The live version features a little extra grit than the acoustic-driven studio recording, but Michael Stipe delivers a vocal performance that garners heft from his somber tone and foreboding message: “This is my mistake, let me make it good/ I raised the wall/ And I will be the one to knock it down.”
While 30 Days, 30 Songs has primarily featured new tracks from participating artists and R.E.M. disbanded in 2011, “World Leader Pretend” is nevertheless a fitting addition. “A perfect song for these strange times,” the group bluntly noted in a statement.
R.E.M.’s decision to participate in the campaign follows their spat with Trump in September after the Republican nominee used their 1987 hit “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” at a campaign rally. “Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you – you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men,” Stipe said (via bassist Mike Mills’ Twitter), addressing both Trump and any other politician using the band’s music.
30 Days, 30 Songs was launched by Dave Eggers and Noise Pop Festival producer/artist manager Jordan Kurland. The series began with Death Cab for Cutie’s “Million Dollar Loan,” and has so far boasted contributions artists like Jim James, Franz Ferdinand, Bhi Bhiman and Aimee Mann.