Hear This: “Shiny Happy People” and a young man’s blossoming into cynicism

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about the songs we hate by bands we love.

R.E.M., “Shiny Happy People” (1991)

I am far from the first to say that I hate R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People.” One year ago, The Lawrence Arms’ Brendan Kelly laid out on this very website, with brutal precision, the many reasons to hate it, from its “fucking jangly riff” to its “sad French circus breakdown.” Over the years, it’s found itself on various lists of “Worst Songs Ever” and “Wussiest Songs Of All Time.” Even Michael Stipe himself grew to dislike it, reportedly keeping it off the greatest hits album In Time despite it being the band’s last Top 10 single, refusing to play it live, and eventually admitting to reporters it had “limited appeal …

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