Shiny Happy People

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"Shiny Happy People"
R.E.M. - Shiny Happy People.jpg
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Out of Time
B-side "Forty Second Song"
Released May 6, 1991 (UK)
September 3, 1991 (U.S.)
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")
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Losing My Religion"
"Shiny Happy People"
"Near Wild Heaven"
"Losing My Religion"
"Shiny Happy People"
"Near Wild Heaven"
Music video
"Shiny Happy People" on YouTube

"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.

The band performed the song with Pierson on Saturday Night Live on April 13, 1991.[1] It was first released as a single in May 1991 in the UK, but did not go on sale in the U.S. until four months later.

Despite the song's success, band members were ambivalent about being known for a pop song that lacked gravitas. "It's a fruity pop song written for children. It just is what it is", Stipe told the BBC's Andrew Marr in 2016. "If there was one song that was sent into outer space to represent R.E.M. for the rest of time, I would not want it to be Shiny Happy People".[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
  1. "Shiny Happy People" – 3:45
  2. "Forty Second Song" – 1:20
US Promo CD/12"
  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"
  1. "Shiny Happy People" – 3:45
  2. "Forty Second Song" – 1:20
  3. "Losing My Religion" (live acoustic version, recorded on Rockline, April 1, 1991.) – 4:36
UK "Collectors' Edition" CD
  1. "Shiny Happy People" – 3:45
  2. "I Remember California" (live, from Tourfilm) – 5:42
  3. "Get Up" (live, from Tourfilm) – 3:15
  4. "Pop Song '89" (live, from Tourfilm) – 3:30


Chart (1991) Peak
Australia (ARIA Chart)[3] 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

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1991) Position
US Billboard Hot 100 100[4]
UK Top 100 62[5]
Canadian Hot 100 29[6]


In its 2006 "Song of the Summer" countdown, CBC Radio's Freestyle named "Shiny Happy People" 1991's "Song of the Summer".[7][8] By contrast, in 2006, the song received the No. 1 position on AOL Music's list of the "111 Wussiest Songs of All Time".[9] Blender magazine also ranked the song No. 35 on its list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever",[10] and Q magazine included it in a list of "Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists" in 2005.[11] 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.[12] It was later included on their 2011 greatest hits album Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011.

Other versions[edit]

Despite R.E.M's dislike of the song, in 1999, they created a parody, called "Furry Happy Monsters", and performed it on Sesame Street with a Muppet version of Kate Pierson singing back up, voiced by Stephanie D'Abruzzo of Avenue Q. The monsters from the Monsters in Day Care segments (and the Two-Headed Monster) were also featured in this video. This song is about being called "monsters" and having a split personality disorder by being happy, then sad and then happy all over again.

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.[13]

A cover version of the song is featured on the 2004 video game Donkey Konga 2.

The Fatima Mansions recorded a 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.[14][15][16]


Additional musicians


  1. ^ Saturday Night Live - Season 16, Episode 17: Catherine O'Hara/R.E.M. -
  2. ^ Andrew Marr (Nov 20, 2016). REM Talk Donald Trump on Andrew Marr show, Michael Stipe Mike Mills. YouTube. The Andrew Marr Show. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Discography R.E.M.". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1991". Retrieved 11 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "Top 100 1991". Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  6. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1991 in Canada". Music Canada. Wordpress. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2017. 
  7. ^ "Pursuit Of Happiness - Love & Happiness Tips". Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "How To Reach The Happiness". 
  9. ^ "The 111 Wussiest Songs of All Time (No. 1)". AOL Music. Archived from the original on August 26, 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006. 
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ The Independent, December 11, 2006
  12. ^ O'Neal, Sean (January 29, 2015). "“Shiny Happy People” and a young man’s blossoming into cynicism". Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  13. ^ The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Shiny Happy People on YouTube, May 5, 2008
  14. ^ Scott Bradlee on IMDb
  15. ^ Bradlee, Scott (September 13, 2013). "My Music in Bioshock Infinite". Post Modern Jukebox. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ Pinchefsky, Carol (April 5, 2013). "Irrational Games Makes Serious Misstep with 'BioShock: Infinite' Soundtrack Offering". Forbes. Retrieved December 7, 2014. 

External links[edit]