Friday Song: "Supernatural Superserious"
This one of many gems from REM embraces teenage humiliation and shame
REM’s 2008 gem “Supernatural Superserious” starts with one of my favorite opening lines:
Everybody here comes from somewhere
Sung almost dry over a distorted guitar progression, it’s the perfect attention-grabbing way to start a song.
Michael Stipe, the band’s lead singer, had by this time evolved from a hesitant and murky start into one of the finest rock singers of all time. Confident, with a broad range and distinctive combination of style and tone, Stipe slays the song. Mike Mills, his harmony partner, does another beautiful job singing alongside Stipe. (Background or partner singing is underappreciated in so many settings — right, Edge?)
The song tells the story of a teenage séance gone wrong. Stipe said it was ultimately about adolescent humiliation and the kinds of things that follow you through your life:
I have friends — who are adults — who move with such grace and poise through life and in fact completely embrace the incredibly stupid aspects of growing up and the humiliating teenage moments. They can totally laugh about and make fun of themselves and allow themselves to be, I think, more of a complete adult because of it. So that was really kind of the inspiration for the song.
Originally called “Disguised,” the song was renamed when Coldplay’s Chris Martin intervened, reportedly telling the band:
This is a great song, but it’s a shitty title. You need to name it “Supernatural Superserious.”
The band agreed.
In D with a tempo of 125 bpm, the song is a modern classic, and always arresting.