In the second part of our two-part episode about the B-52’s and R.E.M.—the bands that put Athens, Georgia on the map, and helped define new-wave rock in the early ’80s—we trace how they transformed themselves from hipsters to hitmakers. One band waited years to graduate from an indie label to the majors. The other almost quit after an AIDS-related tragedy, before their pop breakthrough. By the end of the ’80s, their hits—from “Orange Crush” to “Stand,” “Channel Z” to “Love Shack”—brought them squarely into the mainstream, just as “alternative rock” was coming to define a new sound for the ’90s.
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