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R.E.M.’s ‘It’s The End Of The World’ Breaks Billboard’s Top Five

The 1987 single currently sits at No.4 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Songs chart, nearly 33 years after it was first released.

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R.E.M. Press Photo
Photo: Keith Carter

After R.E.M.’s apocalyptic single, ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’ began moving up the iTunes charts earlier this month, it has now re-entered the Billboard Hot Rock Songs, nearly 33 years after it was first released. Coming in at No.4 this week, the song is one of several classic tracks that is gaining traction, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The single, which originally reached No.69 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No.16 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1987, was, according to the outlet, “Up 482% to 5,000 downloads sold”. The song also hit No.22 on the all-genre Digital Song Sales chart this week, thanks to sales, plus 1.7 million streams.

Other songs that are surging in popularity, in light of the coronavirus, are Gloria Gaynor’s 1979 disco anthem, ‘I Will Survive’, Disturbed’s ‘Down With the Sickness’ (2000), Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’ (1980) and 2016’s ‘Work From Home’ from Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign.

‘It’s the End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’ was inspired by an unlikely source – a dream.

In a 1992 interview with Q magazine, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe shared that “There’s a part in ‘It’s the End Of The World As We Know It’ that came from a dream where I was at Lester Bangs’ birthday party and I was the only person there whose initials weren’t B. So there was Lenny Bruce, Leonid Brezhnev, Leonard Bernstein…So that ended up in the song along with a lot of stuff I’d seen when I was flipping TV channels. It’s a collection of streams of consciousness.”

The song, which was the second single off R.E.M.’s fifth studio album, Document, remains one of the band’s most memorable songs, and, will likely be in the world’s collective thoughts for some time to come.

Last week, Stipe shared his four rules for surviving the end of the world, including the hand-washing tip, “Don’t sing happy birthday twice. It’s too depressing”.

Listen to the best of R.E.M. on Apple Music or Spotify.

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