CD toss-up: George Michael vs. R.E.M.
But in these times of devastating economic depression, it's probably wise to just pick one to buy for now. But which one? Let's break it down.
George Michael: He's cooler now than he's been in a long time, thanks to his appearances on TV's "Eli Stone" -- and because he's managed to stay off the tabloid pages for a while now.
R.E.M.: These cats from Athens, Ga., are the epitome of cool. You're not going to see Michael Stipe being arrested in a public bathroom or getting odd brow lifts.
Edge: R.E.M. by a shiny, happy margin.
George Michael: "Twenty-Five" is essentially a greatest-hits double disc. So at least you know you're getting the best tunes of his career. And thankfully, no "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."
R.E.M.: They're getting good reviews so far, but R.E.M. hasn't put out a decent, complete album since "Charles in Charge" was still on TV.
Edge: Even Scott Baio digs George Michael.
WORD OF MOUTH:
George Michael: Let's face it -- nobody but 80s bloggers are writing about his new album. But the guy sold out nearly 100 cavernous concert venues in Europe during his just-completed tour. He's still somebody worth listening to.
R.E.M.: Any act inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame is going to get intense press coverage of a new album. Peter Buck could have composed it using Guitar Hero III, and it'd still sell well enough to go gold.
Edge: R.E.M. (They are Supermen, and they know what's happening.)
What Would Stuck in the 80s do? Personally, I'm forking over for the George Michael set -- and I'm borrowing Times music critic Sean Daly's copy of "Accelerate." ... It's good to be the king.