Academy Fight Song

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"Academy Fight Song"
Mission of Burma Academy Fight Song single art.jpg
Single by Mission of Burma
B-side"Max Ernst"
ReleasedJune 1980 (1980-06)
LabelAce of Hearts
Songwriter(s)Clint Conley
Producer(s)Richard W. Harte[3]

"Academy Fight Song" is a song written by Clint Conley and originally recorded by Mission of Burma.[4] It is also known for having been performed and recorded by R.E.M.[5][6]

The song has been described as one of Mission of Burma's "more melodic, shout-along tunes".[4] Conley has declined to elaborate on the meaning of the lyrics, and according to author Michael Azerrad, was "typically evasive when asked if the song was angry. 'Yeah, pretty angry,' Conley said. 'It's just a big conceit. A metaphor. ... I find the whole notion of talking about lyrics very embarrassing.'"[7]

"Academy Fight Song" was released as a single in June 1980[7] by Ace of Hearts Records with "Max Ernst" as the B-side. "Academy Fight Song" received significant airplay on Boston's WBCN (FM) and sold out its initial pressing of 7,500 copies within weeks.[7]


New York Rocker named "Academy Fight Song" one of the ten best singles of 1980.[7] In 1981, The Michigan Daily wrote that it had "been called one of the best singles of 1980 by several new wave magazines and polls."[8]

George Gimarc wrote in Post Punk Diary: 1980-1982 that Mission of Burma were "on their way to becoming a Boston legend with their single 'Academy Fight Song' and 'Max Ernst'."[9] Robert Christgau has described "Academy Fight Song" as a "one-hook wonder" and "great".[10]

Alex Ogg, writing in The Rough Guide to Rock, described "Academy Fight Song" as "pure sonic confrontation .... [I]t should be a primary source for all rock historians."[5]

In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked the song at number 64 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time", describing it as "a blast of guitar rage, full of punk menace, but without any posturing. ... The single was just a taste of Burma’s sound — ignored at the time, yet influential ever since."[11]

Other versions[edit]

Miracle Legion recorded "Academy Fight Song" for their 1987 album Surprise Surprise Surprise; the band often used it as an encore at their live performances.[12]

R.E.M. released a recording of "Academy Fight Song" in 1989 on the annual Christmas single for their fan club members, as the B-side of "Good King Wenceslas", a 7" single in a limited edition of 4,500 copies.[6][13][14][15] In 1990, Spin listed R.E.M.'s recording of the song as one of the 35 "worst cover songs of the last 35 years".[16] However, a writer for wrote that R.E.M.'s "clanging version" of "Academy Fight Song" was one of the cover versions that "make perfect sense" as a selection for the band.[17]


  1. ^ Masters, Marc (March 24, 2008). "Mission of Burma: Signals, Calls, and Marches / Vs. / The Horrible Truth About Burma". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  2. ^ Dougan, John. "Mission of Burma Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  3. ^ "Record Details". Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  4. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon (2006). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. New York: Penguin. ISBN 1101201053. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Ogg, Alex (2003). "Mission of Burma". In Buckley, Peter (ed.). The Rough Guide to Rock. London: Rough Guides. p. 681. ISBN 1858284570. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Fletcher, Tony (2013). Perfect Circle: The Story of REM. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0857128539. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Azerrad, Michael (2012). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0-316-24718-4. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  8. ^ "Pick Hits". The Michigan Daily. June 11, 1981. p. 7. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  9. ^ Gimarc, George (1997). Post Punk Diary: 1980-1982. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 52. ISBN 031216968X. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Mission of Burma". Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  11. ^ Sheffield, Rob (May 19, 2020). "The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 2, 2023.
  12. ^ Aston, Martin (May 17, 2016). "Cult heroes: Miracle Legion – the band Thom Yorke loved, who could have been REM". The Guardian. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  13. ^ Drozdowski, Ted (January 10, 2002). "Burmese days". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  14. ^ "The absolute best of R.E.M.: All 282 songs ranked by Slicing Up Eyeballs' readers". Slicing Up Eyeballs. July 31, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  15. ^ Reilly, Dan (August 13, 2013). "R.E.M. Plan Fan-Club Singles Box Set For The People". Spin. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  16. ^ "A Tragic Waste of Vinyl". Spin. August 1990. p. 62. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  17. ^ Zaleski, Annie (September 26, 2014). "The most surprising R.E.M. covers". Retrieved January 2, 2023.