Song of the Day #3,310: ‘Harborcoat’ – R.E.M. vs. Bob Dylan

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

Song of the Day #3,273: ‘Kiss It Better’ – Rihanna vs. R.E.M.

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.
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Song of the Day #3,232: ‘The One I Love’ – R.E.M. vs. Stew

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.

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Song of the Day #3,207: ‘I Wanted To Be Wrong’ – R.E.M.

‘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.

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Song of the Day #3,042: ‘World Leader Pretend (Live)’ – R.E.M.

remWhen I first heard R.E.M. was contributing a song to the 30 Days, 30 Songs anti-Trump project, I was giddy. I figured the prospect of a racist, misogynist narcissist ascending to the highest office in the world is what it took to reunite one of my favorite bands ever.

Alas, their offering turned out to be not a new song but a previously unreleased live version of a track from their 1988 album, Green.

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Song of the Day #2,911: ‘Radio Song’ – R.E.M.

outoftimeR.E.M.’s 1991 album Out of Time is a truly bizarre smash hit. It’s the band’s best-selling record and the one that transformed them from a critically admired alternative rock band into a global pop rock superpower, but half of its tracks are the sort of thing I can’t imagine ever playing on the radio.

That goes for powerful, mournful tracks like ‘Country Feedback’ and ‘Low,’ the instrumental ‘Endgame’ and the largely spoken word ‘Belong.’

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