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The Iconic Imagery of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you’ve heard R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” more times than you can count. The song is a timeless classic that has captured the hearts of music lovers for decades. However, what makes “Losing My Religion” truly iconic is the imagery that accompanies it. In this article, we’ll explore the imagery of “Losing My Religion” and its significance.

The Story Behind “Losing My Religion”

Before we dive into the imagery of “Losing My Religion,” it’s important to understand the story behind the song. The title is actually a Southern American phrase that means “losing one’s temper” or “reaching the end of one’s rope.” The song itself is about unrequited love and the frustrations that come with it.

According to frontman Michael Stipe, the inspiration for the song came from the O.J. Simpson trials in the early 90s. Stipe was fascinated by how the media obsession with the trials had turned the participants into celebrities, and he saw parallels with his own life. At the time, R.E.M. was at the height of their success, and Stipe felt like he was losing control of his own life and privacy. The song is a reflection of these feelings of frustration and powerlessness.

The Imagery of “Losing My Religion”

When you think of “Losing My Religion,” there are a few images that immediately come to mind. The first is the music video, which features frontman Michael Stipe in a dark room, singing directly into the camera while writing letters and tearing pages out of a book. The video also features a variety of religious symbols, including a statue of an angel, a halo, and a rosary.

But perhaps the most iconic image associated with “Losing My Religion” is the album cover. The cover features a black and white photograph of a cherub statue with its eyes covered by a strip of masking tape. The image is haunting and mysterious, and it perfectly captures the mood of the song.

So what do these images mean? At first glance, they seem somewhat disconnected from the song’s themes of unrequited love and frustration. However, upon further inspection, it becomes clear that the imagery is all tied to the idea of losing control.

The cherub statue on the album cover represents innocence and purity, but the masking tape over its eyes symbolizes the loss of control. This loss of control is also reflected in the music video, where Stipe’s character is seen tearing up letters and writing in a frenzy. The religious symbols in the video, such as the halo and the rosary, also represent the loss of control in the face of a higher power.

Ultimately, the imagery of “Losing My Religion” is all about frustration and the loss of control. Whether it’s the cherub statue on the album cover or the religious symbols in the music video, these images all convey a sense of powerlessness that perfectly captures the mood of the song.

The Legacy of “Losing My Religion”

“Losing My Religion” was a massive hit when it was released in 1991, and it has remained popular to this day. But perhaps what’s most impressive about the song is its lasting impact on pop culture. The imagery associated with “Losing My Religion” has been parodied and referenced countless times in TV shows, movies, and other forms of media.

For example, in the movie Catwoman, Halle Berry’s character can be seen wearing a t-shirt with the cherub image from the album cover. The image has also been referenced in episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy, among others.

But perhaps the most enduring legacy of “Losing My Religion” is the way it has inspired other artists. Countless musicians and bands, from Coldplay to Radiohead, have cited R.E.M. and “Losing My Religion” as influences on their work. The song’s haunting melodies and evocative imagery continue to captivate new generations of music lovers.


“Losing My Religion” is one of those rare songs that manages to capture a mood and a feeling in just a few minutes. The imagery associated with the song, from the cherub on the album cover to the religious symbols in the music video, perfectly captures the frustration and powerlessness of unrequited love. And while the song may be over 30 years old, its impact on pop culture is still being felt today. So the next time you hear “Losing My Religion” on the radio, take a moment to appreciate the iconic imagery that has made the song a true classic.