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Kate Pierson Still Likes to Think ‘Shiny Happy People’ Was a ‘Little Homage to the B-52’s’

Vulture
 2021-03-11

Cover picture for the articleR.E.M. is alt-rock’s wise and sad elders, who took greater pleasure in being a siren call for everything we should be wary of in the world as opposed to, say, wanting us to throw our love around and take it into town. (Not including the song that Ben Wyatt used for his spectacular claymation video, that is.) This all changed, though, with the release of 1991’s chart-topping Out of Time: Nestled in the tracklist was a little ditty called “Shiny Happy People” that gave Michael Stipe his bubblegum Davy Jones moment as he crooned about the joys of growing flowers and holding hands. It was a weird moment of earnestness for a band who had previously preferred a more catalytic approach to their music (see: literally anything from 1983’s Murmur) and singing alongside them was B-52’s frontwoman Kate Pierson, who can probably best be described as the human embodiment of sunshine. Who couldn’t possibly be happy while listening to it?

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