respectively!) as well as a disheartening lack of appreciation for such artists as Tift Merritt and Lana Del Rey.
I opted for random seeding in Montauk Madness, but the other avenue is to seed each particpant based on stature. That’s how March Madness works, with the #1 teams (based on record) facing off against the #16 teams in Round One.
That prevents any heavyweight matchups early in the contest. Ideally, you don’t want the two best teams in a division to battle on Day One.
Going that route in this contest, however, felt wrong. If I were to rank the participants before even setting the bracket, wouldn’t I be defeating the purpose of the game? If a top contender loses in Round One because of an unlucky matchup, well, that probably would have happened in Round Three of Four anyway.
‘I Wanted To Be Wrong’ has the dubious distinction of being the best song on the worst album by one of the best bands of all time.
2004’s Around the Sun was R.E.M.’s unlucky 13th album, the third without drummer Bill Berry and their most uninspired effort. Only this song and one or two others are worth hearing.