Author Topic: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them  (Read 1129 times)

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Offline Luzita

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2017, 01:34:44 PM »
I also love what U2 is about, and I absolutely feel like some fans on this forum are too harsh in judging U2's apparent quest for "relevance" and "hits".  I'm pretty new here and I'm already tired of that attitude.

What gets me is how people say there was a time when U2 were more "pure" than they are now, and didn't care about popularity. That isn't true. They have always cared about popularity, at the same time that they have always been committed to the integrity of their art.

I remember reading or hearing that during the making of The Unforgettable Fire, they worried the album didn't have any hit singles and wouldn't get airplay, but Eno reassured them as long as Pride was on there they'd be okay. So first the band sought out Brian Eno to make an atmospheric, rather experimental album, instead of making another album similar to War which is the record that broke them into the mainstream. And then they worried the results wouldn't include any hits. That is U2. That is who they've always been. Their entire career, including all the music that is loved by those who now complain about who they are and what they want and wish them to be and want something else -- everything has come out of the tension between those two poles of their identity.

I have no desire whatsoever for them to change. I like some of the music they have made recently more than some of the music they made in the 90s. I don't hear any drop-off in quality. Now, it may be harder for them to have hits than it used to be, due to the great changes that have occurred in the music scene and music industry, but if they want to keep trying I certainly am not going to tell them they shouldn't. They have always aimed unreasonably high. Why should they stop now?

By the way, it wasn't Bono who said "we don't need the pop kids." Bono was in character. It was the Fly who said that. When you find yourself in agreement with the Fly, it might be a good time to re-examine your attitude.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2017, 09:37:24 PM by Luzita »

Offline NOLA Fly

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2017, 10:03:10 PM »
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I also love what U2 is about, and I absolutely feel like some fans on this forum are too harsh in judging U2's apparent quest for "relevance" and "hits".  I'm pretty new here and I'm already tired of that attitude.

What gets me is how people say there was a time when U2 were more "pure" than they are now, and didn't care about popularity. That isn't true. They have always cared about popularity, at the same time that they have always been committed to the integrity of their art.

I remember reading or hearing that during the making of The Unforgettable Fire, they worried the album didn't have any hit singles and wouldn't get airplay, but Eno reassured them as long as Pride was on there they'd be okay. So first the band sought out Brian Eno to make an atmospheric, rather experimental album, instead of making another album similar to War which is the record that broke them into the mainstream. And then they worried the results wouldn't include any hits. That is U2. That is who they've always been. Their entire career, including all the music that is loved by those who now complain about who they are and what they want and wish them to be and want something else -- everything has come out of the tension between those two poles of their identity.

I have no desire whatsoever for them to change. I like some of the music they have made recently more than some of the music they made in the 90s. I don't hear any drop-off in quality. Now, it may be harder for them to have hits than it used to be, due to the great changes that have occurred in the music scene and music industry, but if they want to keep trying I certainly am not going to tell them they shouldn't. They have always aimed unreasonably high. Why should they stop now?

By the way, it wasn't Bono who said "we don't need the pop kids." Bono was in character. It was the Fly who said that. When you find yourself in agreement with the Fly, it might be a good time to re-examine your attitude.

I also believe that line ("We might lose some of the pop kids...but we don't need them") was occasioned by an interviewer noting that fans were wondering why they weren't playing songs from their earlier albums on the tour. It didn't seem to be some general swipe at pop music/pop music fans. At least, that's how I read it.

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« Last Edit: October 06, 2017, 10:27:47 PM by NOLA Fly »

Offline aviastar

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2017, 10:04:08 PM »
   


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Offline ian ryan

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2017, 11:34:58 PM »
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Nope. Don't feel the same way.

U2 is one of the all time great rock bands

U2 is a very mediocre pop band



U2 are not the same band they were 25 years ago, and to expect otherwise is unrealistic. To think that a 55 year old person would behave the way a 30 year old does is also unrealistic. Imagine being a successful band whose glory days were over a decade in the past but whose fans demanded that they not evolve past the 1990s and expect them not to change and that they perpetually have the wrong goals. How awful must that feel.

Offline PopMofo97

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2017, 09:01:17 AM »
U2 does not have to prove anything. This group has survived the time, and it is all about it. Which of their companions did it? Maybe Depeche Mode. They do not have to release Achtung Baby 2 or The Joshua Tree 2. They are perfectionists and issue material with which they are 100% identifiable. Each of their albums will become a classic.

Offline So Cruel

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2017, 09:02:25 AM »
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Nope. Don't feel the same way.

U2 is one of the all time great rock bands

U2 is a very mediocre pop band



U2 are not the same band they were 25 years ago, and to expect otherwise is unrealistic. To think that a 55 year old person would behave the way a 30 year old does is also unrealistic. Imagine being a successful band whose glory days were over a decade in the past but whose fans demanded that they not evolve past the 1990s and expect them not to change and that they perpetually have the wrong goals. How awful must that feel.

I don't call 55 year old men pandering to the teenage market for "relevance" evolving. I actually think it's taken 2 steps backwards.

This is a band who went totally against the grain when they were younger yet became the biggest band in the world. In '83 when synth pop and new wave exploded they came out with a political rock album. In '87 when hair bands ruled the world U2 came out with a number 1 single that was a gospel song. In '91 when Grunge took over they came out in leather and sunglasses.

U2 became the biggest band doing their own thing and not caring about "relevance". They got where they were despite what was going on around them. If the songs were great they would resonate. I don't buy for 1 second that this phase of U2 is them evolving. It's them trying to be in the same playlists as current radio artists. Basically a 180 of "going against the grain" mentality that they had.

For me it's sad. I've loved this band since 1988. There are older artists who made some of the best music of their careers after 50, but it wasn't aimed at a teenage market who don't even know who they are. Springsteen's The Rising and Magic were amazing albums. Didn't sell even close to what his earlier albums did, but it didn't matter. His fans loved them and he still plays songs from them all the time. U2 still have great songs in them, Sleep Like a Baby & The Troubles prove it, but we gotta dig through the trash (Song for Someone, The Miracle, etc..) to get to them.

Offline Smee

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2017, 09:12:58 AM »
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Nope. Don't feel the same way.

U2 is one of the all time great rock bands

U2 is a very mediocre pop band



U2 are not the same band they were 25 years ago, and to expect otherwise is unrealistic. To think that a 55 year old person would behave the way a 30 year old does is also unrealistic. Imagine being a successful band whose glory days were over a decade in the past but whose fans demanded that they not evolve past the 1990s and expect them not to change and that they perpetually have the wrong goals. How awful must that feel.

I don't call 55 year old men pandering to the teenage market for "relevance" evolving. I actually think it's taken 2 steps backwards.

This is a band who went totally against the grain when they were younger yet became the biggest band in the world. In '83 when synth pop and new wave exploded they came out with a political rock album. In '87 when hair bands ruled the world U2 came out with a number 1 single that was a gospel song. In '91 when Grunge took over they came out in leather and sunglasses.

U2 became the biggest band doing their own thing and not caring about "relevance". They got where they were despite what was going on around them. If the songs were great they would resonate. I don't buy for 1 second that this phase of U2 is them evolving. It's them trying to be in the same playlists as current radio artists. Basically a 180 of "going against the grain" mentality that they had.

For me it's sad. I've loved this band since 1988. There are older artists who made some of the best music of their careers after 50, but it wasn't aimed at a teenage market who don't even know who they are. Springsteen's The Rising and Magic were amazing albums. Didn't sell even close to what his earlier albums did, but it didn't matter. His fans loved them and he still plays songs from them all the time. U2 still have great songs in them, Sleep Like a Baby & The Troubles prove it, but we gotta dig through the trash (Song for Someone, The Miracle, etc..) to get to them.
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Offline The Exile

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2017, 02:03:12 PM »
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U2 still have great songs in them, Sleep Like a Baby & The Troubles prove it, but we gotta dig through the trash (Song for Someone, The Miracle, etc..) to get to them.

Good thing we've been taught to look for baby Jesus under there.  :D

Offline miami

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2017, 02:41:59 PM »
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Nope. Don't feel the same way.

U2 is one of the all time great rock bands

U2 is a very mediocre pop band



I know where you're coming from but I disagree a tad with you here. I think you, as well as many others, including myself, don't like pop music in general.

The problem is, u2 have gotten really good at writing 'pop' songs over the last 17 years, although they haven't had much success lately in charting any of those songs, (mainly due to their age). I don't think we can dispute they have become great at writing hook laden pop/soft rock songs (song for someone, every breaking wave, you're the best thing, magnificent etc etc) that would have been massive in a former era, but they just don't get the fact that they will never have a hit again.

I find it galling they are continuing in that vein with this album again, with a smattering of songs that are aimed at the radio playlist.

As much as I hate to say it, as I'm not a fan of 'poppy' u2, they are very good at writing 'pop' songs. This is a major problem for me and my u2 fandom these days.

Any semblance of originality they once had has disappeared ALMOST completely today.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 02:54:35 PM by miami »

Offline TheOriginal

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #24 on: October 07, 2017, 04:09:25 PM »
I think that's a fair point. After reading all the comments, I agree with those who feel like U2 is chasing "relevance" too much. It's clear they've lost a lot of originality that made them a transcendent band in the 90s.
however, i still feel like fans are too harsh and stuck in the past too much. I feel that each u2 album is an attempt to evolve and try something different, but they've just become less brave. What i love about u2 is that they're always trying to evolve their music, but they haven't gone far enough as they were willing to in the zooropa-pop era. That's why i'm fine with them moving in a direction with the culture and away from the past, but I wish they'd incorporate new elements in a way that would sound like nothing out there already in pop. So i hope SOE is completely different, incoroporates pop sounds, but in a completely new way. that would be the mark of a great u2 album, not a return to the greatness of Joshua Tree or Achtung.



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Nope. Don't feel the same way.

U2 is one of the all time great rock bands

U2 is a very mediocre pop band



U2 are not the same band they were 25 years ago, and to expect otherwise is unrealistic. To think that a 55 year old person would behave the way a 30 year old does is also unrealistic. Imagine being a successful band whose glory days were over a decade in the past but whose fans demanded that they not evolve past the 1990s and expect them not to change and that they perpetually have the wrong goals. How awful must that feel.

I don't call 55 year old men pandering to the teenage market for "relevance" evolving. I actually think it's taken 2 steps backwards.

This is a band who went totally against the grain when they were younger yet became the biggest band in the world. In '83 when synth pop and new wave exploded they came out with a political rock album. In '87 when hair bands ruled the world U2 came out with a number 1 single that was a gospel song. In '91 when Grunge took over they came out in leather and sunglasses.

U2 became the biggest band doing their own thing and not caring about "relevance". They got where they were despite what was going on around them. If the songs were great they would resonate. I don't buy for 1 second that this phase of U2 is them evolving. It's them trying to be in the same playlists as current radio artists. Basically a 180 of "going against the grain" mentality that they had.

For me it's sad. I've loved this band since 1988. There are older artists who made some of the best music of their careers after 50, but it wasn't aimed at a teenage market who don't even know who they are. Springsteen's The Rising and Magic were amazing albums. Didn't sell even close to what his earlier albums did, but it didn't matter. His fans loved them and he still plays songs from them all the time. U2 still have great songs in them, Sleep Like a Baby & The Troubles prove it, but we gotta dig through the trash (Song for Someone, The Miracle, etc..) to get to them.

Offline Luzita

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2017, 07:52:04 PM »
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I also love what U2 is about, and I absolutely feel like some fans on this forum are too harsh in judging U2's apparent quest for "relevance" and "hits".  I'm pretty new here and I'm already tired of that attitude.

What gets me is how people say there was a time when U2 were more "pure" than they are now, and didn't care about popularity. That isn't true. They have always cared about popularity, at the same time that they have always been committed to the integrity of their art.

I remember reading or hearing that during the making of The Unforgettable Fire, they worried the album didn't have any hit singles and wouldn't get airplay, but Eno reassured them as long as Pride was on there they'd be okay. So first the band sought out Brian Eno to make an atmospheric, rather experimental album, instead of making another album similar to War which is the record that broke them into the mainstream. And then they worried the results wouldn't include any hits. That is U2. That is who they've always been. Their entire career, including all the music that is loved by those who now complain about who they are and what they want and wish them to be and want something else -- everything has come out of the tension between those two poles of their identity.

I have no desire whatsoever for them to change. I like some of the music they have made recently more than some of the music they made in the 90s. I don't hear any drop-off in quality. Now, it may be harder for them to have hits than it used to be, due to the great changes that have occurred in the music scene and music industry, but if they want to keep trying I certainly am not going to tell them they shouldn't. They have always aimed unreasonably high. Why should they stop now?

By the way, it wasn't Bono who said "we don't need the pop kids." Bono was in character. It was the Fly who said that. When you find yourself in agreement with the Fly, it might be a good time to re-examine your attitude.

I also believe that line ("We might lose some of the pop kids...but we don't need them") was occasioned by an interviewer noting that fans were wondering why they weren't playing songs from their earlier albums on the tour. It didn't seem to be some general swipe at pop music/pop music fans. At least, that's how I read it.

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Thanks for posting the video. I think you're right that when Bono/the Fly says "pop kids" he isn't referring to pop music fans. I think he is using that as a dismissive term for anybody who isn't hep to following the band in their new direction.

That's such a fascinating use of an alter ego. The Fly is blasé about losing fans whereas the band and esp. Bono hate losing any part of the audience. They are all about connecting with people. Yet every time they switch things up they do lose fans, or at least disappoint some.


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Offline Luzita

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2017, 09:54:40 PM »
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This is a band who went totally against the grain when they were younger yet became the biggest band in the world. In '83 when synth pop and new wave exploded they came out with a political rock album. In '87 when hair bands ruled the world U2 came out with a number 1 single that was a gospel song. In '91 when Grunge took over they came out in leather and sunglasses.

I totally agree with this paragraph but disagree with your statement that they didn't care about relevance. It comes down to what is meant by "relevance." You and some others seem to be using that word to mean similar to the dominant musical style, whereas I think (just my opinion, to be sure) that to U2 "relevance" means having influence in the popular culture. It means connecting with a lot of people across the society, especially younger people. That's why I believe U2 will never be satisfied with playing only to their own fan base, no matter how large and passionate it may be.

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I don't call 55 year old men pandering to the teenage market for "relevance" evolving. I actually think it's taken 2 steps backwards.

I don't feel there is anything inappropriate about 55-year-old musicians wanting to connect with teenagers. I don't know if they can actually do it in any big way, but they were still doing it in a big way in their 40s. If anybody can pull it off it's them.

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U2 still have great songs in them, Sleep Like a Baby & The Troubles prove it, but we gotta dig through the trash (Song for Someone, The Miracle, etc..) to get to them.

It seems to me the whole reason that "relevance" is a bone of contention is that some people don't like the music U2 has been making lately and blame that on "pandering to teenagers" or "pandering to the masses." You have to first dislike the music for anything else to become an issue.

So I'm curious about your preferences here, which seem to be shared by some others on this board. What makes you feel that SLAB and Troubles are great songs while Miracle and SFS are trash? Is it because the lyrics are darker and more serious? Or is it something about the musical structure? Or both?

My own preferences are different. I love both SFS and Troubles but don't care much for Miracle or SLAB.


Offline DoYouFeelLoved

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U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2017, 05:00:36 AM »
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Nope. Don't feel the same way.

U2 is one of the all time great rock bands

U2 is a very mediocre pop band



U2 are not the same band they were 25 years ago, and to expect otherwise is unrealistic. To think that a 55 year old person would behave the way a 30 year old does is also unrealistic. Imagine being a successful band whose glory days were over a decade in the past but whose fans demanded that they not evolve past the 1990s and expect them not to change and that they perpetually have the wrong goals. How awful must that feel.

I don't call 55 year old men pandering to the teenage market for "relevance" evolving. I actually think it's taken 2 steps backwards.

This is a band who went totally against the grain when they were younger yet became the biggest band in the world. In '83 when synth pop and new wave exploded they came out with a political rock album. In '87 when hair bands ruled the world U2 came out with a number 1 single that was a gospel song. In '91 when Grunge took over they came out in leather and sunglasses.

U2 became the biggest band doing their own thing and not caring about "relevance". They got where they were despite what was going on around them. If the songs were great they would resonate. I don't buy for 1 second that this phase of U2 is them evolving. It's them trying to be in the same playlists as current radio artists. Basically a 180 of "going against the grain" mentality that they had.

For me it's sad. I've loved this band since 1988. There are older artists who made some of the best music of their careers after 50, but it wasn't aimed at a teenage market who don't even know who they are. Springsteen's The Rising and Magic were amazing albums. Didn't sell even close to what his earlier albums did, but it didn't matter. His fans loved them and he still plays songs from them all the time. U2 still have great songs in them, Sleep Like a Baby & The Troubles prove it, but we gotta dig through the trash (Song for Someone, The Miracle, etc..) to get to them.
Spot on. U2 used to chase relevancy by doing their own thing.

They made TUF with Eno, an ambient artist, in the middle of 80's and everyone thought they had lost their minds.
Achtung Baby when Grunge was laying down the law.
Pop when electronica was still an european club culture phenomenon.
And so on.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 05:04:06 AM by DoYouFeelLoved »

Online julez728

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #28 on: October 09, 2017, 09:07:59 AM »
I don't think that U2 is trying as hard to stay relevant as some people think they are.  In my opinion, they are still making the music they want to make and are enjoying themselves in the process. 

Offline davis

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Re: U2: Being Relevant is The Best Thing About Them
« Reply #29 on: October 09, 2017, 09:35:12 AM »
For what it's worth, I don't think most here want another Achtung Baby or Joshua Tree in the sense of an album that sounds just like them.  Rather, we want something daringly fresh and bold and accomplished, as those albums were. 

If you've followed Bob Dylan's later career, for example, his albums Love and Theft and Time Out of Mind are as great as anything he ever recorded in the 1960s or 70s, while sounding almost nothing like the earlier stuff. 

I'm still holding out hope for such a weird, transcendent late career masterpiece from U2.  It would have to be, I think, introspective, a bit toned down, and far less programmatic than what they've been putting together lately.  An album of surrender and mortality.  No slogans or trite truisms.  No easy melodies.  If political, then political in an embodied, personal manner (as Running to Stand Still or Bullet the Blue Sky are).  If spiritual, then ditto.