If R.E.M. had never released “Losing My Religion,” they’d be stuck with “Shiny Happy People” as their biggest hit. They’d be among the bands who famously hate their biggest hit. Theories as to why they hate “Shiny Happy People” are numerous, and some border on conspiracy theory but it’s a sentiment all four members share.
Or at least it was. It’s hard to maintain hate for a pop song for very long. "Shiny Happy People”'s rehabilitation began in 1999 when they performed the song on Sesame Street as Furry Happy Monsters. The clip is pure joy, with frontman Michael Stipe especially just psyched to be hanging out with a bunch of muppets. The choice of song had been predetermined by the Sesame Street people; they’d even made a muppet of original co-singer Kate Pierson of the B52s. Bassist Mike Mills reports that their attitude was “'All right, why not?' It’s not as if we were tarnishing its legacy.”
The strangest detail in this story comes from Michael Stipe, who says that the night before filming, he’d read the Satyricon of Petronius, an ancient Roman tragedy in which an old man states in his will that whoever inherits his wealth must also consume his body. Stipe says that he had nightmares of cannibalism, explaining his solemn and unkempt demeanor. He says it took him half a day with the muppets to pull himself together.