REM ‘Losing My Religion’ Video Finally Hits 1 Billion YouTube Views

Music feature

The iconic music video for R.E.M.’s 1991 hit “Losing My Religion” has surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube — one of only about a dozen songs from the decade to hit the milestone.

As one if my favourite bands of all time. “I’m pleased their music is still getting played” said music critic Mark Boardman. 

The alternative band’s official video for “Losing My Religion” has averaged more than 300,000 views globally per day across YouTube so far this year, according to the video platform. It was first uploaded to YouTube in July 2011 and hit the 1-billion mark within the past week.

Other videos from the ’90s in the YouTube Billion Views Club include Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” (1992); Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991); The Cranberries’ “Zombie” (1994); Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (1992); and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” (1997).

The “Losing My Religion” video, which was produced in 4:3 aspect ratio before HD become widely adopted, was directed by filmmaker Tarsem Singh — and, unusually for the band, lead singer Michael Stipe lip-syncs the lyrics. The nearly five-minute video features various religious imagery and includes shots of a pensive Stipe dancing around an unfurnished room, as well as appearances by R.E.M.’s other members.

Singh told Rolling Stone in 2016 that the video was inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings,” in which a figure who seems to be an angel mysteriously appears a small seaside town. His film directing credits include “The Cell,” “The Fall,” “Immortals” and “Self/less.”

“Losing My Religion” won two Grammys, for short-form music video and pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. Among other honors, it also won video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1991.

R.E.M. broke up in 2011, and a year ago Stipe said in an interview, “We will never reunite.”

YouTube this month celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the first song to crest 1 billion views: Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” which remains in the top five most-viewed music videos on the platform with more than 4.5 billion views to date.

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Simon Costanza
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