Classic or Dud: U2

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What are there, like, 500 threads on this page? And not a single one has mentioned U2! What is it with all you children of the 80s? I bet everyone on this list has owned a U2 album at some point, something you probably couldn't say for any other band. So what is it? Classic or Dud?

Mark Richardson, Wednesday, 28 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

To me, this one is a no brainer. Classic, by far. From their punk-based art rock in the early 80s with memorable songs such as "I Will Follow" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" to their electronica experimentation days with Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop. Everyone criticizes them for their large tours during the 90s and the loss of their earnestness over that time. I admit, it was a change in their style, but I would rather see a band go on an experimentation and try music they have never heard before than make music that feels comfortable and the same. Besides, their latest album proves they still have all the old qualities that made them big. On the musical aspect, they have some real gems of albums with the largely passionate War to the masterpiece of The Joshua Tree. A few concept albums like Pop and Rattle and Hum give more variety to their repetoire. The thing I love about U2 most is the unique flow of Bono's voice with their wonderfully written songs. Very spiritualistic and in some cases Driven. Whew!!! Ok. There. U2? Classic.

Luptune Pitman, Wednesday, 28 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Classic. Of course they have produced a lot of crap. but history doesn't remember the crap that classics produce.

Rebel Yellow Bleach Blondie Boy, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

instead of just saying dud because of luptune i'll give some reasons: 1-those stupid sunglasses. 2-bono's horrid voice 3-that new single "walk on" 4-sunday bloody sunday. 5- "walk on"...and luptune likes them. dud

Kevin Enas, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

U2 have never been a large part of my life anyhow, but, what i have heard I hear like this. The songs sound fine, pleasant even, for maybe two, two and a half minutes tops, and then the whole bloody bombast *thing* bursts in and the songs are just ruined for me(see with or without you *par example*) Not to mention the fumbeld grasp on politics, pop, religion, irony, *soul* fer fucks sake , or the dumb messiah complex. But the music though, really now!Is it just me or in the "anthems" (ahem) does The Edge play that same bloody jangly, ehoey riff (see those first two songs on The Joshua Tree, Beautiful Day et al) So Dud then, quite obviously.

Stephen, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Dud, dud, dud. They're just so...leather trousers, if you see what I mean.

DG, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always seen U2 as being one of the flagship whipping boys for the indie community. Someone please explain. No fair bringing up Bono's ridiculous political posturing or the inherent smugness of all their recent tour gimmicks. For U2 fans, those are as tiresome as the "they don't write their own songs" or the "it's manufactured" cop-outs that pop fans have to listen to. All of their albums from The Unforgettable Fire to Zooropa are spankin' good, and songs like With Or Without You and Bad are undeniably fantastic. The new album and singles are crap, but still...overall, an easy CLASSIC.

Shane Knepshield, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Yeah, but the reason pop fans are bored of that kind of criticism is that we like it that way or at least dont mind it and we defend it or explain why it doesn't matter. Being bored of a criticism just because people repeat it a lot isn't that good a defense against that criticism.

I think they're a dud because of Bono's rather predictable vocal stylings and with a handful of exceptions I've not seen much in the songs to redeem that. But they were onto something production wise with the Eno/Lanois sound on the Joshua Tree, a kind of stadium artrock shimmer which was marred by Bono's OTT bellowing but made for some grand rock singles anyhow. Since they discovered 'irony' they've been utterly unbearable.

Tom, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I think this one is more accurately answered over time.

1984 -- "What's this 'Pride' song on the radio? Hm, sounds nice."

1987 -- "This _Joshua Tree_ album is pretty good."

1988 -- "This _Rattle and Hum_ album is pretty shit, one or two tracks aside."

Through to the present -- occasional good tune to the contrary, *snore*

At this point, seeing U2 would rank up there as a 'pleasure' for me in the same way that seeing the Rolling Stones or Bruce Springsteen would. I leave that kind of joy to the deadened, blinkered likes of Robert Hilburn. Never has the continuing mainstream critical consensus been ever so increasingly frustrating and obnoxious, but I suppose they make a great band for somebody who buys one album a year.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Dud. Not particularly objectionably dud, just sort of fairly harmless *nuisance* - like the tap that always drips, or a creaky floorboard that you really *should* find time to fix. They're just sort of AROUND aren't they these days? Just making a sort of bleating noise about something or other.

I thought they might be onto something with 'Achtung Baby', which I don't mind, but then of course pomp and bluster took hold again, and it's back to business as usual.

Dr. C, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

well, i suppose there's 3 stages to u2 isn't there?

the earnest stage, in, like the 80s, when they really meant it, and they rocked and all that stuff, and i don't even remember, just some ugly people on the tv. turn that over. boring. dud, of course they were dud. the 80s were grey and horrible, and they were grey and horrible for the simple reason that u2 were in them, dud dud dud.

the irony/postmodern thingy in the 90s, they didn't mean it anymore, they're only playing! "oh, we were pompous in the 80s, how silly we were' lets be as over the top as poss and subvert. irony, yeah!! no no no, dud again. is this phase more or less dud than the initial phase? can't decide.

now. they really mean it again. they're going to change the world with their big tuneful rock thats a bit pop too. and the pope likes them. and noel g too! dud, but not as dud as the other 2 phases. no wait, more dud.

aaargh, u2! the biggest dud of them all. but funny i guess.

so, dud then

gareth, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

There may be a "mainstream critical consensus" somewhere, but I doubt U2 is part of it - too many people hate them.

Musically, I think they go from Dud to Classic and back a lot, but mainly I have a big U2 trauma, because they were by 10 miles the favorite band of all obnoxious rich kids at school - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is their fucking "Stairway To Heaven" and it's ruined that song for me.

I seem to prefer Under A Blood Red Sky, Rattle & Hum and Zooropa over The Joshua Tree (too much bombast, "Where The Streets Have No Name" has no discernible tune) Achtung Baby (half of it is undistinctive atmospheric in-one-ear-out-the-other stuff) and the latest one (hits-plus-filler), but that might be just a personal thing.

I have no opinion about Bono's personality, but I remember once kids from my secondary school making some sort of amateur video, lipsynching to some song or other - this would be in the mid-80's - and halfway through it one of them starts brandishing a big white flag around, not as a statement or anything, but 'cause that's what rock bands do, right ? Bono does it !

They were a very pernicious influence at one point. They were one of the bands that made it almost impossible at one point for mainstream rock fans to enjoy music that isn't stadium-size. Plus almost every goddamn new Canadian rock band around 1987-89 sounded like U2 and Simple Minds.

Patrick, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

No, I have never owned an album of theirs and they are dud dud dud. God, I just keep on wanting to type dud over and over and over and over again. If there's any group that represents what I can't bear in rock music it's U2. Worse than the Cure. I'm sorry I can't bring myself to articulate the reasons. With most bands I don't like (I don't know... Guns n' Roses) I can twist around my thoughts if I feel Iike it and decide that in fact they're great. But not U2. God I hate U2. I really do. Sorry.

Nick, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Classic. They had a shitload of great tunes in the early days and a pretty freakin' original sound. I think Bono can sing pretty well even if he is a bit overzealous at time. JOSHUA TREE is a top notch record. Got pretty sucky in the late 80s with that RATTLE AND HUM dung, but I think they've redeemed themselves pretty well of late. Not nearly as necessary today as they were in the early 80s but the best thing on the freakin' radio and they still occasionally surprise me with some original song ideas. Oh yes, and Thom Yorke, you still sound like "new" Bono.

Tim Baier, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I agree with Nick Dastoor, only more so. Horrible. I've never owned one of their albums either, I'm delighted to say.

Tim, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Another good band ruined by an extremely punchable lead singer (see also Radiohead). 'Rattle and hum' was so embarrasing, it ended up being funnier than 'Spinal tap'. Even when Bono's heart is in the right place (cancelling 3rd world debt) you know he's feeding his already elephantine ego by being seen with the Pope or the President. Hes just a coke-addled middle crisis merchant. Having said that, there has always been some interesting shit going on in U2's music. A lot of it down to Eno's production but The Edge has a fantastic guitar style. Simon Reynolds once called him 'the cinematographer of the guitar' which is spot-on. 'New years day' is the best example of that 80's rock thing you will hear. 'The unforgettable fire' is the best song Scott Walker never wrote. Steve Albini would kill to write a riff as tight as 'Wire'. The new album is complete shite however and I am sick to the sight of them. The Irish rock scene has been polluted by too many lame-o U2 copyists (Cactus World News, JJ72). I think I'll sit on the fence with this one.

Michael Bourke, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

'coke-addled midlife crisis merchant'...:)....sorry, I had to speed- type that response during my lunchbreak

Michael Bourke, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Following up Tom's response, I should clarify that I wasn't trying to dismiss the validity of criticisms focusing on the band's annoying public persona. As an ardent U2 supporter, even I can't help wanting to slap Bono on occasion (why won't he just shut up?). I was merely trying to steer the inevitable U2 bashing towards being more of an evaluation of their music rather than a celebration of what a tool Bono is. But hey, you all have done a pretty good job of hitting them hard from both angles, so I'm more than satisfied. Now that I've fullfilled my compulsive need to try to explain myself, I'll step aside and let the previously scheduled U2 slaughter continue.

Shane Knepshield, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

DUD, with a few minor exceptions.

Robin Carmody, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I've said it once, but I will say it again....dud dud dud dud dud dud dud dud dud dud. You see? Their existence is only justified by an idiotic aquaintance of mine saying "Yeah, I like Indie know, like U2."

DG, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

"Coke-addled midlife crisis merchant"??? Michael, admit it now: you are Nicky Wire ;)

ANYHOW, I apparently have to wave the flag nearly by myself but U2 are goddamned classics. Sure, Bono apparently has had sunglasses surgically attached to his face, and sure he's annoying, and sure Zooropa and Pop were piss, but no band who could put out something the level of Achtung Baby! should ever, ever, EVER be referred to as a dud. EVER. Their greatest hits album is just beautiful. I mean, yes, Bono is a twathead at times. I WILL GIVE ALL OF YOU THIS FACT. Mainly because it is a fact - I mean, he's like my dad's age and running around in those ridiculous colored sunglasses and sparkly shirts looking all the world like a glam-rock The Fly (thank god that phase is over), but come on - Bad, With or Without You, One - these are all fantastic songs.

You can't convince me you don't sing along with them in the pub. Not a one of you.

Ally, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

never been in a pub

mark s, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

unforgettable fire was truly otherworldly when i first heard it. i can't help but think that there is not any comparable contemporary band(creed ha!) working on a spiritual plain. i am not all that commited to anything but that record reeks of passion and faith and is remarkable. and u2 meant it didn't they? for a teen like me that was powerful stuff. i never thought joshua tree was as good as it was made out to be but UF is undeniably classic. that said they have not reached any place mildly interesting since the mid 80s. oh, but i did like that song 'acrobat'.

keith, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

No, I'm sorry, _Achtung Baby_ deserves death, among other things because *that's the stupidest fucking album title*. There are other candidates, but geez. Lame. Figures that the music was equally pseudo-involving. I'll grant "Until the End of the World," though the fact that my first encounter with said song was a live clip showing Bono loving himself even put me off that.

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 29 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I REALLY hope you mean something different from "loving himself" than I was just picturing, Ned. *shivers*

Anyhow, how is Achtung Baby the stupidest album title? It's just there and bland, it's not like, say, Enter the Dragon. I still haven't figured out what that means.

Ally, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

heh heh, i thought it was funniest when Bozo was hanging out with Dylan & co and giving us solemn proclamations every now and then like "Roy Orbison had the best voice of a white man of his generation" - that was his hilarious "Custodian of Rock" phase, circa Rattle & Hum.

The music itself is a bunch of hammy guitar effects pedal tricks, overlaid with a straining, toilet seat voice trying hard to be epic and enigmatic but just ending up thoroughly, soddenly middlebrow.

However their first LP - although still ultimately crap - was a leaner, artier thing, when they were grooving to northern soul and joy division. Worth checking out, if only to confrim to yourself it's a blind alley.

BTW where the fuck is the kudos attached to "meaning it"? Hitler meant it!

I read a funny story about John Lydon sacking his manager circa 1989 because he told him he should "try to be more like Bono". I wish I'd been a fly on the wall when that conversation took place..

DS, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

You can always spot the 'custodians of rock' phase a couple of years before it comes. They wear leather waistcoats, hats and do photoshoots in the Arizona desert. Of course just out of shot is the helicopter waiting to whisk them back to air-conditioned comfort. Then before you know it the guitarist is trading 'licks' with Buddy Guy or someone.

Dr. C, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

i don't sing along in the pub.

i don't care how much joy division they listen to (i mean, so does mogwai from all accounts). the overcooked grandiose "epic" vocals and cornball lyrics ("we eat and drink while tomorrow they die" *slap*) and totally nondescript rhythm section ruin very promising guitar parts and eno's production. i'd at least listen to an instrumental album by the edge.

search: "new year's day"

sundar subramanian, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

so u2 = hitler? i only wished to convey the thought that they were not contrived.

keith, Friday, 30 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I find Dr. C's analysis spot on. The alternate symptoms in the late eighties were wearing bad paisley clothing and getting produced by Jeff Lynne.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 31 March 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

u2 = total classic. it's music for anyone who remembers being young and stupid, but who still had dreams and a whole lot of passion -- that is, before cynicism gets the best of you and your idealism is shot to hell.

if one doesn't like bono's voice or even bono himself, then there's not much you can do. though if you can dislike the band just because of bono, you probably don't much like the music in the first place. for example, i hate thom yorke. truly and thoroughly. but when the music's fine, i can put that aside. (stunning revelation: i quite like "pyramid song.")

i'm arguably the most classic rock person on this board, so it should be no surprise that i'm a sucker for their grandiose arena rock. here's a question: how many of you that rate the rolling stones a classic, rate u2 a dud?

fred solinger, Sunday, 1 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

I do at least rate "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby ..." as something closer to classic than I do any U2 song.

Robin Carmody, Sunday, 1 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Total shite. Only 'Under a Blood Red Sky' is okayish. The rest is well wank of the highest order. Of course it doesn't help when your singer is such a wanker and proud of it. And they're always at least 5 years behind the cool thing. At least Eno got some easy money producing their shit.

Omar, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

yeh but fred, rolling stones are a classic, and u2 are a dud, because rolling stones have got 'shine a light' and 'have you seen your mother...' and 'under my thumb' and 'lets spend the night together' and all of 'their satanic majesties request' (underrated album or what?), whereas u2 have got... um, er, um...

gareth, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

who are you guys kidding? u2 are classic! this thread is kind of pointless, i don't understand why so many people say dud. i can't stand the rockstar posing, especially after the 'returntoform' of the new record that personally i find boring as shite, but they're still u2, and they've been around for about 20 years and they still have hit singles that hold up over time and i can stand sitting through. classic, naturally. you try being as successful as consistently as they have!

michael dieter, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Classic or Dud is no place for objectivity, Michael. I think cutting my fingernails is more consistently and aesthetically 'successful' than anything Bono's done for 14 years.

Tom, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

" you try being as successful as consistently as they have! "

Michael, I don't understand your argument. Is it of '50 000 000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong!' variety? The majority is always right, huh? Not that it even is a majority.

Nick, Tuesday, 3 April 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

two months pass...
This is not a question worth discussing, since obviously, whether you like to admit it or not, U2 is considered to be a classic group. In about 5 years or so, they will definitely be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the other classic rock groups. I was surprised to see that so many of you reacted negatively to the group, calling them duds. I've never met someone who had such animosity to the group, usually at the worst people think U2 is ok music, but in no way are they a contraversial or disappointing group.

But I won't use the argument that U2 has millions of followers around the world, because so do NSYNC and Britney Spears, and we all know how talented (gag) they are. Instead, think about their 20+ year career history, and the number of hits they've produced. Whether someone likes U2's music or not should not be criteria in considering a group to be a classic. I'm not a Rolling Stones fan, but I have to admit, they are a classic, whether I like their music or not. U2 is in the same category- despite personal musical preference, they supercede personal taste because, in essence, THEY ARE A CLASSIC! You do not need to be a fan of U2's music to realize that they are a classic. Besides, how many are involved with Greenpeace, Amnesty International, etc etc and donate countless hours and money to causes, such as relieving 3rd world debt? Too many other rock groups are too high on coke and are too self-involved to partake.

Many of the previous arguments I've read are hardly convincing and seem petty, "U2 = dud, their music sucks and it's for old people and like, Bono's a twat and egomaniac...blah blah blah" So what if Bono's a drama queen? It's all part of the Rock act and makes it more interesting to the fans and followers (of which, you all know, they have millions). The group isn't just about Bono, come on, it's the entire package. U2 is without a doubt, a classic, and an undeniably great group.

V. MacManus, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Classic if only for a)not even trying to hide the fact they have the worst bass player in history, and b)the line "Man melts the sand so he can see the world outside."

tarden, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Whether someone likes U2's music or not should not be criteria in considering a group to be a classic.

Oh, that's a completely rubbish argument. Why is wrong for people to consider things on their own terms, and not accept pronouncements from Rolling Stone, Q et al at face value? I rather like the idea of people actually thinking for themselves instead of blindly accepting what they are told.

Nicole, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

U2 involved in Greenpeace & Amnesty International...leaving aside that Greenpeace denies the livelihoods of strip-miners and lumberjacks, and Amnesty meddles in the internal security of tin-pot dictatorships who do perfectly well on their own thanks, I think a band's musical achievements should be separated completely from the amount of grandstanding they indulge in.

tarden, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Which cuts both ways of course, as I like U2's records a lot. I think Zooropa is better than Amnesiac. But Jubilee 2000? C'mon, it's not HIS money that he lent out 30 years ago and didn't get the interest back, was it?

tarden, Monday, 11 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Finally found a page on this thing where I disagree with EVERYONE!

I can't hardly stand early U2 (whiny, monotonous, overblown), but everything from Joshua Tree on I find to be real groovy. Even Rattle & Hum. Achtung Baby is a great classic. The first side of Joshua Tree is flawless. Am I crazy?

brah gruplee, Wednesday, 13 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

First side of Joshua Tree IS flawless, second side irredeemable, especially the godawful harmonica.

tarden, Thursday, 14 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

That _Joshua Tree_ analysis is so on the money that it's taken my breath away. And here I was thinking I was the only one who felt that way...

Early U2 is quite clearly the bomb. The first three albums are glorious in their entirety. After that, they tend to be a mixed affair (the sole exception being _Achtung, Baby_ which is pretty much brilliant except for one song which is so dull that I can no longer recall its name or tune).

Dan Perry, Thursday, 14 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Classic. Some people have been saying things like "boring" "dull" and the rolling stones are better. That is total BS!!! Listening to U2 is like listenening to something that has never been done or never will or should not be done again. This is solid gold. What isn't boring? Some wastoid band like limp bizkit or metallica that are trying so hard to be hardcore that they are just blabbing on and on without a purpose. And the Rolling Stones? One of the biggest sellouts in history. No band on earth bought more into the corperate rock of the seventys. Some of their later stuff sounds like disco CRAP!!! We need U2 not just for the euphoric music but for sincerity.

Luke, Thursday, 21 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

"Listening to U2 is like listenening to something that...should not be done again"

Are you sure you mean this? Though I entirely agree.

Tom, Thursday, 21 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

Disco crap, but GOOD Disco Crap, see the misunderstood 'Hot Stuff'.

Omar, Thursday, 21 June 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

one month passes...
I can't help but agree with V. MacManus.

Look guys, U2 is a powerful band. They inspire extreme hatred in some people, but they inspire extreme love in far more. Regardless of how much Bono offends you (I'm still unclear as to how that can happen... he's quite harmless) the facts still stand: U2 is one of most artistically and commercially successful bands of all time.

Many of you mantain that they were good in the 80's but sold out in the 90's. I suggest looking up the word "irony" in the dictionary. During their ZooTV and PopMart stadium tours they flat out refused corporate sponsorship (unlike the Rolling $tones) and lost money as a result. Just as you wouldn't assume that a battered old book is of poor literary quality based on its cover, you shouldn't attribute shallowness to a band just because they have video screens and flashy lights.

And if U2 were a dud band, why would they go out of their way time after time after time to change their musical style, often against what is currently popular. 'War' was a big success, so why go do 'The Unforgettable'? If 'The Joshua Tree' made them the most popular thing to come out of Ireland since the potato, why do something like 'Rattle and Hum'? And if their earnest, save-the-whales style of the 80's worked so well, why in God's name would you go off with something like 'Achtung Baby' and ZooTV? And why then change into 'Pop'? Why?

Because they've got balls. U2 just keeps changing and growing, usually with success (UF, JT, Achtung) but sometimes getting burned (Rattle and Hum, Pop). Instead of choosing the quick and easy path by just repeating a familiar sound over and over, U2 never let the critics, the media, or any of you punks drag them down.

Because like the Beatles and the other established classic bands, U2's twenty-year career has been a continuous growth process. U2 just keeps evolving, so they ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING NEW AND INTERESTING TO SAY.

And THAT is the critical component in seperating the wheat from the chaff. THAT is what makes U2 a classic, and THAT is what makes the Rolling $tones a dud.


Sam Cunningham, Sunday, 29 July 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link


classic in the sense that they came out with a few good pop songs and records

dud in the fact that they are absolute crap now, are absoulute hypocrites and sellouts (the abc documentry sponsored by McDonalds, ticket prices only the rich can afford, bono dissing the "violence" by anti-capitolist protestors in Genoa whilst he was on a luxury yacht with tony blair without one mention of that protestor who was shot twice in the head, etc), were influenced by punk and yet at the same time sneered at the genre, along with the fact that bono's ego is larger than the size of the american continent and believes that the world revolves around him

i also think they ripped off depeche mode-badly-when they came out with achtung baby, only a few good songs on that record, and pop was much, much worse

i no longer buy u2 albums anymore, not even used

the walrus, Friday, 3 August 2001 00:00 (twenty-one years ago) link

i still might rank it as high as their 5th best album which is heretical

ufo, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 13:34 (six months ago) link

I like Pop more than it's reputation. The singles had some worthwhile B-sides. The "Please" CD single has an amazing renovation/remake of "Dirty Day" from Zooropa (one of my favorite songs from that album).

Antifa Sandwich Artist (Boring, Maryland), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 14:06 (six months ago) link

I stop the album after "Gone", but those first seven tracks make for a pretty solid album. It's dicey after that: "Velvet Dress" is the best of the rest, but I'm never in the mood to hear it

Vinnie, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 15:25 (six months ago) link

I think the lyrics of “lemon” are v good, also really like the line on “Zooropa” - “it’s cold outside, but brightly lit,” somehow that song affects me more than any of their more obviously rousing and inspirational songs.

JoeStork, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 15:30 (six months ago) link

I like Pop a lot. I probably prefer it to The Unforgettable Fire, and I definitely prefer it to everything they've done since (including ATYCLB) by a wide margin. I think it's bizarre that U2 tries to essentially write that album out of their history; it was a continuation of what they were doing on Zooropa, and sure, there's a song or two that doesn't completely work, but it wasn't anything insanely disastrous by a long shot. It's weird that the lesson they took away from Pop/the PopMart tour was "stop taking musical risks" and not "don't book the tour until you're at least halfway done with the album."

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 15:39 (six months ago) link

The singles had some worthwhile B-sides

I'm very fond of Steve Osborne's "Pop Muzik", particularly the second half which is four minutes of enormous but very distant stadium noise as the "Mofo" bassline rumbles remotely underneath. Has the excitement of a big tour entering its summer season.

The whole "Last Night on Earth" single is quite interesting to me because the A-side is their first de-Popped re-recording but the rest of it, "Pop Muzik" included, is among the closest they get to doing away with rock altogether. The UK CD2 doesn't even have LNOE on it - rather a moody breakbeat 'First Night in Hell' remix that has nothing of the original track left in. And there's the much-disliked "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" which discards the original composition in favour of some abstract studio contraption (it's a bit of a fun as the flipside to "Helter Skelter" at least).


you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 15:45 (six months ago) link

Iirc, I think a hunk of the songs, maybe a third, were leftover from the "Zooropa" sessions.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 15:51 (six months ago) link

Zooropa as a whole has great lyrics - and that's even considering "Numb", "Some Days" and the first half of the title track are meant as (relatively lighthearted) list songs. Similarly to 'brightly lit' I think 'uncertainty can be a guiding light' is good - the sort of thing that later Bono might have integrated into a chorus (i.e. 'vision over visibility') than let through only once.

It's weird that the lesson they took away from Pop/the PopMart tour was "stop taking musical risks" and not "don't book the tour until you're at least halfway done with the album."

I think No Line on the Horizon was intended in part to be their return to art rock and it is quite a good album I think but they compromised it with the poppier songs in the middle, pushing one of those out as the lead single and what not. Being U2 they've laboured over their decisions since - lots of quotes from them here (The Edge concurred, admitting that the group erred by "starting out experimental and then trying to bring it into something that was more accessible". He added, "I think probably we should have said, 'It's an experimental work. That's what it is.'")

you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 15:53 (six months ago) link

I (unfairly?) judged No Line based on "Get On Your Boots," which struck me as an extremely forced "We're back, and we're rockin'!" move. "I'll Go Crazy" seemed to confirm that judgement, but it makes sense that the more experimental things didn't burn up the airwaves.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 16:00 (six months ago) link

I like experimental stuff, I like U2, I like experimental U2, I like Eno and Lanois (who got their first writing credits on "No Line"), but ... I do not like that record. The songs just aren't particularly good, an experiment guaranteed to fail.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 16:05 (six months ago) link

i was assigned to review of no line for my college magazine, went in expecting to hate it through and through, had to give it up for "moment of surrender" regardless. i so wish it were the more interesting record you glimpse at its edges

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 16:06 (six months ago) link

"Boots" as the lead single was a terrible decision. I think "Magnificent" would have been wiser - familiar sound to 00s U2 fans but without any forced rockingness. Or possibly even the title track which never got single treatment.

I like most of the album although I think, as the Edge/Lilywhite/Mullen quotes suggest, it could go further out. Beyond the above, "Unknown Caller", "Fez", "White as Snow" and "Cedars of Lebanon" are all good, open-ended, unresolved-seeming tracks - not that the early 00s albums don't have a few of these, it's just there's more this time round. "Moment of Surrender" is the obvious highlight I think.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 16:11 (six months ago) link


you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 16:11 (six months ago) link

The most 90s U2 thing about it is "Cedars" as a moody closer in the "Love Is Blindness"/"Wake Up Dead Man". The collagey effects in the background remind me of the latter in particular.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 16:13 (six months ago) link

I use an iPhone for work and every once in a while, not sure why, it starts playing U2

Every once in a while, our kids will be playing around with the ipad and will start playing the U2 album that was automatically downloaded to every apple device years ago, presumably because they started the apple music app and this is the only album on there for our account.

silverfish, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 18:11 (six months ago) link

Also, that whole album automatically added to every apple device move is a pretty good demonstration of what makes U2 and their fans annoying to a lot of people. At apparently no point did it occur to anyone (either U2 or the U2 fans at Apple who were responsible for this) that somebody might not be happy to have a U2 album automatically downloaded to their phone. They just assume that everybody loves U2 and will want to hear the new album.

silverfish, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 18:18 (six months ago) link

yeah, that album they shoved into every phone was unfortunately one of their most forgettable, which compounded the problem. ("Every Breaking Wave" is good, but that should've been on No Line on the Horizon.)

I posted too much about this already, but No Line on the Horizon is more like an A- album to me IF you slice out those three duds in the middle ("Boots," "Crazy," "Comedy") and replace them with "Every Breaking Wave" and then "Winter" from Linear. 10 tracks, still nearly the same length, and it fulfills my best hopes for an autumnal U2 album.

I have a soft spot for Zooropa because it's sort of the first one I really knew when it came out. (I probably was late to it by several months, but I know got into it the year it came out.) The "Numb" video was everywhere and that was U2 to me - it made finding out about U2 Mach I all the more bewildering later on. Like "Sunday Bloody Sunday" - that's the same band?? Anyway, one of the very few CD's I had, and I would have it on a loop, sometimes even the same track. I remember playing "Babyface" for like an hour straight. I think it was my introduction to Johnny Cash too - like I vaguely knew who he was, but it was the first time I really heard him sing. Will always love that album.

After Pop I feel like they threw in the towel and became a legacy act, because they were just making new music for people who didn't really want NEW music. It's even suggested in their business plan for their comeback, which hit the reset button with a greatest hits album. But I still think ATYCLB is excellent. It gets by on focus and songcraft. Like it would've been a perfect retirement album, a victory lap that reminds me of what they once accomplished and how there's still mileage in what they've done in terms of crafting more good stuff in that mold.

birdistheword, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 20:16 (six months ago) link

an extremely forced "We're back, and we're rockin'!"

One would not be surprised to hear them refer to "guys in a room" a la

Aging rock act on new album: This time we wanted to go back to the basics

your marshmallows may vary (Ye Mad Puffin), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 21:24 (six months ago) link

This band I think falls into the "what have you done for me lately?" category that befalls many legacy acts. At the very least, almost every one of the band's first 8 albums, plus a live EP, plus Passengers, doesn't take too much effort to defend. That's a heck of a run for any act. The question becomes what to make of the next five or so, and how does or should that affect one's opinion of the band?

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 21:29 (six months ago) link

Atomic Bomb was the "guys in a room" one - or at least the back to basics one, in theory, because they went back to their Magazine/Banshees/et al EPs (even though I don't think this supposed Our Roots-ness comes over for most the album). Guys in a room not so much because Bono was apparently barely there.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 21:36 (six months ago) link

listened to 'no line on the horizon' this afternoon and it's just . . . boring. i mean it sounds like u2 and is no more embarrassing than anything else bono is involved with, but there's no reason i would ever listen to it before 10+ other records of theirs

for me it's mainly notable for the ilx covers version, which featured this:

mookieproof, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 21:39 (six months ago) link

I have a soft spot for Zooropa because it's sort of the first one I really knew when it came out.

I’d been following them fairly closely since The Unforgettable Fire — I first saw them in 1985, and it remains one of my favorite concert experiences. With each record I always wondered, “What’re they gonna do next?” Weirdly, that curiosity and anticipation were at a peak after Rattle & Hum. That is, “I assume they’re not continuing down this somewhat sucky road, but what will they come up with instead?” Achtung was more a fulfillment than a surprise, but Zooropa and Pop both felt very exciting at the time, further confirmations that they were going to keep challenging themselves (and, to varying degrees, their audience).

After Pop I feel like they threw in the towel and became a legacy act, because they were just making new music for people who didn't really want NEW music.

This is otm. I get that the process of assembling Pop was somewhat fraught, and that they were never completely satisfied with it, but instead of standing back and reflecting and thinking, “OK, let’s make the Pop album we REALLY want to make, and take our time and keep our schedules open…” they went the route of “No, wait, come back! We’ll be anthemic again, we promise! Edge, go on, show the people! Hit your delay pedal!”

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 22:24 (six months ago) link

pop is generally at its best when it's at its most processed so i really wish they'd had the time to make most of the arrangements denser, throw drum loops everywhere, etc. like on the first three tracks, really make their late 90s ~electronica~ album or whatever

ufo, Wednesday, 27 July 2022 22:43 (six months ago) link

They had no time. They wrote under a tour deadline.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 23:21 (six months ago) link

I remember a Spin article from the time where they admitted they were rushed. And a few years before that Edge admitting that a lot of Zooropa was unfinished, particularly mentioning Dirty Day’s mix fluffing the dramatic “The days run away like horses over the hills” climax.

Antifa Sandwich Artist (Boring, Maryland), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 23:36 (six months ago) link

You probably can tell Dirty Day is one of my absolute favorite U2 songs.

Antifa Sandwich Artist (Boring, Maryland), Wednesday, 27 July 2022 23:40 (six months ago) link

Zooropa is their masterpiece imo

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 28 July 2022 00:58 (six months ago) link

zooropa is prob my favorite u2 album outside of boy yeah. "some days" and "dirty day" are incredible

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Thursday, 28 July 2022 01:00 (six months ago) link

"Stay (Faraway So Close!)" is one of my karaoke jams

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 28 July 2022 02:17 (six months ago) link

zooropa is absolutely their best

ufo, Thursday, 28 July 2022 03:21 (six months ago) link

Yeah Bono should only record vocals when he has a cold

willem, Thursday, 28 July 2022 07:45 (six months ago) link

Agreed on Zooropa as best album.

"Dirty Day" is fantastic - good use of a drone, and also that the main chordal interruption to said drone is actually the only bit with Eno (a bit like how the three most metallic songs on Achtung are the three without any Eno credit) (another contradiction I think is Bono's vox there are the most Pop-foreshadowing).

Favourite song is "Lemon" and I wish they'd done the full thing live rather than just the single edit.

you can see me from westbury white horse, Thursday, 28 July 2022 09:14 (six months ago) link

"Lemon" single edit certainly loses something. It's a quiet epic

Vinnie, Thursday, 28 July 2022 10:37 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

extremely late to this thread but as a Zooropa truther this latest turn warms my heart

poster of sparks (rogermexico.), Monday, 12 September 2022 22:46 (four months ago) link

one month passes...

Good interview with Bono here:

Every once in a while he does one of these, where he plays good sport and sort of takes the abuse while cleverly subverting the appearance of self-awareness to his (more or less) rhetorical advantage.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 24 October 2022 14:16 (three months ago) link

I want the whole band to know that I for one know NLOTH was meant to be them getting their art rock on again (flawed though it is).

you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 24 October 2022 16:29 (three months ago) link

The art rock aspect was not the problem. It's (at the very least) flawed because they wimped out on that promise.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 24 October 2022 16:33 (three months ago) link


you can see me from westbury white horse, Monday, 24 October 2022 16:34 (three months ago) link

It’s a very good album despite the flaws. I think the iTunes album is really good as well, obv they fucked up the release so much though. If they’d just gone the traditional route and maybe dropped a song or two its legacy would be better. Unlike the much lesser followup it sounds like a respectably uncool and occasionally subtle album. I guess it says a lot about me as U2 fan that I still find some positives in Songs of Experience but the only thing SOE has on SOI is it not being slipped into everyone’s library. Their strengths (1984-1997) were their more artsy endeavors, and even several tracks found on Rattle and Hum managed to be pretty great in that vein.

omar little, Monday, 24 October 2022 17:21 (three months ago) link

yep. for such an ambitious group their career has been marked by several crises of confidence.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 24 October 2022 17:33 (three months ago) link

two months pass...

Wow, he looks so much better without the dye job.

assert (matttkkkk), Tuesday, 17 January 2023 00:23 (three weeks ago) link

lol, he looks like the Irish poet he's always fancied himself!

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 17 January 2023 01:11 (three weeks ago) link

I just want to call him pappy now that I see the deep wrinkles streaming from his eyes and that distinct mouth/jawline he's got. I'm glad he's embracing the look and idea of being an old man. Kind of wish he had done that much earlier.

birdistheword, Tuesday, 17 January 2023 01:45 (three weeks ago) link

into silver fox bono <3

werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 17 January 2023 02:15 (three weeks ago) link

Should see Adam Clayton these days, he’s gone full bearded troubadour.

omar little, Tuesday, 17 January 2023 02:20 (three weeks ago) link

also a fan

werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 17 January 2023 02:28 (three weeks ago) link

lookin' good bono!

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 17 January 2023 02:30 (three weeks ago) link

he looks fantastic, hope he keeps it that way

you can see me from westbury white horse, Tuesday, 17 January 2023 10:40 (three weeks ago) link

As seen out the car window this morning:

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 20 January 2023 01:05 (two weeks ago) link

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