What are R.E.M.'s biggest songs?

4 January 2024, 15:46

R.E.M. in 1992: Bill Berry, Mike Mills, Michael Stip and Peter Buck.
R.E.M. in 1992: Bill Berry, Mike Mills, Michael Stip and Peter Buck. Picture: Steve Rapport/Getty Images

Which of the Athens, Georgia band's songs have had the most streams and views online? Radio X crunches the numbers and looks back at the career of one of the giants of alternative rock.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...
Radio X

By Radio X

R.E.M. encapsulated the changing musical attitudes of the 1980s, defying convention and re-inventing American rock in the process.

Starting out as a small independent outfit, hailing from Athens, Georgia, R.E.M. featured an enigmatic frontman in Michael Stipe, a modern guitar hero in Peter Buck and an inventive and versatile rhythm section in bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, the band's following grew and grew over the decade, culminating in a move from indie label IRS to the major Warner Brothers in 1988.

The jump coincided with their biggest commercial success with hits like Losing My Religion and Everybody Hurts hitting the mainstream, bringing an emotional depth to songs that voiced social concerns, surreal notions and the occasional quirky character sketch.

Radio X has looked at R.E.M.'s Spotify streams and YouTube views and has come up with their 10 most popular tracks.

  1. R.E.M. - Losing My Religion: released 25th February 1991 (UK)

    The lead single from the acclaimed album Out Of Time was a huge international hit for the band, with an incredible video directed by Tarsem Singh. Despite only reaching Number 19 in the UK charts, it's since been certified double Platinum in this country, meaning over 1.2 million sales and streams. On Spotify, the track has been streamed an incredible 1.2 billion times, while the official video has been watched 1.2 billion times on YouTube, crossing the billion threshold in September 2022.

    R.E.M. - Losing My Religion (Official Music Video)

  2. R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts: release date 5th April 1993 (UK)

    One of the most enduring songs from R.E.M., this simple tune of hope and empathy was included on the band's commercial peak Automatic For The People. Accompanied by a memorable video from director Jake Scott, the single reached Number 7 in the UK charts, and has now been certified Platinum by the BPI. On Spotify the track has been played over 396 million times and watched over 149 million times on the band's official YouTube channel.

    R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts (Official Music Video)

  3. R.E.M. - Shiny Happy People: released 7th May 1991 (UK)

    The joyous second single from the Out Of Time is one of R.E.M's most famous songs - but in 1995 Michael Stipe said he hated the song, although he's come to terms with its success over the years. Featuring Katie Pierson of The B-52's on backing vocals, the single made Number 6 in the UK charts and has been certified Gold. On Spotify, Shiny Happy People has been streamed more than 291 million times and the quirky video watched more than 76 million times.

    R.E.M. - Shiny Happy People (Official Music Video)

  4. R.E.M. - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine): release date 24th August 1987 (UK)

    This famous stream-of-consciousness was based on one of Michael Stipe's dreams. Issued as a single from their final album for indie label IRS Document, the track only just scraped into the UK Top 100 on its initial release (Number 87 in September 1987) and didn't fare much better when reissued after the success of Out Of Time (Number 39 in December 1991). The song's reputation has grown over the years and now has over 213 million streams on Spotify and over 39 million views on YouTube.

    R.E.M. - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

  5. R.E.M. - Man On The Moon: release date 9th November 1992 (UK)

    Written as a tribute to the idiosyncratic American comedian Andy Kaufman, Man On The Moon later gave its title to a biopic of the performer, issued in 1999. The second single to be taken from Automatic For The People, it made Number 18 in the charts and has been certified Silver in the UK. On Spotify, it's had over 161 million streams and over 41 million views on YouTube.

    R.E.M. - Man On The Moon (Official Music Video)

  6. R.E.M. - The One I Love: release date 16th November 1987 (UK)

    This offbeat love song has only grown in popularity since its inclusion on the 1987 album Document. A Number 9 hit in the US, the track only made it to Number 51 in the UK on its initial release. However, when the song was reissued in 1991 off the back of the Best Of R.E.M. album, it peaked at Number 16 and has since been certified Silver in the UK. On Spotify, it's had over 120 million Spotify streams and over 37 million YouTube.

    R.E.M. - The One I Love (Official Music Video)

  7. R.E.M. - Drive: release date 21st September 1992 (UK)

    The lead single from the incredibly successful album Automatic For The People peaked at Number 11 in the UK. One of Michael Stipe's political songs, the title refers to the "Motor Voter" bill that was signed into law by Bill Clinton, making voter registration in the US easier. The striking video has had over 22 million views on YouTube and the track has been streamed over 84 million times on Spotify.

    R.E.M. - Drive (Official Music Video)

  8. R.E.M. - Imitation Of Life: release date 30th April 2001 (UK)

    R.E.M.'s first single of the new Millennium, Imitation Of Life was a teaser for the album Reveal and went straight in on the UK chart at Number 6. The band would have two further Top 10 hits in Britain before they split: Bad Day in 2003 and 2004's Leaving New York. On Spotify, Imitation Of Life has been watched over 31 million times on the official R.E.M. YouTube channel and streamed on Spotify over 61 million times.

    R.E.M. - Imitation Of Life (Official Music Video)

  9. R.E.M. - Nightswimming: release date 12th July 1993 (UK)

    One of R.E.M.'s more low-key, beautiful ballads, this simple song had a wonderful string arrangement from former Led Zeppelin man John Paul Jones. Despite only making Number 27 in the UK charts in the summer of 1993, the single still managed a BPI Silver award and its influence has carried on into the 21st Century, with over 76 million Spotify streams and over 11 million YouTube views.

    R.E.M. - Nightswimming (Official Music Video) [British Version]

  10. R.E.M. - Orange Crush: release date 22nd May 1989 (UK)

    The success of this single in the UK, taken from the album Green, saw the band make their debut appearance on Top Of The Pops, with the track peaking at Number 28. A scathing attack on the use of the chemical weapon Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the song has become even more popular in the digital ages, with over 56 million Spotify streams and over 16 million YouTube views.

    R.E.M. - Orange Crush (Official Music Video)