Stipe has spoken. Retired one-time R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe told NME that he's "thrilled" Jay-Z included lyrics from his band's hit "Losing My Religion" on the new, chart-topping album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.
The album debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 this week, with sales of 527,000 according to Nielsen SoundScan. Those numbers make it the year's second-biggest sales week, topping Daft Punk's Random Access Memory, which debuted with sales of 339,000; but trailing Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience, which bowed with 938,000 in its first week, according to Billboard.
In the track "Heaven" from Magna Carta Holy Grail, Jay-Z borrows the lyrics "That's me in the corner / that's me in the spotlight / losing my religion" from R.E.M.'s best-known song. The song peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100 and topped the Mainstream and Modern Rock charts in 1991.
"I've known Jay for a long time, he's super cool, super grounded, super smart and super talented," Stipe said. "I've always had the deepest respect for him, and his music and choices. We're thrilled [for our lyrics] to be included. It's a great honor."
Although it's not something the band was known for, over its 31-year run, R.E.M. dabbled in rap. Rapper KRS-One was featured on "Radio Song," the lead track on the band's 1991 chart-topping album Out of Time. Q-Tip made a similar guest spot on the track "The Outsiders" from the band's 2004 album Around the Sun.