Michael Stipe demands ringtones for electric cars

If you believe, they put a tune into vroom

REM frontman Michael Stipe has taken a refreshing break from the time-honoured rock star pastime of pontificating on world hunger and political injustice to address a far more pressing matter - how to avoid getting run over by electric cars.

Stipe's solution to this perambulatory nightmare is as brilliant as it is simple: said vehicles must play ringtones to warn pedestrians of their approach. Stipes enthuses to Time Out: "It will blow the music business wide open! Everyone will love it. In the country they'll be able to play whatever they want; in Vegas it will have to be classical. Or reggae. Or bluegrass. Could you imagine?"

Yes we can, Michael. The idea came to Stipe when he nearly got totalled by a battery-powered vehicle in Los Angeles. He then experienced a blinding moment of clarity in which "I suddenly thought to myself: 'This is going to be a big, big problem. People will be run over by electric cars all the time. They make no noise. No sound. They're silent!"

Stipe quickly rejected the idea that electric jalopies should mimic the sound of a petrol-driven engine on the grounds that it would be "stupid". "And then it struck me - ringtones," he says. "People will program their car, as part of the insurance policy that states: 'Don't run people over with your silent car', with ringtones."

Stipe's opinion on the effect of DRM on insurance prices is not noted. Neither has he considered a cheaper and simpler alternative which uses existing technology - simply giving it some on the horn, cranking up the car radio to full blast, leaning out of the window and shouting: "Get out of my effing way you bald-headed prat!" ®

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