In much the same way that Shirley Jackson's short story The Lottery is not a guide on how to win the lottery but rather "a chilling tale of conformity gone mad," R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know Know It (And I Feel Fine)" is not a direct response to a world in the throes of a global pandemic. Instead, it's a disturbingly peppy chain of pop culture references delivered by a breathless Michael Stipe who is "feeling pretty psyched" despite "the Furies breathing down your neck." It's also rising up the charts again as we all self-quarantine in 2020, climbing all the way to No. 39 on the iTunes chart as of Monday afternoon.
Why, exactly, people are listening to the song in these sorts of numbers right now is beyond me. Document is a great record, sure, and there's comic value in the apocalyptic tenor of the song, but that only really works if you're dropping it onto the playlist at a party. And The FADER cannot stress this enough: Please do not hold or attend parties of any sort right now. Stay inside and get really into R.E.M. deep cuts if you're into that. Better still, go download your favorite artist's latest album at Bandcamp.