Today, Slate revisits a topic that has sparked many a debate in the past twenty years. Their subheading, “Who Was The Best Rock Band Of The ’80s?” is dangerous in its assumptions, but everyone loves pairing these two off in a head to head. And when we say everyone, we mean it! Just three days ago Stylus did a similar feature — but we’ll join Slate in their limited purview. U2 vs. REM: Which band was better in the ’80s? The Slate piece comes from a true blue R.E.M. fan:
Either you loved U2, or you liked them fine. Either you loved R.E.M., or you hated them. The delicacy at the heart of R.E.M.’s 1980s albums fostered introspection and brotherhood among those of us who loved them in those years: introspection, because the songs pushed the listener inward, finding significance in every line; brotherhood, because we had to band together to defend our heroes against the unfeeling jerks who found R.E.M. precious and maddeningly opaque. I assumed, of course, that those jerks were U2 fans.
We know it’s tough to keep the bands’ latter-day sins from entering the dialogue, so do your best. But speaking of … U2 has a best-of collection U218 Singles coming out 11/20, and the new contribution to that is floating around today. It sounds like a stream rip (and the beginning may have another song woven in unintentionally), but it clears up just in time for that swelling, formulaic, feel-good U2 hook. Download the MP3 at Antuana.
How do they keep writing the same song but not the same song? Genius! Anyway, like we said: Love it or hate it, keep it clean — and keep it to the ’80s!