Is Reveal R.E.M.'s least listened to album?

I posted this data on another thread but thought it worthy of it’s own.

Below are the total streaming numbers for R.E.M’s entire catalogue, collated in Sept 2021 (click on the image below and zoom in to read).

At first glance, as well as being very impressive, there doesn’t seem to be too much thats particularly surprising. Looking at totals for each album, you see on the face of it, it broadly reflects both album sales and the trajectory of REMs career. Its also no surprise that their singles are the most played from each album.

Upon looking into the numbers further though, I did notice something that surprised me. It seems that Reveal could be REMs least listened to album.

On the face of it, it seems healthy. Reveals album tracks have cumulatively been listened to over 46 million times on Spotify, which is way more than the totals of the 3 albums that followed. So far, unsurprising.

But, over 35 million of those plays comes from just Imitation of Life, which if removed leaves just over 11 million cumulative plays of the rest of the album tracks.

But how many times has Reveal been listened to as an album, start to finish? Well, there’s no exact science here and obviously with streaming, listening habits have changed to single tracks. That said, you can see the maximum amount of times the album could have been streamed from start to finish simply by looking at the track that has the least number of listens.

In Reveals case, it’s Beachball with just 358,000 streams, the least streamed song from their 15 albums. So, you can also say that Reveal can only have been streamed in its entirety 358k times at most. In comparison ATS could’ve been listened to in its entirety a maximum of 529k times based on High Speed Train and CiN 947k times based on Me, Marlon Brando.

So, does this mean that Reveal is REM’s least popular album to listen to start to finish? Are there any other observations or surprises from this data? Is this interesting or incredibly boring? :joy:

*I’ve gone purely by Spotify numbers in the first column as its the most popular platform and the cumulative and Youtube numbers correlate.

Source: Streaming Masters – R.E.M. - ChartMasters


I listen to Reveal several times a year, but either on vinyl or CD. So my data doesn’t show up there :joy_cat: . What a pity.

Haha, yes well you must have failed to submit your numbers in the legally required annual REM audit.


Guilty as charged, and ready to submit all my play data of course.

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I rarely use Spotify. It’s cds in my car and at home with records. I haven’t listened to Reveal in several months. Don’t skip any songs from it , I’ve put some songs on repeat , The Chorus & the Ring & I’ll Take The Rain. If the alternate version of The Lifting had been on there I would put that on repeat too.


I never thought I would but alas, the CDs and records are now in storage. Started just on my phone when out and about but just became too convenient and seeped into my home life.

I often listen straight through the first part of Reveal, up to and including Disappear then jump to Imitation, occasionally I’ll Take the Rain then finish.

I find the rest a bit boring although acknowledge they’re decent tracks. Saturn Returns just seems to go on and on.

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Thanks BlackbirdsBackwards, interesting topic. I am looking forward to diving into the data detail some more, but purely anecdotally I find Beachball to sound better and better with every listen. One of my fave tracks on Reveal.


Am I the last living person who only listens to music from MP3 and FLAC files on a desktop computer using really good headphones? Or, sometimes, from YouTube, just to get to know a song?

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No of course not. This is my preferred listening choice. I would love to know how to accurately measure this too.

No you’re not the only one. I do too.

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Lots of my current discoveries are made via YouTube but it is not my sole means of listening.

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With the exception of Up, I don’t really listen to anything from the post-Bill years. Reveal is my least favorite of their albums in general. I don’t hate it or dislike it, I just love it the least. When I reach for R.E.M., the vast majority of the time it’s from the I.R.S. years, which is my favorite era.


Very much the same. I’ve said this before but I feel the IRS music is timeless and 90s WB very of its time. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but think its a cross between the production and just simply being overplayed in the 90s. I acknowledge the 90s were their most accomplished years as songwriters but 1980s output has my heart.

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I find it a very interesting thread/topic🙂. I also agree with Reveal stats. SOOO not a favorite. I have degrees of liking.
There is I like it because I love everything they do.
Next would be Love it, that’s fantastic!!!
Then third would be OMG MIND BLOWN so good

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Ok I give up. I hit the reply arrow like always had done, within the persons post. But my reply never goes to them it goes below…what am I doing wrong?

Ha, that’s a great description of my feelings too. There’s plenty of tracks I often skip but I don’t skip them because I hate them. Just want to get to the tracks I adore.

There is one track I genuinely hate though but only one. Wanderlust. Can’t put it into words why but it makes my whole body cringe. 99.9% hit rate is pretty good going though.

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I adore wanderlust as the whole album falls in my 3rd category. (I’m totally used to being in the minority when it comes to ATS. :heart::heart::heart::heart::heart:)

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I don’t listen to Reveal, at all. I have tried but can’t get past the third or even the second song. The two that are supposed to be the main singles: “the lifting” and “imitation of life” aren’t strong enough, in my opinion, and I don’t understand why the latter often draws comparisons to “Driver 8” which is of course a much better song.

My “favourite” from the album is “She just wants to be”, especially the live rendition, but even this one could have been a much shorter song and does suffer from the use of some pretentious lyrics (the same problem that also affected the lyrics to E-bow the letter, in my opinion).

Anyway, I still own two or three copies of Reveal (the CD/DVD combo plus maybe two copies of the standard CD) and I’m sure that even when the anniversary reissue comes out I will buy it (at least the LP) after all it’s R.E.M. we’re talking here and it’s a must buy. But certainly I prefer Around the Sun a million times over, I’m ocassionally in the mood for some ATS but Reveal no, thanks.

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Someone in some of the R.E.M. FB groups loves to go on and on about how “Imitation of Life” sounds like something from the I.R.S. years and wouldn’t have been out of place on Chronic Town. I don’t hear that, not even in the slightest. Then again, I don’t hear anything pretentious about the lyrics to “E-Bow the Letter.”


I don’t think Imitation of Life particularly sounds like the IRS years. Maybe the poppier elements of early Warners though.

But the chord progression and time signature/strumming pattern in the verses is almost identical to that of Driver 8. Peter Buck has acknowledged this in interviews. So maybe the suggestion stems from that.

I absolutely love Reveal. It would be in my top 5. Least listened to? Maybe. Most underrated? For me, yes.