Released on R.E.M.’s 1991 album Out Of Time, “Losing My Religion” was one of the group’s most successful singles, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and winning them two Grammy Awards, one for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Short Form Music Video. Produced by the band and Scott Litt, it was reported that the song was built around Peter Buck’s mandolin riff and that Michael Stipe recorded the vocal track in one take.
In the song, Michael Stipe sings the lines “That’s me in the corner/That’s me in the spotlight/Losing my religion”. The phrase “losing my religion” is an expression from the southern region of the United States that means losing one’s temper or civility, or “being at the end of one’s rope.” Stipe told The New York Times the song was about romantic expression. He told Q that “Losing My Religion” is about “someone who pines for someone else. It’s unrequited love, what have you.” Stipe compared the song’s theme to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, saying, “It’s just a classic obsession pop song. I’ve always felt the best kinds of songs are the ones where anybody can listen to it, put themselves in it and say, ‘Yeah, that’s me.'”