Losing My Religion In A Major Way

Well, a major key, actually. Via Open Culture, a bit of computer rejigging by MajorScaledTV, turns a familiar minor-key song… weird:

Sure, pretty much everybody will prefer the original, but this is a neat exercise. I just wonder how many times I will have to listen to it before my eyelid stops twitching.

(Ok, you want real weirdness? The Doors’ classic “Riders On The Storm”, converted to major key. Truly creepy.)


My new plan… is to listen to this until it sounds normal. Then, listen to the original again, to see if it is immediately better, or if it just sounds weird.


  1. Sassafras says

    I only find it weird because of Micheal Stipe’s voice being manipulated; you can clearly hear an odd artificial twang in it. If this were just a cover with a natural singer, it would sound good, I think.

  2. says

    Blasphemous, maybe, but, as a longtime R.E.M fan, listening to this actually made me smile.

    I was first introduced to the original song right around the time I was literally “losing my religion”, and the somber tone was a pretty good reflection of how I felt about it then. Everything was all scary and confusing and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I had given up something worth having because there was no reasonable alternative, and I wished I could go back.

    Now that I’m finally pretty comfortable and satisfied with my atheism, a couple decades later, encountering a “happy” version of the song sort of seems like an appropriate tribute to that transition.

  3. cazfans says

    Yes you can change your mind* to get used to weird things. Like those folks who wear the upside down prisms and change their brains to see the world upright again. I suspect though, that it is a smaller part of your brain (involved in learning a song in a new key) and you will find that readjusting doesn’t take much effort at all.
    * _The Brain that Changes Itself_ Norman Doidge. An enjoyable lay science read on the plastic brain.

  4. carpenterman says

    AHHH! Whoa! Damn! The REM tune was bad enough, but “Riders On the Storm”? TRULY freaky! Amazing, how such a seemingly minor (as it were) change can completely alter your whole reaction. There has to be a way to describe, even predict why such things produce such a strong response, but as Frank Zappa pointed out, “We don’t have the words for it because nobody gives universities grants to study this shit.”

  5. MaryL says

    BTW, I saw Stipe on tv, lomg time back, and he explained that “losing my religion” or “about to lose my religion” was a phrase often used when a (presumbably) church-going person was getting angry enough to start cussing. My faltering memory says hee’s a Texan and said it was common to hear mothers say this when he was growing up.

  6. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    The new plan: Yeah, tell us if it works like image-inverting eyeglasses. That is, how your brain changes the processing so the altered input becomes normal, and when you remove the alteration, the un-altered input is weird.

  7. Cuttlefish says

    Oddly enough, F, I have actually worn a version of the prism goggles, so I can make a better comparison than most. These did not invert my vision, but did throw it off by some 10-20 degrees to one side, which made throwing and catching a bit different. As I’m sure you know, the goggles don’t actually change your vision at all, but rather change the relationship between your vision and your proprioceptive and kinesthetic feedback. A few minutes of playing catch is all it takes for the goggles to feel perfectly normal, and for you to be able to interact with the world as you normally do.

    The cool part, of course, is what happens when you take them off. Instead of springing back to normal immediately it is exactly as you say–the un-altered input is weird. Whereas the goggles initially had you throwing to someone’s left, now you are throwing every bit as far to their right, and it takes a while (not the few minutes, but a few throws at least) to get back to normal.

    This was not the case with Losing My Religion (I was reporting it on Twitter last night, but forgot to mention it here). Although the song itself sounded more and more normal (it took about 10 listenings before things reached a point of diminished returns), once I was pretty much accustomed to the major key version, it took no time at all for the original, minor key version to sound normal and sound better than the major.

    Mind you, I’d like to try it from scratch, with some people who had never heard either version getting to hear one or the other for a significant time before switching. I have my suspicions, but it’s an empirical question. (The first time I heard “Little Red Corvette” it was by a bluegrass band, and I have never liked Prince’s version. But then, I don’t care for much of what he sings.)

  8. Suido says

    I’m pretty tone ignorant and couldn’t identify a minor scale on a baby reptile, so despite being a huge fan of both the Doors and REM, this doesn’t sound very far off to me.

    Does that count as a superpower?

  9. Don F says

    I will be billing you for the therapy I will need; I went to a smiley happy place while I was listening to Riders and I am now grinning and babbling even as I type this. I hear sirens in the distance and the ambulance will be arriving soon with the nice young men in their clean white coats and THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR MY RUINED LIFE!

  10. trazan says

    Minor as a trope.

    Major is folksy, shallow, dorky, and uncool for teenagers. A minor/major ambiguity can be interesting. I think it’s easier to evoke emotional response in a minor key. Bad music or musical jokes (PDQ Bach, Frank Zappa, The Shaggs) has helped me realize that music doesn’t force feelings on me, but that I’m participating, painting emotions over the primer of music. Serious music could be seen as a set of tropes. Talking Heads: “Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily.” I like song in languages I can’t understand, I can maintain the illusion the lyrics are profound truths that relate to me.

    Music isn’t only a musician encoding pure idea/emotion into music that gets decoded by the listener. It is also randomly grabbing pre-shaped things from a bag, explore and rearrange to see what feels useful. A friend in a gospel choir told me you can’t be sure those wailing and overly joyous people are overcome with the holy ghost or what have you. It is a mannerism.

    I never thought “Losing my religion” was a sad song, I wasn’t religious when first I heard it. It wasn’t a favourite and I couldn’t make out all the words anyway. New version seemed normal right away, just more bland.

    “Riders on the Rainbow” was fun to jam along to and I didn’t feel it devalued the orig. A pity the whispering seems subdued.

    The inane banality in “Metallica – Nothing Else Majeurs” can be seen more clearly than in the original. Back then, I thought the lyrics were bad and on the black album, only “Struggle Within” was worth listening to.

    Avicenna posted the less angry version of Rage Against the Machines “Killing in the Name”. That was done differently, adding all instruments to a vocal track. I liked it very much, but I wouldn’t punch sandbags to it like I do with the original album.

  11. Die Anyway says

    I’m with Suido @15. I’m not very musical and although I like both groups and both songs, I could barely tell the difference.

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