Alt-rock legends R.E.M. have released a three-track EP of their 1994 hit, “Strange Currencies,” featuring a 2019 remix of the original song, a 2023 remaster, and a never-before-heard live version. This release is part of a partnership between R.E.M and FX’s hit show, The Bear, who’s second season came out June 22nd. The story follows Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), Sydney Adamu (Ayo Edebiri), and Richard “Richie” Jerimovich (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) as they painstakingly transform their brother’s sandwich shop into a respectable restaurant. The collaboration has also yielded a full length music video for the 2019 remix, featuring footage from Season 2 to reflect the themes of growth, acceptance, and love of both the song and the show itself.
Throughout Season 2, “Strange Currencies” makes several appearances, from the original 1994 version to a demo of the track that will be exclusive to the show, but R.E.M. has appeared in The Bear prior to Season 2 as well, bolstering the new soundtrack with more than just “Strange Currencies.” “Oh My Heart” (off 2011’s Collapse Into Now) closed out Episode 3 of Season 1; meanwhile the Season 2 finale will feature “Half a World Away” (off 1991’s Out of Time). The show’s creator, Christopher Storer, has expressed his admiration for the 90’s rock outfit as a longtime R.E.M. fan, and this love has been reciprocated by members of the band as well.
R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe counts himself among the series’ biggest fans, saying “The Bear is hands down my favorite show of last year – I cannot wait to dive into episodes for Season 2. Having incorporated R.E.M. songs into their universe makes it even sweeter.” Bassist Mike Mills also added, “I’m so glad The Bear exists. It has become one of my favorite TV shows, and I can’t wait to watch more of it.”