Electron Blue

"Electron Blue" is a song by American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released as the third single from their thirteenth studio album Around the Sun on February 28, 2005. Written by group members Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, the song features a synthesizer-heavy arrangement. Its lyrics describe an electric hallucinogenic drug made of light, a concept which was developed from a recurring dream of Stipe's. Upon release as a single, "Electron Blue" peaked at numbers 43 and 26 on the singles charts of Ireland and the United Kingdom respectively. Michael Stipe performed on the Around the Sun tour with a blue band painted across his eyes as a reference to the song, his personal favorite from Around the Sun.

"Electron Blue"
Single by R.E.M.
from the album Around the Sun
B-side"What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (live)
ReleasedFebruary 28, 2005 (2005-02-28)
GenreAlternative rock
LabelWarner Bros.
R.E.M. singles chronology
"Electron Blue"

Background and composition

Written and recorded for the album Around the Sun (2004), R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe described "Electron Blue" as one of his more future-themed songs.[1]

"Electron Blue" features prominent use of the synthesizer and has been compared by Stipe to the work of English musician Brian Eno.[1] Its lyrics, which consist almost entirely of rhyming couplets, describe a hallucinogenic drug made of light.[2]

Stipe has referred to "Electron Blue" as his favorite song on Around the Sun,[3] as well as one of his all-time favorite R.E.M. songs.[4] It also inspired his stage appearance for the subsequent Around the Sun tour: a blue band painted across his eyes.[2] The song "Sing for the Submarine", from the band's fourteenth studio album Accelerate (2008), references "Electron Blue" and explores the same concept.[2][5]

Commercial performance

"Electron Blue" was released as the third single from Around the Sun on February 28, 2005.[6] It debuted at its peak position of number 26 on the UK Singles Chart on the issue dated March 12, 2005,[7] remaining on the chart for an additional week.[8] The single also peaked at number 43 on the Irish Singles Chart.[9]

Formats and track listings

  • CD single 1 (United Kingdom)[10]
7-inch single (United Kingdom)[11]
  1. "Electron Blue" – 4:12
  2. "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" (live) – 3:50
  • CD single 2 (United Kingdom)[12]
  1. "Electron Blue" – 4:12
  2. "Sweetness Follows" (live in Cincinnati, October 27, 2004) – 4:05
  3. "Leaving New York" (live video, Helsinki January 29, 2005) – 4:48


Chart (2005) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[9] 43
Scotland (OCC)[13] 29
UK Singles (OCC)[7] 26


  1. Rosen 2005, p. 197.
  2. Merline, Michael (April 3, 2008). "New R.E.M. speeds up, recalls efforts from past albums". The Badger Herald. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  3. Roe, Tony (June 7, 2005). "REM @ The City Ground 6/7/2005". BBC. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  4. "'I Don't Like Political Music' – Interview With Michael Stipe Of R.E.M." Kultura.hu. Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma. August 27, 2008. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  5. Keefe, Jonathan (March 31, 2008). "R.E.M.: Accelerate". Slant Magazine. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  6. "Electron Blue Pt.1 (2 Tracks) (CD - Warner Bros. #W665CD1) – R.E.M." Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
  7. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  8. "R.E.M." Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  9. "Irish-charts.com – Discography R.E.M.". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  10. "Electron Blue [2 Track CD] [CD 1]". Amazon (UK). Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  11. "Electron Blue (7 inch Vinyl Disc – WB / WEA/Warner #W 665) – R.E.M." Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  12. "Electron Blue [Cd2] [CD 2]". Amazon (UK). Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  13. "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 22, 2019.