Author Topic: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2  (Read 8724 times)

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What was wrong with their last album?

I have no idea why SOI gets so much heat, but it annoys me.  It's a pretty solid album with some really good tunes.  It's not a masterpiece by any stretch

This. It's not that I expect a masterpiece every time but I wish they would stop claiming it's their best album every time. It provokes my expectations.

Put yourself in their shoes. "We think this is our 5th best album. Not great but decent enough. Hope you like it."

I understand that but It seems like in the run up to an album, they are constantly talking about how great the album is & then after the album is released, they talk about all the things wrong with it. I just wish they were more confident at this stage.

Offline shineinthesummernight

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Insecurity is part of Bono's nature, I'm afraid.  His father was a critical parent and you probably never really get over that.  Not to get all psychoanalytical and all.

Offline Kmama07

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What was wrong with their last album?

I have no idea why SOI gets so much heat, but it annoys me.  It's a pretty solid album with some really good tunes.  It's not a masterpiece by any stretch

This. It's not that I expect a masterpiece every time but I wish they would stop claiming it's their best album every time. It provokes my expectations.

Put yourself in their shoes. "We think this is our 5th best album. Not great but decent enough. Hope you like it."
Hilarious! (I'm laughing about the "put yourself in their shoes" quote... Can't figure out how to bold just that quote). 
Anyhow, I must admit initially I wasn't a huge fan of SOI. For whatever reason it took me a few times listening to it in shuffle mode rather than front to back to get into a groove with it. I appreciate it now more than when it was released and am looking forward to what SOE will bring.

Offline soloyan

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I think U2 raised the bar so high that sometimes they are failing by their own standards. But, putting things into perspective, most fans of most bands would kill for their band to fail as much as U2 do.

Offline trevgreg

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This. It's not that I expect a masterpiece every time but I wish they would stop claiming it's their best album every time. It provokes my expectations.

Put yourself in their shoes. "We think this is our 5th best album. Not great but decent enough. Hope you like it."

Yes. And considering every act does it, I'm not sure why individual ones get heat for it either. It's not like you're never going to claim the new stuff is sub-par or below expectations. And if anyone here has tried writing songs before, you know how easy it can be to be excited about the new ones since you just created them. Talking highly about it makes you human.

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I've been thinking a lot about all the talk in this chain of music appreciation being "subjective." 

While I generally agree that things boil down to what one person likes vs. what another person likes, I don't think it's a stretch to agree that some songs...and some phases of a band's history...are "better" than others (no pun intended). 

Some years ago, @U2 did a comprehensive poll to gauge the popularity of U2's songs.  I seem to remember they included pretty much all of them.  The top end results, if I remember correctly, were pretty close to what are U2's "greatest hits." 

Few of my own favorite songs were represented in the top ten or twenty or whatever it was, and while I didn't disagree they were all great songs, I'm of the Passengers, Zooropa, Unforgettable Fire, Captive, ambient-leaning b-sides, and Troubles crowd, and that's where I focused my survey choices.

Anyway, it would be interesting to see the bottom ten or twenty from that survey list and see if we can't all agree that, "I kind of like the funky rhythm of Big Girls Are Best, but that really isn't as good as the majority of U2's songs." (or whatever other songs made the bottom).

I think Big Girls Are Best is quite possibly U2's worst song ever, and the only way I'd believe that music appreciation is truly subjective would be if more than one person on here claimed it is the best U2 song EVER.

I'd love to see where a discussion chain headed after that claim.

The other way I can look at that is this... for all the surveys that are out there for songs or anything else, there might not be a whole lot of people that participate in them. Some of those have, max, maybe a few hundred? Maybe much less than that? So if you multiply that by the thousands of people that don't participate in fan websites or can't even use a computer properly, there still might be a lot of people that like that obscure b-side that you do.

Offline Rasmus

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I think Big Girls Are Best is quite possibly U2's worst song ever, and the only way I'd believe that music appreciation is truly subjective would be if more than one person on here claimed it is the best U2 song EVER.

I'd love to see where a discussion chain headed after that claim.

I think Big Girls is great. I think its a perfect example of a song thats is great as a b-side but would probably function less good as an album track. B-sides are perfect for that kind of tongue-in-cheek tracks where the band is just having fun. In no way is it the best U2 song ever but I can name 30 U2 tracks that i like less - most of NLOTH for starters. Its also an example of a "sexy" U2 song, something they've been lacking for the last decade in my opinion.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 07:05:19 AM by Rasmus »

Offline Neil Young, man!

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What was wrong with their last album?

I have no idea why SOI gets so much heat, but it annoys me.  It's a pretty solid album with some really good tunes.  It's not a masterpiece by any stretch, but if people are expecting that from an aging rock band every time out then they are setting themselves up for disappointment.  Heck at this point in their lifespans most bands are just trading on past glory.  U2 is still trying and coming up with stuff that people turned up at concerts to hear.  Can you say that about other groups?  Not really - U2 is one of the few elder statesmen rock groups where people turn out to hear new stuff.

And for people complaining about the worst of NLOTH, yeah some of those songs really sucked.  But most bands, if not all, have albums with forgettable or regrettable tunes.  U2 is not some infallible group - let them have their failures like every other human endeavor and stop bashing them over the head with it.


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If I rewind back to 2014 my argument would have been that the album was too bland, did not speak to me, was predictable, only told Bono's story etc but, if you asked me today I realise that the problem with the album was my own ridiculous expectations of it.  I maintain that the album is as good as a band of U2s years can be expected to produce. SOE will be no different. We cant change the fact that the four guys in the studio are in their 50's, have more money than they can spend, have settled family lives and live in an age of peace in their country, the total antithesis to where they were, and what drove them on, when they started out.

The forum is great for debate, but you only get a great debate if you are willing to listen to what is being said.
I've changed my mind on so many subjects due to an articulate or in depth reasoning, which is much more inviting than to listen to the same old arguments time and time again, even when you agree with the point (it amazes me that people who label U2 predictable and boring do not see the irony when posting this point for the 1000th time  ;D).

As someone else has already said, we are fortunate enough to be able to debate between genres and not just albums with this band, imagine if you were a Foo Fighters or Muse fan!
It's an interesting thought, that it's a lot about expectations. Related, Tony Parsons once wrote that no music you hear after you are 25 will ever REALLY make you feel the same "burn" as in those younger years.

I thought SoI was a good record, and if anything the polished sound was my biggest problem with it. A little more Achtung Baby or even a pinch of Depeche Mode, and a little less Coldplay in the stew would have been better for me. Troubles, Sleep Like a Baby were fantastic. Perhaps controversially on this forum, I think a different (a LOT less polished) production on Every breaking wave could have made it a classic U2 tune, and potentially a radio hit.

Offline jadasa78

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This thread reminds me why I don't ever want to hearthe band to play acrobat live. I don't think they have the anger, the sauce or the art to be able to do it justice. They are a different band now, in the sense of having different character and strengths.

Offline Droppo

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FIVE of my least favorite U2 songs: Streets, With Or Without You, Elevation, Beautiful Day and City Of Blinding Lights.

FIVE of my favorites: Miami, The Playboy Mansion, Elvis Presley And America, Shadows And Tall Trees and Grace.

Do I care what anyone else thinks? No.

Um.........wow. I'm glad you don't care what anyone else thinks because while taste is subjective, I'm stunned that anyone in the world has the hot take that Miami, Grace, Playboy Mansion, Elvis and Shadows are among the best U2 has to offer and trump the likes of Streets and With or Without You.

That's like someone saying their favorite Beatles songs are: Revolution 9, Matchbox, Ask Me Why, Little Child and Everybody's trying to be my baby. And their least favorites are: A Day in the Life, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, In My Life, Here Comes the Sun and Hey Jude.

I mean....fine. Enjoy what you want. But....just, wow.

Offline Catlithco

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Don't want to read 6 pages posting, so I don't know what's have been said before.

It makes me sad that the die-hard fan base does not allow U2 to get older, seems that they expect that U2 be like they were in the 80ties and 90ties forever. Why will always everything they release be measured with Achtung Baby (or other older releases)? Achtung Baby was 30 years ago!

Do you think the same, do you do the same, do you say the same now as when you were 20 or 30? I'm sure you don't. But U2 is damned to be like this forever...otherwise everything they release is sh....? Give it a break!

Accept that they are getting older, they are almost 60 now (which does not mean that they are OLD), but they change as you do.

Offline Droppo

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I think it would be a lot easier to accept U2 aging if they did so more gracefully and organically. My objection to the more recent material is that it doesn't sound like a band growing older and evolving naturally. It sounds like a band desperately trying to stay relevant by attempting to write hit singles (which incidentally, isn't working as they haven't had a hit single since Vertigo). I don't want that from U2. I never did. Go inward. Don't compromise. Stop trying to appeal to the masses. You've made it. You have a fanbase forever...even those of us who are disappointed in the recent material like myself. Challenge yourselves and make an album that truly reflects where you are in life. Sure, they're calling it Songs of Experience...but, YTBTAM sounds like anything but. It sounds like a U2-sound-alike trying to write a hit and coming up with a mediocre, paint-by-numbers, lazy, soulless product that stands no chance of taking the world by storm like their best work. I'd bet everything I have that YTBTAM will not be a massive hit...just like The Miracle of Joey Ramone wasn't, just like Get on Your Boots wasn't.

WookieeWarrior10

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I think it would be a lot easier to accept U2 aging if they did so more gracefully and organically. My objection to the more recent material is that it doesn't sound like a band growing older and evolving naturally. It sounds like a band desperately trying to stay relevant by attempting to write hit singles (which incidentally, isn't working as they haven't had a hit single since Vertigo). I don't want that from U2. I never did. Go inward. Don't compromise. Stop trying to appeal to the masses. You've made it. You have a fanbase forever...even those of us who are disappointed in the recent material like myself. Challenge yourselves and make an album that truly reflects where you are in life. Sure, they're calling it Songs of Experience...but, YTBTAM sounds like anything but. It sounds like a U2-sound-alike trying to write a hit and coming up with a mediocre, paint-by-numbers, lazy, soulless product that stands no chance of taking the world by storm like their best work. I'd bet everything I have that YTBTAM will not be a massive hit...just like The Miracle of Joey Ramone wasn't, just like Get on Your Boots wasn't.

Very well put.

I think Catlithco is misunderstanding the cause of dissatisfaction with so many fans. Although I and many others are calling for U2 to experiment and be weird again, we don't necessarily want for the band to repeat the 90s and release an Achtung Baby 2.0. What would be nice, however, would be to see U2 be like the mature act that they are and end this pointless chase for relevancy.

jick made a very thoughtful and detailed post somewhere on here describing the technicalities and theory behind You're the Best Thing, which included a few points that J never even picked up on. U2 have been experimental in a way that the common fan does not realize. Hell, Breathe is in a 6/8 time signature, for example. But what has plagued the band's output for so long is the musical context of these tracks. Experimentation is great, and any daring and adventurous U2 song is instantly respectable for me, but eventually U2 need to kick that weirdness up to 90s levels again.

Offline The Exile

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Don't want to read 6 pages posting, so I don't know what's have been said before.

It makes me sad that the die-hard fan base does not allow U2 to get older, seems that they expect that U2 be like they were in the 80ties and 90ties forever. Why will always everything they release be measured with Achtung Baby (or other older releases)? Achtung Baby was 30 years ago!

Do you think the same, do you do the same, do you say the same now as when you were 20 or 30? I'm sure you don't. But U2 is damned to be like this forever...otherwise everything they release is sh....? Give it a break!

Accept that they are getting older, they are almost 60 now (which does not mean that they are OLD), but they change as you do.

Ironically, it's the opposite. We want the band to age, and Bono wants to dye his hair and wear leather pants.

Offline Catlithco

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The Stones sound the same for the last decades...

I like Best Thing, I like Blackout also and even Little Things. Can't wait to hear SOE in full.
They are still able to create a song that's been played on the radio. BT is been played on the radio here in Germany.
And BT can measure with the other stuff in the radio of young artist, but: they are in their late fifties!

Achtung Baby is my favourite, but I don't compare anything else with it.
I would be pi**** off if someone always would compare what I'm doing now with what I've did in the past.

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Ironically, it's the opposite. We want the band to age, and Bono wants to dye his hair and wear leather pants.

As far as I remember he didn't wear leather pants for the last two tours, at least at the concerts that I've attended.

And whats wrong with dying hair when getting older? I'm 47 now, and dye my hair since I'm 19. And for sure I won't stop when I have Bonos age :)
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 11:33:56 AM by Catlithco »

WookieeWarrior10

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The Stones sound the same for the last decades...

I like Best Thing, I like Blackout also and even Little Things. Can't wait to hear SOE in full.
They are still able to create a song that's been played on the radio. BT is been played on the radio here in Germany.
And BT can measure with the other stuff in the radio of young artist, but: they are in their late fifties!

Achtung Baby is my favourite, but I don't compare anything else with it.
I would be pi**** off if someone always would compare what I'm doing now with what I've did in the past.

That comes with the territory. What musicians' newest works aren't judged in that comparative sense?