Author Topic: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?  (Read 7874 times)

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Offline BringCitrus

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #135 on: February 17, 2013, 10:03:00 AM »
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And for as cringeworthy Unknown Caller is, I love the opening line: "I was lost between the midnight and the dawning, in a place or no consequence or company." Best line on the album, and maybe in the decade, to me.

That is a great opening line, kinda has Led Zeps Kashmir feel to it. To bad the song goes to sh*t with the computer talk chorus.

It seems there is a lot of disdain for tech-geek-gadget lyrics.  And I confess that I am one of those not really fond of the computer choruses in Unknown Caller, or the "ATM Machine" in Moment of Surrender.  I have also read elsewhere in this forum a lot of cringing for The Killers' "Here With Me" when the chorus goes "I don't want your picture in my celphone."

Just want to ask, is there any artist our there who has successfully incorporated tech-geek lyrics to a song without making it cringeworthy?

Or is the sentiment here that when artists start getting tech-savvy with their lyrics, it is a sign of being lyrically bankrupt?

Cheers,

J


If you want a song to stand the test of time, don't put technology-related lyrics in them.

Online Droo

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #136 on: February 17, 2013, 11:29:55 AM »
Or if you are going to use technology-related terms, be careful not to be too specific about the technology. Lemon has plenty of technological lyrics but they have withstood the test of time by being very nonspecific.

Saying "a man makes a picture" was timeless. Saying "a man makes a beta/tape" would not have been.

Offline jick

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #137 on: February 17, 2013, 05:38:41 PM »
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If you want a song to stand the test of time, don't put technology-related lyrics in them.

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Or if you are going to use technology-related terms, be careful not to be too specific about the technology. Lemon has plenty of technological lyrics but they have withstood the test of time by being very nonspecific.

Saying "a man makes a picture" was timeless. Saying "a man makes a beta/tape" would not have been.

Points taken, very well-said from both of you and gives me a clearer understanding of why these lyrics make me cringe.

Being a big fan of The Police, I have heard some of their bootlegs and also that of Sting in solo concerts.  There is a line in the song Can't Stand Losing You where it says "my LP records and they're all scratched."  It was eventually morphed to "my cd collection and they're all scratched."

I think it may be permissible to put era-related, tech-related-that-may-be-obsolete references in lyrics if they are not in the main part or chorus of the song, such as The Killers chorus of "I don't want your picture on my celphone" or U2's "Force quite, move to trash."

Prominent/chorus era-specific references in songs are good for top 40 pop-artists as it can make the whole teen generation of disposable music lovers listen. But for a band like U2, whose top 40 singles days have long been way behind then and who have been known for universal/vague lyrics where songs take lives of their own and meanings evolve - their current state of lyric-writing is getting to be quite un-U2 and is a downward spiral.

But if Bono were to keep writing in his known style, people would also blast U2 for having only one-trick and not evolving lyrically.  It was logical for Bono to try something different, which he did in NLOTH.  The band is known for evolution and not remaining stagnant.  But the lyrical state of that album shows that Bono's writing did not "evolve" and that his something different was a turn for the worse.  It is ok to change styles or morph, but what it turned out in NLOTH was pretty bad. The lyrics in the subsequent songs - Mercy and North Star are also cringeworth. Would it mean that U2 are out of lyrical ideas? Or they have totally lose their natural instinct to "evolve" in the right path lyrically and have hit the point of stagnation and decline?

Cheers,

J

Online Droo

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #138 on: February 17, 2013, 07:07:47 PM »
Oh, of course it's a good idea for Bono to start writing from a different standpoint. It resulted in some lyrically brilliant songs (Cedars, MOS, White As Snow), while others were disasters (Boots, Unknown Caller).

Offline jick

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #139 on: February 17, 2013, 11:11:14 PM »
Just wanted to add that Bono used his newly created phrase "vision over visibility" in Moment Of Surrender and the Spider-Man musical.

Granting they are different genres in different contexts, it still does no look good for releases so near each other to be using the same lyrical ideas.

Lyrically bankrupt perhaps?  Must be high time to recycle previously used ideas.

Cheers,

J

Offline The Exile

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #140 on: February 17, 2013, 11:22:54 PM »
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Just wanted to add that Bono used his newly created phrase "vision over visibility" in Moment Of Surrender and the Spider-Man musical.

Granting they are different genres in different contexts, it still does no look good for releases so near each other to be using the same lyrical ideas.

Lyrically bankrupt perhaps?  Must be high time to recycle previously used ideas.

Cheers,

J

I've been re-reading U2 at the End of the World, and there's this part where Bono and Gavin are working on the soundtrack for In the Name of the Father and there's this whole discussion about "The Dark Star," a reference to Lucifer that found its way into MOS. I say that, Jick, because I remember you saying you dislike that line "because stars don't have altars."

Offline Quenchable Thirst

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #141 on: February 18, 2013, 01:15:42 AM »
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I feel like the lack of finishing on Pop only hurt on the basis of production and mixing.

I thought IGWSHA was great lyrically but had nothing to back it up.    I think this was the biggest 'missed opportunity' for them as a result of being under the gun to finish things up.

I actually think IGWSHA (one of my favorite ones from Pop and one of the first ones I learned to play in my guitar) has great guitar and bass but poor lyrics. Maybe it's just me not getting them, but "it's the stuff of country songs, but I guess it's something to go on" and the numerous "Jesus" mentions qualify as great songwriting.

Although, I have to admit the song needs some polishing. It would have worked a lot better if it had a solid chorus rather than the same melody alternating between chorus and verse (which gives it this experimental kind of vibe) and some changes in the lyrics.

Still, one of the reasons why Pop is a great album!

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #142 on: February 18, 2013, 04:53:57 AM »
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Just wanted to add that Bono used his newly created phrase "vision over visibility" in Moment Of Surrender and the Spider-Man musical.

Granting they are different genres in different contexts, it still does no look good for releases so near each other to be using the same lyrical ideas.

Lyrically bankrupt perhaps?  Must be high time to recycle previously used ideas.

Cheers,

J


"Dream out loud" was used on two consecutive albums in Acrobat and Zooropa. If that makes Bono lyrically bankrupt then he's been bankrupt since the early 90s.

Offline The Exile

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #143 on: February 18, 2013, 12:15:09 PM »
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Just wanted to add that Bono used his newly created phrase "vision over visibility" in Moment Of Surrender and the Spider-Man musical.

Granting they are different genres in different contexts, it still does no look good for releases so near each other to be using the same lyrical ideas.

Lyrically bankrupt perhaps?  Must be high time to recycle previously used ideas.

Cheers,

J


"Dream out loud" was used on two consecutive albums in Acrobat and Zooropa. If that makes Bono lyrically bankrupt then he's been bankrupt since the early 90s.

And Bono was talking about "dreaming out loud, at high volume" as far back as the Lovetown Tour in '89.

Offline JTBaby

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #144 on: February 18, 2013, 12:23:50 PM »
If repeating oneself constitutes "bankruptcy" then what to make of posters who use almost every post to , oh just for the sake argument, throw in a negative comment about POP in almost every thread in which they participate ?


Offline The Exile

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #145 on: February 18, 2013, 12:55:26 PM »
And really, what were the two decades between Electric Co. and Electrical Storm but a long, uninterrupted diatribe about electricity?

Offline JTBaby

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #146 on: February 18, 2013, 01:01:03 PM »
Don't forget "loose electricity"

Offline The Exile

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #147 on: February 18, 2013, 01:22:59 PM »
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Don't forget "loose electricity"

Ah yes. Therefore U2's entire career is little more than an advertisement for Ben Franklin's discovery. Talk about riding on others' coattails....

Offline jick

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #148 on: February 18, 2013, 03:49:36 PM »
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I've been re-reading U2 at the End of the World, and there's this part where Bono and Gavin are working on the soundtrack for In the Name of the Father and there's this whole discussion about "The Dark Star," a reference to Lucifer that found its way into MOS. I say that, Jick, because I remember you saying you dislike that line "because stars don't have altars."

Sad to hear U2 had to dig that far back to the In The Name Of The Father period to find lyrical ideas for their NLOTH.  When they wrote and recorded Grace, it was only a few years removed from the time Bono had read Phillip Yancey's book about Grace.  Could it perhaps that Bono's fame and fortune and charitable causes make them "less exposed" to the non-celebrity aspects of this world that he doesn't come across new experiences that are worthy to be written about?  Remember how he really lived in Africa and got down and dirty there with the malnourished people to help them, and this inspired him to write Where The Steets Have No Name? I guess rubbing elbows with politicians and living the full celebrity life leaves him little to write about that the average person can relate to?  Hence, Bono needed to go to his third-person schtick in NLOTH but it wasn't as tasteful as it could have been because there was a disconnect from that the guys down here really feel compared to what Bono pretended to be?

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"Dream out loud" was used on two consecutive albums in Acrobat and Zooropa. If that makes Bono lyrically bankrupt then he's been bankrupt since the early 90s.

"Dream out loud" was originally used during the Lovetown Tour in the Point Depot shows, which was part of Bono's monologue.  It was also used in the b-side "Always."

"Begging bowl" was used in POP and was rehashed in Moment of Surrender.  Bono was not rehashing the same lyrical ideas for two consecutive projects, but for NLOTH he was digging very deep in his lyrical bank for things to recycle.

When the band says they have recorded 30 to 40 songs with multiple producers, perhaps they only mean song structures, and not complete songs with lyrics. Perhaps Bono is in that stage of life where he is getting writer's block.  The new album should be an indication of where U2 stands lyrically, but all the delays lead me to theorize that the problem is in putting down the lyrics.

Cheers,

J

Offline jick

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Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
« Reply #149 on: February 18, 2013, 03:55:12 PM »
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And really, what were the two decades between Electric Co. and Electrical Storm but a long, uninterrupted diatribe about electricity?

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Don't forget "loose electricity"
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Ah yes. Therefore U2's entire career is little more than an advertisement for Ben Franklin's discovery. Talk about riding on others' coattails....

This almost-literal interpretation of lyrics is actually a microcosm of the current lyrical state of U2. Maybe the band has noticed a shift in how their older fans (who date back from the Electric Co / Boy period) are digesting and interpreting their newer songs that Bono has to adjust his writing style.

So in the end, it is possible U2 are not entirely literally bankrupt but just catering to the older fans who have grown up and perhaps have lesser time to delve deeper into the songs, that U2 had to tailor-fit their songwriting to them.  These older fans after all have the biggest spending power and are the ones who have kept their careers afloat.

Very interesting revelations here from this string of replies.

Cheers,

J