I’m a pretty big U2 fan, and this is seriously not a “guilty pleasure,” either. I honestly and genuinely enjoy their music and albums.
Having said that, I’m not completely oblivious to the endless, and occasionally unwarranted, hatred aimed at the band. While I do think some of it is at least slightly misguided (sure, Bono can be an insufferable egomaniac, but if that’s your sole purpose for hating somebody, you should probably also hate every lead singer of every band that’s ever existed) occasionally the band doesn’t do itself any favors, and seems to invites criticism.
On that note, here are five U2 SONGS that make me, an avid U2 fan, really-sort-of-kind-of-hate-the-band:
1. ELEVATION (All That You Can’t Leave Behind, 2000)
It’s not just that this is a weak song in U2’s canon. It’s not even the fact that it contains what may well be the most inane and meaningless lyrics ever put to music (“a mole/digging in a hole”…really, Bono?)
No, what really irks me about this single from the band’s “comeback” 2001 record is that they’ve insisted on keeping it in their concert setlists, for every tour since.
Oh well. At least the one-two-three punch of this, Beautiful Day and Vertigo allow me time to go to the bathroom and raid the beer tent. So I suppose it does have some kind of purpose – if you can call clearing out a stadium for four and half minutes a purpose.
2. ELVIS PRESLEY AND AMERICA (The Unforgettable Fire, 1984)
Apparently at some point during the production of U2’s 1984 classic album, Brian Eno thought it would be a good idea to let Bono improvise lyrics over an ambient base. Unsurprisingly, he gives us this:
You know "S" "O" "N" "G", why
You're going go join to God
You know "S" "O" "N" "G", why
Give away some him no lie
Give away some my de day no
Somewhat surprisingly, Eno returned for their next record.
3. MIAMI (Pop, 1997)
U2’s “Pop” album is a strange beast. Desperate to step away from the signature sound they had created, the sound that defined their previous albums, the band decided to try their hand at techno (I guess a folk album just seemed too “out there”).
Here's how it turned out.......
And they decided to never experiment, or to acknowledge this album, ever again.
4. ELECTRICAL STORM (Best of 1990-2000, 2001)
There seems to be an unwritten rule in the music business (or “biz”, as those of us “in the know” call it) that every greatest hits album has to include at least two brand new songs. What this means, dear reader, is that every greatest hits album has at least two songs on it that were recorded at the last minute to fulfill contract obligations instead of “for the art” – meaning of course, that there will be at least two songs on the record that fucking suck.
This song, utilizing every U2 trope that Bono has patented, from shimmering guitar licks to nonsensical wailing, simultaneously remind me of not only why I love the band, but also why I sometimes fucking hate them. Thanks, guys...
5. THE ENTIRE MIDDLE THIRD OF “NO LINE ON THE HORIZON” (No Line on the Horizon, 2009)
After the debacle that was their (inexplicably) Grammy winning 2004 album, “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” (if you’re wondering why none of those songs made the list, it’s because I only have five fucking spots) U2 returned to the studio and promised their fans a new direction, a different sound, more experimentation, and blah blah Africa blah blah sunglasses blah.
To their credit, what we ended up getting was modestly experimental – which is to say, it was experimental by U2 standards, and certainly experimental when compared to that sack of boring shit Atomic Bomb disaster. By most music standards, however, it was a fucking U2 album: five seconds of Moroccan drums, a song title with a hyphen in it, the works.
Still it wasn’t bad, and I’m actually quite fond of it – or, at least I’m fond of the opening third, and the closing third. The middle third, (or Act II if this were a play designed to alienate the entire audience right before the second intermission) was unforgivable horseshit.
Leading off this Bono-fied mess (ha!) was the inexcusable train wreck of a first single, “Get On Your Boots” – a bizarre mishmash of pointless lyrics barked in the style of Elvis Costello’s “Pump it Up,” and an aggressively obnoxious guitar riff.
Following was the album’s third single “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight,” whose title alone should clue you into its quality (or lack thereof). And, capping off this trio of banality? U2’s misguided attempt at funk, which could have been adorably charming, but wound up being a bombastic and embarrassing fail.
Then Bono resumes proselytizing about dying soldiers in Afghanistan or something, and we’re back on track. Or, at least as much as the current iteration of U2 allows us to be.
So there you have it. Five reasons to hate U2 - or, for the majority of you, five MORE reasons to hate U2. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on - U2 lover or not - we can all agree on two things:
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb fucking sucks, and Bono really shouldn't improvise lyrics. Ever.
Lu Galasso can be found regularly on his blog 'Inching Towards Mediocrity.'
Mystery Asshole Theatre #11 - Star Wars - Part 6
4 years ago