What's the Frequency, Kenneth? (4:00)

Cover of In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003

From In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 and 80 other releases

“What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” is a song by the American alternative rock group R.E.M. from their 1994 album Monster. It was the first single taken from the album, released three weeks later. It peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 9 on the UK Singles Chart, and was the first song to debut at number one on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. The song’s title refers to an incident in 1986 when two unknown assailants attacked journalist Dan Rather while repeating “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”

Due to its success and the band’s fondness for the song, it was placed on R.E.M.’s ‘best of’ compilation albums In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988–2003 in 2003 and Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 in 2011, the only track from Monster to feature on either. The song was played at every show of their 2008 Accelerate tour. A live recording features it as the opening track to the encore (disc two) of R.E.M.

“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” made its first live television debut on November 12, 1994 for Saturday Night Live, recorded at NBC Studios in New York City. The set on the show opened with “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and was followed by two other songs from the new album, Monster, “Bang and Blame” and “I Don’t Sleep, I Dream”. The following year, on June 22, 1995, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Dan Rather accompanied the band during a sound check performance of the song. The clip was shown prior to R.E.M.’s performance of “Crush with Eyeliner” on the Late Show with David Letterman the following night.

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