Isn't sarcasm funny? Hahahahaha. Haha. Ha. No. It is not. So why do bands and terrible internet bloggers use it? It beats actually saying what you mean, that's why. Positive assertions of belief are much more difficult than innuendo and winking.
Shiny Happy People by R.E.M. is not about actual happy people. Only Queen could pull off a non-sarcastic song about a group of people who are very happy for nice reasons. So what is the song about? According to Wookieepedia, "Shortly before the Battle of Yavin, BoShek set a new record for the Kessel Run, taking bragging rights from his friends Han Solo and Chewbacca." Okay, that's not helpful. Let's check Wikipedia. "The song was released in 1991, two years after the Tiananmen Square uprising when the Chinese government clamped down on student demonstrators, killing hundreds of them." I don't see how that is related to anything but I'm going to go ahead and say that any song about Tiananmen Square is probably not too genuinely upbeat.
The music video, on the other hand, is quite earnestly happy. Check it out.
Shiny Happy People by R.E.M.:
This video just makes me feel good. I don't care what anyone says! Also, everyone knows that the Kessel Run is not a good measure of pilot skill. Only a Tatooine canyon run can test that.
The video opens with two toy drum-playing monkeys.
They sit over the shoulder of an old man riding a bicycle-based contraption.
Here we see its operation. It moves a screen with images on it.
We also see that the chain has a distinct bow to it. People, if you have a single speed bicycle the chain should move in a straight line from your chain ring to your sprocket. This is important.
Next we see a dancing body in front of a moving screen with images on it.
Could it be the same screen with images on it that the old man is moving? I am literally waiting on tenterhooks to find out.
There's a woman's body dancing in front of that same screen.
Close up of some of the screen. Are those the shiny happy people?
We get to see the head of the dancing man.
Why is he wearing his hat at that angle? Yuck. Also, his whole outfit is color coordinated in a way that is very off-putting. Just look at his necklace. Puke.
We see the dancing woman's head.
Her outfit is much better executed. She is dressed like a 1960s country star.
The whole band plays together.
Note that the drummer is just holding a single drum like the guy in the Minutemen video I wrote about earlier. Awesome.
Here's a close up of that drummer. His unibrow is majestic and seems to be a different color from his hair.
The mandolin player (your band absolutely must have a mandolin player) looks wistfully into the distance.
The bass player is much more engaged and has sweet glasses.
He does not, though, know how to play a stand-up bass. Has he ever seen a picture of someone playing a stand-up bass? It should be much higher. There's even a pin in the bottom of the bass that pulls out so you can adjust the height! Do a little research! Then you won't make an ass of yourself. Ass.
The mandolin player, whilst remaining wistful, now has a playful look on his face.
At this point in the song the old man is pretty tired. A girl brings him a glass of something.
He drinks from it gratefully, glad that his journey is soon at an end.
He then returns to the bike.
The band is now joined by a large number of dancing people.
One of whom is on stilts for some reason.
A young boy in red gets confused and stops dancing. He looks down in panic.
Behind him, a boy with amazing flip-up glasses continues dancing diligently.
The synchronized dancing eventually breaks up and there is complete dance anarchy.
Look at them dance!
It appears that the singer has rescued that boy in red.
The old man pointlessly looks on, pretending to smoke a pipe.
This video is pretty stupid, but there is something about the earnest way everyone dances that really gets to me. I also really love how the mandolin player looks into the distance the whole time like he is embarrassed. I think finding the right energy for your music video is really important and R.E.M. successfully found it for this one. It makes me happy people. Not shiny, though.