REM's "Losing My Religion" shifted into a major scale

Michael sez, "Someone has gone to the trouble (I don't know how but would suspect using Melodyne DNA or somesuch) of processing REM's minor-scale downer hit 'Losing My Religion' so that all the minor notes are now major. When I followed the link I thought it'd be a cover, but no, it's the original, processed. It's uncanny - the song is just as familiar as always but the impact is utterly different. Kind of like finding a colour print of a film you'd only known in black and white, or seeing Garfield minus Garfield for the first time. I like it."

Major Scaled #2 : REM - "Recovering My Religion" (Thanks, Michael!)


  1. Well, it’s certainly more upbeat. But even so the song still takes me back to when the original video came out and, before I’d seen it, a friend called me up and said, “Holy crap, when did you learn to play the mandolin?” And then I saw it and all I could think about was that the director and I must have been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez at the same time.

    This was before I cut my hair. Actually almost two decades before I cut my hair. But I still haven’t learned to play the mandolin.

  2. this sounds awesome. that person should redo that entire album. not that theres anything wrong with the album of course, just nice to hear something old in a new way. for me its nice i mean.

    1. It’s awful. His voice doesn’t fit the major scale. The D minor to D major is OK but the rest is awful. Also the middle bit is really F major 7 and they made it A major. OW. It’s really horrible

        1. You are.  This is a horrible horrible crime against music, and the culprit must be found and punished.

      1. The original song is in A minor so in the middle section, when it goes to a chord rooted in the 6th scale degree, it goes to an F major chord.  This edited version places the song into A major so when the middle section goes to the respective chord on its 6th scale degree it makes an F# minor chord (not an A major chord; although very similar to an A major chord an F# minor chord is ultimately different).  So all respective chord changes in this video make absolute tonal sense.

        Again, tonally speaking there is absolutely nothing wrong with this video. Whether you prefer it over the original (for the record I much prefer the original but enjoy this as a novelty piece that I will probably forget about over the next few days) is entirely a different debate.  As for his voice not fitting into the key that’s also untrue because this person edited the vocal part as well making him singing in A major (as to not clash with the rest of the piece).  The “not fitting” notes you hear are probably pieces of the original A minor respective melody still stuck inside your head creating a sense of unease when you hear it played in such a drastically different key.

        By all means hate this video but hate it for the right reasons; you simply do not like it.  There is nothing musically incorrect about this song or in what it set out to accomplish.

          1. Too bad I never watched this series. Anyway, don’t know if she really came from Planet Claire herself but I still  got a crush on Kate Pierson’s voice. I was also recently listening to “Who knows where the time goes” by Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention and was moved again.  Recently Boing Boing’s been great at bringing back almost lost memories to me… Thanks for that Mr. Doctorow :o)

    2. This song is so much BETTER than the original. Even the somewhat clashing vocals, it gives it something of a Nirvana feel.

      To be fair, I hate the original whingetastic version so much, that I’d rather hear it done by Two Live Crew.

  3. This literally made me nauseous in much the same way “reverse skate” made me nauseous at the local Skate Ranch when I was a child. Not a criticism per se, just describing my physiological reaction. 

    1. Oh my goodness. I was just listening to this version, and had exactly the same physical reaction. My brain just cannot cope after hearing this song in its original form for more than twenty years, and it makes me feel queasy.

    1. Hmmm….Police songs are usually a lot more demented than this. And they have those reggae affectations.

      This sounds more like Paula Cole-style innoffensive 90s soft rock.

  4. I think Bill Bailey did something once where he shifted upbeat songs into minor keys to show how sinister they became. My google-fu is weak today though, can’t find it.

    1. Bailey played the Match Of The Day theme in a minor key and said it sounded like “a Jewish folk song”.
      Also, Christian Reilly tried that with the Friends theme and retitled it “Relatives”.

    2.  This was done in “The Nightmare Before Christmas”: of course that’s how the Halloween Town people would sing Christmas carols.

    3. Not to mention the radiation-mutated people in the underground city singing “All Things Bright And Beautiful, the good Bomb made them all” in ‘Beneath The Planet Of The Apes”

    4. Funny, I remember a music theory class where the instructor dug up a bunch of examples of upbeat music that was actually in minor keys. This version here still sounds melancholy despite being in major.

      1.  the verse and the chorus are the same chords (through technically, the verse begins after a G)
        only the bridge is different.

        1. Hey – actually the verse and chorus are different chords now: the A minor is now A Major; Em & Dm are now E Major and D Major respectively. There is more they did – but that would mean me caring enough to explain it all. LOL

  5. I think they did it by composing a new instrumental, in major key, and then pitch correcting the a’capella vocal track (pretty easy to get a hold of) and laying it over the top. It’d be the only way to achieve this without terrible artifacting, and some of the instruments sound a lot like sampled / virtual instruments.

  6. For the same kind of cognative dissonance check out Richard Cheese, do does mostly metal, hard-rock and various bits of pop in a lounge style. Hearing some of the lyrics done like that is utterly brilliant. Works best for tracks you know well.

    1. See also Max Raabe and the Plaast Orchestra which does pop hits in the style of a 1920’s orchestra. His cover of Sex Bomb is probably my favorite, though We Will Rock You and Oops I Did It Again are apparently crowd favorites.

    1. Yeah, it was interesting, but nonetheless I had to turn it off about halfway and put on the original to clear my ears out.

      1. Man, between this and the above-linked “Riders on the Storm” it’s like somebody’s trying to Katrina-and-the-Wavesize the KLOS playlist.

        This is how they should have scored American Psycho.

    1. well I mean that’s how this little exercise was created – by digitally modifying the pitch of the original.

  7. Wow, that’s a completely different experience. They really did a number on he vocals. They’re so much more upbeat sounding. (I just listened to the original and it’s quite obvious they changed the vocals in this too). I can’t wait to check out their mod/remix/resample/retune of riders on the storm.

    Side-note: I also enjoy lounge style covers of songs.

  8. Hate it. Totally loses the melancholic, sad tone to the song that to me gives it so much power and feeling.

    1. Is there a word for such a feeling? If not, i’m going to just call it “echar” from now on.  

      “Dude, you gotta check this out! It echar’d the hell out of me!”

  9. So weird. It’s like a little switch that magically removes all the emotional resonance. I sort of wish I’d heard it without knowing what had been done to it. I don’t know if I would have figured it out or just felt that something was unaccountably wrong.

  10. It now makes me think of The Decemberists. You start bouncing your head back and forth, happy & carefree. Then you dig deeper and listen to the lyrics and say, “Whoa. Dark.”

    1. Indeed.  “On the bus mall” being one of the best for that sort of dissonance.

      I couldn’t make it the whole way through this key-shifted version.  About halfway in my brain started rejecting it because it sounded so off from what I know.

  11. I used to live with a skilled musician who would transpose happy pop songs to minor scale, and play them on her accordian, to really wonderful effect.  This was done on a computer, so it sounds a bit funny, but I still really like the idea.

  12. My band and I once played Muse’s Map of Your Head with all minor chords – so fun! Are there any more things like this? I absolutely bloody love playing around with music.

  13. Now I want to go back in time to ’91, when this was in heavy rotation, and play it in a major key at some open mike event on campus just to watch heads explode.

  14. I Love it. I think it adds a whole new level of melancholia to the tune.
    Quite possibly done with Melodyne, but undoubtedly track by track, now that multitrack music is becoming readily available.

  15. I’m actually a huge fan of the opposite effect – going from major to minor. Probably my favorite example of this is Ghost’s cover of Here Comes The Sun. Absolutely chilling.

  16. Yeah, but can you put in phrygian mode?  Or how about lydian?

    Put me in the “don’t like it” column.  The original was just fine with me.  And also, start a “why in God’s name would anybody bother doing this?” column, which you may put my name at the top of.  

    1. I’m sure the maker didn’t mean it as a substitute for the original. Maybe the reason somebody would “bother” to do this would be to see the way people react. You’ve given them a good example. 

      1. Thank you for getting it.  It’s an experiment and an interesting demonstration of the power of music.

        I can’t believe the uptight whiners here.  Sound like a bunch of Michael Stipes.

  17. it seems to me that the song, as upbeat as it may be, still maintains a force that pulls it down and that’s what makes it so sickening.

    1.  Do you mean chord inversions or combinations of chords? 
      I ask because I didn’t hear anything like that in this remix.

  18. Sounds like an early Beatles song! Circa 1965, think “I’m A Loser” or “Help.” Extremely
    freaky. I’m picturing Stipe with a Rickenbacker guitar, a turtleneck sweater, John’s brown suede jacket and a shag haircut. Oh modern technology. You’ve freaked me out.

  19. It actually kind of hurts. Like my brain is trying to figure out a ridiculously difficult riddle and failing.

  20. Funny how the repetition in the lyrics works in minor key but is really jarring here- and as someone said earlier, kind of frantic/desperate sounding. Minor key me says nope!

  21. That sounds TERRIBLE!  Sounds like nails on a chalkboard.  Now you can really appreciate Mills. Berry, and Bucks talent as musicians and how they arrange the melodies.   Eeeeck….

    1. The Cure’s Poronography would be a real challenge for Melodyne.  Would it come out sounding like the Lovecats?

  22. What an interesting experiment. Listening to this version makes my teeth hurt, or something. It’s so intriguingly uncomfortable!

  23. Some of these people are demanding a hell of a lot out of what is essentially a music experiment. It’s for PLAY, people, do you not grasp the value of that even when it’s not 100% aesthetically perfect?

  24. The many negative comments are an interesting study in rejecting the unfamiliar — it’s as if the song is in the Uncanny Valley of music.  That doesn’t make the listeners with negative comments wrong, taste is taste and who am I to tell someone what to like, but the large number of negative comments is surprising to me.  

  25. For those who don’t have musical training, please see this reference:

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