Shiny Happy People

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For the Angel episode, see Shiny Happy People (Angel).
"Shiny Happy People"
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Out of Time
B-side "Forty Second Song"
Released May 6, 1991 (UK)
September 3, 1991 (US)
Format UK: CD, 7", 12", cassette
US: 7", cassette
Recorded September–October 1990
Length 3:45
Label Warner Bros.
7-19242 (US, 7")
4-19242 (US, cassette)
W0027 (UK, 7")
W0027C (UK, cassette)
W0027CD (UK, CD)
W0027CDX (UK, Collectors' Edition CD)
W0027T (UK, 12")
Writer(s) Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe
Producer(s) Scott Litt, R.E.M.
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Losing My Religion"
"Shiny Happy People"
"Near Wild Heaven"

"Shiny Happy People" is a song by the band R.E.M. The song appeared on their 1991 album Out of Time and was released as a single in the same year. The song features guest vocals by Kate Pierson of the B-52's, who also appears in the song's music video.

It peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, the fourth and last R.E.M. single to reach the top 10 on the chart. It also peaked at No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming the first R.E.M. song to reach the top ten in the UK and the only one to reach the top ten in both countries.

It was recorded during the autumn of 1990, and was first released as a single in May 1991 in the UK. However, the single would not go on sale in the U.S. until four months later.

The song is featured in the video game Donkey Konga 2.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe unless otherwise stated.

US/UK 7"/cassette singles[edit]

  1. "Shiny Happy People" – 3:45
  2. "Forty Second Song" – 1:20

US Promo CD/12"[edit]

  1. "Shiny Happy People" (Music Mix) – 4:45
  2. "Shiny Happy People" (Pop Mix) – 4:04
  3. "Shiny Happy People" (Hip Mix) – 3:33
  4. "Shiny Happy People" (Master Chief Mix) – 3:60

UK CD/12"[edit]

  1. "Shiny Happy People" – 3:45
  2. "Forty Second Song" – 1:20
  3. "Losing My Religion" (live acoustic version)[note 1] – 4:36

UK "Collectors' Edition" CD[edit]

  1. "Shiny Happy People" – 3:45
  2. "I Remember California" (live)[note 2] – 5:42
  3. "Get Up" (live)[note 2] – 3:15
  4. "Pop Song '89" (live)[note 2] – 3:30


Chart (1991) Peak
Australia (ARIA Chart)[1] 19
Austrian Singles Chart 14
Canadian Hot 100 5
Dutch Singles Chart 13
French Singles Chart 10
German Singles Chart 10
Irish Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 12
Swedish Singles Chart 14
UK Singles Chart 6
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 10
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 3
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 8


In its 2006 "Song of the Summer" countdown, CBC Radio's Freestyle named "Shiny Happy People" 1991's "Song of the Summer".[2][3] By contrast, in 2006, the song received the No. 1 position on AOL Music's list of the "111 Wussiest Songs of All Time".[4] Blender magazine also ranked the song No. 35 on its list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever",[5] and Q magazine included it in a list of "Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists" in 2005.[6] When Michael Stipe made an appearance on Space Ghost Coast to Coast in 1995, he simply stated "I hate that song, Space Ghost." Due to the band's dislike of the song, it was one of their few Warner-released singles not included on their 2003 greatest hits album In Time. However, it was later included on their 2011 greatest hits album Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011.

Other versions[edit]

The band performed it as parody on Sesame Street in 1999 under the title "Furry Happy Monsters". The female vocal was performed by Stephanie D'Abruzzo of Avenue Q fame for the Kate Pierson Muppet. An adaptation was written by Sesame Street writer Christopher Cerf, changing many of the lyrics to fit the context of the scene. Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded a cover of the song as a playable track for their 2007 video game. The song has also been covered by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but without the lyrics.[7] A cover version of the song is featured on the 2004 video game Donkey Konga 2. The Fatima Mansions recorded a scabrous song of the same title which used the main title line in its chorus on their EPs Bertie's Brochures and Tima Mansió Dumps the Dead. While the music and verse lyrics were totally changed, R.E.M.'s members are still credited as the authors. "Shiny Happy People" is one of several anachronistic songs that appear in the 2013 video game BioShock Infinite, which is set in 1912. This version of the song is performed as an Al Jolson-esque big band piece by Tony Babino (vocals), Scott Bradlee (arrangement and piano), Adam Kubota, Allan Mednard and Tom Abbott.[8][9][10]


Additional musicians


  1. ^ Recorded on Rockline; April 1, 1991.
  2. ^ a b c Taken from the live performance video, Tourfilm.


  1. ^ "Discography R.E.M.". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Pursuit Of Happiness - Love & Happiness Tips". Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "How To Reach The Happiness". Retrieved 5 April 1992.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "The 111 Wussiest Songs of All Time (No. 1)". AOL Music. Archived from the original on August 26, 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006. 
  5. ^ Run for Your Life! It's the 50 Worst Songs Ever! from Retrieved on 3 May 2008. Archived April 30, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ The Independent, December 11, 2006
  7. ^ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Shiny Happy People on YouTube, May 5, 2008
  8. ^ Scott Bradlee at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ Bradlee, Scott (September 13, 2013). "My Music in Bioshock Infinite". Post Modern Jukebox. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ Pinchefsky, Carol (April 5, 2013). "Irrational Games Makes Serious Misstep with 'BioShock: Infinite' Soundtrack Offering". Forbes. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]