January 10, 2008
Iggy Pop’s “Funtime” is deliberately creepy — it’s slow and cartoonishly macabre, and the cheery tone of the lyrics are mostly deadpan and ironic in context. R.E.M. coverthe song as though they had never heard the original or had much familiarity with Iggy, and run through it as though they found the sheet music and decided to play the song as literally as possible. It’s hard to tell who was being more of a smart-ass. Iggy’s dry humor on the original is fantastic, but the premise is a bit obvious. R.E.M.’s goofy take is a little bit self-deprecating — their general tactic re: covers in the late ’80s seems to have been “let’s cover the coolest songs we know but do them in really dorky ways” — but the joke is mainly at the expense of uptight snobs who would likely despise such a silly take on an underground classic.