We’re living through a weird time right now. People are stocking up on toilet paper like it’s the apocalypse, we’ve lost track of how many times we have said the phrase “social distancing,” and music that hasn’t been popular in over 30 years is suddenly back on the iTunes charts. Turns out, a lot of people are spending their self-quarantine time listening to one song in particular. Alternative rock band R.E.M.’s 1987 hit “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” must to be stuck in a lot of people’s heads lately because it is back on the U.S. iTunes charts thanks to a lot of streams.
The throwback track is about frontman Michael Stipe’s anxieties in a stream-of-consciousness lyrical style about a litany of world-changing events and things to worry about. There’s no way he could have predicted the coronavirus, but the sentiment is very similar to how people are feeling amid the wider and wider spreading pandemic. The chorus repeats the phrase, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”
Funnily enough, despite the doom and gloom the lyrics portray, Stipe, according to an interview with Vulture last year, describes himself as an optimist and doesn’t view the world as close to the end.
"I do feel that we're moving toward something that is more inclusive and progressive, but we're having to go through pretty dark times to get there," Stipe said at the time. We’re just going to channel that positive outlook over the next couple weeks as we practice social distancing.
Who knows how long the popular ‘80s hit will be back on the charts, but given everyone keeping to themselves in self-quarantine and no sign of stopping the world spread of the virus, it could be a little while.
If you’re looking for some songs to blast for you and your neighbors while you’re stuck at home, look no further than our aptly-titled playlist.