"The Great Beyond" by R.E.M. was released in January 2000 as the band's first single since "Re:vision". The song was the band's highest charting position in the UK, reaching number three. It was also a top-20 hit in Ireland, Norway and Italy.
There are two versions of the song - a demo version and a live version. The demo version is slightly altered from its studio counterpart, notably in the tuning of the guitar. As a result, the track is not the same song as the album version. This may have played a part in the song's popularity.
"The Great Beyond" is a two-song, two-minute, and two-second track. It is the shortest track on the album Reveal, and features a few of the band's earliest collaborators. It has a slick feel reminiscent of the band's earlier work, but it is also notable for its reluctance to stray too far from its rock roots. Unlike most of R.E.M.'s material, "The Great Beyond" combines a hint of rock n' roll with a healthy dose of synth-pop to create a memorable listen.
The "The Great Beyond" is not for the faint of heart, but if you're a fan of REM, you're certainly not alone. The aforementioned gimmick may not be for everyone, but for fans of the group, it is a reminder of why they loved the band in the first place. And if you're not a fan of the group, you still might want to check out the album for its music-related whimsy.