30 Songs in 30 Days: day 12 – a song from a band you hate


How can anyone hate U2? you might be asking. It’s pretty easy. By their fourth album or thereabouts, it was clear they had bought into their publicists’/label’s marketing message that they were a Very Important Musical Group Indeed. I stopped being able to listen to them about the time they took on Very Serious Political Ideas in their work. Not that I’m opposed to musicians taking political stands or incorporating them into their music. I just thought the music U2 were making stopped being very interesting.

I really started to despise U2 when Bono became some sort of spokesperson for… something. What was his first issue? Who knows? Who cares? The fact that he decided he was going to use his Single Name of Power in the service of making himself look like a great humanitarian just turned me off. (Again, I was generally unimpressed with the band’s music throughout this period, too.) Also, what was up with those stupid-looking wraparound shades? “Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just a regular guy trying to shade my eyes from the sun, not a one-name celebrity with pretensions of — oh, you caught me!”

And of course, more recently, Bono (along with The Edge) proved that even highly successful musicians can rise well above their levels of competence. A Broadway musical? Really? And based on Spider-Man, of all things? Oh, I’ve no doubt that many of the failings of that show were attributable to the now-departed Julie Taymor, but did nobody think to tell these guys that writing a Broadway show is not like writing a Top 40 hit song? (Well, of course nobody told them that – I’m sure nobody gets within 30 feet of Bono unless they are willing to blow fifteen different colors of smoke up his ass.)

But long before all of that, U2 were a pretty decent four-piece from Ireland whose music fell on the melodious side of the post-punk music scene. I bought and owned and even loved their first album, Boy, from which this song is taken. Look at Bono in this one, playing on a British TV show. Sure, he’s smirky, but it’s a smirk of youthful hijinkery, not one of snotty superiority. If the band had kept making this kind of simple, fluid music, I’d still be buying their stuff.

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