Well, this is where the year has led us: To Stephen Colbert singing a 2016-themed version of “It’s The End Of The World” with Michael Stipe standing glumly beside him and a cameo from James Franco. “Oh, great, it starts with an outbreak,” Colbert begins, referencing the Zika virus. It then gets into Harambe, Roger Ailes, Ben Affleck as Batman, the “alt-right,” and Ken Bone, among other subjects.
The rewrite is pretty seamless, but it’s so depressing it doesn’t really feel all that fine, as evidenced by Stipe’s initial unwillingness to utter that lyric. Eventually he does break and join in, and Franco struts out for the “time I had some time alone” part. Nothing will perhaps match Michael Shannon’s unhinged interpretation of the R.E.M. tune for Lip Sync Battle, but Colbert’s makes a good send-off for a shitty, apocalyptic year.