Ask Billboard: Who Has the Most Million-Selling Downloads?
Ask Billboard: Who Has the Most Million-Selling Downloads?

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Following last week's announcement of R.E.M.'s breakup after 31 years, Chart Beat presented a timeline of the band's Billboard chart history, from its earliest chart "Murmur" to final single "Uberlin" departing the Triple A list 28 years to the date (May 14) after its maiden chart appearance.

In this week's issue (Oct. 8), we further reveal the group's top 20 Hot 100 hits. You'll have to pick up the magazine for the complete list, but here are the top five:

5, "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"
4, "Shiny Happy People"
3, "The One I Love"
2, "Stand"
1, "Losing My Religion"

Since music fans on Facebook and the entire blogosphere seem to have weighed in on their favorites, I will, too. In honor of the group's number of years as an active band, here are my 31 favorite R.E.M. songs (considered carefully after going all-R.E.M. on my iPod while driving to Boston last weekend):

31, "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)"
30, "Everybody Hurts"
29, "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)"
28, "Driver 8"
27, "Superman"
26, "Hollow Man"
25, "Photograph" (with Natalie Merchant)
24, "Pop Song 89"
23, "Orange Crush"
22, "Texarkana"
21, "Shiny Happy People"
20, "Stand"
19, "The One I Love"
18, "Daysleeper"
17, "Bittersweet Me"
16, "Losing My Religion"
15, "Man on the Moon"
14, "Radio Free Europe"
13, "Electrolite"
12, "The Great Beyond"
11, "Why Not Smile"
10, "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"
9, "Find the River"
8, "Imitation of Life"
7, "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville"
6, "Fall on Me"
5, "In the Sun" (Michael Stipe)
4, "Nightswimming"
3, "Aftermath"
2, "At My Most Beautiful"
1, "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite"

(Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!)

My list leans a bit more toward R.E.M.'s late '80s/early '90s pop crossover heyday, considering I discovered and became a fan of the band at 14 following the success of "The One I Love." "Sidewinder" leads the list based not only on its great chorus (and Michael Stipe's endearing laugh late in the song), but also that 1992's "Automatic for the People" (my favorite R.E.M. album) was released right as I entered Boston University. R.E.M. and college just so naturally go together.

Also somewhat high on the list are songs from the late '90s and '00s. Despite its tail-off of commercial hits, I always thought that R.E.M. remained a solid source of commercial-sounding gems in those years (no problem for this pure pop fan at heart), a sign of the songcraft that only the most talented of long-lasting bands can exhibit.

Fearing my countdown would turn out a bit too pop-leaning for the proper amount of rock cred, I asked my girlfriend Michelle for a list of her R.E.M. favorites. A smart move, I felt, since the Cure is her favorite act of all-time and 1983, a golden era of alternative, is her favorite year of music.

Here are her top 10 R.E.M. songs. (She's not crazy enough to rank a list as deep as 31):

10, "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)"
9, "Losing My Religion"
8, "Driver 8"
7, "Kid Fears" (Indigo Girls featuring Michael Stipe)
6, "Drive"
5, "Pop Song 89"
4, "First We Take Manhattan"
3, "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)"
2, "Fall on Me"
1, "Superman"

Ask Billboard asks you: what are your favorite R.E.M. songs?
Do you favor the band's crunchy early days, its pop chart-dominating run or its later, more-ballad-heavy phase?

Weigh in on the ones you love in the comments section below or e-mail your tally (of one, 10, 31 or more) and we'll share your thoughts in next week's "Ask Billboard."

Have a great weekend!