Regardless of whether or not you think R.E.M. is a great band (I like ’em, but even I’ll say they’re pretty wimpy and only carry “great band” status pre-Monster), “Lightnin’ Hopkins” is a horrific song off of the otherwise great Document for you to laugh at all over town.
You may notice something is amiss right off the bat, when a drum machine immediately accompanies Bill Berry’s fairly normal performance. So far, this is only mildly disconcerting. Any skepticism is proven to be correct shortly afterwards, WHEN IT EXPLODES INTO A FUNK SONG! Mike Mills starts slappin’ and poppin’ at his bass like a Seinfeld segue and Peter Buck steps on his Living Colour effects pedal to produce a pile of shimmering vomit! …But that’s not all! Mr. Stipe soon joins in, apparently via satellite through his own nasal cavity to provide his whiniest, shittiest studio vocal performance possible. When they tried some funk oriented rhythms a few albums back on “Can’t Get There from Here,” it shouldn’t have worked- but it did, most likely because of the more minimal production. Let this be a note that experiments that “just happen to work” should not be attempted again, especially when you’re paying 18 times as much for a “big” studio sound.
R.E.M.’s albums started to go downhill after this, and they did release “Shiny Happy People” a few years later, but at least that song is only arguably bad- I don’t mind it, really. The sort of poor material that they eventually descended into was more boring and uninspired than cringe-inducing, like “Lightnin’ Hopkins,” and that is why that very song is an inexcusably poor song from an otherwise (at the time) great band.
Cringe and funk your way all over the living room right here:
I decided to add a little “in between real posts” category called “Hilariously Bad Songs from Great Bands.” It’s going to feature songs from bands that are otherwise awesome, but, like the designers of the logo above, made some very poor decisions in regards to the single featured track.
The honorary first post in this series of mini posts goes to The Jesus Lizard, for “Needles with Teeth [Version],” off of their final album, Blue. I don’t think that the Jesus Lizard ever made a bad album, even their preceding effort, the critically panned Shot, is great- it just features different production methods and songwriting than the albums that came before. Most fans of the band seem to agree with this. Blue is definitely their most “normal” sounding album- it’s not that exciting, I enjoy it quite a bit, however, this song is nearly unforgivable. It’s steeped in 1998 modern rock fake-industrial radio- overly processed guitars, electronic drums, distorted vocals- if it weren’t David Yow singing, I’d swear this was an outtake from a Stabbing Westward album. If you enjoy Gravity Kills, you’ll love it!
Download the song for a quick LOL before you GTG, right here: