Imitation of Life (song)

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"Imitation of Life"
R.E.M. - Imitation of Life.jpg
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Reveal
B-side
  • "The Lifting" (original version)
  • "Beat a Drum" (Dalkey demo)
ReleasedApril 30, 2001 (UK)
May 8, 2001 (US)
Format
Genre
Length3:57
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
R.E.M. singles chronology
"The Great Beyond"
(2000)
"Imitation of Life"
(2001)
"All the Way to Reno (You're Gonna Be a Star)"
(2001)

"Imitation of Life" is a song recorded by American alternative rock band R.E.M.. It was released on April 30, 2001 in the United Kingdom and the United States on May 8, 2001 as the lead single from the band's 12th studio album, Reveal (2001). The song peaked at number 83 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 22 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. It was the lowest Hot 100 peak of a lead single from an R.E.M. album since "Fall on Me" from Lifes Rich Pageant in 1986.

"Imitation of Life" was more successful internationally. It reached number six on the UK Singles Charts, giving R.E.M. their eighth top-ten single in Britain. It was also very successful in Italy, Poland and Spain, reaching the top three in these counties, as well as in Norway, where it peaked at number four and became the band's third top-five single, after "Losing My Religion" and "Drive". The song was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals but lost to U2's "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of".

Background and history[edit]

According to the liner notes on In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003, this song's title came from Douglas Sirk's 1959 film of the same name.

The song was placed on R.E.M.'s Warner Bros. Records "best of" album In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003 in 2003. In the liner notes, Peter Buck states that after the release of the song he realized that the song follows roughly the same chord progression as "Driver 8" from 1985's Fables of the Reconstruction.

For R.E.M.'s 2003 tour in support of In Time, the band developed a new bridge for live performances of the song. Prior to that point, the bridge consisted of full instrumentation, with Stipe's "no-one can see you cry" vocal bringing them into the chorus. The new bridge included the same lyric but echoed between Stipe and Scott McCaughey three times throughout the 20-second midsection.

When the song is performed live, Stipe commonly alters the way in which he sings the first two choruses, using a lower register. Singing at a higher pitch, he states, is difficult to do live; on R.E.M. Live, he mentions how he "routinely sings off-key in the chorus."

Music video[edit]

The single's music video, depicting a scene of an elaborate pool party, was shot in Agoura Hills, California, by Garth Jennings.[2] Michael Stipe, in an interview with MTV UK in 2001, explained how the video was made. "The entire video took 20 seconds to shoot. What you're watching is a loop that goes forwards for 20 seconds, backwards for 20 seconds, forwards for 20 seconds, backwards for 20 seconds, with one camera, static, and then using a technique called 'pan and scan', which is a technical thing that is used when they go from a widescreen format and reformat to fit your television or DVD, moving in on certain parts of the entire picture. And you'll see that we do that picking up various people within the frame." During that 20 seconds, various people, including Stipe himself, mimed singing different parts of the song; the video zooms in on each of them for their part of the song. The video also zooms in on various bits of action, including a man accidentally catching fire from a barbecue and throwing himself in the pool, a woman throwing a drink in another woman's face, Stipe dancing, and Peter Buck playing a ukulele with a monkey in his lap.[2][3]

In 2011, Rolling Stone included the video in their list of R.E.M.'s 15 greatest music videos.[4]

Track listings[edit]

International CD single

  • (UK: W559CD, Australia: 9362449942, Japan: WPCR-11011, Brazil: CDWP 056)
  1. "Imitation of Life" - 3:57
  2. "The Lifting" (Original version) - 5:22
  3. "Beat a Drum" (Dalkey demo) - 4:29

International DVD single

  • (UK: W559DVD)
  1. "Imitation of Life" (video)
  2. "2JN" (audio) - 3:28
  3. "The Lifting" (Original Version) (audio) - 5:22

US CD single

  • (USA: 9 42363-2)
  1. "Imitation of Life" - 3:57
  2. "The Lifting" (Original Version) - 5:22
  3. "Beat a Drum" (Dalkey Demo) - 4:29
  4. "2JN" - 3:28
  5. "Imitation of Life" (enhanced video)

US 12" vinyl

  • (USA: 9 42363-0, pressed on orange-colored vinyl)
  1. "Imitation of Life" - 3:57
  2. "The Lifting" (Original Version) - 5:22
  3. "Beat a Drum" (Dalkey Demo) - 4:29
  4. "2JN" - 3:28

Charts[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

The song appeared on episode "Slumber" of Smallville.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b Cosores, Philip (September 8, 2015). "R.E.M.'s "Imitation Of Life" video deconstructed". A.V. Club.
  3. ^ Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 liner notes, 2011
  4. ^ "R.E.M.'s 15 Greatest Music Videos". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2011.
  5. ^ "Australian-charts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  6. ^ "Austriancharts.at – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "Ultratop.be – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  8. ^ "Ultratop.be – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "R.E.M. – Awards (Billboard Singles)". AllMusic. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  10. ^ "Danishcharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". Tracklisten. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  11. ^ "R.E.M.: Imitation of Life" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  12. ^ "Lescharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  13. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Imitation of Life". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  15. ^ "Italiancharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". Top Digital Download. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 20, 2001" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  17. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  18. ^ "Charts.nz – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  19. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". VG-lista. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  20. ^ "Notowanie nr1006". LP3 (in Polish). May 11, 2001. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  21. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  22. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life" Canciones Top 50.
  23. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". Singles Top 100. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  24. ^ "Swisscharts.com – R.E.M. – Imitation of Life". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  25. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  26. ^ "R.E.M. Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  27. ^ "R.E.M. Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  28. ^ "R.E.M. Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  29. ^ "R.E.M. Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2001" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved September 13, 2018.

External links[edit]