R.E.M.‘s “Losing My Religion” Reworked from Minor to Major Scale

Take R.E.M.‘s 1991 bal­lad “Los­ing My Reli­gion” and rework it from minor to major scale, and here’s what you get — some­thing that’s, as one Vimeo com­menter called it, “rec­og­niz­able enough to be nostalgic…unique enough to be shared!” Oth­er songs dig­i­tal­ly reworked by MajorScaled TV include “Rid­ers on the Storm” by The Doors, Metal­li­ca’s “Noth­ing Else Mat­ters,” and Djan­go Rein­hardt’s “Minor Swing.” Fol­low MajorScaled TV on Face­book for even­tu­al addi­tions to the col­lec­tion.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spir­it,” Reworked in Major Key, Becomes a Cheer­ful Pop Song

R.E.M. Reveals the Secrets Behind Their Emo­tion­al­ly-Charged Songs: “Los­ing My Reli­gion” and “Try Not to Breathe”

R.E.M Plays “Radio Free Europe” on Their Nation­al Tele­vi­sion Debut on The David Let­ter­man Show (1983)

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Comments (29)
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  • Debby S says:

    It’s okay, inter­est­ing, but sounds… weak com­pared to the orig­i­nal. Orig­i­nal inspires more emo­tion.

  • Rose says:

    There is a rea­son why it was writ­ten in a minor scale.

  • Michael Fiala says:

    why do it??? it’s nowhere as good as the orig­i­nal

  • tom says:

    Great one. Maybe they should rework all minors into majors then they would have even more songs “unique” enough to be shared.

  • Sharon says:

    I agree with Deb­by, Rose, and Michael. The song in major scale does not touch me at all; the orig­i­nal impacts my soul.

  • MidianGTX says:

    Y’know guys… I’m not con­vinced the idea was to cre­ate a supe­ri­or ver­sion of the song. In fact I think it quite obvi­ous­ly was­n’t, what the heck are you all talk­ing about?

  • Andrew says:

    I think this shows how our sophis­ti­ca­tion improves our emo­tion­al expe­ri­ence. it is a suc­cess­ful exper­i­ment, because it proves how emp­ty our world could be.

  • William Barnett-Lewis says:

    Tru­ly sad nasty excus­es for copies of good music. The scale cho­sen ini­tial­ly is for a rea­son not to be molest­ed like this for LOL’s.

    All I can do is hope this is some sad joke that dis­ap­pears fast.

  • Justin says:

    As a musi­cian, I think this is an inter­est­ing idea & get a kick out of it…

    The orig­i­nal minor-key mas­ter­piece is still out there for you all to enjoy, this ver­sion does noth­ing to detract from it. Don’t be so pre­cious!!

  • Peter says:

    This def­i­nite­ly isn’t meant to be tak­en seri­ous­ly, so stop being so seri­ous about it. It’s just an insane and hilar­i­ous exper­i­ment, because some­body want­ed to know what it would sound like. Nobody was try­ing to make the song “bet­ter” or any­thing like that by doing this. Please light­en up.

  • Mikey says:

    Thank you so much for post­ing this. Real­ly inter­est­ing. Would love to hear what Eleanor Rig­by shift­ed to major scale would sound like.

  • Nucleonich says:

    Com­par­ing this to the orig­i­nal is not the point of this exer­cise. This is a great exam­ple of the dif­fer­ence between Major and Minor scales and chords — worth lis­ten­ing to to under­stand the DIFFERENCE more ful­ly.
    The fact is: peo­ple like sad things, because so much of life is sad, so minor res­onates with us all. But they also like hap­py things because it lifts them up. As anoth­er exam­ple of this, con­sid­er ABBA songs: incred­i­bly upbeat dance­able music, but with real­ly, real­ly sad lyrics. That dichoto­my of “happy/sad” was key to their suc­cess.

  • Mikel says:

    It is just insult­ing to my ears. I can´t see any­thing prag­mat­ic in this exper­i­ment. A waste of time to every­body. A prod­uct of hav­ing too much time and mon­ey and not know­ing what to do whith it.

  • Ross says:

    Think I pre­fer depressed and angsty Michael Stipe but I’ve emailed all my friends a link to this so they’ll hate me as much as I hate the per­son who emailed it to me :)

  • Seth Paskin says:

    As a non-musi­cian I found it fas­ci­nat­ing how chang­ing the scale changed the entire feel of the song. A love­ly and fun exper­i­ment that makes me want to explore my rela­tion­ship to music.

  • Alan Cooper says:

    Actu­al­ly I pre­fer to go the oth­er way — espe­cial­ly with nation­al anthems, which often then become thought­ful rather than jin­go­is­tic.

  • Jef Colkmire says:

    to Nucle­onich: This isn’t a music class. And minor does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean sad and major does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean hap­py. I’m a music pro­fes­sion­al and some of the most inspir­ing and uplift­ing music was in a minor key. Fur­ther, I pre­formed some pieces in major keys that bring you done. It has to do with how you emote.

  • Jef Colkmire says:

    This is about the ‘good ol’boys’ want­i­ng to sell more records. Hav­ing the gall to try and con­vince us, the con­sumer, that the minor key is just to sad. Put in major and every­one will be hap­py and spend more mon­ey. While you at it, Mr Ol’Boy, why don’t you pass around some of those hap­py pill. I can see Charl­ton Hes­ton at the end of SOYLENT GREEN, yelling at the hun­gry mass­es “IT’S PEOPLE!” and they don’t lis­ten. They just want their gov­ern­ment issued food, Soy­lent Green. So I’m stand­ing on top of the roof yelling “IT WAS WRITTEN IN THAT KEY AND TO CONVINCE SOMEONE TO CHANGE THE KEY FROM MINOR TO MAJOR IS JUST PLAIN STUPID.”

  • Chris says:

    It’s just for fun you idiots. Get over it.

  • Lee says:

    Reminds me of the “hap­py end­ing” ver­sion of Gilliam’s Brazil. Inter­est­ing intel­lec­tu­al exer­cise, but not worth shar­ing.

  • Stephen C says:

    Can any­one run this through Swingi­fy?


    It would make it par­tic­u­lar­ly annoy­ing­ly jaun­ty and inap­pro­pri­ate. ;-)

  • Diana says:

    There is sim­i­lar FB group, MajorVs­Mi­nor, that make both minor to major and major to minor rework. They have Abba, Queen, Nir­vana and Bea­t­les: http://www.youtube.com/user/MajorVsMinor

  • Tangential in Halifax says:

    I’ve only just dis­cov­ered 13th Floor Ele­va­tors 1967 LP “East­er Every­where”. From the moment I first heard the clas­sic open­ing track (‘Slip Inside This House’), I was con­vinced that REM’s ‘Los­ing My Reli­gion’ is basi­cal­ly just a lyri­cal re-work­ing of the Ele­va­tors’ clas­sic tune as a lament express­ing anguish and con­trolled rage about the deves­tat­ing toll HIV was tak­ing on artis­tic gay com­mu­ni­ties in the late 80s.

  • bob lew says:

    I think this is a supe­ri­or version…the minor scaled tune was so suf­fo­cat­ing­ly maudlin and pitiable. It had too much emo­tion and was way over the top. It was utter­ly with­out irony and just down­right sap­py. It actu­al­ly marked a turn­ing point for REM where they kind of left the “tongue in cheek” world for the sap­py “I’m so very very sad about the world — whoa is me” non­sense. This major scaled ver­sion wakes the tune up! It puts an inter­est­ing spin on the heavy lyrics. It makes me love REM again.

  • Todd W. says:

    Every­one ought to take more things in gen­er­al with a grain of salt. This isn’t any­one try­ing to make more mon­ey or release an old song in a new arrange­ment for pub­lic­i­ty. It was done as an exer­cise to see how dif­fer­ent things sound when pulled into a new state of fre­quen­cies.

    It’s sim­i­lar to a picar­di 3rd (when a song ends on a major ver­sion of the minor chord that has been dom­i­nant through­out the piece) in it’s pecu­liar­i­ty. This must have been a chal­lenge to whip togeth­er. Thanks for the neat lis­ten!

  • Bernd Willimek says:

    Major and Minor — the Stre­be­tendenz-The­o­ry
    If you want to answer the ques­tion, why major sounds hap­py and minor sounds sad, there is the prob­lem, that some minor chords don’t sound sad. The solu­tion of this prob­lem is the Stre­be­tendenz-The­o­ry. It says, that music is not able to trans­mit emo­tions direct­ly. Music can just con­vey process­es of will, but the music lis­ten­er fills this process­es of will with emo­tions. Sim­i­lary, when you watch a dra­mat­ic film in tele­vi­sion, the film can­not trans­mit emo­tions direct­ly, but process­es of will. The spec­ta­tor per­ceives the process­es of will dyed with emo­tions — iden­ti­fy­ing with the pro­tag­o­nist. When you lis­ten music you iden­ti­fy too, but with an anony­mous will now.
    If you per­ceive a major chord, you nor­mal­ly iden­ti­fy with the will “Yes, I want to…”. If you per­ceive a minor chord, you iden­ti­fy nor­mal­ly with the will “I don’t want any­more…”. If you play the minor chord soft­ly, you con­nect the will “I don’t want any­more…” with a feel­ing of sad­ness. If you play the minor chord loud­ly, you con­nect the same will with a feel­ing of rage. You dis­tin­guish in the same way as you would dis­tin­guish, if some­one would say the words “I don’t want any­more…” the first time soft­ly and the sec­ond time loud­ly.
    This oper­a­tions of will in the music were unknown until the Stre­be­tendenz-The­o­ry dis­cov­ered them. And there­fore many pre­vi­ous research­es in psy­chol­gy of music failed. If you want more infor­ma­tion about music and emo­tions and get the answer, why music touch­es us emo­tion­al­ly, you can down­load the essay “Vibrat­ing Mol­e­cules and the Secret of their Feel­ings” for free. You can get it on the link:
    Enjoy read­ing
    Bernd Willimek

  • In addi­tion to my last post, I am announc­ing that the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of our work “Musik und Emo­tio­nen — Stu­di­en zur Stre­be­tendenz-The­o­rie” is now pub­lished:
    Music and Emo­tions — Research on the The­o­ry of Musi­cal Equi­li­bra­tion
    You can get it free at the link:
    Bernd Willimek

  • Bernd Willimek says:

    Why do Minor Chords Sound Sad?
    The The­o­ry of Musi­cal Equi­li­bra­tion states that in con­trast to pre­vi­ous hypothe­ses, music does not direct­ly describe emo­tions: instead, it evokes process­es of will which the lis­ten­er iden­ti­fies with.
    A major chord is some­thing we gen­er­al­ly iden­ti­fy with the mes­sage, “I want to!” The expe­ri­ence of lis­ten­ing to a minor chord can be com­pared to the mes­sage con­veyed when some­one says, “No more.” If some­one were to say the words “no more” slow­ly and qui­et­ly, they would cre­ate the impres­sion of being sad, where­as if they were to scream it quick­ly and loud­ly, they would be come across as furi­ous. This dis­tinc­tion also applies for the emo­tion­al char­ac­ter of a minor chord: if a minor har­mo­ny is repeat­ed faster and at greater vol­ume, its sad nature appears to have sud­den­ly turned into fury.
    The The­o­ry of Musi­cal Equi­li­bra­tion applies this prin­ci­ple as it con­structs a sys­tem which out­lines and explains the emo­tion­al nature of musi­cal har­monies. For more infor­ma­tion you can google The­o­ry of Musi­cal Equi­li­bra­tion.
    Bernd Willimek

  • Axel says:

    That’s why it was writ­ten in a minor scale. Minor scales are usu­al­ly used for “sad” songs and major scales for “hap­py” (very gen­er­al­ly speak­ing)

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