I wonder if it's possible to puncture the mainstream. It would be easier to puncture the alterstream with their music without compromise, and it's about 1/3 of the market, which would still be more than they occupy today...
I think it is.
The reason the Top 100 is filled with songs such as the likes of Katy Perry, Rihanna, and etc is more due to their media push rather than the actual songs themselves. Most people, especially within like 15 to 25 years old, will get their music from their friends who also listen to the top 100, and tell them "Oh this is a good song, here listen to it." And not knowing any better, these people assume to like the simplistic pop song, and in turn tell other friends etc. So pop music will spread faster due to it being dance-able, having easy to remember choruses and lyrics, and basically its music one doesn't have to think about very hard in order to understand it.
But there is good music on the chart that one can still think about. For example, Foster the People's Pumped up Kicks. A song with an unconventional structure and style for the top 100, and lyrics that actually aren't about a bad break up, or some other typical overused theme. And the music sounds different than most, a bass driven song with a memorable chorus.
I think if U2 really want to be relevant, they have to do this...
1. Reinvent their sound, according to most of the band, they are open to doing this. They don't have to make a club beat song, they just have to make a great sounding tune with good lyrics.
2. Promote in the right places. Letterman and Good Morning America aren't exactly watched by the crowd that the band is looking for. Instead, if they are willing to do it, play guest appearances on more shows with a younger audience. Or do a mini theater type tour and play more venues like Somerville, which I thought was an excellent idea. Or even repeat the flatbed truck idea from Vertigo and play a unannounced special concert in some cities.
3. Act their age. They are all 50 now. No jumping around with eyeliner playing a song that contains the lyric "sexy boots." A younger audience, as well as an older audience, will not want to see that. They just need to act like a band that is 50 years old. Show the feeling of the music, not a spectacle.