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U2 => General U2 Discussion => Topic started by: jick on January 31, 2013, 01:38:28 AM

Title: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on January 31, 2013, 01:38:28 AM
In my opinion, U2 reached their lyric-writing peak in Achtung Baby. 

While Pop was a failure musically and melodically, there were still some lyrical gems like Gone but also duds like Playboy Manson and Miami.

All That You Can't Leave Behind helped them regain their mainstream status thanks to great tunes and melodies, but things started getting ugly with lyrics like "I was a monkey stealing honey from a swarm of bees" or most of Elevation.

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb had one of U2's most popular lead singles ever - thanks to the ultra-fast tempo and heavy guitar riffs of Vertigo - but you have to reconcile the fact that the song starts of with some Spanish counting along with the chorus chants of "hola" and "donde esta".

Finally, there is No Line On The Horizon. Virtually all the songs have irrelevant lyrics that listeners have a hard to associating their own experiences with it.  Get On Your Boots? Stand Up Comedy?  U2 in their prime would never have a pointless song title such as "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight."

No Line On The Horizon also has a lot of lyrical credits to members other than Bono.  Is the Bono-lyric writing well running dry?  Seems he needs help now and they still could not get the job executed properly.

Since Achtung Baby, U2 have been on a lyrical depreciation instead of a lyrical evolution.  With every new album, we get more cringe-worthy lyrics. Sometimes I dread what lyrics the new album will contain.

Have U2 finally become lyrically irrelevant?  Or are there still members of this board who feel that U2's more recent output in the last 4 albums have evolved to become better?

Just want to know your thoughts.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on January 31, 2013, 02:48:43 AM
I think you make some good points, Jick. However, I do think Pop's lyrics are much better than you do, although perhaps not as good as AB's were. They've been on a steady decline, on that we agree. But exactly when that decline began is a matter of debate.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on January 31, 2013, 03:11:56 AM
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I think you make some good points, Jick. However, I do think Pop's lyrics are much better than you do, although perhaps not as good as AB's were. They've been on a steady decline, on that we agree. But exactly when that decline began is a matter of debate.

But you do agree that Achtung Baby was their lyrical peak?

When I listen to songs like So Cruel with its gut-wrenching pain, to the slogans of The Fly, to the poignant One - even if the songs are not that specific and have vague generalized topics - I can feel it and relate to it.

But how can the listener relate to songs like Vertigo or Get On Your Boots? How can these songs touch them?  You have rockers in their 40's to 50's who are not writing something befitting of their age category.  Those lyrics don't cater to teens anyway.

In some sense, even the trashy pop music of today with lyrics filled with sexual innuendos and double meanings have something the kids can relate to.  But to what demographic does the recent lyrical output of U2 cater to?

I think U2 are worrying too much about their chemistry with their producer that is why they keep switching around.  They are more focused on finding the right musicality that will cater to a new generation of fans while striking a balance and keeping the old fans.  The problem is: along the way they have forgotten the art and heart of music-writing which is the lyrics.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: boom boom on January 31, 2013, 04:16:59 AM
I think part of it is also is that unlike most bands, Bono has to come up with lyrics after hearing the music the band is working on which is more difficult.  We saw this in From the sky Down when they were working on MW and One.  Bono is just basically singing as they call it Bonogolese, just trying to channel the lyrics but more to give the band direction musically in the beginning and then come up with lyrics later.  Maybe for one project in the future Bono can present the band with lyrics first and then as a group try to come up with the music and see where that goes.  Another reason could be that after Pop most of the songwriting from Bono are more towards joy and love which would tend to not have as deep of lyrics as before when writing songs about despair, hurt and betrayal which would tend to lean on deeper lyrics.  So maybe it's the subject of the songs that Bono should look to change if we hope to get songs with deeper lyrics.  I think Bono even said before that it is easier to write songs about betrayal, hurt and despair rather than songs of joy and love, but he has to want to write them, but often subjects of songs tend to lean on where the songwriter is in his own life.  Maybe at this point in his life Bono doesn't want to focus on the darker material. 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: BalconyTV on January 31, 2013, 04:26:23 AM
Well as Pop was my first U2 album as such I have to say I think Pop has some pretty strong moments lyrically. But its when a certain decline happened...as I think it was the first album when they threw in lyrics that were completely from leftfield. In saying that, I think they got away with it, as the album was just so cool and goovy.

ATYCLB had some incredible lyrics on it I believe. And I think that album gets far too much flak. I feel that album is very important to a lot of people precisely because of some of the lyrics. But there are at least a couple of songs on that album that are total duds lyrically. So the ratio goes up.

HTDAAB has a lot more questionable moments. And its when we started getting some naff titles. Miracle Drug...ugh. But again, despite how crass I feel a lot of it is, I listened back to it loud recently...and it has some incredibly lyrics in it too. And I think thats the amazing thing about U2 and Bono. That they always strive to find it...

And finally NLOTH... which has Moment of Surrender... which means they are hardly bankrupt. I think NLOTH has you too applying a serious taste berometer again, despite Get on your Boots and IKIWGCIIDGCT. I have no problem with NLOTH as an album. I thought it was great.

So bankrupt...not quite...struggling to find those moments of genius...more difficult perhaps.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on January 31, 2013, 04:33:46 AM
I'm actually kind of tired of people going on about Achtung Baby being the epitome of U2. Sure there are some great songs on it, but it is only one of their albums. May as well call yourself an Achtung Baby fan instead of a U2 fan.
Songs from Atomic Bomb and No Line have been very relevant to my life.
-Moment of Surrender, while different in the context of the first person has been very apt for things in my life that I have had to surrender to.
-White as Snow is an extremely profound song.
-Magnificent a deep song of worship.
-Original of the Species speaks perfectly as a father to his first born child.
-I can also speak first hand to "All because of you I am."
-Bono's relationship with his father in Sometimes you can't make it... is nothing short of tear jerking.
-Yahwheh is a song that brings me from the depths of my own sinfulness into the joyous hope of faith in God.
-Beautiful Day speaks powerfully to the idea of selflessness- "what you don't have you don't need it now."

The story telling aspect of No Line is something I greatly appreciate too.

I feel sorry for people who can't appreciate the lyrical depth of the last three albums. They have only continued to get deeper in my opinion.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on January 31, 2013, 04:38:06 AM
I actually see I'll Go crazy... as an incomplete song lyrically. 

"It's not a hill it's a mountain, as you start out the climb" is a wonderful lyric in itself, but is completely disconnected with "you know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight."  I think somehow there are two lyrical songs there squeezed into one musical song. Don't know why it happened that way. That is probably my biggest criticism of No Line in general. Most of the songs are intensely profound though.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: imaginary friend on January 31, 2013, 08:48:13 AM
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I think part of it is also is that unlike most bands, Bono has to come up with lyrics after hearing the music the band is working on which is more difficult.  We saw this in From the sky Down when they were working on MW and One.  Bono is just basically singing as they call it Bonogolese, just trying to channel the lyrics but more to give the band direction musically in the beginning and then come up with lyrics later.  Maybe for one project in the future Bono can present the band with lyrics first and then as a group try to come up with the music and see where that goes.  Another reason could be that after Pop most of the songwriting from Bono are more towards joy and love which would tend to not have as deep of lyrics as before when writing songs about despair, hurt and betrayal which would tend to lean on deeper lyrics.  So maybe it's the subject of the songs that Bono should look to change if we hope to get songs with deeper lyrics.  I think Bono even said before that it is easier to write songs about betrayal, hurt and despair rather than songs of joy and love, but he has to want to write them, but often subjects of songs tend to lean on where the songwriter is in his own life.  Maybe at this point in his life Bono doesn't want to focus on the darker material. 

Lots of bands work that way. To give one example, one of the things holding up the next Tool album is that Maynard can't finish a lyric to save his life right now for music that's been completed for a few months already.

on topic: sorry, jick, you totally derailed this thread by not recognizing Pop as Bono's lyrical apex.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: youngmanu2 on January 31, 2013, 09:16:10 AM
Actually, I think their lyrical peak was Joshua Tree (which I rate slightly over AB because of the tightness of the songs). Although One is their finest for lyrics yet.

But, Yahweh on HTDAAB was solid, lyrically, imo. So, too, crumbs from your table.

Nevertheless, I think you are correct that their lyrics haven't been spectacular of late. It all depends on what one is looking for in a lyric. Some songs can be simplistic yet powerful. Beautiful Day is a favorite of mine and because it both connects with things in my life and it lifts me up on days I'm really down.

There is no absolute standard on lyrics, it's all about where one is, how one is touched, and what one enjoys. At certain times the light hearted is better than the heavy.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 09:19:14 AM
Bono is running out of ways to tell us how much he loves his god.

Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on January 31, 2013, 09:21:43 AM
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Bono is running out of ways to tell us how much he loves his god.



Do I detect that you are mocking Bono? Why is it you are a U2 fan?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 09:27:01 AM
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Bono is running out of ways to tell us how much he loves his god.



Do I detect that you are mocking Bono? Why is it you are a U2 fan?

Ummm, who are you to question my fandom exactly ?

Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 09:30:07 AM
I'm glad he for the most part found more subtle ways to praise his god and we don't have to suffer any more references to Zion and Jerusalem.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 09:34:37 AM
There's nothing subtle about Yahweh , All because of you or Magnificent.

Magnificent is a better than average U2 song at least.

The days of inner struggle and despair definitely provide better lyrical fodder than the days of peace and worship.

Lyrically, JT, AB and Pop >>>>>>> the last 3

Jick is partially correct. Painful as that was to type.

Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 09:43:50 AM
I don't find anything spiritual about All Because Of You. I always thought it was a song to Ali, not God.

Magnificent, too, I interpret in a more humanistic way rather than religious.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Dali on January 31, 2013, 09:45:33 AM
Jick, I understand what's your point. However, your headline is way too negative and flashy.

"How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb" was such a letdown to this listener because it was not just lacking musically but lyrically as well.
In my opinion, they peaked lyrically with "Pop" and ATYCLB was almost as good.

The best spiritual lyric on HTDAAB is "All Because Of You" but musically, this song is rather uninteresting. However, at one point during the "No Line On the Horizon" sessions, Bono got his lyric writing mojo back. Yet, it was a little late in the game so it's still showing he was in recovery in that regard, in places such as "Breathe" and "Unknown Caller". So it's no surprise the last songs recorded for NLOTH, the trio of songs without Eno/Lanois, the way I see it, have the best lyrics. Yet, again, like with "All Because Of You", on "Get On Your Boots", the music would have needed more work. They rectified that mistake with the live version.

I guess the lyrical low started after "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" and ended with "Moment Of Surrender".

That's why I have high hopes for some interesting lyrics on U2's next album.

Jick, I guess you're just overly concerned. There is no need to. Have a nice day! (or so Buongiovi says, doesn't he? ;-)
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 09:49:55 AM
Okay, where does this sudden interpretation of ABOY as a religious song come from? The song is dripping in sex.

"I'm alive, I'm being born, I just arrived, I'm at the door of the place I started out from, and I want back inside"

Bono either has a, er, "special" relationship with God, or it's not a religious song.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 09:55:20 AM
I've never seen it interpreted any other way since the day it came put.

Nothing "sudden" about it.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 09:59:43 AM
I've never heard of anyone interpreting it in any other way than a lukewarm romantic song to Ali until today.

How do you explain that blatantly sexually explicit line in ABOY?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 10:08:49 AM
It's your interpretation. It could also be interpreted as getting older and closer to death and wanting back into heaven where he came from originally ?

How is "I was born a child of grace" sexual ?

How is "you can make me perfect again" sexual. It's a cornerstone of Christianity that the only timed a human is truly perfect and innocent I'd before birth and after death is it not ? Maybe it's not I'm not claiming to be up on all the rules of that particular belief system.

It's all about interpretation I guess. Regardless to me it's as blatantly spiritual as Yahweh or Jerusalem. And it's a crap song to boot.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 10:21:54 AM
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It's your interpretation. It could also be interpreted as getting older and closer to death and wanting back into heaven where he came from originally ?

How is "I was born a child of grace" sexual ?

It's not, but then he goes on to say "everything was ugly but your beautiful face". So Bono either has the hots for Jesus or we're back to the conundrum of overt sexuality in a song you consider to be deeply religious.

"An intellectual tortoise racing with your bullet train" also reeks of Bono paying Ali a complement for being intellectually superior to him.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 10:26:47 AM
Telling someone they have a beautiful face isn't always sexual. My grandma had a beautiful face I never had the hots for her.

Again, each to their own interpretation but clearly as shown in this thread even I'm not alone in thinking the song is religious in tone.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on January 31, 2013, 10:27:57 AM
I don't think Bono is lyrically bankrupt, but he certainly isn't as good as he once was.

I do disagree though that Achtung Baby was the pinnacle, I think that he maintained that throughout the 90's. Zooropa had the Wanderer and The First Time which are 2 of his best lyrics; Pop has some great lyrics (Please).

In my opinion Bono's lyrical prime is from 1987 - 1997
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: A_Fly_On_The_Wall on January 31, 2013, 11:05:07 AM
No.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on January 31, 2013, 11:06:15 AM
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I think you make some good points, Jick. However, I do think Pop's lyrics are much better than you do, although perhaps not as good as AB's were. They've been on a steady decline, on that we agree. But exactly when that decline began is a matter of debate.

But you do agree that Achtung Baby was their lyrical peak?

When I listen to songs like So Cruel with its gut-wrenching pain, to the slogans of The Fly, to the poignant One - even if the songs are not that specific and have vague generalized topics - I can feel it and relate to it.

But how can the listener relate to songs like Vertigo or Get On Your Boots? How can these songs touch them?  You have rockers in their 40's to 50's who are not writing something befitting of their age category.  Those lyrics don't cater to teens anyway.

In some sense, even the trashy pop music of today with lyrics filled with sexual innuendos and double meanings have something the kids can relate to.  But to what demographic does the recent lyrical output of U2 cater to?

I think U2 are worrying too much about their chemistry with their producer that is why they keep switching around.  They are more focused on finding the right musicality that will cater to a new generation of fans while striking a balance and keeping the old fans.  The problem is: along the way they have forgotten the art and heart of music-writing which is the lyrics.

Cheers,

J

I do think AB was their lyrical peak, but I also think there is a marked difference in the entire lyrical style pre- and post-Rattle and Hum. In the '80s Bono wrote lyrics that were more poetic, and in many ways more pleasing to read out loud without any music playing (think the "freeway, like a river" bit from Heartland or "Carnival, the wheels fly" verse from TUF). The '90s lyrics, while superior on one level (AB being the best, with the best from Pop being a close second), are not as beautiful as those from TUF --> R&H, in my opinion.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: youngmanu2 on January 31, 2013, 11:08:17 AM
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There's nothing subtle about Yahweh , All because of you or Magnificent.

Magnificent is a better than average U2 song at least.

The days of inner struggle and despair definitely provide better lyrical fodder than the days of peace and worship.

Lyrically, JT, AB and Pop >>>>>>> the last 3

Jick is partially correct. Painful as that was to type.



Again, it's in the ear of the beholder as to what lyrics resonate - but, there is truth to these general points.

You hit on the key that the lack of angst (days of inner struggle and despair) often create better lyrical fodder than days of peace.

The Psalms demonstrate this to a degree. What is required is deep emotion (but that can be positive). Many of the Psalms are filled with despair and deep sorrow and express this. This is also why Springsteen relates so well to so many - especially his earlier stuff that addresses the challenges of human life. At the same time, there are some great poetic Psalms that soar with joy. There are musicians who are filled with joy and their lyrics move people as well. They are more positive in tone though.

At some point, you struggle to keep the inner fire burning as fervently and are searching for ways to find a lyric that touches and resonates with people. But, if it doesn't resonate with you - it's going to be a challenge.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on January 31, 2013, 11:21:03 AM
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-White as Snow is an extremely profound song.

But this thread is about lyrics. Is "to sleep the night, shooting out the stars" a good line? I don't know what it means.

Quote
-Magnificent a deep song of worship.

Yes, but the lyrics aren't very good (despite its being my favorite song on NLOTH)

Quote
-Original of the Species speaks perfectly as a father to his first born child.

Again, it's not about what the song is like or even about, but whether its lyrics are good. "I'll give you everything you want, except the thing that you want"? "I want the lot of what you got, and I want nothing that you're not"?

Quote
-I can also speak first hand to "All because of you I am."
"Intellectual tor-TOISE." 'Nuff said.

Quote
-Bono's relationship with his father in Sometimes you can't make it... is nothing short of tear jerking.

That song's lyrics, though, are horrendous. "Tough. You think you got the stuff"? There are some decent lines in there, though.

Quote
-Yahwheh is a song that brings me from the depths of my own sinfulness into the joyous hope of faith in God.

Yahweh has got to be the bottom of the barrel, lyrics-wise. I know you're a Christian, Pasha, which is probab;y why you prefer the songs you do. But lyrically, Yahweh sucks. "Click-clacking down some dead-end street"? Is Bono in eighteenth-century Holland wearing wooden clogs? "Polyester white trash, made in nowhere"? Ugh.

Quote
I feel sorry for people who can't appreciate the lyrical depth of the last three albums. They have only continued to get deeper in my opinion.

I can list roughly half the songs from each of their last three albums as evidence of how false that claim is. Yes, there are some great lines in there (MOS, BB, WILATW), but the majority of them are banal at best, embarrassing at worst.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on January 31, 2013, 11:28:06 AM
I agree with a lot of the commentary, but I don't think Bono's ability to write lyrics has declined as much as the music suggests.  I think it is clouded and restricted by this grander obsession with being relevant.

A case in point would be looking at the early forms of songs such as Vertigo (Native Son).  Lyrically, that song is much stronger than Vertigo, but that song would not have been the hit it was without the simple lyrics U2 put out there.

Each album does seem to have its lyrical masterpieces, but they do seem to have their duds whereas AB, JT, and really all the preceding albums were strong, lyrically, for most of their songs.  That is definitely not the case with the final products we're getting since POP. I'm not sure what their true peak is because I think they had a strong run of lyrically great albums from War to Pop, except RH and Zooropa (maybe), which suffer from a bit of overtrying or too quick of a turn around.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Midnight is Where the Day Begins on January 31, 2013, 11:28:33 AM
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It's your interpretation. It could also be interpreted as getting older and closer to death and wanting back into heaven where he came from originally ?

How is "I was born a child of grace" sexual ?

How is "you can make me perfect again" sexual. It's a cornerstone of Christianity that the only timed a human is truly perfect and innocent I'd before birth and after death is it not ? Maybe it's not I'm not claiming to be up on all the rules of that particular belief system.

It's all about interpretation I guess. Regardless to me it's as blatantly spiritual as Yahweh or Jerusalem. And it's a crap song to boot.

Nine Inch Nails used a similar lyric in Closer, the whole "you make me perfect, help me become somebody else," line.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: An Cat Dubh on January 31, 2013, 12:10:45 PM
Pop was Bono's lyrical peak, imho his best lyrics ever. AB is very close.

But I agree with Jick on everything else. Apart from Cedars of Lebanon, NLOTH's lyrics are just plain awful.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jacob on January 31, 2013, 01:02:03 PM
Nice thread.
Bono is a poet (please, just to name one gem) who is writing stupid stuff (wild honey) on occasion. maybe to often the last 15 years.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: _acrobat on January 31, 2013, 01:29:46 PM
Why does everybody assume Pop is the high watermark when it comes to lyrics? Are lines like "you know you're chewing bubble gum" that much better than, say NLOTH's?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 01:32:49 PM
I don't think anyone assumes it. I think they come to their own conclusions by listening to the songs.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 01:46:55 PM
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But I agree with Jick on everything else. Apart from Cedars of Lebanon, NLOTH's lyrics are just plain awful.

Um....Moment Of Surrender? Being Born? White As Snow?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 01:47:50 PM
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Why does everybody assume Pop is the high watermark when it comes to lyrics? Are lines like "you know you're chewing bubble gum" that much better than, say NLOTH's?

In the context of the rest of the song, it's really a rather clever line likening casual sex to nutritionless but tasty junk food.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: _acrobat on January 31, 2013, 01:51:19 PM
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I don't think anyone assumes it. I think they come to their own conclusions by listening to the songs.

Fair point, but I think the majority who like Pop (and I'm not bashing it. It's one of my favorites) tend to overemphasize how great the lyrics are just because its not from the 00's
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on January 31, 2013, 01:54:16 PM
Pick an album you think has their best lyrics overall and I will find some clunkers.

I believe when people talk about a best album lyrically, they are speaking in a general sense.

"Salt water kisses"  lol!
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: U2runnr on January 31, 2013, 02:06:20 PM
Maybe the lyrics aren't as good as they were in JT, AB as a whole but I think some of the lyrics from recent albums are incredible and certainly not "irrelivant".
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on January 31, 2013, 02:20:51 PM
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Maybe the lyrics aren't as good as they were in JT, AB as a whole but I think some of the lyrics from recent albums are incredible and certainly not "irrelivant".

I agree, but it is U2's desire to make pop songs that make them relevant to the pop music world (not talking about lyrics) that sours them.  I do think, and many here seem to agree to some extent that U2 do write good lyrics for some songs, but it is more distracting when you have more clunkers than we've had in the past.  THe middle third of NLOTH is forgettable.  Vertigo's lyrics are forgettable.  Elevation, Wild Honey, Stuck in a Moment, etc. are all bad songs.  Pop had its bad songs, too, especially up front. 

For me, I classify its lyrics as good overall because a handful of its songs are some of Bono's best lyrically.  I personally find Please and Wake Up Dead Man to be two of their best lyrical songs, despite my dislike of Please overall (music and production could have been better).

More recently, U2 have still written fantastic lyrics, but either Bono struggles to do it for a full album, or he decides a pop song is better and dumps the good lyrics that were written (e.g. Vertigo).
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: An Cat Dubh on January 31, 2013, 04:32:20 PM
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But I agree with Jick on everything else. Apart from Cedars of Lebanon, NLOTH's lyrics are just plain awful.

Um....Moment Of Surrender? Being Born? White As Snow?

Yup. All crap.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: An Cat Dubh on January 31, 2013, 04:33:18 PM
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Why does everybody assume Pop is the high watermark when it comes to lyrics? Are lines like "you know you're chewing bubble gum" that much better than, say NLOTH's?

I don't assume anything. I PERSONALLY think that the lyrics on Pop are some of the best Bono has done, for my taste.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 05:22:09 PM
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But I agree with Jick on everything else. Apart from Cedars of Lebanon, NLOTH's lyrics are just plain awful.

Um....Moment Of Surrender? Being Born? White As Snow?

Yup. All crap.

O_o

You like Miami but think those three songs have crap lyrics?

Oooooooookayyyyy
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: An Cat Dubh on January 31, 2013, 05:37:11 PM
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But I agree with Jick on everything else. Apart from Cedars of Lebanon, NLOTH's lyrics are just plain awful.

Um....Moment Of Surrender? Being Born? White As Snow?

Yup. All crap.

O_o

You like Miami but think those three songs have crap lyrics?

Oooooooookayyyyy

Yup. Just my taste Droo, don't worry about it. I dont :)

Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on January 31, 2013, 05:42:15 PM
"You know you're chewing bubblegum"

"If coke is a mystery, Michael Jackson history"

"It's the stuff of country songs"

"Miami mi mammy"

POP had its own lyrical duds, but was generally acceptable.

No Line On The Horizon was their ultimate low point.

"ATM Machine" (redundant)

"Begging Bowl" (rehash of If God Will Send His Angles in POP)

"The future needs a big kiss" (rehash of their famous f*ck the past, kiss the future slogan)

"Password, enter here/ Force quite/ Move to trash" (self explanatory)

... I can go on and on with every song in No Line On The Horizon but it will take forever.  That album is easily their lyrical low point with few songs capable of having some redeeming values lyrically.  Even the words to Window In The Skies was pure garbage.

The 80's or 90's era U2 would never be caught red-handed with lyrics such as what they are writing now.  I think Mullen Jnr and Clayton are getting old and soft also, incapable of policing their bandmates from lyrical absurdity.

Maybe all those times Bono says "The Edge is on Fire" is true.  The problem with U2 today could be Bono - who seems to have been in lyrical hibernation the past decade or so.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Quenchable Thirst on January 31, 2013, 06:18:14 PM
I was actually thinking about this a couple of days ago. How so many people seem to hate NLOTH to death even though it has great songs like WAS, MOS, Magnificent, GOYB (wait... don't kill me just yet, let me finish this sentence), Fez, and my favorite one from the album, Breathe. Guitar-wise (and also bass-wise), I think they're really good tunes. Edge tried a different sound rather than just delay. I love the Magnificent intro and the solo, as well as the MOS solo, everything about Breathe (a great guitar and keyboard combination, in my opinion), WAS' and COL's calmness... among many other things I thought were great about the album.

But then, there's the lyrics. 'And I know I'll go crazy if we don't go crazy tonight', 'I don't wanna talk about wars between nations', 'Let me in the sound', 'You free me from a dark dream / Candy floss ice-cream' (pretty much the whole song has crappy lyrics), 'Time is irrelevant, it's not linear / Then she put her tongue in my ear', 'Password... you... enter here... right now, oh oh oh', 'Soul rockin’ people moving on / Soul rockin’ people on and on / C’mon you people / We’re made of stars / C’mon you people / Stand up then sit down for your love'.

On a side note, there's also the way Bono adds his vocals to the song and how the lyrics get along. I think NLOTH is a great song, but it seems like he just put some words together and didn't even care to build a decent chorus. I mean, 'I know a girl / who's like the sea / I watch her changing, every day for me / Oh yeah / Ouaoauoauao (or however you spell that bongolese singing) / One day she's still / the next she swells / you can hear the universe in her sea shells / Oh yeah / Ouoaoaoaoua / No, no line on the hori-izon / no, no line'. Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't make any sense at all (and yeah, I know many U2 songs can be interpreted in many ways, but this just looks like bad lyrics).

Bono's song writing checklist
Mention a girl - Check
Mention love - TBD
Mention the song title - Check

On the other hand though, I believe MOS, WAS and COL have great, profound lyrics. And Bono's singing is great on them too (unlike SUC, in which Bono's voice is annoying during the chorus).

So... tl;dr, I don't think they no longer can make good songs that also have good lyrics, but they have gone downhill since AB. I think, however, their best lyrics came from the Joshua Tree era. There isn't one song there that has bad lyrics; all of them are uniquely great!

Just my opinion.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on January 31, 2013, 06:29:11 PM
I disagree Jick Bon Jovi.    NLOTH is loaded with great lyrics:

"Im a traffic cop, Rue du Marais, the sirens wailing but its me that wants to get away".  -- I remember hearing this for the first time and thinking, I have way too much in common with this guy.

"I was speeding on the subway, through the stations of the cross, every eye looking every other way, counting down 'til the pain would stop".  --  Painful/powerful stuff..

"From the womb, my first cry, it was a joyful noise"   --   That line alone is a masterpiece.

I think the problem is with everyone OTHER than Bono.    Case in point, "Fez-Being Born".    That's a song that isnt necessarily lyrically "brilliant", yet I think it's the best song on there.   
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: U2runnr on January 31, 2013, 06:34:06 PM
"The stone was semi-precious
We were barely conscious
Two souls too smart to be
In the realm of certainty
Even on our wedding day

We set ourselves on fire
Oh God, do not deny her
It’s not if I believe in love
If love believes in me
Oh, believe in me

At the moment of surrender
I folded to my knees
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me

I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of the dark star
My body’s now a begging bowl
That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my unconsciousness
To the rhythm that yearns
To be released from control "

Masterpiece.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on January 31, 2013, 06:50:39 PM
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I think, however, their best lyrics came from the Joshua Tree era. There isn't one song there that has bad lyrics; all of them are uniquely great!

TJT is the be-all and end-all for me but I occasionally scratch my head over the "I want to reach out and touch the flame" lyric and we all know what song THAT is from.    Sounds to me like he just needed something to rhyme with "name"..
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on January 31, 2013, 06:56:06 PM
Not to dwell on this or nothing, but what about the line from EBW, "we know the fear of 'when', so we end before we begin".   If that isn't sinking in when you first read it, give it some time..
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: U2runnr on January 31, 2013, 08:20:50 PM
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Not to dwell on this or nothing, but what about the line from EBW, "we know the fear of 'when', so we end before we begin".   If that isn't sinking in when you first read it, give it some time..

An excellent line, but itn't it "we know the fear of winning, so we end before we begin"? At least that's what i'm hearing!
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on January 31, 2013, 09:11:58 PM
I hear it as "winning", too. Which is still a brilliant line.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Midnight is Where the Day Begins on January 31, 2013, 09:39:45 PM
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Not to dwell on this or nothing, but what about the line from EBW, "we know the fear of 'when', so we end before we begin".   If that isn't sinking in when you first read it, give it some time..

An excellent line, but itn't it "we know the fear of winning, so we end before we begin"? At least that's what i'm hearing!

EBW proves that he can still write pretty fantastic lyrics, even if it is hit or miss now.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on January 31, 2013, 10:00:52 PM
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Not to dwell on this or nothing, but what about the line from EBW, "we know the fear of 'when', so we end before we begin".   If that isn't sinking in when you first read it, give it some time..

An excellent line, but itn't it "we know the fear of winning, so we end before we begin"? At least that's what i'm hearing!

That is what is on the lyrics page but it's incorrect.   Speaking of which, I notice how the lyric in Heartland;"heavens gate, here in the heartland" didn't make it on the lyric page correctly either.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: feedback on January 31, 2013, 11:14:46 PM
If a Bon Jovi fan starts criticizing your lyrics, you know you're in trouble.

But in all fairness to Jick, Bono does need a thesaurus. He should either:

                                               a) find new ways to say the same thing
                                                                      or
                                               b) start conveying something different altogether.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on January 31, 2013, 11:33:30 PM
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If a Bon Jovi fan starts criticizing your lyrics, you know you're in trouble.

But in all fairness to Jick, Bono does need a thesaurus. He should either a)find new ways to say the same thing or b)Start conveying something different entirely.

Maybe that is Bono's problem. He relies too much on computers now to write his lyrics.  Where are the good old days when he would write them on paper?  It gives it a more organic and natural feel.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 12:54:01 AM
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Bono is running out of ways to tell us how much he loves his god.



Do I detect that you are mocking Bono? Why is it you are a U2 fan?

Ummm, who are you to question my fandom exactly ?



You win.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 12:56:02 AM
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I don't find anything spiritual about All Because Of You. I always thought it was a song to Ali, not God.

Magnificent, too, I interpret in a more humanistic way rather than religious.

That may be, but I can see much in there that is spiritual. But there's no point arguing that with you. It does annoy me that you want to criticise Bono for his spirituality though.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 12:57:56 AM
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Okay, where does this sudden interpretation of ABOY as a religious song come from? The song is dripping in sex.

"I'm alive, I'm being born, I just arrived, I'm at the door of the place I started out from, and I want back inside"

Bono either has a, er, "special" relationship with God, or it's not a religious song.

You don't understand metaphor?  Or is it just because you can not imagine a lyric unconnected with sex?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 01:02:31 AM
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-White as Snow is an extremely profound song.

But this thread is about lyrics. Is "to sleep the night, shooting out the stars" a good line? I don't know what it means.

Quote
-Magnificent a deep song of worship.

Yes, but the lyrics aren't very good (despite its being my favorite song on NLOTH)

Quote
-Original of the Species speaks perfectly as a father to his first born child.

Again, it's not about what the song is like or even about, but whether its lyrics are good. "I'll give you everything you want, except the thing that you want"? "I want the lot of what you got, and I want nothing that you're not"?

Quote
-I can also speak first hand to "All because of you I am."
"Intellectual tor-TOISE." 'Nuff said.

Quote
-Bono's relationship with his father in Sometimes you can't make it... is nothing short of tear jerking.

That song's lyrics, though, are horrendous. "Tough. You think you got the stuff"? There are some decent lines in there, though.

Quote
-Yahwheh is a song that brings me from the depths of my own sinfulness into the joyous hope of faith in God.

Yahweh has got to be the bottom of the barrel, lyrics-wise. I know you're a Christian, Pasha, which is probab;y why you prefer the songs you do. But lyrically, Yahweh sucks. "Click-clacking down some dead-end street"? Is Bono in eighteenth-century Holland wearing wooden clogs? "Polyester white trash, made in nowhere"? Ugh.

Quote
I feel sorry for people who can't appreciate the lyrical depth of the last three albums. They have only continued to get deeper in my opinion.

I can list roughly half the songs from each of their last three albums as evidence of how false that claim is. Yes, there are some great lines in there (MOS, BB, WILATW), but the majority of them are banal at best, embarrassing at worst.

I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

Shooting out the stars,- lying beneath the stars pretending to shoot them all; watching shooting stars. Makes sense to me.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: singnomore on February 01, 2013, 03:46:09 AM
My view is those albums you hold dear musically are those therfore you probably relate more lyrically to. Not surprised AB is being positioned as Bono's lyrical peak since this forum has a huge sway of preference to that album as being U2's best work.

For me I love 80's U2 and I relate more to those lyrics as they combined with the songs themselves are what got me hooked inthe first place.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say..!
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 05:51:48 AM
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My view is those albums you hold dear musically are those therfore you probably relate more lyrically to. Not surprised AB is being positioned as Bono's lyrical peak since this forum has a huge sway of preference to that album as being U2's best work.

For me I love 80's U2 and I relate more to those lyrics as they combined with the songs themselves are what got me hooked inthe first place.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say..!


I wonder where those forums and fan sites are that think other albums are the peak? I think you are right in saying that there is a huge sway to Achtung Baby here. It was great at the time, but truthfully these days I mostly listen to the last three albums and b-sides almost exclusively. Sometimes I go back to listen to an odd song, but I can't remember the last time I have "spun" in full a record from the 80s or 90s. I am always swayed towards what is new.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on February 01, 2013, 06:26:31 AM
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My view is those albums you hold dear musically are those therfore you probably relate more lyrically to. Not surprised AB is being positioned as Bono's lyrical peak since this forum has a huge sway of preference to that album as being U2's best work.

For me I love 80's U2 and I relate more to those lyrics as they combined with the songs themselves are what got me hooked inthe first place.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say..!


It's not just this forum.

Interference.com which has orders of magnitude more members hold basically the same feelings towards the U2 canon as this small microcosm of fans do.

Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 06:34:06 AM
So why then are people fixated on Achtung Baby? It's a little myopic is it not, as if people are so consumed in AB that everything else is second rate. I don't want to live in 1991 any more.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on February 01, 2013, 07:33:18 AM
I think people are so fixated on Achtung Baby for several reasons.

Firstly, it's lyrically the most intensely personal thing Bono had done up to that point. It largely threw out the conventions of what a U2 lyric was about (God, vague sketches in poetic language, politics) and instead presented a darker, sexier, more troubled and brooding side of U2 that hadn't been experienced before.

Secondly, that tour. My God, that tour. Larger than life. Satirical as hell. Over-the-top, materialistic, confrontational and in-your-face. Gone was the blue eyed choir boy Bono of the 80s, replaced by this leather-clad, chain-smoking monster of a front-man.

Thirdly, the music was a clear break from anything they had done before, God Part II aside. More electronic than anything that had come before. A mix of industrial elements (Zoo Station), funk (Mysterious Ways), blistering rock (The Fly) and everything in between. Not since The Unforgettable Fire had they done such a startling switch in sound.

Achtung Baby is not my favourite U2 album, but I totally get the fixation.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 01, 2013, 08:28:18 AM
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I think people are so fixated on Achtung Baby for several reasons.

Firstly, it's lyrically the most intensely personal thing Bono had done up to that point. It largely threw out the conventions of what a U2 lyric was about (God, vague sketches in poetic language, politics) and instead presented a darker, sexier, more troubled and brooding side of U2 that hadn't been experienced before.

Secondly, that tour. My God, that tour. Larger than life. Satirical as hell. Over-the-top, materialistic, confrontational and in-your-face. Gone was the blue eyed choir boy Bono of the 80s, replaced by this leather-clad, chain-smoking monster of a front-man.

Thirdly, the music was a clear break from anything they had done before, God Part II aside. More electronic than anything that had come before. A mix of industrial elements (Zoo Station), funk (Mysterious Ways), blistering rock (The Fly) and everything in between. Not since The Unforgettable Fire had they done such a startling switch in sound.

Achtung Baby is not my favourite U2 album, but I totally get the fixation.

Fair enough, but must people be stuck in 1991? If the vast majority of U2 fans are actually fixated on Achtung Baby then no wonder U2 are so worried about actually being relevant. If they want to be relevant on the next tour maybe they should not play anything from Achtung Baby at all (although I would be sad to miss out on The Fly).

As far as God is concerned, I know a few people on here seem to have a problem with U2 members believing in God, there is freedom for that. But God certainly gets a mention on Achtung Baby. I would say that- Even better than the real thing; Until the end of the world; Mysterious Ways and Acrobat all have some sort of reflection on faith in God.  (A rejection of institutional church in Acrobat is not a rejection of God.)
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on February 01, 2013, 08:42:58 AM
People are "fixated" on AB like zep fans are "fixated" on IV or Metallica fans are "fixated" on master of puppets. They are widely recognized to be those bands' best work.

And like other bands U2 goes through peaks and valleys. Not everything can be JT or AB great and not everything will be HTDAAB awful.

And not one person here has a problem with Bonos belief in god. That's just a lame straw man argument.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on February 01, 2013, 11:01:08 AM
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So why then are people fixated on Achtung Baby? It's a little myopic is it not, as if people are so consumed in AB that everything else is second rate. I don't want to live in 1991 any more.

I literally think there are two types of hard core U2 fans.    One is captivated by their spiritual side, and the other by their sonic ability, obviously captured quite well in AB.   How else to explain the lack of someone's ability to catch the Christian-based lyrics of ABOY?     I am = Yahweh, which you well know, but there is a large contingent of fans that don't know that, nor do they "get" the song.    If you don't "get it", is it really THAT good?    Apparently not.   (I think the "sonic group" would agree that the original version at least held some potential..).     I seem to always hear ABOY on the sound system at a casino, and the irony of it just cracks me up.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on February 01, 2013, 11:17:28 AM
I'm one of those that love AB, and it isn't because I'm stuck in 1991 or any other year.  I love albums that are greats and can transcend time.  AB is one of those just as albums like Dark Side of the Moon, Born to Run, Led Zeppelin IV, etc are considered greats. 

AB put together a full package of lyrics, music, and production that U2 have not matched since (imho).  I won't disagree that HTDAAB doesn't have its moments, but when you make the metaphors etc. so dense that the literal lyrics distract from the spiritual side, it's hard to appreciate it.  It's also hard to appreciate when the music and the production don't really help the album stand out.  It isn't like I don't listen to the album, but while it was something I listened to a lot when it was released (and enjoyed), it has not held my attention like AB, JT, Zooropa, and UF have.

As for the comment about their being two types of hardcore fans; it may be true, but many hardcore fans are hardcore because of both the sonic ability and spiritual side.  Yet, very rarely do U2 put both together in one album, and for those that feel that way, it could be different albums that meet that criteria, but probably not all of them.

If Bono's lyrics of late are indeed deeper than I can get, or so deep to get lost in the shallower literal side, than they probably could be better.  I also find that there are just too many little things that distract from what could be grander lyrics and songs.  Songs like Miracle Drug, Unknown Caller, ABOY, etc. have little things that just ruin the song for me lyrically. 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on February 01, 2013, 11:35:51 AM
For what it's worth, regarding the comment about AB being a perfect combination of lyrics and music, I disagree.   With the exception of MW, I was unimpressed.  The only thing I give credit to AB for is that it was a successful transition for them to go in another direction, of which countless other bands with similar aspirations failed at.  MW was the best new song to hit the airwaves in a LONG time and gave them relevance as the grunge scene emerged.  Had it not been for AB, they would either no longer be recording, or would be much further into obscurity.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on February 01, 2013, 12:16:17 PM
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So why then are people fixated on Achtung Baby? It's a little myopic is it not, as if people are so consumed in AB that everything else is second rate. I don't want to live in 1991 any more.

I can't speak for anyone else (although I would be surprised if my sentiments are exclusive to me), but one of the reasons I love '90s U2, other than its objective superiority (!), is that it all came out during a time in my life that was about as upheaving and disruptive as, well, MacPhisto himself. I was living in Europe for the bulk of the decade, and there was just something about walking the streets of those cities that changed me, and ZooTV/Pop was the soundtrack to those years.

If I were ten years younger or ten years older, I'm sure my allegiances would be elsewhere.

(But it does make me pity those who aren't the exact same age as me....)
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on February 01, 2013, 12:33:47 PM
Quote
Fair enough, but must people be stuck in 1991?

This doesn't make much sense. You can enjoy an album from any era and not be stuck in it. I enjoy albums that were made before I was even born (albums from the '60's and early '70's).  It's the quality of the album that matters, not the year it was made.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on February 01, 2013, 12:38:04 PM
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I won't disagree that HTDAAB doesn't have its moments....

Neither will I.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: imaginary friend on February 01, 2013, 12:41:46 PM
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For what it's worth, regarding the comment about AB being a perfect combination of lyrics and music, I disagree.   With the exception of MW, I was unimpressed.  The only thing I give credit to AB for is that it was a successful transition for them to go in another direction, of which countless other bands with similar aspirations failed at.  MW was the best new song to hit the airwaves in a LONG time and gave them relevance as the grunge scene emerged.  Had it not been for AB, they would either no longer be recording, or would be much further into obscurity.

It threw the doors open for them in a way that I don't think any other band ever managed to do. They threw out the '80s  baby, the '80s bathwater and the whole damn '80s house along with them and created a whole new world for themselves. Yeah, they've eclipsed even the best songs on AB several times since, but now they know they can pull off almost anything they want to do musically if they try hard enough.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Dali on February 01, 2013, 01:23:46 PM
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Pick an album you think has their best lyrics overall and I will find some clunkers.

I believe when people talk about a best album lyrically, they are speaking in a general sense.

"Salt water kisses"  lol!

A native speaker once told me (a non-native speaker) the term "wild horses" is used by surfers for a certain kind of wave, so I guess the "salt water kisses" reference sounds legit to me.

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Even the words to Window In The Skies was pure garbage.

"Window in the Skies" indeed continues the lyrical slump from the HTDAAB sessions.

But the lyrics have started to get better during NLOTH, so my guess is Bono will have written some great lyrics once again when the next album is out.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 01, 2013, 02:05:34 PM
So who here is of the opinion that U2's songwriting, particularly the lyrics, has actually improved since Achtung Baby and is still constantly improving with ever new album?

To me, they have just been recycling many old ideas.  Just about every song and album now has "love" in some lyric. How many times must they use that theme? Back in The Joshua Tree, they never used that word much.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: DGordon1 on February 01, 2013, 02:30:39 PM
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Just about every song and album now has "love" in some lyric. How many times must they use that theme? Back in The Joshua Tree, they never used that word much.

Cheers,

J

You must be kidding.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: U2OnceAgain on February 01, 2013, 02:32:55 PM
We are not living in 1991, the reason we are fixated on Actung Baby is because U2 hasn't released anything since that even gets close to that Album.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: An Cat Dubh on February 01, 2013, 03:46:12 PM
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We are not living in 1991, the reason we are fixated on Actung Baby is because U2 hasn't released anything since that even gets close to that Album.

Pop and Zooropa come close me thinks. But after that, you are right.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jc619er on February 01, 2013, 04:18:57 PM
I agree that AB was their peak all around, musically and lyrically but I would consider Zooropa on par lyrically. There's some incredible songwriting in there and Pop as well. I don't think they've matched it since but that's hard to do when you've made something that iconic. Trying to recreate lightning in a bottle is incredibly difficult.

But I think they definitely still have the ability when you hear songs like "Mercy" and "Magnificent".
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: _acrobat on February 01, 2013, 04:53:53 PM
To be honest, even though Achtung Baby is my overall favorite, lyrically TUF can't be beat.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: EnduringChill on February 01, 2013, 06:14:45 PM
Achtung Baby, in my opinion, does have the best lyrics out of any U2 album. Either because I'm extremely biased towards that album or because the lyrics speak to me more than the lyrics on other albums. I also love the lyrics on Pop, and it was the lyrics of The Joshua Tree that first drew me towards the band. I didn't know anyone could paint such pictures with words as Where The Streets Have No Name did- "The city's aflood, and our love turns to rust. We're beaten and blown by the wind, trampled in dust..." Of course, now I enjoy the imagery in countless other U2 songs a bit more. But really, I originally loved U2 because of the poetic lyrics on JT.

Anyway, to answer the question, has U2 become lyrically bankrupt? I do think they're running out of things to say. A lot of the same themes are being used over and over, and not all of the lyrics are as creative as they used to be. However, there are plenty of lines in each song that I love, and the only times a U2 song's lyrics has really bothered me were only about once an album. And there are albums in the past that have been like that- really great lyrics on most songs, and then one song with okay or bad lyrics. I think the only problem is trying to find a new, creative way to restate a relevant theme, or trying to find something new to sing about. As long as there's still vivid imagery in their music, I'll probably continue to like the lyrics overall.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: EnduringChill on February 01, 2013, 06:22:09 PM
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So why then are people fixated on Achtung Baby? It's a little myopic is it not, as if people are so consumed in AB that everything else is second rate. I don't want to live in 1991 any more.
I'm fixated on Achtung Baby because it has the best music I've ever heard on it. I'm not sure why, I just know that the music on Achtung Baby is exactly the kind of music I like and the kind of music that pleases my ears and my soul. It just happens to be my favorite U2 sound. I feel like I'll never hear anything else exactly like it. But not everything else is second rate. A lot of songs on The Joshua Tree come close (my two favorite U2 songs are from The Joshua Tree) and Zooropa comes close in terms of an album (as opposed to the music). But I do feel that U2 has never been better than Achtung Baby.

I also understand what you mean about "living in 1991" (even if I don't fully agree). Do we generally want new U2 music to sound like Achtung Baby? I don't want that. I want it to sound good in its own right.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on February 01, 2013, 06:44:55 PM
Something else to consider is Bono's third-person approach, which he employed with some success on NLOTH. When you're telling someone else's story, it's hard to run out of material.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Bads316 on February 01, 2013, 07:08:50 PM
I don't think so, although I dare say Adam and Larry could be fresh out of lyrical genius. After Pop, Bono undoubtedly changed his style of writing. The aim was to simplify and streamline, to try to say more with less, much like Dylan in the 70's or the direction Springsteen took on Born To Run. Nothing wrong with that, I admire the attempt at change, the only problem was that he isn't very good at it; in comparison to some who are and more importantly to Bono as a writer pre-00's where he never ceased to improve. NLOTH while not being anywhere near Bono's best was most definitely encouraging on the lyric front and leaves me feeling optimistic for the next record, which could very well be the start of Bono's own Indian summer as a writer. This could be the time Dylan meant when he said of Bono 'He'll be a great writer when he's finished'. He's spent the last 30 years gathering all the pieces he needs, it's time to put it together old man.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: feedback on February 01, 2013, 09:49:27 PM
Shouldn't the lyrics be just as subjective as the music? Aren't we, the listeners, entitled to use our own imagination about what the words could mean? That is what carried me through my U2 fandom for years-that fact that I am able to interpret the lyrics as to how it relates to me and my life. Yes, I have read 'Into The Heart' but I still don't care what the author's intentions were. I can't actually relate to Bono, or any member of U2 for that matter, so I'd rather pretend he's singing to me. Stupid lyrics to one person could always be brilliant poetry to somebody else.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: U2runnr on February 01, 2013, 11:59:47 PM
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So who here is of the opinion that U2's songwriting, particularly the lyrics, has actually improved since Achtung Baby and is still constantly improving with ever new album?

To me, they have just been recycling many old ideas.  Just about every song and album now has "love" in some lyric. How many times must they use that theme? Back in The Joshua Tree, they never used that word much.

Cheers,

J
The arguemnt isn't that it has improved. You stated that U2 have become "lyrically bankrupt" and I firmly believe you are false. Just because you don't like U2's recent music doesnt mean there isn't amazing stuff there.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: DGordon1 on February 02, 2013, 05:02:01 AM
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So why then are people fixated on Achtung Baby? It's a little myopic is it not, as if people are so consumed in AB that everything else is second rate. I don't want to live in 1991 any more.

I can't speak for anyone else (although I would be surprised if my sentiments are exclusive to me), but one of the reasons I love '90s U2, other than its objective superiority (!), is that it all came out during a time in my life that was about as upheaving and disruptive as, well, MacPhisto himself. I was living in Europe for the bulk of the decade, and there was just something about walking the streets of those cities that changed me, and ZooTV/Pop was the soundtrack to those years.

If I were ten years younger or ten years older, I'm sure my allegiances would be elsewhere.

(But it does make me pity those who aren't the exact same age as me....)

I think the effect of nostalgia is very strong. I got into U2 with ATYCB, and whilst I don't regard it as one of their very best, it will always hold a special place for me. It reminds me of being 13 years old and that album was the soundtrack to my summer. I think that's why music is so subjective - it reminds you of a time and place in your life.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 02, 2013, 06:37:14 AM
Some replies have been veering off-topic, such as making this thread a subjective poll of which was U2's strongest album lyrically.  And I admit I have been guilty of also pushing this thread off-topic with my replies.

I will try to steer us back - which is U2's lyrical bankruptcy.

What I really meant is that Bono is running out of new ideas because:
1. He rehashes some key phrases such as "future needs a big kiss" or "begging bowl" or "baby baby baby" or "love and lust".

2. Songs revolve around the same themes. It was novel when U2 did a Bible-inspired ending with 40. But then other Bible or Christianity-inspired endings came: Wake Up Dead Man, Grace, and something as obvious as the song title itself Yahweh.  For NLOTH, the obligatory "God" song was Magnificent.

3.  There is always a war song. Sunday Bloody Sunday was the origin, but then it was rehashed with Please, then Love And Peace, and now "I don't want to talk about the war between nations".

4.  The rest of the band start getting more lyric-writing credits in the more recent albums, perhaps signalling that Bono's well has dried up?

5.  More songs contain the word "love" in it, even up to the b-sides "I can't wait any longer for your love." Why always beat on this theme?

6.  Some songs are just filled with cliches and common metaphors or figures of speech, they sound forced and unnatural.

So while I am not sure if I can truly call them "lyrically bankrupt" - I think there is a high probably they truly are.  That is why I have posed this reflective question to the other forum members so you can all chime in and choose to agree or disagree.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: imedi on February 02, 2013, 08:49:28 AM
for me  white as snow is as good  as any  song they have written ..
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Siberian Tiger on February 02, 2013, 09:38:07 AM
"The worst of us are a long drawn out confession. The best of us are geniuses of compression."

I think this lyric can even be Bono referring to his own writing skill as much as to the journalist in the song. He too knows that "some days are better than others".

I will pay the criticism of the overuse of the word Love. Bono most often uses the word Love as a euphemism for God, and he then even goes on to spell this out in background vocals during Stand Up Comedy, which probably robs it of its subtlety. But why just use one word as a lyrical device all the time? Even if Bono wants to sing about God often, he can probably come up with varied lyrical devices to do so. So I agree he can work harder at this. I guess I listen to those lyrics differently because when ever I hear him sing the word Love I substitute the word God in place. Of course this is not true for 100% of the songs.

When it comes to the curve of lyrical development I have deeply treasured the lyrics of the past decade. The contrast being though that much of the decade has been about joy instead of darkness. There was some darkness on No Line, but more in a story telling context about the third person, instead of about the first person. Maybe Bono eventually found what he was looking for, and as such the thrill of the search has disappeared and for some this has made his lyrics a little boring.

I remember Bono talking about getting lost in the music of other artists in his youth and being completely immersed in the music and therefore in creativity. He lived and breathed creativity day and night. I think it is likely that this is still true for Edge these days, but no longer so much for Bono, because he is more immersed in the world of politics than in the world of art. I guess he knows he had paid the price for his passions, but it is likely that the art has suffered some what as a result. But at the same time, rock music does lend itself to the passion and invincibility of youth. So, in as much as I want deep lyrics I don't expect them of the rock songs anymore. This is why I think they need to explore Irish cultural roots, such as began to happen in Peace on Earth, to rediscover the depth and angst.

My reason for wanting to move on from Achtung Baby, Zooropa and Pop, and even from the last decade once new material arrives is that creativity should always live in something fresh and new. To quote 40, "I will sing, sing a new song."
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: xy on February 03, 2013, 05:28:06 AM
The in-character songs on NLOTH are awesome lyrics. The personal lyrics on ATYCLB and Bomb are clearly giving way to other things. I think Edge got more credit on ATYCLB and Bomb than NLOTH for lyrics.

I think Bono was best lyrically on UF, JT and AB.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on February 03, 2013, 07:48:02 AM
TUF lyrics are stunning and perhaps their peak.    Hard to argue though, that the perfect combination of music, lyrics, concept and landscape occurred on TJT.   
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: HyperU2 on February 03, 2013, 10:38:41 AM
It's funny because for all the bashing they get for now trying to be mainstream and play it safe nothing did that better than AB.  Mysterious Ways, EBTTRT, WGRYWH all fit the radio so well at that time, better than JT in its day.   It was only unnatural to U2 fans.    Still my favorite album though.   I think they're doing fine in this day and age lyrically, half the people that know their music don't get the lyrics anyway, never have.   
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 03, 2013, 06:30:49 PM
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It's funny because for all the bashing they get for now trying to be mainstream and play it safe nothing did that better than AB.  Mysterious Ways, EBTTRT, WGRYWH all fit the radio so well at that time, better than JT in its day.   It was only unnatural to U2 fans.    Still my favorite album though.   I think they're doing fine in this day and age lyrically, half the people that know their music don't get the lyrics anyway, never have.

The Joshua Tree was their most successful album sales-wise.

For "trying to be mainstream", their grandest attempt was POP. It was the album that spawned the most singles, and with all after the first two re-recorded or re-arranged for the single versions to make them more radio friendly. It sure was a "try" but it failed.

Back to U2's perceived lyrical bankruptcy, I am wondering if there are truly any war reporters who got moved to tears listening to Cedars Of Lebanon. Or was it just a lame attempt by Bono to mimic a persona he has no real experience about?

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: EnduringChill on February 03, 2013, 07:29:21 PM
Okay, I wanted to respond to all of these 6 points, so... sorry.

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What I really meant is that Bono is running out of new ideas because:
1. He rehashes some key phrases such as "future needs a big kiss" or "begging bowl" or "baby baby baby" or "love and lust".
I noticed that. The middle two aren't as noticeable though. And I wanted to add "vision over visibility" and "because we can, we must." Those are like Bono quoting himself and turning his ideas into lyrics.

Quote
2. Songs revolve around the same themes. It was novel when U2 did a Bible-inspired ending with 40. But then other Bible or Christianity-inspired endings came: Wake Up Dead Man, Grace, and something as obvious as the song title itself Yahweh.  For NLOTH, the obligatory "God" song was Magnificent.
I never noticed that Magnificent was about God. I thought the first verse was about a romantic partner and the second verse was about U2's fans. But I see where you're coming from, and I actually don't mind it. Somehow I don't think using Christianity-inspired endings is a sign of lyrical stagnation. I think U2 have just always been inspired by their religion and have felt the need to write many songs about it.

Quote
3.  There is always a war song. Sunday Bloody Sunday was the origin, but then it was rehashed with Please, then Love And Peace, and now "I don't want to talk about the war between nations".
This, however, is something I noticed and agree with. Don't forget Bullet The Blue Sky. I feel like U2 feels like they *have* to do one because it's expected of them. Either that or the topic of war is still something to get outraged at. But I guess it's not really outrage, and I don't think their more recent "war songs" like Love And Peace Or Else were written with anything specific in mind. So yeah, they're definitely rehashing this idea a bit too much.

Quote
4.  The rest of the band start getting more lyric-writing credits in the more recent albums, perhaps signalling that Bono's well has dried up?
That's interesting to note and very well could be true. I never noticed that the lyric-writing-credits had changed- I assumed they were credited to Bono and Edge as usual. Will have to go back and look at that...

Quote
5.  More songs contain the word "love" in it, even up to the b-sides "I can't wait any longer for your love." Why always beat on this theme?
I do agree that there is an overuse of "love" in their most recent songs. But hey, love and romance and anything that falls under that general category is a topic that is easy to write about and lends itself to a lot of interpretations (such as Mercy, which is all about the power of love and what it can do for people, and also uses "love" probably more times than any other U2 song). Love is something that can always be relied on for inspiration, I think. I don't find anything wrong with using it over and over.

Quote
6.  Some songs are just filled with cliches and common metaphors or figures of speech, they sound forced and unnatural.
Yeah... "ATM Machine..." "Intellectual tortoise (what the heck even is that?)..." But I don't notice that as much. It would be helpful to point out some examples that I can't remember off the top of my head.

I don't think lyrically "bankrupt" is exactly the right word. Maybe something that implies decline of creativity would fit better.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: DGordon1 on February 04, 2013, 02:23:22 PM
Bono used the word "love" a lot in the 80's and 90's - it's hardly something that's arisen in the last decade.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Quenchable Thirst on February 04, 2013, 04:52:43 PM
I just found a spoof article that could be relevant to this discussion.

Quote
U2 talk down ‘mediocre’ new album

Irish rockers U2 have been unusually candid in a round of interviews given on the eve of the release of their latest album, There’s Worse Ways To Kill 50 Minutes. Tired of thinking up increasingly extravagant hyperbole to make what is essentially the same as their last three albums seem like the Second Coming, the band have decided to be more realistic.

‘We realised people who want exciting, revolutionary, important music aren’t buying latter-day U2 albums are they?’ said Bono frankly, And that’s how we came up with the first single, ‘Dad-Rock Doldrums’.

Atypical critic quotes such as ‘No surprises here’, ‘What you’d expect’ and ‘Are you sure this isn’t a compilation?’ are proudly emblazoned upon promotional materials. And the strategy is paying off with crowds of frightened middle-aged men up and down the country clamoring for the album.

‘It’s the least adventurous album we’ve ever made’ says Edge. ‘Over the last few albums I’ve added more and more guitar pedals to find new sounds, the pedals were beginning to look like a keyboard. Asked about his lyrical direction on this release, Bono blows a rasberry and laughs while the rest of the band make armpit fart noises. ‘Really now’ says Bono ‘if you’re concerned about my lyrical direction then I’m concerned about you. If you must know I wrote this on a bit of paper:
 'Soaring angels take flight on the wings of love in the early light
 A new day begins in the breath that floats from a child’s eye'
. Then cut the individual words up with scissors and shook them around in a hat'

http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2012/10/25/u2-talk-down-mediocre-new-album/
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 04, 2013, 07:36:27 PM
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Bono used the word "love" a lot in the 80's and 90's - it's hardly something that's arisen in the last decade.

Just do a lyric count. Compare The Joshua Tree to any other modern album with the use of the word love. You will see great disparity there.

I remember reading about the Zooropa sessions, U2 put a list of words that were "banned" for lyrics because they were used too much.  If only they do it again for the upcoming album.  Their constant repetition of old phrases and quotes just strengthens the notion that they may truly be lyrically bankrupt already.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Unknown Caller on February 04, 2013, 08:13:39 PM
The word "baby" on Achtung Baby surely disproves that hypothesis...
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Bads316 on February 05, 2013, 05:33:40 AM
What an absolute load of bo****ks.






Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Pocket Merlin on February 05, 2013, 08:01:24 AM
"Soon" is one of the best lyrics Bono has ever written IMO. Bono hasn't lost his ability, he's just become gun-shy.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Johnny Feathers on February 05, 2013, 10:11:02 AM
I'm not sure there's an aspect of U2's music that HASN'T declined over the years, or which wasn't at its peak at AB.  Sort of fish in a barrel, isn't it?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on February 05, 2013, 12:04:44 PM
An earlier post discussed the use of Love as a metaphor for God.  U2 have done that quite a bit even in the past (not necessarily with the word Love it self but other words).  They've always danced around the religious nature of their songs to some extent and have made music that is ambiguous such that it can speak to people in many ways.   The ambiguity is what made U2 speak to more people than any specific lyrics could.

Also, looking at the word love as a flaw is tough.  A lot of music is based on that theme, although I'll admit that U2 at its best looked at love darkly (like the 90's albums did).  This brings up a thought I've had in general about modern music and older bands...

Generally, the best music seems to come from artists in their 20's and maybe 30's, and I think a lot of it speaks to the struggles these musicians go through to establish a career, support themselves, and their view of the world around them.  When musicians make it to their 30's, 40's, 50's, on up, they've likely had successes; they're making their fortunes; they're happy in life.  There isn't as much anger to talk about only happiness.  And, let's face it, the darkest music and lyrics are often the richest.  U2 are in some ways manufacturing the anger by rehashing themes that have occurred in U2 songs of the past.  I don't thing this is completely a sign of lyrical decline but rather than a complacency they have in rehashing the past because that is what succeeded before.   It's fairly obvious that their last three albums have been based on revisiting themes and styles in earlier U2 albums.  It's not horrible, but it is redundant.  I don't think that is solely because Bono can't write lyrics; it's likely and economical decision.

Bono can probably still write good lyrics, but he needs to be passionate about something and preferably something that he sees negative with the world from the individual to the collective.  U2 and the world need a slap in the face. 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 06, 2013, 01:09:09 AM
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Generally, the best music seems to come from artists in their 20's and maybe 30's, and I think a lot of it speaks to the struggles these musicians go through to establish a career, support themselves, and their view of the world around them.  When musicians make it to their 30's, 40's, 50's, on up, they've likely had successes; they're making their fortunes; they're happy in life.  There isn't as much anger to talk about only happiness.  And, let's face it, the darkest music and lyrics are often the richest.  U2 are in some ways manufacturing the anger by rehashing themes that have occurred in U2 songs of the past.  I don't thing this is completely a sign of lyrical decline but rather than a complacency they have in rehashing the past because that is what succeeded before.   It's fairly obvious that their last three albums have been based on revisiting themes and styles in earlier U2 albums.  It's not horrible, but it is redundant.  I don't think that is solely because Bono can't write lyrics; it's likely and economical decision.

Bono can probably still write good lyrics, but he needs to be passionate about something and preferably something that he sees negative with the world from the individual to the collective.  U2 and the world need a slap in the face.

About being "happy in life" - U2 did manage to pull that off well with Beautiful Day.  They have always said it is hard to convey joy in a song but U2 did it well.

As for revisiting old themes, it already seems formulaic such that every U2 album must have a "war" song, then a "God" song, then a few other things that are more habitual and viewed as necessary instead of looking at artistic pursuits.

And you are right, maybe it is not lyrical decline but more about complacency.  I still think they are musically evolving.  They never fail to find new sounds, especially The Edge.  Bono is finding ways to maximize his thinning voice and finding new sounds and methods to sing at high registers.  Clayton has made his playing more bubbly - something I don't personally like but you have to give credit to him.  Mullen Jr. has been adding new licks to his drumming and bringing new life and sophistication to even older songs (the trained ear will notice that he drummed Pride differently in 360 Tour that all the other tours).

If only U2 were not this "complacent" and Bono could someone act like a man writing because his life depending on it, with some urgency as if the very existence and relevance of the band was at stake, then perhaps U2 could avoid this lyrical stagnation. 

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: BringCitrus on February 06, 2013, 08:02:05 AM
I haven't read through the 7 pages of this topic yet but I've discussed this before and thought I'd share my views, which are probably pretty similar to other things already said here by others. Bono's lyrics in the mid/late 80's were so much more poetic yet vague enough for people to find a relation to. I think a major reason why TUF is my favorite album is due to the landscapes that are painted in those words. Follow that up with TJT, which, to me, tells a story in each song (i.e. the miner in RHMT, the priest in Exit, the lovers/drug addicts in RTSS, etc.). It was said that there were 3 characters in NLOTH, but their stories just aren't as relatable or understandable to the stories in TJT. It's difficult to make sense of them and what's going on. I think R&H and AB (and Zooropa to some extent) started showing off Bono's witty side. Lots of contradictions and such in songs like WLCTT and The Fly. And though I love Pop, I feel there were songs on there like Miami and The Playboy Mansion where the lyrics started to become almost too specific to subjects I could never relate to. I think HTDAAB actually went back to more relatable themes but by then the poetry was gone. Does this make sense to anyone else?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on February 07, 2013, 11:44:11 AM
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Generally, the best music seems to come from artists in their 20's and maybe 30's, and I think a lot of it speaks to the struggles these musicians go through to establish a career, support themselves, and their view of the world around them.  When musicians make it to their 30's, 40's, 50's, on up, they've likely had successes; they're making their fortunes; they're happy in life.  There isn't as much anger to talk about only happiness.  And, let's face it, the darkest music and lyrics are often the richest.  U2 are in some ways manufacturing the anger by rehashing themes that have occurred in U2 songs of the past.  I don't thing this is completely a sign of lyrical decline but rather than a complacency they have in rehashing the past because that is what succeeded before.   It's fairly obvious that their last three albums have been based on revisiting themes and styles in earlier U2 albums.  It's not horrible, but it is redundant.  I don't think that is solely because Bono can't write lyrics; it's likely and economical decision.

Bono can probably still write good lyrics, but he needs to be passionate about something and preferably something that he sees negative with the world from the individual to the collective.  U2 and the world need a slap in the face.

If only U2 were not this "complacent" and Bono could someone act like a man writing because his life depending on it, with some urgency as if the very existence and relevance of the band was at stake, then perhaps U2 could avoid this lyrical stagnation. 

Cheers,

J


And that's the problem.  It's easy to be complacent when you can ride the shirt-tails of your past.  They can't identify with the lower classes, and if they try to it sounds hypocritical. 

It's sad to think, however, that Bono's lyrics may rely on an urgency to keep relevant.  I can't help but think that's what he is doing, but it is a circular path.  They need something outside their career to give them urgency.

I also agree with the previous poster about the poetic nature of U2's lyrics.  It would be interesting to see how much effort went into writing lyrics back in the 80's vs. now.  I bet the lyrics just flowed.  I still think they do but they get over-edited and lost.  So many better lyrics were lost with HTDAAB because of this (not that they would have met the quality of earlier albums).

The ambiguity of their lyrics was a strength with their poetic nature, yet none of the themes were so deep that they were a challenge to grasp.  Fans could easily grasp a meaning that worked for them, yet we could see how other listeners might get their own meanings from each song.  I do see that the ambiguity is possibly still there when reading fans discussions of the potential biblical references in HTDAAB songs, but they are so deep that it is a struggle to reach their meaning, and it often leads to wonder if we aren't trying to make something out of what is really nothing. 

Oh well, the band does show signs of progression.  NLOTH was very close to being a masterpiece of an album, but it has a couple of songs that in essence ruin it.  It lacks coherence as an album, not because these few songs are bad (many would argue they are) but rather because they are out of place.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on February 07, 2013, 01:09:23 PM
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"Soon" is one of the best lyrics Bono has ever written IMO. Bono hasn't lost his ability, he's just become gun-shy.

Really? Soon is the best that Bono has done? Not even in his top 50 in my opinion, and not even close to So Cruel, Please, The Wanderer, The First Time, I Still Haven't Found, One, Until the End of the World, When Love Comes to Town, Bullet the Blue Sky, etc.....

Soon Lyrics:

Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 
Sing yourself on down the street
 Sing yourself right off your feet
 Sing yourself away from victory
 And from defeat
 
Sing yourself with fife and drum
 Sing yourself to overcome
 The thought that someone has lost
 And someone else has won
 
Soon
 Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: RunningtoStandstill (The League of Extraordinary BonoPeople) on February 07, 2013, 01:34:16 PM
To write good lyrics, bad stuff has to happen to you.  Or good stuff.  Inspiring stuff.  Anything that gives you a reason to sing something.  You can't possibly expect a man in his 50s with a comfy life to be experiencing the same things that made him sing when he was in his 20s or 30s can you? The lyrics on NLOtH were damn good enough for someone who clearly didn't need to get them out of his head.  Hence I think why bono chose to do characters instead of first person.  There's only so much we can get out of him, folks.  He's singing about things some people might just not relate to anymore.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: kathryn on February 07, 2013, 06:35:31 PM
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To write good lyrics, bad stuff has to happen to you.  Or good stuff.  Inspiring stuff.  Anything that gives you a reason to sing something.  You can't possibly expect a man in his 50s with a comfy life to be experiencing the same things that made him sing when he was in his 20s or 30s can you? The lyrics on NLOtH were damn good enough for someone who clearly didn't need to get them out of his head.  Hence I think why bono chose to do characters instead of first person.  There's only so much we can get out of him, folks.  He's singing about things some people might just not relate to anymore.
Heck, I can still relate to the lyrics. I think they will always have it in them. Why? They just have to dig deeper into their soul to find the words to relate. Since my son's death I have listened to them often. The music helps to carry me through my darkest times. It shows we are all human and can relate. We change as we age. Bono has it in him. We need to accept him for the man he is now. I will always accept them. I admire them so very much. They all can not be winners...but hey, when he does get it right? Wow! It just brings it all home.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: striker on February 08, 2013, 02:52:34 PM
Definitely not "lyrically bankrupt," but they've changed.

And people forget that bands tend to write some of their best work while under the influence of something. They're no different than the Beatles/Stones, or the popular bands that came before them--they've sampled and it showed in their early 90's work.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on February 09, 2013, 09:41:13 AM
NLOTH has some pretty fantastic lyrics for someone who's been doing this for 30 years. Moment of Surrender, the verses in Magnificent, Being Born, White As Snow and Cedars of Lebanon are all pretty spectacular.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 09, 2013, 08:53:36 PM
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Bono's lyrics in the mid/late 80's were so much more poetic yet vague enough for people to find a relation to. I think a major reason why TUF is my favorite album is due to the landscapes that are painted in those words. Follow that up with TJT, which, to me, tells a story in each song (i.e. the miner in RHMT, the priest in Exit, the lovers/drug addicts in RTSS, etc.). It was said that there were 3 characters in NLOTH, but their stories just aren't as relatable or understandable to the stories in TJT. It's difficult to make sense of them and what's going on. I think R&H and AB (and Zooropa to some extent) started showing off Bono's witty side. Lots of contradictions and such in songs like WLCTT and The Fly. And though I love Pop, I feel there were songs on there like Miami and The Playboy Mansion where the lyrics started to become almost too specific to subjects I could never relate to. I think HTDAAB actually went back to more relatable themes but by then the poetry was gone. Does this make sense to anyone else?

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And that's the problem.  It's easy to be complacent when you can ride the shirt-tails of your past.  They can't identify with the lower classes, and if they try to it sounds hypocritical. 

It's sad to think, however, that Bono's lyrics may rely on an urgency to keep relevant.  I can't help but think that's what he is doing, but it is a circular path.  They need something outside their career to give them urgency.

I also agree with the previous poster about the poetic nature of U2's lyrics.  It would be interesting to see how much effort went into writing lyrics back in the 80's vs. now.  I bet the lyrics just flowed.  I still think they do but they get over-edited and lost.  So many better lyrics were lost with HTDAAB because of this (not that they would have met the quality of earlier albums).

The ambiguity of their lyrics was a strength with their poetic nature, yet none of the themes were so deep that they were a challenge to grasp.  Fans could easily grasp a meaning that worked for them, yet we could see how other listeners might get their own meanings from each song.  I do see that the ambiguity is possibly still there when reading fans discussions of the potential biblical references in HTDAAB songs, but they are so deep that it is a struggle to reach their meaning, and it often leads to wonder if we aren't trying to make something out of what is really nothing. 

Oh well, the band does show signs of progression.  NLOTH was very close to being a masterpiece of an album, but it has a couple of songs that in essence ruin it.  It lacks coherence as an album, not because these few songs are bad (many would argue they are) but rather because they are out of place.

Very well said about the ambiguity of lyrics versus those that are too specific to have a bigger audience to relate to it.

I also agree that Bono was more poetic in the past.  His lyrics now seem to be move "everyday" and more "specific".

Perhaps he is running out of universal ideas that can hit every listener, and his lyrics are more selective now in the audience it can reach or who can relate to it.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Edges Cat on February 10, 2013, 01:19:01 AM
It's one thing to write interesting lyrics -- it's another thing entirely making a melody out of them.

NLOTH has terrific lyrics, particularly the title song. I'm also a fan of Standup Comedy's lyrics ("Josephine be careful, of small men with big ideas"... "Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady."). Bono's a lot more self-deprecating these days -- most of you should remember the video of Bono remastering The Joshua Tree, and wincing at the earnestness of his younger self. Whether a songwriter, poet, or novelist, everyone's writing style changes with age and are never what they were two decades ago. "What happened to the beauty I had, inside of me."
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: singnomore on February 10, 2013, 02:44:21 PM
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It's one thing to write interesting lyrics -- it's another thing entirely making a melody out of them.

NLOTH has terrific lyrics, particularly the title song. I'm also a fan of Standup Comedy's lyrics ("Josephine be careful, of small men with big ideas"... "Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady."). Bono's a lot more self-deprecating these days -- most of you should remember the video of Bono remastering The Joshua Tree, and wincing at the earnestness of his younger self. Whether a songwriter, poet, or novelist, everyone's writing style changes with age and are never what they were two decades ago. "What happened to the beauty I had, inside of me."

Agree - age and experience of the world changes most people's perspective on things. So the context may be different which may be interpreted by some as redundant?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: goldtoad on February 12, 2013, 09:33:36 PM
U2 is not lyrically bankrupt. NLOTH had some great lyrics, but it was hit and miss. 
I think song writing has become more difficult for Bono. He has a lot more distractions
in his life than he did in the 80s and 90s and he's been doing it for 30 years, so it has
to be very difficult to come up with fresh ideas. If Bono wants U2 to stay relevant,
he will need to spend a few months focusing primarily on the new U2 album. 

I love the spirtuality in U2's music, but I would like to see Bono return to a more abstract
lyrics like Achtung Baby on the new album - The spirituality was still there but in deeper layers
of the songs. 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Pocket Merlin on February 12, 2013, 10:32:22 PM
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"Soon" is one of the best lyrics Bono has ever written IMO. Bono hasn't lost his ability, he's just become gun-shy.

Really? Soon is the best that Bono has done? Not even in his top 50 in my opinion, and not even close to So Cruel, Please, The Wanderer, The First Time, I Still Haven't Found, One, Until the End of the World, When Love Comes to Town, Bullet the Blue Sky, etc.....

Soon Lyrics:

Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 
Sing yourself on down the street
 Sing yourself right off your feet
 Sing yourself away from victory
 And from defeat
 
Sing yourself with fife and drum
 Sing yourself to overcome
 The thought that someone has lost
 And someone else has won
 
Soon
 Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 Soon, soon
 

Most of those other songs are fantastic, you're right. "Soon" isn't a finished, completely fleshed-out work; I was only speaking in terms of, say thinking of the chorus lines in particular versus the chorus of any other song, or any isolated block of lyrics. But the sheer transcendence of those lines in "Soon", how they sum up a paradigm about spiritual equality in contrast with the "winners" and "losers" of this world, is just phenomenal, and it's not something that's as commonly written about. The concise precision of the lyrics make them phenomenal.

If I were to compare them to some of those other songs you'd listed, I'd say, yeah, they're better. "So Cruel" is poetic, but it's got some kind of cliche and facile lines in it, especially with the hook: "Sweetheart, you're so cruel." Well, OK. Not that there wasn't any emotion behind the writing, but I think a robot could have come up with that one.

I love "The First Time" too, but again, a lot of the lines are kind of cliche and simple: "I've got a lover. A lover like no other. She got soul soul soul sweet soul." It's kind of a repeat of the sentiment of about a bazillion other songs. I know, the lyric goes on and develops into a sort of prodigal son idea. "Soon" doesn't have a wide arc to develop meaning over the course of a standard-form length, but what my point is, is that there's a density and uniqueness of meaning in the lyrics of "Soon" that isn't found very often in lyrics.

Anyway, the whole idea of "Soon" is kind of to get beyond figuring out the winners and losers anyway...so maybe this is some, er...poetic irony? :)
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Pocket Merlin on February 12, 2013, 10:40:37 PM
And right after I posted that, I started listening to "City of Blinding Lights" and rediscovered what a great line "Neon heart, day-glow eyes, city lit by fireflies, they're advertising in the skies for people like us"

Maybe I need to stop spending so much time on this forum. Ironic how my love of U2 has compelled me to come here...where my love of U2 gets torn apart by supercritics.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 13, 2013, 05:29:25 AM
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And right after I posted that, I started listening to "City of Blinding Lights" and rediscovered what a great line "Neon heart, day-glow eyes, city lit by fireflies, they're advertising in the skies for people like us"

Maybe I need to stop spending so much time on this forum. Ironic how my love of U2 has compelled me to come here...where my love of U2 gets torn apart by supercritics.

Just because one is of advanced age and on the fringes of irrelevancy does not mean one is not capable of occasionally "turning back the clock" and displaying "flashes of brilliance" which was more prevalent back in their heydey.

While the lyrical well was clearly on the decline the past few albums, they still managed a few good ones now and then.  But the lyrical collapse exhibited in No Line On The Horizon, coupled with the lyrical atrocities of the "new" succeeding songs like Mercy and North Star lead me to question if the bank has finally gone empty with not even a flicker of sporadic brilliance remaining.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo on February 13, 2013, 06:05:11 AM
What about Every Breaking Wave, jick? I couldn't help but notice you left it out of your criticism of the new songs.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Bads316 on February 13, 2013, 06:42:57 AM
If it were empty they wouldn't be writing at all. It's just a thinly veiled dig at NLOTH, an album that many here see as an improvement, lyrically at least, over the previous ten years and the previous two pieces of work.

Also a good line does not make a good lyric, it just makes a good line.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: striker on February 13, 2013, 07:37:30 AM
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And right after I posted that, I started listening to "City of Blinding Lights" and rediscovered what a great line "Neon heart, day-glow eyes, city lit by fireflies, they're advertising in the skies for people like us"

Maybe I need to stop spending so much time on this forum. Ironic how my love of U2 has compelled me to come here...where my love of U2 gets torn apart by supercritics.
Yeah, don't lose that innocence.

Jick, do you happen to write songs? I'd like to hear your work if you do.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 13, 2013, 08:21:44 AM
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What about Every Breaking Wave, jick? I couldn't help but notice you left it out of your criticism of the new songs.

Every Breaking Wave was not released to the public so it is "unfinished."  That would be tantamount to me criticizing the HTDAAB-era demo of "Mercy".

Meanwhile, Mercy was released in Wide Awake In Europe while North Star was in the Transformers movie.

There is a valid distinction right there.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 13, 2013, 08:24:52 AM
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And right after I posted that, I started listening to "City of Blinding Lights" and rediscovered what a great line "Neon heart, day-glow eyes, city lit by fireflies, they're advertising in the skies for people like us"

Maybe I need to stop spending so much time on this forum. Ironic how my love of U2 has compelled me to come here...where my love of U2 gets torn apart by supercritics.
Yeah, don't lose that innocence.

Jick, do you happen to write songs? I'd like to hear your work if you do.

I don't write songs, I prefer to listen to songs and critique them. :)

As for the praise of "City Of Blinding Lights", I do love the line "Time won't leave me as I am / Time won't take the boy out of this man."  It is a motto I live by.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: U2runnr on February 13, 2013, 02:56:03 PM
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What about Every Breaking Wave, jick? I couldn't help but notice you left it out of your criticism of the new songs.

Every Breaking Wave was not released to the public so it is "unfinished."  That would be tantamount to me criticizing the HTDAAB-era demo of "Mercy".

Meanwhile, Mercy was released in Wide Awake In Europe while North Star was in the Transformers movie.

There is a valid distinction right there.

Cheers,

J
No, it is not a valid distinction. All songs are unfinished as we have heard them.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on February 13, 2013, 03:05:10 PM
You know, a lot of the arguments are dependent on the listener, too.  Many who are critical of U2's lyric writing of late are older fans who identify with the lyrics U2 wrote before 2000.  I'm critical of what they write now as much as anyone, but those who really like what U2 have done recently find more meaning and greatness in lyrics than even I do.

A case in point is that I have found HTDAAB a lyrically weak album, yet there are many that think it is quite a strong album. Given some of the metaphors pointed out in other discussions, they would not be bad.  Yet, my instinct is still that they aren't that great. 

It all goes back to U2 trying to stay relevant.  In the process of gaining new fans they are alienating a lot of us older fans who struggle, can't, or even won't identify with their lyrics.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Inishfree on February 13, 2013, 05:23:36 PM
Love U2, but Bono is not the greatest song writer.  I will run off and hide now.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on February 13, 2013, 06:19:43 PM
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Love U2, but Bono is not the greatest song writer.  I will run off and hide now.

At his best he's right up there, definately not as consistent as greats like Dylan or Springsteen, but his best work can go head to head with anyone.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 13, 2013, 11:36:00 PM
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What about Every Breaking Wave, jick? I couldn't help but notice you left it out of your criticism of the new songs.

Every Breaking Wave was not released to the public so it is "unfinished."  That would be tantamount to me criticizing the HTDAAB-era demo of "Mercy".

Meanwhile, Mercy was released in Wide Awake In Europe while North Star was in the Transformers movie.

There is a valid distinction right there.

Cheers,

J
No, it is not a valid distinction. All songs are unfinished as we have heard them.

POP was the only album U2 has declared as "unfinished" in an official publication, U2 By U2.

Hence, I have been more lenient  with it and not too critical of its lyrical shortcomings.  It was actually a very good exercise - lyric-wise - for unfinished U2 work.

It is their more recent direction that makes me question their lyric bank.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on February 14, 2013, 09:08:05 AM
It seems to me that U2 is better off with lyrics when they are rushed or "unfinished".  Look at early versions to their songs (Native Son) or even rushed or quick albums, Zooropa or Pop.  The lyrics are actually quite good.  I feel like the lack of finishing on Pop only hurt on the basis of production and mixing.  More time probably would have made a cleaner production, but they would possibly have rewritten lyrics for the worse.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on February 14, 2013, 02:09:39 PM
I had No Line on in my car today and had to cringe at some of the awful lyrics in the middle of the album

Everybody needs to cry or needs to spit
Every sweet tooth needs just a little hit
Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot

I'm gonna fall down if I can't stand up for your love

C'mon, ye people ,We're made of stars
C'mon, ye people, Stand up then sit down for your love

You free me from the dark dream
Candy floss, ice cream

That's someone's stuff they're blowing up
We're into growing up


Those are pretty bad, but then you see a song like Moment of Surrender and it shows that Bono still has the ability, he's just not that consistent anymore, or maybe he isn't putting the effort needed.
 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile on February 14, 2013, 02:27:02 PM
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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Johnny Feathers on February 14, 2013, 02:32:58 PM
I will say this: while many folks seem to criticize Bono for going back to the well, I don't think that's really the case.  NLOTH, as much as I loathe the album, was at least, in part, an attempt to write differently, by using the third person POV.  It's something he hadn't really done before, writing "in character", or at least so specifically from a character's point of view.

That said, those lyrics So Cruel mentioned are just abysmal.  One more album like that, and I will happily stop following the band.  Except for reissues, or whatever.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on February 14, 2013, 02:43:57 PM
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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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 17, 2013, 06:22:10 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
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: dirtdrybonesandstone on February 17, 2013, 08:30:25 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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: BringCitrus 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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo 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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick 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
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo 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).
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick 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
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile 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."
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Quenchable Thirst 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!
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Droo 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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile 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.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby 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 ?

Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile 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?
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: JTBaby on February 18, 2013, 01:01:03 PM
Don't forget "loose electricity"
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: The Exile 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....
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick 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
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick 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?

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
Don't forget "loose electricity"
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

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
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Bads316 on February 18, 2013, 04:12:18 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?

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
Don't forget "loose electricity"
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login

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


:)
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: emalvick on February 19, 2013, 11:12:27 AM
Repeating a word or phrase in songs isn't a bad thing unless it becomes chronic.  For instance, dream out loud is something that makes U2, U2...  I am not going to knock them for something like that... Now if it becomes more extensive, than their could be issues or if song after song are making use of old ideas.  I do think that is more of a problem than the repetition of any one phrase or idea.  In other words, the repetition of a word or two in multiple songs is not a sign of lyrical bankruptcy.  U2 aren't the only musicians to use love in many places.  It is a common theme of music.  Religion and spirituality can be too.

Rather, it is how the words are put together.  When all the examples of cringe-worthy lyrics come forth, they are the sentences that are cringe-worthy.  It is occasionally words when we look at items such as the tech-speak or specific vs. vague descriptions.

I do find the tech-speak a bit bothersome, but it isn't necessarily new.  They used similar modern/consumer/tech language in Zooropa (the song) as well as other places.  What I hate about tech references is when they aren't really used right or they are talking about something with a limited breadth.  Speaking about items and actions in a Mac OS just sounds silly.  They could have been more vague and said the same thing without sounding silly.  It will sound even worse in 10-20 years when the OS's have changed so much no-one will fully know what they are talking about.

Thinking about the example Jick made about records and CD's... That doesn't bother me.  Records and LP's were a long lasting technology that connect with the music industry.  I suppose cell phones and ATM machines are more broad, but they could have done better; maybe it won't seem that bad in 10 years there.  I think it just ends up in context and use.  I like subtlety in lyrics, which is why I think the technological references in Zooropa and Lemon work for me while the cheesy, cliche use is bothersome in a song like Some Days Are Better Than Others (to keep with the same album for good and bad).  U2 have, in fact, had bad songs even in their best times.

Ultimately, as this thread goes on, I see that lyric writing definitely isn't easy.  And, their lyrics are still not bad with respect to most other bands and musicians out there.  Of course there are better lyricists, but it seems there are fewer and fewer good ones overall.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Pocket Merlin on February 20, 2013, 11:40:19 AM
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Repeating a word or phrase in songs isn't a bad thing unless it becomes chronic.  For instance, dream out loud is something that makes U2, U2...  I am not going to knock them for something like that... Now if it becomes more extensive, than their could be issues or if song after song are making use of old ideas.  I do think that is more of a problem than the repetition of any one phrase or idea.  In other words, the repetition of a word or two in multiple songs is not a sign of lyrical bankruptcy.  U2 aren't the only musicians to use love in many places.  It is a common theme of music.  Religion and spirituality can be too.

Rather, it is how the words are put together.  When all the examples of cringe-worthy lyrics come forth, they are the sentences that are cringe-worthy.  It is occasionally words when we look at items such as the tech-speak or specific vs. vague descriptions.

I do find the tech-speak a bit bothersome, but it isn't necessarily new.  They used similar modern/consumer/tech language in Zooropa (the song) as well as other places.  What I hate about tech references is when they aren't really used right or they are talking about something with a limited breadth.  Speaking about items and actions in a Mac OS just sounds silly.  They could have been more vague and said the same thing without sounding silly.  It will sound even worse in 10-20 years when the OS's have changed so much no-one will fully know what they are talking about.

Thinking about the example Jick made about records and CD's... That doesn't bother me.  Records and LP's were a long lasting technology that connect with the music industry.  I suppose cell phones and ATM machines are more broad, but they could have done better; maybe it won't seem that bad in 10 years there.  I think it just ends up in context and use.  I like subtlety in lyrics, which is why I think the technological references in Zooropa and Lemon work for me while the cheesy, cliche use is bothersome in a song like Some Days Are Better Than Others (to keep with the same album for good and bad).  U2 have, in fact, had bad songs even in their best times.

Ultimately, as this thread goes on, I see that lyric writing definitely isn't easy.  And, their lyrics are still not bad with respect to most other bands and musicians out there.  Of course there are better lyricists, but it seems there are fewer and fewer good ones overall.

What lyrics from "Some Days Are Better Than Others" are technological? Or do you just mean they were cheesy in general?

I personally LOVE that song and all of its lyrics.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Tumbling Dice on February 20, 2013, 12:47:45 PM
The rot set in with Zooropa when Bono sang the slogan of German car maker Audi.

They should have retired then and there.  In shame.



Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on February 20, 2013, 04:02:32 PM
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Repeating a word or phrase in songs isn't a bad thing unless it becomes chronic.  For instance, dream out loud is something that makes U2, U2...  I am not going to knock them for something like that... Now if it becomes more extensive, than their could be issues or if song after song are making use of old ideas.  I do think that is more of a problem than the repetition of any one phrase or idea.  In other words, the repetition of a word or two in multiple songs is not a sign of lyrical bankruptcy.  U2 aren't the only musicians to use love in many places.  It is a common theme of music.  Religion and spirituality can be too.

Rather, it is how the words are put together.  When all the examples of cringe-worthy lyrics come forth, they are the sentences that are cringe-worthy.  It is occasionally words when we look at items such as the tech-speak or specific vs. vague descriptions.

I do find the tech-speak a bit bothersome, but it isn't necessarily new.  They used similar modern/consumer/tech language in Zooropa (the song) as well as other places.  What I hate about tech references is when they aren't really used right or they are talking about something with a limited breadth.  Speaking about items and actions in a Mac OS just sounds silly.  They could have been more vague and said the same thing without sounding silly.  It will sound even worse in 10-20 years when the OS's have changed so much no-one will fully know what they are talking about.

Thinking about the example Jick made about records and CD's... That doesn't bother me.  Records and LP's were a long lasting technology that connect with the music industry.  I suppose cell phones and ATM machines are more broad, but they could have done better; maybe it won't seem that bad in 10 years there.  I think it just ends up in context and use.  I like subtlety in lyrics, which is why I think the technological references in Zooropa and Lemon work for me while the cheesy, cliche use is bothersome in a song like Some Days Are Better Than Others (to keep with the same album for good and bad).  U2 have, in fact, had bad songs even in their best times.

Ultimately, as this thread goes on, I see that lyric writing definitely isn't easy.  And, their lyrics are still not bad with respect to most other bands and musicians out there.  Of course there are better lyricists, but it seems there are fewer and fewer good ones overall.

U2's use of the word "love" has become more predominant over the years.  Doesn't that become tiring and repetitive? 

Also, their songwriting has become formulaic with obligatory album tracks: ear-candy song, spiritual song, and war song.  In the past, they just stumbled into those kinds of songs by where the direction would lead them.  Since POP, it has been mandatory to do a Sunday Bloody Sunday encore (Please, Peace On Earth, Love And Peace, Get On Your Boots or that war correspondent last song) or a "40" Bible-inspired song (Wake Up Dead Man, Grace, Yahweh, Magnificent).  Things are much more formulaic now.

The use of Mac phrases makes me cringe, and partly because I am a Windows guy. The cd's and LP records comment I made was about it being permissible if it is not essential to the song (like it is in Unknown Caller), or if the song is really intended to be a polaroid shot of that exact moment in time with specific references (like Playboy Mansion).  As some have said here, Unknown Caller starts with a strong opening line then goes into garbage.  It becomes even more cringeworthy when U2 tried to let the crowd since to the computer-derived choruses (see Rose Bowl DVD) during 360 shows.  It's like a song that doesn't have an identity - not sure if it wants to be as vague and as universal as One or if it is to be dated and specific like Playboy Mansion.

There seems to be lack of lyrical commitment and direction on U2's part, especially in the recent song albums.  At the end of the day, U2 can't always rely on The Edge's heavenly delay-ridden chimes, or Mullen's unparalleled precise tasteful drumming to save every song.  Lyrics do matter, and the good ones are getting few and far between as of late.

I hope they will make a lyrical comeback and wordy return to form in their next album.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on December 15, 2013, 09:37:18 AM
Wow, look what I said almost one year ago.

And read together with the title of U2's latest song...

Perhaps the answer to "Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt" is two words.

Ordinary Love.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Borack on December 15, 2013, 10:00:11 AM
... or perhaps two other words repeated ... "same old, same old".

Be well and thanks for both creating then reviving this thread.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: ZooClothes on December 15, 2013, 09:12:55 PM
No.

Are YOU tough enough for ordinary love? Can extraordinary love exist without ordinary love? How much must we go through before this sea that throws us together turns us into polished stones? After all this time and all the different kinds of love Bono and U2 have dissected, we bring it all the way back to the foundation. After reaching for the stars, Bono lands his feet squarely on the ground and starts from square one. I love it. And looking at NLOTH, songs like the title track, FEZ, Cedars of Lebanon, Breathe (even with the "love you can't defeat" line), Unknown Caller, Crazy Tonight, and GOYB don't really have much to do with love per se.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: codeguy on December 15, 2013, 11:51:03 PM
U2 continues to get better lyrically over the years.

I've been in every black hole at the altar of the dark star.
Yahweh, why the dark before the dawn?
See the world in green and blue, see china right in front of you, see the canyons broken by clouds, see the tuna fleets clearing the sea out....
The roar that lies on the other side of silence, The forest fire that is fear so deny it...
The worst of us are a long drawn out confession, The best of us are geniuses of compression

I know that we don't talk, I'm sick of it all, Can you hear me when I sing??
You're the reason I sing! You're the reason why the opera is in me

I'm in the waiting room, Can't see for the smoke, I think of you and your holy book While the rest of us choke

From the freckled hills to the steel and glass canyons, from the stony fields to hanging steel from sky.

Just a few samples of their lyrical prowess in recent years. Lyrically bankrupt my .......

The 80s was four kids making rock....but time gave us polished stone!
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: an tha on December 16, 2013, 01:27:14 AM
Lyrically lazy, often - would be my shout.

'love' has been overused badly down the years even in the bands better songs. What has got worse is the cheesyness of the lyrics as the songs have become 'happier' by and large in the 00s.

Of course every album has dodgy lyrics at times but its the themes that have disappointed me most - bono is a better lyricist when he writes grittier lyrics, he gets very cliched when he is writing happier songs - but also he has lost a lot of the subtlety when writing the more 'angry' songs.

I suppose it gets harder the more you have written, harder to find new themes, harder to not repeat yourself and harder to be inventive.

When he gets it right he is still potent, but the highs have become less high and the lows lower.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on December 16, 2013, 03:36:03 AM
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... or perhaps two other words repeated ... "same old, same old".

Be well and thanks for both creating then reviving this thread.

Just like U2 keep on reviving "love" in their lyrics and song titles.

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: InsiDesOurce3 on December 16, 2013, 07:09:04 AM
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... or perhaps two other words repeated ... "same old, same old".

Be well and thanks for both creating then reviving this thread.

Just like U2 keep on reviving "love" in their lyrics and song titles.

Cheers,

J

Good point. Are there any other "words" they over use?

Cheers,

IS3
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: neilkap on December 16, 2013, 07:53:22 AM
What do you mean "finally" ?

Lyrically it's been all downhill after Pop.

And still heading downhill apparently.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Midnight is Where the Day Begins on December 16, 2013, 09:58:08 AM
Boy... people love to complain.

That's the internet for you.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: neilkap on December 16, 2013, 10:09:09 AM
That's the internet.

People complain.

People complain about people complaining.

Ad infinitum.


Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Bads316 on December 16, 2013, 10:21:02 AM
He's completely changed his style of writing, you either like it or you don't (I don't for the most part) but let's not act as if he's just simply getting worse (or better) at the same thing. It's evolution baby, the end result might just be worth it.

Fascinating subject though, if I were to chat with him about anything it would be this.   



 
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: Johnny Feathers on December 16, 2013, 11:33:17 AM
Funny enough, U2 at the End of the World tells of some girls who were tired of U2 writing "love songs".  This was either before or after Achtung Baby had been released.  One can imagine they jumped off the U2 train sometime since then.

For me, yeah, Bono has relied on platitudes and "clever" couplets for years now.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: So Cruel on December 16, 2013, 12:44:11 PM
At his peak Bono in my mind was one of the best ever. Lyrically songs like So Cruel, One, The Wanderer, Please, etc.. are right up there with the best of Dylan, Springsteen, Townshend, Lennon. His great lyrics are few and far between now. Every album has a few gems like Sometimes You Can't Make it on your Own or Moment of Surrender but for every gem there's some complete duds like Peace on Earth, Unknown Caller, I'll Go Crazy Tonight, or Get on Your Boots. As he's paying less attention to his music his craft is suffering. The consistency is gone.
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on December 16, 2013, 10:42:25 PM
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Good point. Are there any other "words" they over use?

Cheers,

IS3

I am not really sure.

But I read that during the Zooropa sessions, they made a list of words that were "banned" from being in the lyrics because they were overused.  U2 really aimed to make that album different and the result was one of their most beautiful albums that has stood the test of time and would still be innovative if released today.

Now, I don't think they make a list of banned words.  They probably go into the studio thinking: "how to use love in a song for the nth time."

Cheers,

J
Title: Re: Has U2 Finally Become Lyrically Bankrupt?
Post by: jick on December 16, 2013, 10:48:17 PM
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He's completely changed his style of writing, you either like it or you don't (I don't for the most part) but let's not act as if he's just simply getting worse (or better) at the same thing. It's evolution baby, the end result might just be worth it.

Fascinating subject though, if I were to chat with him about anything it would be this.

There is some sense here.

I recently revisited something I last did over a decade ago.  If someone would tell me to recreate what I did over a decade ago, it would be nearly impossible.  There is evolution.  It is like asking Bono to sing like 1987 with the same phrasing and diction, or The Edge using the same effects style down to the last tone. It's just not possible.

So I guess lyrically, U2's style have evolved.  But is it evolution for the better or have they really become lyrically bankrupt?  Hmmmm...


Cheers,

J