Thursday, October 8, 2009

Over-Under: U2

Ok, sidebar, tell my why this is funny...

I completely got the idea for this post from some other blog that I don’t even read, but Bill will send me a link now and then. Essentially this guy picks an artist and gives his opinion of their five most overrated and underrated songs…often with comical results (at least for the overrated ones). Because I have a tendency to be longwinded (thank you everyone for pointing that out), I’ve decided to limit my version to three songs. Also, for artists with enough of a catalog, I’ve got a couple of ideas for albums as well (i.e. look out Uncle Bob).

So, without further ado…

U2. Man, these guys… Picking a batch of overrated songs is for me both extremely easy and also difficult to do. Easy because everything starting with Pop and into the present day is pretty much junk – I’ll make no bones about that. Yet in the early days they were dead on, and even when they started to slide (see Joshua Tree), I think folks pretty much recognized which tunes were the cream and which were the dregs (unless your name is Clay Satterfield, in which case your opinion in this matter is null and void). And since I despise everything post Zooropa, I’ll be limiting my opinions to songs released between 1980 and 1993.

So, without further, further ado…

Under… Mostly my idea of an underrated song is a brilliant track that even major fans of the band don’t recognize. I mean a hit single is a hit single regardless of it’s worth (which is where the “Over” comes in), so I’m essentially gonna sing the praises of those lost, forgotten tracks disregarded not only by the fans, but in some cases by the band as well. And in this instance, I could almost argue the entire October album, but I’ll stick with individual tracks.

Like A Song… -- War (1983): One of the only real rockers on War, this song not only sums up the theme of the album, but contains one of Bono’s most heartfelt deliveries and one of the Edge’s best solos. Why it was never played live is not only a mystery and a tragedy, but an early discredit to Ireland’s Fab Four. (And yes, I’m waiting for an apology.)

In God’s Country – The Joshua Tree (1987): A single in some places, this oft-overlooked track is a breath of fresh air in the latter half of an album burdened beneath the weight of its own importance. Yet having said that, there’s an emotive charm that, much like the aforementioned Like a Song…, sums up what the Joshua Tree was all about (though the solo isn’t quite as good).

Lemon – Zooropa (1993): Yeah, this song is super goofy and Bono sings and croons like a fop…but that’s what I love about it. For once he’s not taking himself quite so seriously. This song is the reason I gave Zooropa even partial consideration back in the day and is the undisputed (go ahead and try) highlight of the album (with The Wanderer being a close second). Plus, when you learn it’s about Bono’s childhood-departed mother and an old film he saw of her in a lemon yellow dress, it adds an extra dimension to an otherwise (seemingly) throw away pop ditty.

Over… Sometimes a song just gets played to death, but if it’s REALLY that great, you should in theory never get tired of it. More often than not, a band can get so hyped on the fumes of their own BS, that at times anything they release is pretty much lauded by fans (and critics) as something to be plated in gold and set up in a place of honor. Often it’s further proof that the general public has no idea what a good song should sound like. Here are the clunkers that U2 has made it big on.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – The Joshua Tree (1987): Gospel my Aunt Tillie. As a Christian, this song basically cheeses me off because Bono (who once waved the banner high) is not only rambling about his “spiritual yearning,” but he’s clearly blowing his own horn (what Bone-o does best), acting ungrateful and at times seems to be equating himself with Christ. Bad form. But personal convictions aside – this song just doesn’t go anywhere. It’s four and a half minutes of mid-tempo chugging that starts up, meanders for a bit and then is over. Big deal. There’s some nice guitar work (‘cos the Edge rules), but other than that it’s about as bland and pedestrian as anything you’ll hear on Lightning 100 today (oh yes I did).

Desire – Rattle and Hum (1988): What a shameless and lame attempt at a Stooges riff (sorry, Dave). And that stupid “Yeah” at the beginning means I’m supposed to get excited about what? Nothing but Bono caterwauling about some pointless “she” for longer than I want to know, ‘cos that’s time in my life wasted. Rattle & Hum was always a knock off album to me. It wasn’t so much a cash in as it was a “look how awesome we are.” I should almost not allow myself to include songs from this album for this entry (‘cos there are some other stinkers). However, since there are moments of brilliance, it frustrates me that at such a “creative peak” a turkey like this one not only became a single, but a hit as it's fair game. BLAM-O!

Even Better Than the Real Thing – Achtung Baby (1991): In a word…boring. It’s just so much fluff and filler amongst a slew of tunes that range from interesting to sensational (most of the latter being album tracks tucked away in the latter half). And yeah, Bono is giving it his all, and the Edge never sounded more inspired, but it’s all for naught. You take me higher? No, you take me nowhere. And yet I still find myself singing along. Feh! More fool me. Plus, the obnoxious video gives me puke inducing vertigo.

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