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* AmericansHateTingle: Although the band is huge in England now, as the GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff example below attests, the band initially was not very successful there. First, IRS records had [[ScrewedByTheNetwork crappy distribution]] outside the U.S. and second the U.K. indie scene was obsessed with [[Music/TheSmiths their own native jangly guitar band]].
* {{Anvilicious}}: Michael Stipe intentionally made "Everybody Hurts" this so the message would be unmistakeable to listeners, mainly the teen market he was trying to reach.
* BrokenBase: Had this something awful while they were active, though the rift has largely been sealed in recent years, with their breakup leading many fans to return to and re-evaluate material they had previously disliked. At the time, though, there were those who only liked the albums before or after Stipe stopped burying his vocals (''Lifes Rich Pageant'' being the dividing line), those who only liked the albums before or after they adopted a poppier sound (''Green'' being the dividing line), those who only liked the pre-''Out of Time'' material, and those who only liked the material with Bill Berry. It's pretty strange looking back on just how divisive so many now-beloved albums were.
* ChorusOnlySong: "It's {{the End of the World as We Know It}} (And I Feel Fine)", mainly due to the fact that it's pretty hard to understand what Stipe's saying in the verses since it's so fast.
** "Low" arguably fits this trope as well.
** "The One I Love" is an [[InvertedTrope inversion]]: more people know the verses ("This one goes out to [[TitleDrop the one I love]]...") instead of the chorus (Michael Stipe [[IncrediblyLongNote holding the word "fire" for a whole bar]] while Mike Mills sings "Comin' down on her own now" repeatedly in the background).
* CoveredUp: Their version of "Superman" has become better known than the Clique's original.
** So much so that when the song [[RepurposedPopSong appeared, re-recorded, in a 1999 commercial]], some parts of their fandom were shocked that the band had supposedly sold themselves out in such a manner. The group responded by pointing out that it wasn't their song to begin with, so they had no control over what was done with it.
** Also, "Strange" is often thought of as a song they originally performed. You'd think the fact that it's credited to a different set of writers would tip off people that it was originally performed by [[Music/{{Wire}} another band]].
* CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming: During "Let Me In" live performances, the band members form a closed circle and perform an acoustic version of the song as a tribute to Kurt Cobain, to whom the song is dedicated.
** "Everybody Hurts" performed [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yIw46SSR9U live in Lima]].
*** Heck, "Everybody Hurts" performed ''anywhere''. The 1993 MTV Video Music Awards is another notable example.
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: Too many to list. Even their weaker albums feature some absolutely amazing tracks.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Some of their less commercially successful albums have developed passionate followings nonetheless, most notably ''Monster'', ''New Adventures in Hi-Fi'', and ''Fables of the Reconstruction''.
* EpicRiff: Many. "Losing My Religion", "Man on the Moon", "Drive", "The One I Love", "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?", "Supernatural Superserious", "Discoverer".
* FaceOfTheBand: Michael Stipe, although he isn't the main creative force as every member contributes to the final product.
* FanonDiscontinuity: Changes from person to person. For some fans, it's after ''Fables of the Reconstruction'', when the band cleaned up their sound; for others, after they signed on WarnerBros. For most, it's after Bill Berry left.
** While their appeal varies, the first three albums without Berry (''Up'', ''Reveal'', ''Around the Sun'') are often considered a DorkAge that was ended by ''Accelerate''.
* FirstInstallmentWins: Most people feel that debut album ''Murmur'' is their best album. ''Reckoning'', their second, occasionally gets this as well.
** Somewhat averted by the popularity of ''Green'' and ''Document''.
*** ''Automatic for the People'', although markedly different to their earlier material in many ways, has frequently been strongly-received too. Some British polls have even ranked it alongside critical favourites such as ''Music/OKComputer'' and ''Music/{{Revolver}}'' in the past.
* GeniusBonus:
** "Welcome to the Occupation" is deliberately written in such a manner that it can either be about an 'occupation' as in a job, or it can be about an 'occupation' as in a country in war. Both meanings imply that the people involved had hoped for better things but have no real choice in the matter. Being screwed over by the government is the main theme of ''Document''.
** Also, the political subtext of "The Flowers of Guatemala" is more obvious to anyone who knows that ''Amanita'' is actually the name of a genus of very poisonous fungi.
* GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff: When their popularity dropped off in America, they remained popular in the UK and Ireland, mostly because the [[AlternativeRock genre of music the band performs]] remains extremely popular in those countries. Indeed, ''Around the Sun'' (their only studio album never to have had a song place even on the Bubbling Under chart in the U.S.) produced a #5 hit in the UK.
** For that matter, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Beyond "The Great Beyond" hit #3 in the U.K.]], and it wasn't even an album track, but written for the movie ''Man on the Moon'' -- which didn't make a peep at their box office.
** Also [[AmericansHateTingle inverted]]: their first album, ''Murmur'', was a hit in the US but did not chart anywhere else (except New Zealand, where it was only a minor hit). They did not even hit the top 10 in any other country besides the US until they signed with Warner Bros.
* HilariousInHindsight: The opening lyrics of "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)": "That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and [[Film/SnakesOnAPlane snakes, an aeroplane]]..." Made even funnier by the {{mondegreen}} where people hear it as "snakes in airplanes".
* RewatchBonus: The music video for "Imitation of Life" is this trope, as there are dozens of different happenings going on that become more obvious when seen again.
* SignatureSong: Either "Losing My Religion" or "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)".
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped: From "Everybody Hurts", YouAreNotAlone.
* SophomoreSlump: Averted with ''Reckoning'', which is considered one of their best albums.
* TheyChangedItNowItSucks[=/=]ItsPopularNowItSucks: A lot of fans are still bitter about them going "commercial".
** Which is {{iron|y}}ic, since some of the more abrasive alternative bands of the early 80s thought that the band [[PanderingToTheBase sucked from the outset]], because they maintained TrueArtIsAngsty and REM, with their relatively jangly sound, opaque lyrics and catchy songs, didn't AccentuateTheNegative enough.
* VindicatedByHistory: ''Monster'' is probably the band's most dramatic example of this, but this applies to some extent to almost all of the band's post-''Automatic'' output, which was ignored or reviled until the band broke up, at which point people went back and began reconsidering.
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