Interesting that when Elbow frontman Guy Garvey was asked about the follow up Build A Rocket Boys to their smash hit album Seldom Seen Kid, he was asked about its apparent lack of 'radio-friendliness', stating:
"We could write deliberate radio hits until the cows come home, but I think you can hear it really obviously when a band has done that."
As a result, that Elbow album sounded like a natural development from their arena filling album, and neither sought to replicate it or out do it.
And that really sums up U2 and Ryan Tedder - real music fans can usually tell how hollow and crowd baiting these songs are. Like bubblegum, it's going to taste pleasant but the taste will wear off soon. And that sums up every pop star Tedder has worked with - there's nothing substantial, thought provoking or inherently moving in his tunes. They are not 'artists' - they are great marketers of focus grouped pop that is flimsy beyond belief without any artistic merit. They used to be able to write chart topping anthems, but those days are long gone, and we can all the difference between authenticity and desperation. But that shouldn't deter them. When U2 are themselves, and without the self-conscience that has crippled them and the musical straitjacket that they fit into to desperately appeal to the masses, they are at their best and can still create brilliant music.
Do people really think David Bowie was craving a chart hit when making Blackstar? Of course not, he threw off his inhibitions and made his best album of 25 years. U2 can do this when they want - Moment of Surrender, The Troubles, Sleep Like A Baby Tonight, Cedars of Lebanon, Raised By Wolves (even if the latter is ruined by tinny energy sapping production, the makings of an excellent song is there).
The talent still remains. Of course nobody is expecting a masterpiece like Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree, but us hardcore fans are still sure that they can go from making merely decent albums to excellent albums. We're not asking for greatness, just something on a level much more subtle and sophisticated with artistic credibility, and certainly less shallow, than their recent offerings. This is U2 after all - us fans expect high standards and if we're not given it, then we have a right to bemoan a once great band resorting to such cheap, tedious, artistically null, bland pop stars like Ryan Tedder.