All 73 R.E.M. Videos Ranked in Order of Awesomeness
For 30 years, R.E.M. participated in some of the most iconic, strange, beautiful, amusing and endlessly watchable music videos in the history of the medium. We’re ranking the band’s videos in order of awesomeness.
R.E.M. formed the same year that MTV launched. Although an indie band from the South and an increasingly corporate cable institution might have seemed like unlikely dance partners, the two converged as both were reaching the apex of their popularity. In the process, the band (and its collaborators) crafted some of the most memorable images ever seen on music television.
From the start, R.E.M. was compelled to do something interesting with the band’s music videos – partially because of singer Michael Stipe’s passion for the visual arts. Unlike a lot of bands that were coming into their own in the early ’80s, R.E.M. doesn’t have a lot of videos where four guys are simply performing on stage or lip-syncing in a room. Directed by friends, local artists and even Stipe’s former art professor, the band’s videos were relentless in their pursuit of doing something more experimental with the medium. Stipe even began to direct (or co-direct) some of the clips.
As the quartet hit the big time and became rock stars in the late ’80s and early ’90s, it was obvious the budgets for R.E.M.’s videos were increasing. Sure, they became glossier, but no less interesting as conceptual pieces that did more than make the band look cool. The group began to work alongside directors who would become famous for their videos (Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek, Garth Jennings) as well as filmmakers known for feature-length movies (Jonze again, Tarsem Singh, Michael Moore). The imagery of fallen angels, traffic jam walkouts and hyperactive pool parties would become interwoven with R.E.M.
During its three-decade run, the band collaborated on more than 70 videos, most of which are entries in this gallery. We’ve omitted clips for a few, such as “Green Grow the Rushes” and “The Wake-Up Bomb,” because they can’t seem to be found anywhere. Still, that leaves a healthy total of 73 music videos for us to sidewind our way through.