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U2 => General U2 Discussion => Topic started by: davis on August 30, 2017, 05:29:38 PM

Title: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: davis on August 30, 2017, 05:29:38 PM
This is not a post about "The Blackout" or whether Songs of Experience is going to be a great album.  This is a post about why some of us seem so critical of 21st century U2 music. 

What we wish you understood (and, frankly, are confused that you don't understand) is that this band once made great music that was somehow more than great music--it was sublime.  No one knew how they did it.  They didn't even know how they did it.  But they did it.

As far back as Boy, we could sense that sublimity in their songs--in the passion, energy, freshness, and sense of reaching toward something.  Their best songs always had that sense of reaching, of longing.  Think of "Out of Control" or "Sunday Bloody Sunday" or "Forty" or "Bad" or "Where the Streets Have No Name" or "With or Without You" or "One" or "Until the End of the World" or "Discotheque" or "Gone."  And those songs were deepened by the other side of all that longing and aspiration--by a sense of brokenness, of loss, of not being who/where you want to be.  Those songs were vulnerable, authentic, and intimate, even while they were soaring above.  The writer and singer of those lyrics was mining his own deepest hurts and hopes and taking us to places we knew and felt too, places that no pop/rock music had ever gone before.  I won't pretend to diagnose where that spirit went and why Bono is unable to get to such places anymore as a writer or singer (I think it has something to do with the differences between yearning and knowing), but the last time I felt a U2 song going to such an authentic, searching place was "Kite."

And not just this.  Musically, the band in its first two decades was restless, experimental.  For us, it's a sad commentary that critics, professional and amateur alike, can now use phrases like "generic U2", "the U2 sound," or "paint by numbers U2."  For the first two decades, there was no U2 sound!  Think of how daring, inventive, and surprising the first 17 years were.  Just reflect for a minute on this string of albums: War--The Unforgettable Fire--The Joshua Tree--Achtung Baby.  No one not named the Beatles or Bob Dylan has ever produced such a run of diverse artistic excellence in a whole career, let alone a span of 8 years.  And the 90s work kept it going.  Say what you will about Zooropa and Pop--nothing on either album can be accused of being uninteresting.  Can the same thing be said about their output of the last 17 years?

I still listen to, and buy, everything they put out.  Most of it I enjoy for awhile.  Some of it I think is pretty good.  I admire that they're still together and still writing and recording music.  I still go to as many shows as possible (and have never really been disappointed live).  But it's painful to realize U2 is no longer a surprising, essential band.  They will always be the band of my lifetime (I'm 44).  Achtung Baby will always be one of my touchstones for supreme artistic greatness.  But the music U2 makes now--and the lyrics Bono writes and sings--is the work of mere mortals, not of prophets and bards. 

We feel that loss...
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Smee on August 30, 2017, 05:38:14 PM
Post of the year!!!
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on August 30, 2017, 05:53:01 PM
Great thoughts. I agree with a lot of what you say.

I cannot blame U2 entirely for lacking in ambition (relative to the 90s, at least), because I understand that with age and money comes comfort, and comfort doesn't lead to an album with the darkness or passion of Achtung Baby or Pop. It isn't the band's fault. They made some amazing, daring albums with deep meaning and creativity. U2 took the risks and have reaped the rewards, being semi-retired already and could have fully retired over ten years ago. Good for them, everything after Pop has been a bonus.

U2 are the biggest fluke in the history of music. It is unbelievable that a band of average, self-taught musicians did what they loved and against all odds went on to become the biggest band in the world for the better part of a decade. What initially made U2 successful was not technical ability, but ambition and a flawless chemistry, which enables each member of the band to compliment each other's playing effortlessly.

It doesn't make sense, but I'm ok with that. God bless U2.

(I didn't know I could write so passionately myself, so thank the band for the inspiration and contagious spirit!).
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Kmama07 on August 30, 2017, 05:53:38 PM
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Post of the year!!!
+1
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lucas.homem on August 30, 2017, 06:08:00 PM
Dear davis,

I'd say 99% of U2's fanbase like old U2 much more than 21th century U2. Everybody is aware that U2 are not as prolific and great as they once were (they lost their 'mojo'). I'm not different from these people, since I love U2's 80s and 90s much more than anything they ever did after. In fact, most people moved on to other bands and don't even bother with U2 anymore (and I'm a little bit like that too).

However, one thing is putting your sentiments into words as you just did (it's a little old stories now, but it's fine)... But there's another thing completely diferent that some other people are doing: being pedantic and not emphatic to how other people feel. In this forum, you'll see people bringing the same (negative) subject over and over again regardless of the theme of the thread, or being unnecessarily agressive, or finding the one thing to complain while overshadowing the other things they could praise, or just overexaggerating things (like saying the SOE is crap based on a 15 seconds snippet).

Also, when we read about human behaviour (in psychology or behavioral economics), we lear how irrational and biased is our perception about things. Never forget to consider that your thoughts on the U2 of the 80s and 90s are completely embebbed by your feelings and music knowledge of that time (and, of course, you were younger). With time, along your life you also developed a lot of emotional bonds with all of those songs. There is a clear bias. And this same bias is affected by a lot of superficial things that happen alongside the music: the current marketing of the band, the looks of the band, your friend's reactions to the band and even the negativity or positivity of the fanbase.

It's not a surprise, then, when we see that people that are constantly negative tend to only notice the things that they don't like (suddenly, the glasses are a major problem or whatever) and get really obsessed about it. When they praise, it is also a little bitter, as if they are betraying their persona. Of course, I'm not saying that everybody here is like that (and I respect the opinions of guys like an tha, Exile and Wookiee). However, people have to look after their manias too to not exarcebate it.

At last, there is a trend of IMPOSING things as objective facts here without any kind of criteria. Overall, and I don't mean that as an insult, most people here are uneducated in music, and because of that they are very hasty in their judgements. It's not rare to see commentaries that don't make any sense comparing it to that person's own opinion, applying double standards that are clearly biased.

Well, that's my 2 cents.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: THRILLHO on August 30, 2017, 06:12:39 PM
iawtp but i think you are still selling post-Pop short. these are songs that don't sound <to me> like ANYONE else, but are still very U2 without sounding like paint by numbers U2.

Fast Cars <i'm sure this is a controversial one>
Fez/Being Born
Cedars of Lebanon
Breathe
The Troubles
Sleep Like A Baby Tonight

i know the list isn't long and i do defend post-Pop without acting like it HAS to be as good as the pre-ATYCLB stuff <SOI is def the winner of the post-Pop output imo> but to me there is still a very strong reason to stick with and be excited for new U2. sure, the lead singles of the past few haven't been good, but, the album WILL hold gold, as all post-Pops have.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Argo on August 30, 2017, 06:29:08 PM
I am glad someone has done a thread like this. I guess I fall more into the camp of U2 defenders. Before I go on, let me say I do respect people's opinions. That's what makes these sites work - people's opinions and people sharing these opinions. The problem I have with the "2000s critics" (for want of a better term) is that you are living in the past. Nothing is the same as in the 80s and 90s anymore. Including you. Things change, people evolve. We got Achtung Baby because they needed to chop down The Joshua Tree. But they cant keep making Achtung Baby. They did that already. I get frustrated with the views hanging on to the past and why cant they be like that.

Subject to people's ages here, do your friends say "you were so cool in the 80s, can't you act more like that." Or "You had such a great decade in the 90s, you should keep doing what you did then." No, because you have all moved on and evolved from there. I just don't get the focus on looking back and lauding the 90s and saying that was the best, why cant they do that again. It was only 3 albums out of 13/14 ie a distinct minority.

Fortunately, I have got something out of all their post 2000s albums and am sure I will with SOE. But to me, there is no point with the continuous comparisons to the 80s/90s for the same reason (I hope) that none of us compare ourselves and friends to that time.

There was a great post I read the other day from someone claiming to be an older fan talking about evolution and looking forward. That's what I am about on this issue. Thanks for reading.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: THRILLHO on August 30, 2017, 06:33:04 PM
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I am glad someone has done a thread like this. I guess I fall more into the camp of U2 defenders. Before I go on, let me say I do respect people's opinions. That's what makes these sites work - people's opinions and people sharing these opinions. The problem I have with the "2000s critics" (for want of a better term) is that you are living in the past. Nothing is the same as in the 80s and 90s anymore. Including you. Things change, people evolve. We got Achtung Baby because they needed to chop down The Joshua Tree. But they cant keep making Achtung Baby. They did that already. I get frustrated with the views hanging on to the past and why cant they be like that.

Subject to people's ages here, do your friends say "you were so cool in the 80s, can't you act more like that." Or "You had such a great decade in the 90s, you should keep doing what you did then." No, because you have all moved on and evolved from there. I just don't get the focus on looking back and lauding the 90s and saying that was the best, why cant they do that again. It was only 3 albums out of 13/14 ie a distinct minority.

Fortunately, I have got something out of all their post 2000s albums and am sure I will with SOE. But to me, there is no point with the continuous comparisons to the 80s/90s for the same reason (I hope) that none of us compare ourselves and friends to that time.

There was a great post I read the other day from someone claiming to be an older fan talking about evolution and looking forward. That's what I am about on this issue. Thanks for reading.

good post. and THAT part made me lol. i say that kind of stuff to MYSELF all the time but no one has said it to me....yet lol
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lucas.homem on August 30, 2017, 06:37:36 PM
I'll put some more light in my thoughts...

There's some interesting academic studies that suggest that TIMBRE in one of the defining aspects of emotional response by listeners. Just as an example, see here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470210902765957 . But the conclusions go much further.

With this in mind, there's one thing in U2 that will never be the same anymore: Bono's voice. His timbre has changed. The problem is that we developed our passion for U2 when Bono had that deeper voice of his younger times... and that voice doesn't exist anymore. So there is the vacuum now of something we are expecting, but we are not receiving (Bono's younger voice). So MAYBE we misjudge new songs based entirely on Bono's new timbre (MAYBE we blame something else instead that otherwise wouldn't be a problem with his younger voice).

The same argument can be used too about The Edge, Brian Eno and production.

The Edge is constantly changing the timbres he uses in U2's albums and maybe, just because of that, we belittle an entire song just because he is trying timbres that we don't relate as much as the ones WE LEARNED TO LIKE when we were kids or young adults. Of course, the whole production is targeted by the same thing. Some of us also miss the timbres of Brian Eno (that were not even designed by U2) and that makes a lot of difference in our appreciation of an entire album.

In the end, we like what we like... and that's perfectly fine. But that becomes unfair when we enter the realm of "objectivity" that we try to impose in our arguments.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on August 30, 2017, 06:43:23 PM
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I'll shed some more light in my thoughts...

There's some interesting academic studies that suggest that TIMBRE in one of the defining aspects of emotional response by listeners. Just as an example, see here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470210902765957 . But the conclusions go much further.

With this in mind, there's one thing in U2 that will never be the same anymore: Bono's voice. His timbre has changed. The problem is that we developed our passion for U2 when Bono had that deeper voice of his younger times... and that voice doesn't exist anymore. So there is the vacuum now of something we are expecting, but we are not receiving (Bono's old voice). So MAYBE we misjudge new songs based entirely on Bono's new timbre (MAYBE we blame something else instead that otherwise wouldn't be problem with his younger voice).

The same argument can be used to about The Edge, Brian Eno and production.

The Edge is constantly changing the timbres he uses in U2's albums and maybe, just because of that, we belittle an entire song just because he is trying timbres that we don't relate as much as the ones WE LEARNED TO LIKE when we were kids or young adults. Of course, the whole production is targeted by the same thing. Some of us also miss the timbres of Brian Eno (that were not even designed by U2) and that makes a lot of difference in our appreciation of an entire album.

In the end, we like what we like... and that's perfectly fine. But that becomes unfair when we enter the realm of "objectivity" that we try to impose in our arguments.

Then Bono needs to start singing in lower registers and stop with the half-yelping. The Blackout is actually a perfect example of this.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lucas.homem on August 30, 2017, 06:50:37 PM
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I'll shed some more light in my thoughts...

There's some interesting academic studies that suggest that TIMBRE in one of the defining aspects of emotional response by listeners. Just as an example, see here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470210902765957 . But the conclusions go much further.

With this in mind, there's one thing in U2 that will never be the same anymore: Bono's voice. His timbre has changed. The problem is that we developed our passion for U2 when Bono had that deeper voice of his younger times... and that voice doesn't exist anymore. So there is the vacuum now of something we are expecting, but we are not receiving (Bono's old voice). So MAYBE we misjudge new songs based entirely on Bono's new timbre (MAYBE we blame something else instead that otherwise wouldn't be problem with his younger voice).

The same argument can be used to about The Edge, Brian Eno and production.

The Edge is constantly changing the timbres he uses in U2's albums and maybe, just because of that, we belittle an entire song just because he is trying timbres that we don't relate as much as the ones WE LEARNED TO LIKE when we were kids or young adults. Of course, the whole production is targeted by the same thing. Some of us also miss the timbres of Brian Eno (that were not even designed by U2) and that makes a lot of difference in our appreciation of an entire album.

In the end, we like what we like... and that's perfectly fine. But that becomes unfair when we enter the realm of "objectivity" that we try to impose in our arguments.

Then Bono needs to start singing in lower registers and stop with the half-yelping. The Blackout is actually a perfect example of this.

I think he is not really confortable to sing with his lower registers anymore. We can see that nowadays Bono only uses it in quieter songs like Cedars (less demanding) maybe because that's how his voice works.

Or maybe he is using a higher register to appeal to kids. We'll never know.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: imaginary friend on August 30, 2017, 11:08:59 PM
re: the original post

U2 didn't have a signature sound in the '80s?

Really? What was it they set out to chop down in the '90s? Seriously, I stopped reading right there. When people complain that "all U2's songs sound the same," it's the '80s material they're referring to.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: THRILLHO on August 30, 2017, 11:19:08 PM
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re: the original post

U2 didn't have a signature sound in the '80s?

Really? What was it they set out to chop down in the '90s? Seriously, I stopped reading right there. When people complain that "all U2's songs sound the same," it's the '80s material they're referring to.


i mean. kind of. the first 3 may sound similar and the last 3 do but i wouldn't say the Boy songs sound lke R&H or UF sounds like October.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Spacejunk69 on August 31, 2017, 12:57:11 AM
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Post of the year!!!

Second that!
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: The Exile on August 31, 2017, 01:51:33 AM
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I'll shed some more light in my thoughts...

There's some interesting academic studies that suggest that TIMBRE in one of the defining aspects of emotional response by listeners. Just as an example, see here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470210902765957 . But the conclusions go much further.

With this in mind, there's one thing in U2 that will never be the same anymore: Bono's voice. His timbre has changed. The problem is that we developed our passion for U2 when Bono had that deeper voice of his younger times... and that voice doesn't exist anymore. So there is the vacuum now of something we are expecting, but we are not receiving (Bono's old voice). So MAYBE we misjudge new songs based entirely on Bono's new timbre (MAYBE we blame something else instead that otherwise wouldn't be problem with his younger voice).

The same argument can be used to about The Edge, Brian Eno and production.

The Edge is constantly changing the timbres he uses in U2's albums and maybe, just because of that, we belittle an entire song just because he is trying timbres that we don't relate as much as the ones WE LEARNED TO LIKE when we were kids or young adults. Of course, the whole production is targeted by the same thing. Some of us also miss the timbres of Brian Eno (that were not even designed by U2) and that makes a lot of difference in our appreciation of an entire album.

In the end, we like what we like... and that's perfectly fine. But that becomes unfair when we enter the realm of "objectivity" that we try to impose in our arguments.

Then Bono needs to start singing in lower registers and stop with the half-yelping. The Blackout is actually a perfect example of this.

As is much of SOI. With the exception of The Miracle and EBW (and Maybe California, I don't remember that song very well), the songs on SOI are sung mostly in a comfortable register which highlights Bono's voice rather than reminding us how screechy it has gotten when he tries to hit high notes. More of that, I say.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lucas.homem on August 31, 2017, 05:12:26 AM
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Dear davis,

I'd say 99% of U2's fanbase like old U2 much more than 21th century U2. Everybody is aware that U2 are not as prolific and great as they once were (they lost their 'mojo'). I'm not different from these people, since I love U2's 80s and 90s much more than anything they ever did after. In fact, most people moved on to other bands and don't even bother with U2 anymore (and I'm a little bit like that too).

However, one thing is putting your sentiments into words as you just did (it's a little old stories now, but it's fine)... But there's another thing completely diferent that some other people are doing: being pedantic and not emphatic to how other people feel. In this forum, you'll see people bringing the same (negative) subject over and over again regardless of the theme of the thread, or being unnecessarily agressive, or finding the one thing to complain while overshadowing the other things they could praise, or just overexaggerating things (like saying the SOE is crap based on a 15 seconds snippet).

Also, when we read about human behaviour (in psychology or behavioral economics), we lear how irrational and biased is our perception about things. Never forget to consider that your thoughts on the U2 of the 80s and 90s are completely embebbed by your feelings and music knowledge of that time (and, of course, you were younger). With time, along your life you also developed a lot of emotional bonds with all of those songs. There is a clear bias. And this same bias is affected by a lot of superficial things that happen alongside the music: the current marketing of the band, the looks of the band, your friend's reactions to the band and even the negativity or positivity of the fanbase.

It's not a surprise, then, when we see that people that are constantly negative tend to only notice the things that they don't like (suddenly, the glasses are a major problem or whatever) and get really obsessed about it. When they praise, it is also a little bitter, as if they are betraying their persona. Of course, I'm not saying that everybody here is like that (and I respect the opinions of guys like an tha, Exile and Wookiee). However, people have to look after their manias too to not exarcebate it.

At last, there is a trend of IMPOSING things as objective facts here without any kind of criteria. Overall, and I don't mean that as an insult, most people here are uneducated in music, and because of that they are very hasty in their judgements. It's not rare to see commentaries that don't make any sense comparing it to that person's own opinion, applying double standards that are clearly biased.

Well, that's my 2 cents.

You make some good points but how is it not an insult to say that "most people here are uneducated in music?"

Whether or not anyone is fluent in music terminology, chords, notes, music history, etc., everyone has their own personal music history and catalog to use as reference and whether it's timbre, music of one time period vs. another of a band's history, people like what they like, don't like what they don't like, and have every right to like it or not like it for whatever reason they want to.

Regardless, everyone on here has a lifetime of musical education behind them, and seeing as one's musical self-education is quite private (home alone, headphones), it's actually a monk-like devotion to the art form everyone possesses from an early age.

The social aspect of sharing music and opinions about music is a different thing.  I think tensions arise on discussion forums because people read things that call into question their monk-like ascetic studies and devotion to the music they love...or spur them to try to convert the others who don't see things their way.

I'm a middle age U2 fan who started listening to them in 1980.  I've enjoyed virtually every incarnation of the band and look forward to every album.  That being said, there's an album's worth of clunkers they've put out (listed in another chain), all of which arrived post-All That You Can't Leave Behind.  Someone else might love each of these songs, but for me I was surprised to NOT like them after liking pretty much...every...song...they...did.

You wrote a very detailed and eloquent post in another chain about why The Blackout is a well-made, interesting song, and I listened to it again after reading it to pay attention to all those details, but my gut response was still the same: great energy, funky bass, the song's got hips, and hits you over the head, but damn that chorus stuck in my head is annoying!

Rising Sun, I think you didn't understand my point, because I agree with you.

A person "educated in music" is not someone better than others, or someone whose opinions should be prevalent over others. First because music is subjetive. Second, there's all these things you've said about how everybody have a lifetime experience listening to music and developing their musical perception and tastes about music. This person is entitled to his own opinion and this opinion what matters to appreciate music in a personal level.

For exemple, I don't expect people to read my observations of The Blackout and like the song because of that. Those are just my feelings that I'm pointing out by highlighting some details that made me appreciate the song in a personal level. It could be said that someone more trained in music than I am can make a much more in depht analysis of the song and then conclude that it is dreadful lol. It happens. Otherwise, all the music masters would have the same opinion on every subject.

My point is that there is a big distance between people's "impressions" and their own "rationalization" of music (I'm not sure these are the best words here, but they are the one I'm using). Here, "impression" is the act of listening to a song, reacting to it and even trying to identify what you like and what you don't like in that song. As for "rationalization", it is the act of making further conclusions to investigate "why" you like it (or "why" it is good), creating thesis and propositions that would fit not only that specific song, but music in general. At this moment, you start to give intrinsic value to a lot of general characteristics (that should not be seen as something stable).

The problem with rationalization is that it is too easy to pinpoint the wrong reasons for why you liked something... and then you can reach even 'wronger' conclusions further down the road. This can happen to anyone really, but it is even more the case of someone who is untrained in music, because this person doesn't have access to some abilities and overall knowledge that studying music can give you to make this "rationalization".

This effect is pretty much clear when you come to this forum and read about the reasons of people for why their favorite U2 era is good: "it is bold", "raw", "courageous", "experimental", "soulful", "well produced". And then the bad U2 is "MOR", "unimaginative", or whatever else. Do you see how each one of these adjectives do NOT have a cohesive and clear meaning? And do you see that these adjectives do NOT really describe the music? (they are beyond the "impression" realm I talked about).
So we have all these rationalizations that can be very misleading about a lot of things. Suddenly, (1) an actually progressive song can be seen as "unimaginative" and "by the numbers" (maybe because it uses familiar timbres and effects), (2) an overproduced song is called "raw" (only because it uses distortion), (3) a very traditional song is seen as "bold" (because the lyrics are sarcastic), (4) a peculiar song is said to "not really be a song" (lol), (5) a basic song is elected as "experimental" (because of some gimmick), (6) a particular melody is said to be too "generic" (while others in the same vein are "creative" because of something entirely subjective), (7) a certain era is the band's "essence" and "soul" (just because the person likes it more), (8 ) a different era is said to be "commercial" (a lot of arbitrariness here)... and the list goes on (even with nonmusical things like marketing, image etc).

Of course, all those words should be used freely because they convey an idea. And even when used too vaguely we can figure out what the other person is trying to say (not always though). The problem is when, in a forum full of negativity, all these generic terms are thrown around to complain about things in a way that is disrespectful. Sometimes people use a strong word to belittle a song when their criticism have another explanation.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lazyboy on August 31, 2017, 05:18:35 AM
I just look forward to the point where they just make music for making music 's sake, and not to be the biggest band in the world, or have a hit. This hit chasing is endless with them, and at this stage, impossible. I wish they'd just chill the beans and accept their old age, receeding relevance, and popularity.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Yaro on August 31, 2017, 05:36:08 AM
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This is not a post about "The Blackout" or whether Songs of Experience is going to be a great album.  This is a post about why some of us seem so critical of 21st century U2 music. 

What we wish you understood (and, frankly, are confused that you don't understand) is that this band once made great music that was somehow more than great music--it was sublime.  No one knew how they did it.  They didn't even know how they did it.  But they did it.

As far back as Boy, we could sense that sublimity in their songs--in the passion, energy, freshness, and sense of reaching toward something.  Their best songs always had that sense of reaching, of longing.  Think of "Out of Control" or "Sunday Bloody Sunday" or "Forty" or "Bad" or "Where the Streets Have No Name" or "With or Without You" or "One" or "Until the End of the World" or "Discotheque" or "Gone."  And those songs were deepened by the other side of all that longing and aspiration--by a sense of brokenness, of loss, of not being who/where you want to be.  Those songs were vulnerable, authentic, and intimate, even while they were soaring above.  The writer and singer of those lyrics was mining his own deepest hurts and hopes and taking us to places we knew and felt too, places that no pop/rock music had ever gone before.  I won't pretend to diagnose where that spirit went and why Bono is unable to get to such places anymore as a writer or singer (I think it has something to do with the differences between yearning and knowing), but the last time I felt a U2 song going to such an authentic, searching place was "Kite."

And not just this.  Musically, the band in its first two decades was restless, experimental.  For us, it's a sad commentary that critics, professional and amateur alike, can now use phrases like "generic U2", "the U2 sound," or "paint by numbers U2."  For the first two decades, there was no U2 sound!  Think of how daring, inventive, and surprising the first 17 years were.  Just reflect for a minute on this string of albums: War--The Unforgettable Fire--The Joshua Tree--Achtung Baby.  No one not named the Beatles or Bob Dylan has ever produced such a run of diverse artistic excellence in a whole career, let alone a span of 8 years.  And the 90s work kept it going.  Say what you will about Zooropa and Pop--nothing on either album can be accused of being uninteresting.  Can the same thing be said about their output of the last 17 years?

I still listen to, and buy, everything they put out.  Most of it I enjoy for awhile.  Some of it I think is pretty good.  I admire that they're still together and still writing and recording music.  I still go to as many shows as possible (and have never really been disappointed live).  But it's painful to realize U2 is no longer a surprising, essential band.  They will always be the band of my lifetime (I'm 44).  Achtung Baby will always be one of my touchstones for supreme artistic greatness.  But the music U2 makes now--and the lyrics Bono writes and sings--is the work of mere mortals, not of prophets and bards. 

We feel that loss...
Well-when athletes hit the turning  point of their prime time - they retire..they 're burnt out,lacking motivation & ideas ,body and mind its not there anymore,burning desire to win is gone..so they retire & rightly so--most music bands dont..Im soo dissapointed so far with these new songs..even the just released Blackout..it just doesn't grab you,nice little meaningless toon..and I gave it 10-12 listens by now..who knows,maybe Im burnt out and I should retire listening to music,ha..but Hey baby, 3 more days until Ford Field,Detroit-and I ll get my dose of the Joshua tree once again..Im a be 5 feet away from a band that once long time ago  produced magic music ..
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: the_chief on August 31, 2017, 06:40:29 AM
Wait....Did the OP just say Bono was a prophet?!

Hate to break it to you mate but, U2 always did have a "sound!"
When a U2 song comes on the radio, you just know it's them. Same way you know it's Queen, Rolling Stones, Dylan, Quo, ABBA, GnR, Killers, AC/DC, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, The Beatles etc etc. Even Zooropa has their sound.

Music is what life is about for me. Without music, I may as well be dead....However, U2 still make music that touches me and my soul. If you really cannot relate to The Little Things That Give You Away, if you cannot connect with the struggle and emotion in that song, if you can't appreciate how that might touch someone who is struggling with life and mental issues, then the problem is with you mate, not the band!

A 57 year old writing lyrics like that and the canvas of music that expresses those thoughts and feelings is not good enough? Seriously man.....

Another point is, there is a lot of music people love...There is a lot of music people hate. I don't like a lot of the War album...I'm not too Crazy about TUF but, loads here do. It's subjective. Many music, good and bad, touches people in a way it might not do with others
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: timeisatrain on August 31, 2017, 06:52:21 AM
I honestly think that history will tell that 360 was the Goodbye tour of U2.

I feel something different with the band after that.

And their ego will not allow them to work again with Brian eno.

It's sad but after 360 we have a band obsessed with please the pop kids of Mr. Tedder.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: the_chief on August 31, 2017, 06:54:12 AM
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I honestly think that history will tell that 360 was the Goodbye tour of U2.

I feel something different with the band after that.

And their ego will not allow them to work again with Brian eno.

It's sad but after 360 we have a band obsessed with please the pop kids of Mr. Tedder.

If you want to take that view so, may as well go back as far as Beautiful Day
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: fpsulli3 on August 31, 2017, 06:57:31 AM
Great post, OP. My sentiments exactly.

Keep in mind, I realize they can't do AB again (nor would we want them to). To prefer 80's and 90's U2 is not to wish they'd write AB again. It's to wish they'd go back to being daring and experimental, while being successful in doing so (in the sense that the songs aren't just weird and random; they're truly amazing songs). Try to think of a world in which Mysterious Ways doesn't exist and therefore isn't passe. Then imagine it was written by the band who just wrapped up Lovetown.

Note: I would definitely include ATYCLB in the list of greats. Yes, it's unabashed pop, but it's damned good pop. Beautify Day is a ridiculously good pop song.

Subsequent albums seem to follow the ATYCLB formula, though. "We need a loudQUIETloud (Vertigo, Boots, Miracle). Ok now we need a slower one."

post-2000 U2 have had flashes of brilliance, though.

First of all, I thinkknow that Electrical Storm is a criminally underrated song. How this one got shuffled into the throwaway pile, I have no idea. It's among their best. I'm dead serious, it's up there with Ultraviolet.

Each album seems to have a couple great ones -- Crumbs From Your Table, Breathe, Every Breaking Wave, Iris, Sleep Like A Baby Tonight. SoI has more than its fair share, actually.

After a few listens, The Blackout doesn't strike me as particularly compelling yet, but we'll see.

PS - I don't understand what new U2 fans find so wonderful about Mercy and MoS, but I'll just chalk that up to my bad taste.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: trevgreg on August 31, 2017, 07:00:18 AM
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I am glad someone has done a thread like this. I guess I fall more into the camp of U2 defenders. Before I go on, let me say I do respect people's opinions. That's what makes these sites work - people's opinions and people sharing these opinions. The problem I have with the "2000s critics" (for want of a better term) is that you are living in the past. Nothing is the same as in the 80s and 90s anymore. Including you. Things change, people evolve. We got Achtung Baby because they needed to chop down The Joshua Tree. But they cant keep making Achtung Baby. They did that already. I get frustrated with the views hanging on to the past and why cant they be like that.

Subject to people's ages here, do your friends say "you were so cool in the 80s, can't you act more like that." Or "You had such a great decade in the 90s, you should keep doing what you did then." No, because you have all moved on and evolved from there. I just don't get the focus on looking back and lauding the 90s and saying that was the best, why cant they do that again. It was only 3 albums out of 13/14 ie a distinct minority.

Fortunately, I have got something out of all their post 2000s albums and am sure I will with SOE. But to me, there is no point with the continuous comparisons to the 80s/90s for the same reason (I hope) that none of us compare ourselves and friends to that time.

There was a great post I read the other day from someone claiming to be an older fan talking about evolution and looking forward. That's what I am about on this issue. Thanks for reading.

Agree with a lot of this. If they just kept making music along the lines of what they did in a certain period, then we’d be saying how they wish they’d change it up or whatever.

And from what I understand, this is a band that still jams out ideas and then start writing lyrics with whatever they’re feeling at that moment. Other than some producer decisions that might suggest things for the final product (ie, Lillywhite coming in last minute for SOE, Tedder suggesting a change in structure for EBW), that’s probably not too different from what they’ve done before or since then.

If anyone’s ever written a song before, they would know there’s millions of different decisions along the way that can affect the final product though. Hoping the band would just kick out ambient tracks for the sake of doing something ‘different’ strikes me as a bit odd. If anything, it’d make the final product suffer a bit since they’re trying to stay within the lines of a specific genre or cred.

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You make some good points but how is it not an insult to say that "most people here are uneducated in music?"

Whether or not anyone is fluent in music terminology, chords, notes, music history, etc., everyone has their own personal music history and catalog to use as reference and whether it's timbre, music of one time period vs. another of a band's history, people like what they like, don't like what they don't like, and have every right to like it or not like it for whatever reason they want to.

Regardless, everyone on here has a lifetime of musical education behind them, and seeing as one's musical self-education is quite private (home alone, headphones), it's actually a monk-like devotion to the art form everyone possesses from an early age.

The social aspect of sharing music and opinions about music is a different thing.  I think tensions arise on discussion forums because people read things that call into question their monk-like ascetic studies and devotion to the music they love...or spur them to try to convert the others who don't see things their way.

I agree with this too. I’m definitely not a virtuoso, but I can make my way around a few instruments and it does help (and hurt) in examining songs sometimes. I certainly don’t try to hold it over people’s heads as being superior or whatever, but I’ll throw my two cents out there and see if it helps out somehow (just like I did above here). And like you said, everyone has a right to like or dislike whatever.

But to be fair to any band, it’s hard enough to write a song, much less one after 12+ albums you’ve done in the past. The fact that they’re still going here is impressive in its own right (and especially after losing so many musicians in recent years, I think it makes us lucky too).

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I'm a middle age U2 fan who started listening to them in 1980.  I've enjoyed virtually every incarnation of the band and look forward to every album.  That being said, there's an album's worth of clunkers they've put out (listed in another chain), all of which arrived post-All That You Can't Leave Behind.  Someone else might love each of these songs, but for me I was surprised to NOT like them after liking pretty much...every...song...they...did.
 

Some people are going to like ATYCLB. Some are not (and maybe it helps when you come into the fan fold or not, I don’t know). I think Cedars of Lebanon is a bore of a “song” while others praise its lyrical quality and being a great track off of NLOTH. That’s cool too. I’ll disagree, but I certainly wouldn’t accuse anyone of being bad or whatever for doing that.

At the end of the day, it’s just going to be music. Yes, it can hold a very high quality to some of us and rightfully so. But only speaking for myself, I’m also not going to hold a band to an impossible standard of liking every single new track of theirs either or having pre-conceptions on what they should be doing/sound like. I don’t like every track off of their previous albums either, so it makes no sense to start now.

I posted this awhile ago, but Charles Thompson from the Pixies put it nicely when it came to how the band’s fans would respond to some of the newer material…

I feel like a certain segment of your fan base has an intense emotional attachment to the older albums and little interest in anything new, regardless of how good it is.
I mean if you're that much of a fan of anything you're going to be closed off to change. I've experienced that with other artists that I like. If certain changes are afoot, I sort of go, "Oh, I can't listen to that anymore. It's over for me."

Does that frustrate you?
Not really. There's a lot of people in the world. I don't take it personally. It's sort of like everybody has to make their own decision about what they're gonna play out of their stereo.


I agree with that. You're either going to like the material that comes out, or you're not, or be somewhere in between. If it doesn't float your boat anymore, then it doesn't. Cool. Personally, I'm not going to think that they're bad people for not writing songs in a style that I want to hear. And even then, if I get something out of a band consistently in the past, I'll probably still check out whatever they do later on to see if it clicks. If it doesn't, then I'll play whatever it is that does.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Rasmus on August 31, 2017, 07:03:39 AM
I totally agree with the OP. U2 were sublime and that makes it hard to accept when their output is just ok. I would even go so far as include most of ATYCLB in their glory run as it would have been fine as a single album - the problem is that it formed the basis of every album since then and has now become synonymous with the "generic" U2 sound. They still have sublime moments though as mentioned (The Troubles, SLABT, Fez etc.).
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: fpsulli3 on August 31, 2017, 07:29:23 AM
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But to be fair to any band, it’s hard enough to write a song, much less one after 12+ ones you’ve done in the past. The fact that they’re still going here is impressive in its own right (and especially after losing so many musicians in recent years, I think it makes us lucky too).

An important point.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: opening night on August 31, 2017, 07:33:50 AM
awesome, davis!

What I don't understand is that most of my Twitter timeline thinks The Blackout is great.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Smee on August 31, 2017, 07:43:28 AM
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awesome, davis!

What I don't understand is that most of my Twitter timeline thinks The Blackout is great.

People lapped up GOYB and THe Miracle too, when they were nice and shiny and new. But i bet when all is said and done, songs like those barely appear in most fans top 50 u2 songs
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: DGordon1 on August 31, 2017, 07:49:52 AM
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awesome, davis!

What I don't understand is that most of my Twitter timeline thinks The Blackout is great.

People lapped up GOYB and THe Miracle too, when they were nice and shiny and new. But i bet when all is said and done, songs like those barely appear in most fans top 50 u2 songs

No they didn't. The Miracle wasn't discussed that much in isolation since the whole album dropped at once, and GOYB got an absolute kicking.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Saint1322 on August 31, 2017, 08:23:13 AM
I've said this before ... how many times can you expect four men to re-invent the wheel? How many different bands has U2 been already? Not everyone is David Bowie. Not ever great band or artist can change with each new release. IMO, all we can ask for is effort and passion, and I don't see a lack of either. In fact, the frustrating way that U2 seem to agonize over every note of every song tells me they are NOT phoning anything in and doing the best they can. Not every album is going to be as good as what came before it, and we all have our lists and opinions is which album or period of U2 was the best.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: trevgreg on August 31, 2017, 08:32:20 AM
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I've said this before ... how many times can you expect four men to re-invent the wheel? How many different bands has U2 been already? Not everyone is David Bowie. Not ever great band or artist can change with each new release. IMO, all we can ask for is effort and passion, and I don't see a lack of either. In fact, the frustrating way that U2 seem to agonize over every note of every song tells me they are NOT phoning anything in and doing the best they can. Not every album is going to be as good as what came before it, and we all have our lists and opinions is which album or period of U2 was the best.

https://media.giphy.com/media/F9DzQnxx6ZZNm/giphy.gif
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: the_chief on August 31, 2017, 08:54:01 AM
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awesome, davis!

What I don't understand is that most of my Twitter timeline thinks The Blackout is great.

People lapped up GOYB and THe Miracle too, when they were nice and shiny and new. But i bet when all is said and done, songs like those barely appear in most fans top 50 u2 songs

No they didn't. The Miracle wasn't discussed that much in isolation since the whole album dropped at once, and GOYB got an absolute kicking.

Yep! Each of them got a shoeing. Serious revisionism going on with lots of people here

Rightfully so in the case of GOYB. It was sounded great live though
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: DK46 on August 31, 2017, 09:16:22 AM
Apologies in advance for this long, rambling post.  This is a nice thread and I agree with much I've seen here.  I came onboard as a fan around ATYLCB, so that album does have some significant meaning for me.  It's not my favorite record of theirs, but I can still listen to it and get something out of it.  So depending on when you come onboard as a fan might certainly shape your perception, there are massive HTDAAB fans out there as I've learned from other U2 forums. 

Having gone back and listened to their discography when I fell in love with them, there's no denying what a run this band had for 2 decades.  I am a big 90s fan, but yeah, I don't expect them to repeat those albums.  Why would they?  As many have said, it's the daring nature, the experimental boldness which is what they miss.  I do miss that, but who's to say U2 isn't making the music they really want to make?  Sure many assume this, the producers they work with do suggest a yearning for hits and I'm sure it must be tough to give that up.  Especially when they did it for nearly 25 years, up until HTDAAB, which is no doubt impressive.

But we grow up, we evolve, we change.  I am happy that these four guys are still together making music and I hope they are doing what they want to be doing.  They've achieved quite a lot, done more than many bands dream of and of course, are still together.  They're one of the most polarizing bands for that (among other reasons), but that's what makes them unique.

If you don't like the new stuff, you can always relisten to whatever era you did like.  Who is to say what you should or shouldn't like?  Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Figthers is a huge U2 fan, but from what I've read and gathered, he isn't huge on their 90s work (he hates Discotheque, which is a sublime song for me).  Their 90s work is ingrained in my DNA nearly, I'm practically obsessed, but he isn't more or a less a fan than me for what he likes.  He just prefers and loves their 80s stuff.  I think Mullen as a drummer was/is a big influence on him and no doubt, Mullen shines there (most especially on War).  We're both still fans at the end of the day.   Adam Scott's favorite U2 album is HTDAAB, it's not mine, but we're both still fans.  But I appreciate that he can get something out of that album that I might not.  Art is subjective and I suppose that's what fascinating and frustrating about it.  We can both listen to the same song and come away with completely different opinions...that's what makes us human after all.

On the topic of music education, well that's interesting, because visiting other band forums or talking to people, U2 is obviously an easy target.  A common criticism I hear is "U2 is music for the uneducated" or "music for people who don't listen to much music/have much taste."  I find that extremely condescending, ignorant and inaccurate, but to each their own.  As a Radiohead fan, I deal with that.  On the flipside, people think Radiohead fans are obnoxious, elitist, art-school hipsters, but that couldn't be further away from the truth.  Perhaps that says something about fandom, I dunno.  I love both bands, but I can be critical of their work, I think that makes me an honest fan.  And while their careers couldn't be more different, I appreciate the roads they went down.

I'm sure U2 lost a lot of 90s fans when they first they heard that stuff, perhaps the irony was lost on them, the new sound, etc.  Of course, the passage of time can do wonders, you come back to something and end up loving it.  What you hated at 25, you may love at 40, and so forth/vice versa.  The irony though is Bono didn't seem to mind if they lost the "cool kids" as he put it, and I guess people miss that Bono.  But the Bono of 30 isn't the Bono of 57, nor should he or could he be. 

I try to be open minded, after all, I am a fan, so I will always give their new stuff a chance.   There is also so much music out there, so I can't and won't waste time worrying if the new U2 isn't brilliant.  I am grateful for their music and it is an important part of my life.  Let's enjoy that I suppose.  For me, what's fascinating about a band/artist's career is the evolution.  Seeing how they changed, what they did, etc.   At the end of the day, you just like what you like.  It's what moves you...that's what makes music so personal and special, a song can resonate at any moment and I am thankful for many of those moments.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: aviastar on August 31, 2017, 09:24:41 AM
U2 fans (and anyone) has the right to be critical of U2 albums and output - obviously, nobody would begrudge anyone that.  However, there seems to be a prevailing theme in the criticisms that gets kind of overplayed:

For ___, insert new or previous post-2000ish album

1) ______ is not as good as their peak (TJT, AB, Pop).  Of course it's not.  Every endeavor in the world has a peak and there are no bands that have consistent 40+ years of top-notch performances. 

2) ______ is not as good as the U2 I know and love - typically the album/era that the person came into being a U2 fan. Well, this is simply because the brain associates "newness" of being a devoted fan to memories and nostalgia of that album.  So, naturally, it will always be downhill from there.

3) ______ just shows they are not taking chances/are not experimental enough/are too MOR. Well yes, most of us remember the excitement of the AB or Pop-era U2 where they just totally reinvented themselves and came out with something so off the wall that it blew our minds. It's just probably not going to happen at this point.  U2 is far closer to the end of their careers than the beginning, a group of 60 year old dudes playing a genre that is losing steam in popularity is just not going to reinvent itself into some groundbreaking thing - this is the period of their lives where they naturally coast into retirement (as most of us do).

I am not saying the criticism aren't valid - I'm just saying the critics have to put it in context. U2 have sustained as an act for an incredible period of time and, really...I can't think of any other act that has done it for this long and hasn't already just become a heritage act. So, I give them a ton of credit for putting out new stuff - I know it probably won't be as good as the best albums.  SOI thrilled the hell out of me though - and if SOE approaches it in quality I'll be impressed.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Saint1322 on August 31, 2017, 09:54:49 AM
U2 could put out a crap record every year for the next 20 years and it wouldn't diminish (insert your favorite album here) at all. R.E.M.'s Around The Sun didn't erase Life's Rich Pageant. Bruce's High Hopes doesn't detract from Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Let everything be its own thing.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: ShankAsu on August 31, 2017, 10:53:50 AM
i feel like this post gets re-hashed every year or so on here but it's always a good conversation.  i think for people that experienced u2 music as it was being released  from Boy through Zoo TV, nothing will ever touch that music, time, experience.
I do like their new music and the only album i didn't enjoy was No Line (and the tracks I love from HTDAAB are the ones they didn't release as singles) but still my favorite tunes are from the 80's and 90's.  I don't complain much about the new material if its not up to par of what they were able to accomplish when they were a younger band- this is a veteran rock band that has been together for over 40 years.  The fact they are able to put out anything that people are talking about i think is great.  What other band has been relevant this long with their new music?  Not the Stones- the last song i recall of there's being any good upon release was Long is Strong in the early 90's and that was a bit sh**e all the same.  These days i always welcome new music from u2 and will buy anything they put out- except for yet another collection of the joshua tree for a small fortune, and i don't expect masterpieces anymore but am still happy with the small gems they put put out that i can connect with.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: julez728 on August 31, 2017, 11:44:22 AM
In my opinion, I think people forget that it's alright for people to agree to disagree.  I think another thing that people forget is that each person has their own taste in music.  Not all U2 fans are going to like the same albums or the same songs. 

I've listened to Blackout a few times and I like the song.  I think it's a cool, catchy tune.  If someone doesn't like it, that's fine with me.  :)
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: acrobat62 on August 31, 2017, 11:51:12 AM
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In my opinion, I think people forget that it's alright for people to agree to disagree.  I think another thing that people forget is that each person has their own taste in music.  Not all U2 fans are going to like the same albums or the same songs. 

I've listened to Blackout a few times and I like the song.  I think it's a cool, catchy tune.  If someone doesn't like it, that's fine with me.  :)

Heck, there are those that do not place Streets on the pedestal that other do, I count myself in that group.  I like the song, usually great live, but it's not on my top 5 or possibley even top 10 IMO, but that's just me.  I like TB having listened to it twice.  Looking forward to a "clean" version.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Spacejunk69 on August 31, 2017, 12:10:18 PM
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In my opinion, I think people forget that it's alright for people to agree to disagree.  I think another thing that people forget is that each person has their own taste in music.  Not all U2 fans are going to like the same albums or the same songs. 

I've listened to Blackout a few times and I like the song.  I think it's a cool, catchy tune.  If someone doesn't like it, that's fine with me.  :)

Heck, there are those that do not place Streets on the pedestal that other do, I count myself in that group.  I like the song, usually great live, but it's not on my top 5 or possibley even top 10 IMO, but that's just me.  I like TB having listened to it twice.  Looking forward to a "clean" version.

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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: acrobat62 on August 31, 2017, 12:15:09 PM
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In my opinion, I think people forget that it's alright for people to agree to disagree.  I think another thing that people forget is that each person has their own taste in music.  Not all U2 fans are going to like the same albums or the same songs. 

I've listened to Blackout a few times and I like the song.  I think it's a cool, catchy tune.  If someone doesn't like it, that's fine with me.  :)

Heck, there are those that do not place Streets on the pedestal that other do, I count myself in that group.  I like the song, usually great live, but it's not on my top 5 or possibley even top 10 IMO, but that's just me.  I like TB having listened to it twice.  Looking forward to a "clean" version.


Do I care what anyone else thinks? No.


I am interested hearing and discussing other points of view, but it would be rare for my mind to be changed when it come to music.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lucas.homem on August 31, 2017, 12:30:04 PM
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Dear davis,

I'd say 99% of U2's fanbase like old U2 much more than 21th century U2. Everybody is aware that U2 are not as prolific and great as they once were (they lost their 'mojo'). I'm not different from these people, since I love U2's 80s and 90s much more than anything they ever did after. In fact, most people moved on to other bands and don't even bother with U2 anymore (and I'm a little bit like that too).

However, one thing is putting your sentiments into words as you just did (it's a little old stories now, but it's fine)... But there's another thing completely diferent that some other people are doing: being pedantic and not emphatic to how other people feel. In this forum, you'll see people bringing the same (negative) subject over and over again regardless of the theme of the thread, or being unnecessarily agressive, or finding the one thing to complain while overshadowing the other things they could praise, or just overexaggerating things (like saying the SOE is crap based on a 15 seconds snippet).

Also, when we read about human behaviour (in psychology or behavioral economics), we lear how irrational and biased is our perception about things. Never forget to consider that your thoughts on the U2 of the 80s and 90s are completely embebbed by your feelings and music knowledge of that time (and, of course, you were younger). With time, along your life you also developed a lot of emotional bonds with all of those songs. There is a clear bias. And this same bias is affected by a lot of superficial things that happen alongside the music: the current marketing of the band, the looks of the band, your friend's reactions to the band and even the negativity or positivity of the fanbase.

It's not a surprise, then, when we see that people that are constantly negative tend to only notice the things that they don't like (suddenly, the glasses are a major problem or whatever) and get really obsessed about it. When they praise, it is also a little bitter, as if they are betraying their persona. Of course, I'm not saying that everybody here is like that (and I respect the opinions of guys like an tha, Exile and Wookiee). However, people have to look after their manias too to not exarcebate it.

At last, there is a trend of IMPOSING things as objective facts here without any kind of criteria. Overall, and I don't mean that as an insult, most people here are uneducated in music, and because of that they are very hasty in their judgements. It's not rare to see commentaries that don't make any sense comparing it to that person's own opinion, applying double standards that are clearly biased.

Well, that's my 2 cents.

You make some good points but how is it not an insult to say that "most people here are uneducated in music?"

Whether or not anyone is fluent in music terminology, chords, notes, music history, etc., everyone has their own personal music history and catalog to use as reference and whether it's timbre, music of one time period vs. another of a band's history, people like what they like, don't like what they don't like, and have every right to like it or not like it for whatever reason they want to.

Regardless, everyone on here has a lifetime of musical education behind them, and seeing as one's musical self-education is quite private (home alone, headphones), it's actually a monk-like devotion to the art form everyone possesses from an early age.

The social aspect of sharing music and opinions about music is a different thing.  I think tensions arise on discussion forums because people read things that call into question their monk-like ascetic studies and devotion to the music they love...or spur them to try to convert the others who don't see things their way.

I'm a middle age U2 fan who started listening to them in 1980.  I've enjoyed virtually every incarnation of the band and look forward to every album.  That being said, there's an album's worth of clunkers they've put out (listed in another chain), all of which arrived post-All That You Can't Leave Behind.  Someone else might love each of these songs, but for me I was surprised to NOT like them after liking pretty much...every...song...they...did.

You wrote a very detailed and eloquent post in another chain about why The Blackout is a well-made, interesting song, and I listened to it again after reading it to pay attention to all those details, but my gut response was still the same: great energy, funky bass, the song's got hips, and hits you over the head, but damn that chorus stuck in my head is annoying!

Rising Sun, I think you didn't understand my point, because I agree with you.

A person "educated in music" is not someone better than others, or someone whose opinions should be prevalent over others. First because music is subjetive. Second, there's all these things you've said about how everybody have a lifetime experience listening to music and developing their musical perception and tastes about music. This person is entitled to his own opinion and this opinion what matters to appreciate music in a personal level.

For exemple, I don't expect people to read my observations of The Blackout and like the song because of that. Those are just my feelings that I'm pointing out by highlighting some details that made me appreciate the song in a personal level. It could be said that someone more trained in music than I am can make a much more in depht analysis of the song and then conclude that it is dreadful lol. It happens. Otherwise, all the music masters would have the same opinion on every subject.

My point is that there is a big distance between people's "impressions" and their own "rationalization" of music (I'm not sure these are the best words here, but they are the one I'm using). Here, "impression" is the act of listening to a song, reacting to it and even trying to identify what you like and what you don't like in that song. As for "rationalization", it is the act of making further conclusions to investigate "why" you like it (or "why" it is good), creating thesis and propositions that would fit not only that specific song, but music in general. At this moment, you start to give intrinsic value to a lot of general characteristics (that should not be seen as something stable).

The problem with rationalization is that it is too easy to pinpoint the wrong reasons for why you liked something... and then you can reach even 'wronger' conclusions further down the road. This can happen to anyone really, but it is even more the case of someone who is untrained in music, because this person doesn't have access to some abilities and overall knowledge that studying music can give you to make this "rationalization".

This effect is pretty much clear when you come to this forum and read about the reasons of people for why their favorite U2 era is good: "it is bold", "raw", "courageous", "experimental", "soulful", "well produced". And then the bad U2 is "MOR", "unimaginative", or whatever else. Do you see how each one of these adjectives do NOT have a cohesive and clear meaning? And do you see that these adjectives do NOT really describe the music? (they are beyond the "impression" realm I talked about).
So we have all these rationalizations that can be very misleading about a lot of things. Suddenly, (1) an actually progressive song can be seen as "unimaginative" and "by the numbers" (maybe because it uses familiar timbres and effects), (2) an overproduced song is called "raw" (only because it uses distortion), (3) a very traditional song is seen as "bold" (because the lyrics are sarcastic), (4) a peculiar song is said to "not really be a song" (lol), (5) a basic song is elected as "experimental" (because of some gimmick), (6) a particular melody is said to be too "generic" (while others in the same vein are "creative" because of something entirely subjective), (7) a certain era is the band's "essence" and "soul" (just because the person likes it more), (8 ) a different era is said to be "commercial" (a lot of arbitrariness here)... and the list goes on (even with nonmusical things like marketing, image etc).

Of course, all those words should be used freely because they convey an idea. And even when used too vaguely we can figure out what the other person is trying to say (not always though). The problem is when, in a forum full of negativity, all these generic terms are thrown around to complain about things in a way that is disrespectful. Sometimes people use a strong word to belittle a song when their criticism have another explanation.

I understand your point and agree in general that the world could use more critical thinking before reacting to things to allow for more nuanced expressions of opinions.

I just don't think music is one of those things, though, because of how it is received on gut levels, and your further explanations here of impressions vs. rationalizations, while interesting and well-explained, seem dismissive of how people listen to music and arrive at the opinions they do...instinctively, primally, emotionally, and in many cases, instantly...and a little dismissive of peoples' musical intelligence, or at least whatever naysayers on here you are responding to or trying to explain.

And again, you refer to people not having access to abilities and knowledge as they relate to music as a cause of what are, apparently, incorrect or incorrectly-expressed opinions. 

Your explanations are almost scientific in their detail, but your choice of words makes it sound like you're saying that a lot of people on the forum are either wrong or don't know what they're talking about (or don't know they don't know what they're talking about) when most, regardless of education levels musically or in general (high school graduate, college graduate, grad school graduate, culinary school graduate, etc.) don't approach listening to music intellectually or analytically.

I don't "like" heavy metal, for example, but a long time ago I ended up in the basement of a rowdy house party where a local heavy metal band played as people took turns doing keg stands.  I don't know that house party basements are anyone's chosen scene and I knew at the time that it certainly wasn't mine, but all I could think and say to the friends who took me there was, "this is f'ing sick!" as I waited for my turn at the keg.

You make an admirable argument for across the board music criticism, but I just think we surrender the intellect to music and that it hasn't worked any differently since the cave days when we sat around the fire banging rocks.

I agree that we surrender intellect to music, and thankfully this idea is stronger than ever nowadays. As I said, my intention is not to hierarchize opinions and tastes, for the reason thar people should follow their gut feeling to mold their opinions. I just think we should be more tactful with our opinions when we're talking about something so subjective. For example, as you mentioned, I made a long analysis of the details that made me appreciate The Blackout, but I never stated any of them as "undeniable proofs of quality" that couldn't be rejected. I'm just giving my impressions. So I expect that other people will be equally polite with their opinions.

Of course, most people here are not bullies against other members of the forum. But sometimes they get into other people's nerves because they put a lot of scorn and snobbery upon the things they don't like: "this is for kids and the masses", "this is selling out", "this is MOR", "this is not artistic/genuine". Really, this is so intense and REPETITIVE here that whoever likes what's being critized probably feel like sh** for liking that thing...

And what's more intriguing is that the majority of these statements aren't really justifiable musically (as I explained before, they are probably misleading "rationalizations" of instinctive impressions). Unfortunatelly, this happens more frequently with people not trained in music (and yes, I do think we frequently don't know what we're talking about, even the pros). So that's why I make my point of being humble, and that will only happen after some self criticism about our own lack of musical understandment (something that not even the most trained person in music will fully acchieve).

So, yes, I agree with you again when you say that the process of "rationalizing" our "impressions" is almost automatic. Sure, that's how things work indeed. Nonetheless, people have control over what they are speaking in forums, and they can avoid all those pejorative terms that don't mean anything other than enigmatic messages of contempt.
Title: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: robgalloway on August 31, 2017, 01:59:42 PM
I think it's absolutely fine to dislike the song but when fans were tearing up their membership after hearing a 20 second clip or writing off a whole album based on one song or the style of Bonos glasses then it's just plain negative. There is NOTHING to even suggest that The Blackout will even be on the album.

Invisible didn't make it on to SOI proper. Holy Joe turned out to be a B Side. The Ground Beneath Your Feet came a short while before ALTYCLB. Window in the Skies before NLOTH.

It's early days yet and U2 have obviously picked a reason why The Blackout is shared ONE WEEK before the 1st single.

Fair enough you don't like the song but it's certainly not rubbish. It is pushing U2 boundaries. I've never heard The Edge play funk on a record. Or Adam with a Nile Rodgers groove. It's familiar but also new.

I'm just asking for a little calm with the negativity. Enjoy the music and the promo.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: NOLA Fly on August 31, 2017, 02:24:14 PM
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This is not a post about "The Blackout" or whether Songs of Experience is going to be a great album.  This is a post about why some of us seem so critical of 21st century U2 music. 

What we wish you understood (and, frankly, are confused that you don't understand) is that this band once made great music that was somehow more than great music--it was sublime.  No one knew how they did it.  They didn't even know how they did it.  But they did it.

As far back as Boy, we could sense that sublimity in their songs--in the passion, energy, freshness, and sense of reaching toward something.  Their best songs always had that sense of reaching, of longing.  Think of "Out of Control" or "Sunday Bloody Sunday" or "Forty" or "Bad" or "Where the Streets Have No Name" or "With or Without You" or "One" or "Until the End of the World" or "Discotheque" or "Gone."  And those songs were deepened by the other side of all that longing and aspiration--by a sense of brokenness, of loss, of not being who/where you want to be.  Those songs were vulnerable, authentic, and intimate, even while they were soaring above.  The writer and singer of those lyrics was mining his own deepest hurts and hopes and taking us to places we knew and felt too, places that no pop/rock music had ever gone before.  I won't pretend to diagnose where that spirit went and why Bono is unable to get to such places anymore as a writer or singer (I think it has something to do with the differences between yearning and knowing), but the last time I felt a U2 song going to such an authentic, searching place was "Kite."

And not just this.  Musically, the band in its first two decades was restless, experimental.  For us, it's a sad commentary that critics, professional and amateur alike, can now use phrases like "generic U2", "the U2 sound," or "paint by numbers U2."  For the first two decades, there was no U2 sound!  Think of how daring, inventive, and surprising the first 17 years were.  Just reflect for a minute on this string of albums: War--The Unforgettable Fire--The Joshua Tree--Achtung Baby.  No one not named the Beatles or Bob Dylan has ever produced such a run of diverse artistic excellence in a whole career, let alone a span of 8 years.  And the 90s work kept it going.  Say what you will about Zooropa and Pop--nothing on either album can be accused of being uninteresting.  Can the same thing be said about their output of the last 17 years?

I still listen to, and buy, everything they put out.  Most of it I enjoy for awhile.  Some of it I think is pretty good.  I admire that they're still together and still writing and recording music.  I still go to as many shows as possible (and have never really been disappointed live).  But it's painful to realize U2 is no longer a surprising, essential band.  They will always be the band of my lifetime (I'm 44).  Achtung Baby will always be one of my touchstones for supreme artistic greatness.  But the music U2 makes now--and the lyrics Bono writes and sings--is the work of mere mortals, not of prophets and bards. 

We feel that loss...

What I wish you understood (and, frankly, am confused that you don't understand) -- I'm hoping you hear how condescending this sounds when it's written back to you -- is that many of us think that U2 can still get to that sublime place.

It's great that you love 80s and 90s U2. I love them, too. They were great. I also think that their subsequent evolution has been pretty great, as well. To my ears, that singer/writer is still mining his hurts and hopes and taking us to places we know and feel too. It's fine if you disagree, but that "loss" you feel is entirely subjective. I would also echo the pushback of other posters in not agreeing that there was no "U2 sound" for the first two decades. That's just not true. And that some critics like to throw out something about "generic U2 sound" just sounds like laziness to me. Bands have signature sounds/characteristics that are going to shine through at times. Also, the sun is hot and water is wet. U2 is gonna U2.

The attitude towards U2's new music (or really anything post-Pop) by some on this forum reminds me of what an acquaintance who worked as a waiter in college told me years ago: "Some people secretly love bad service. They like to complain and love having something to complain about. There's really no pleasing them. They will find something wrong." It feels like something similar happens here with U2's new music. Some people walk through the door with an eye toward what they can critique -- usually in an effort to lift up their favorite era/iteration of the band. New music has become merely fodder for talking about how good U2 used to be. And everything circles back to that. Ad nauseam. Regardless of what a thread may be about. That's what I think irks "defenders" of new U2, not that someone happens to not like a song or album. It's wearying.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Allhorizonbomb on August 31, 2017, 02:29:23 PM
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Dear davis,

I'd say 99% of U2's fanbase like old U2 much more than 21th century U2. Everybody is aware that U2 are not as prolific and great as they once were (they lost their 'mojo'). I'm not different from these people, since I love U2's 80s and 90s much more than anything they ever did after. In fact, most people moved on to other bands and don't even bother with U2 anymore (and I'm a little bit like that too).

However, one thing is putting your sentiments into words as you just did (it's a little old stories now, but it's fine)... But there's another thing completely diferent that some other people are doing: being pedantic and not emphatic to how other people feel. In this forum, you'll see people bringing the same (negative) subject over and over again regardless of the theme of the thread, or being unnecessarily agressive, or finding the one thing to complain while overshadowing the other things they could praise, or just overexaggerating things (like saying the SOE is crap based on a 15 seconds snippet).

Also, when we read about human behaviour (in psychology or behavioral economics), we lear how irrational and biased is our perception about things. Never forget to consider that your thoughts on the U2 of the 80s and 90s are completely embebbed by your feelings and music knowledge of that time (and, of course, you were younger). With time, along your life you also developed a lot of emotional bonds with all of those songs. There is a clear bias. And this same bias is affected by a lot of superficial things that happen alongside the music: the current marketing of the band, the looks of the band, your friend's reactions to the band and even the negativity or positivity of the fanbase.

It's not a surprise, then, when we see that people that are constantly negative tend to only notice the things that they don't like (suddenly, the glasses are a major problem or whatever) and get really obsessed about it. When they praise, it is also a little bitter, as if they are betraying their persona. Of course, I'm not saying that everybody here is like that (and I respect the opinions of guys like an tha, Exile and Wookiee). However, people have to look after their manias too to not exarcebate it.

At last, there is a trend of IMPOSING things as objective facts here without any kind of criteria. Overall, and I don't mean that as an insult, most people here are uneducated in music, and because of that they are very hasty in their judgements. It's not rare to see commentaries that don't make any sense comparing it to that person's own opinion, applying double standards that are clearly biased.

Well, that's my 2 cents.


Guess I'm the 1%
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: timeisatrain on August 31, 2017, 03:32:37 PM

U2, a band famous for creating amazing sonic landscapes with a sound that no one can replicate....


I honestly think that the band will end just because their ego is so big that they don´t want to admit they need Eno.


Eno gives the perfect balance.. He wants ambient music, U2 want rock... in the middle (atmospheric rock) we have U2 best songs.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: ecadad on August 31, 2017, 05:52:31 PM
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Dear davis,

I'd say 99% of U2's fanbase like old U2 much more than 21th century U2. Everybody is aware that U2 are not as prolific and great as they once were (they lost their 'mojo'). I'm not different from these people, since I love U2's 80s and 90s much more than anything they ever did after. In fact, most people moved on to other bands and don't even bother with U2 anymore (and I'm a little bit like that too).

However, one thing is putting your sentiments into words as you just did (it's a little old stories now, but it's fine)... But there's another thing completely diferent that some other people are doing: being pedantic and not emphatic to how other people feel. In this forum, you'll see people bringing the same (negative) subject over and over again regardless of the theme of the thread, or being unnecessarily agressive, or finding the one thing to complain while overshadowing the other things they could praise, or just overexaggerating things (like saying the SOE is crap based on a 15 seconds snippet).

Also, when we read about human behaviour (in psychology or behavioral economics), we lear how irrational and biased is our perception about things. Never forget to consider that your thoughts on the U2 of the 80s and 90s are completely embebbed by your feelings and music knowledge of that time (and, of course, you were younger). With time, along your life you also developed a lot of emotional bonds with all of those songs. There is a clear bias. And this same bias is affected by a lot of superficial things that happen alongside the music: the current marketing of the band, the looks of the band, your friend's reactions to the band and even the negativity or positivity of the fanbase.

It's not a surprise, then, when we see that people that are constantly negative tend to only notice the things that they don't like (suddenly, the glasses are a major problem or whatever) and get really obsessed about it. When they praise, it is also a little bitter, as if they are betraying their persona. Of course, I'm not saying that everybody here is like that (and I respect the opinions of guys like an tha, Exile and Wookiee). However, people have to look after their manias too to not exarcebate it.

At last, there is a trend of IMPOSING things as objective facts here without any kind of criteria. Overall, and I don't mean that as an insult, most people here are uneducated in music, and because of that they are very hasty in their judgements. It's not rare to see commentaries that don't make any sense comparing it to that person's own opinion, applying double standards that are clearly biased.

Well, that's my 2 cents.


Guess I'm the 1%

Yes, me too, and most of the people know...

Most people I know who like U2 think that "Beautiful Day", "Vertigo", "With or Without You" and "One" are really good, they really like the album HTDAAB, they sorta remember that "Ordinary Love" is a good one, they've heard "Mysterious Ways" a lot on the radio and it's cool. And they see them live because they're a good live band.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: podiumboy on August 31, 2017, 06:07:18 PM
When I saw U2 in 2015, something that kinda surprised me; the crowd was considerably youngish.  Beautiful Day, Elevation, Vertigo, City of Blinding Lights all got huge responses from the audience.  Meanwhile during songs like "Electric Co" and "Bad", the crowd was sorta like "huh...?"

I just saw them again this summer, and the same thing happened.  They play BD, Elevation, Vertigo and Mysterious Ways all in a row, and that was the most that the band AND the crowd got into the show, it seemed.  The JT part was cool, but it sorta seemed like it was "JT: The Musical".  It didn't really feel like a concert until the encore. 

While obviously their biggest hits will always be WOWY, SBS, Pride, One, BD, Vertigo, it seems like the fan base is changing.  I think it's great that the fans are still accepting of the more recent material.  I know the SOI songs mostly went over well (EBW piano being the low point). 
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: davis on August 31, 2017, 06:21:39 PM
Original poster here.  First of all, I'm gratified by all the thoughtful responses to my post.  My reason for writing it was mostly to try to put into words that sense of loss I (and not only I) feel and to attempt to put it in such a way that others who don't feel it might understand where we're coming from.  I apologize to NOLA Fly and anyone else who feels I was being condescending. 

I would like to add one additional thought to the discussion: though I agree we can never completely separate our subjective responses from our judgements about works of art, I think it is false to say aesthetic evaluations are merely or totally subjective. 

For instance, there's a big difference between saying "I don't enjoy reading Shakespeare" and "Shakespeare is a terrible writer."  The first statement is perfectly acceptable; the second is just not true.  There are, in fact, objective reasons for concluding that (many of) the works of Shakespeare are among the greatest literary achievements in human history.

Or, to bring it a little closer to home, you or I may have personal reasons to prefer Mumford and Sons to Bob Dylan, but Mumford and Sons is not even in the same universe as Bob Dylan in terms of artistic achievement and significance.  To argue otherwise is absurd. 

I don't mean to imply that things are so cut and dried when it comes to judging U2's work.  And many of you are right to point out that my judgments are inherently tied up in my own experiences as a fan.  But, as I tried to express in my original post, I think there are certain objective (though difficult to define) qualities of U2's heyday which are missing, for the most part, in more recent output. 

p.s. I hope you understand, if you read my original post, that I remain a fan and will always be immensely grateful to this band. 
 


 
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Nagrom76 on August 31, 2017, 07:19:30 PM
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Great thoughts. I agree with a lot of what you say.
I cannot blame U2 entirely for lacking in ambition (relative to the 90s, at least), because I understand that with age and money comes comfort, and comfort doesn't lead to an album with the darkness or passion of Achtung Baby or Pop. It isn't the band's fault. They made some amazing, daring albums with deep meaning and creativity. U2 took the risks and have reaped the rewards, being semi-retired already and could have fully retired over ten years ago. Good for them, everything after Pop has been a bonus.

U2 are the biggest fluke in the history of music. It is unbelievable that a band of average, self-taught musicians did what they loved and against all odds went on to become the biggest band in the world for the better part of a decade. What initially made U2 successful was not technical ability, but ambition and a flawless chemistry, which enables each member of the band to compliment each other's playing effortlessly.

It doesn't make sense, but I'm ok with that. God bless U2.

(I didn't know I could write so passionately myself, so thank the band for the inspiration and contagious spirit!).

Love this post.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Moser on August 31, 2017, 07:31:50 PM
I think it's pointless to compare somebody writing music in their 40s and 50s to when they were in their youth. People change. Musical interests change. Musicians change. Drumming styles changes. Vocal cords change. People's sense of right and wrong change. You and I have changed. Wishing the way things were blinds you from looking ahead. And you'd have to accept that others have changed while you still yearn for the past. If U2 doesn't give you butterflies anymore, then look to another band for that lovely feeling. Because that old U2 isn't coming back to you. Those 17 years of four boys growing into men are not going to be the same as the sound of men growing into old men. They're gone. And if that makes you sad, then so be it. That music is with you forever though. You'll never lose it. As for me, I want to hear what these older men put out. Because I still connect with their music. It gives me goosebumps. It still makes me feel like I did listening to the pre-millennium U2 when I was too young to even know who they were.

I mean, just a seriously large piece of me would be missing without these songs during the past ten years of my life.

Beautiful Day
Kite
When I Look At The World
Grace
Vertigo
Original of the Species
One Step Closer
Magnificent
Moment of Surrender
White As Snow
Every Breaking Wave
Raised By Wolves
Cedarwood Road
Sleep Like A Baby
The Troubles

It's hard to imagine what other U2 songs from before 2000 could fill that hole. Maybe because I'm getting older too. Maybe because I'm changing. Maybe those earlier U2 songs connected with me then as a teenager, but I now understand these later U2 songs better as a grown man. If anything, I haven't felt a sense of loss with the changing U2. It's more of a discovery.

Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: lucas.homem on August 31, 2017, 09:47:00 PM
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I would like to add one additional thought to the discussion: though I agree we can never completely separate our subjective responses from our judgements about works of art, I think it is false to say aesthetic evaluations are merely or totally subjective. 

For instance, there's a big difference between saying "I don't enjoy reading Shakespeare" and "Shakespeare is a terrible writer."  The first statement is perfectly acceptable; the second is just not true.  There are, in fact, objective reasons for concluding that (many of) the works of Shakespeare are among the greatest literary achievements in human history.
 

Shakespeare's talent is set in stone nowadays, but it happened after centuries of discussions and many many many articles and books about that. And all the people that worshipped Shakespeare actually explained his greatness in many ways, about how he could put some light in the human nature or how he depeloped the english language. He undoubtedly contributed to the history of literature and that's why it's so easy to say almost objectively that Shakespeare was a great writer. And the most important thing is that he is still a best seller of some sort, and that means he is influential and loved by many (in the end, our subjective love for him is what keept him being seen as Great).

But even if we suppose that "objective quality" is inherent to its art (I disagree), the objectiviness should be "proven" just like it happened to Shakespeare, not just by putting some personal opinions over others. This is just a forum, of course, so nobody is expecting a thesis here. But if we should be informal about our preferences, we should also be more humble and respectfull towards other opinions. Even because art is not simple.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: shineinthesummernight on August 31, 2017, 10:09:17 PM
Well said, Lucas.  I agree with the above poster who stated that I would have had a lesser experience in the last ten years without "Magnificent",
"Moment of Surrender", "The Troubles", etc.  I thank the Lord that U2 are still around doing what they do and doing it well.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: soloyan on September 01, 2017, 05:53:02 AM
Great thread. I'll just add my 0.2.

I always considered U2 as distant friends. Albums are postcards. Concerts are meetings/ hangouts/ whatever... One thing I've learned from my friends is that you have to accept people for what they are. And support your friends for what they are. I don't have a problem with someone losing interest in U2 or having the interest diminish... But being negative most of the time on these boards, I just don't get it. Why lose the time & energy ? It never occurs to me, when I'm meeting with friends, to compare them with what they were or compare what they're doing to what they've achieved. I just need to know how they feel. And I accept how they feel, whatever that is.
When we cease to accept the band for what they are, we become consumers, customers. We're not fans anymore. As consumers, we have a choice : buy or don't buy. I think this forum should be for fans discussions rather than consumers opinions.

What breaks my fan's heart when I come here (rest assured, I'll live) is the unnecessary bashing and negativity. I've endured U2 bashing all my life. I've been a fan since 1987. I think that, historically, the only period U2 was free of U2 bashing was from Boy To War. As soon as TUF came out, the U2 bashing began : U2 were a sell out act and Bono just an egomaniac. And it has not changed since.
I really wish that forum was free of bashing. I'm french and I stopped going on french forums for this very reason.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: sulphur76 on September 01, 2017, 06:21:13 AM
We had it all, and what we had is not coming back............Zach.

                                                                                          - Bono, 2017
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: AlexandriaRising on September 01, 2017, 07:44:29 AM
This post nailed it. Thanks Dave. I'm 44 too. Longtime love-hate relationship with the band, but obviously more love or I wouldn't be posting here and reading, right? I agree with the bulk of what you're saying. I do think there have been some great moments post-Pop like, as others have said, Cedars of Lebanon, The Troubles, etc. for example, but the lads seem so scared or formulaic these days. Sometimes - and I have no right to do this as a fan - I just want to say, 'You're U2, do whatever you want!' I recall at one point, they were talking about doing a dark and a light side double CD - this was before SOI was released - but Adam said something to the effect of they didn't know how they would pull it off live with only playing certain themed songs on certain nights. Of course, I was thinking, 'You're U2, do what you want. People will come. Be experimental. Go crazy. When you do that, it is great! You don't have to open every encore with the same song! You can play in crazy time signatures or add a string section or have a band with guest artists or do a Passengers 2 album. It is fine. You have nothing left to prove!' Strange days. I mean the paint by the numbers stuff makes October sound revolutionary and experimental! (and, yes, I actually do like that album) I do think the Eno-Lanois work is the best and it is a shame they let them go per se. I really think NLOTH had the potential to be a great exploration and a solid album, but someone got scared and they crammed the middle of it with what they hoped would be radio friendly hits. Maybe they'll change? Maybe SOE will surprise us? In the meantime, I can always enjoy the electric violin on War, the rage electronica of Pop and some UF psychedelic ventures....
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Argo on September 01, 2017, 08:18:09 AM
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This post nailed it. Thanks Dave. I'm 44 too. Longtime love-hate relationship with the band, but obviously more love or I wouldn't be posting here and reading, right? I agree with the bulk of what you're saying. I do think there have been some great moments post-Pop like, as others have said, Cedars of Lebanon, The Troubles, etc. for example, but the lads seem so scared or formulaic these days. Sometimes - and I have no right to do this as a fan - I just want to say, 'You're U2, do whatever you want!' I recall at one point, they were talking about doing a dark and a light side double CD - this was before SOI was released - but Adam said something to the effect of they didn't know how they would pull it off live with only playing certain themed songs on certain nights. Of course, I was thinking, 'You're U2, do what you want. People will come. Be experimental. Go crazy. When you do that, it is great! You don't have to open every encore with the same song! You can play in crazy time signatures or add a string section or have a band with guest artists or do a Passengers 2 album. It is fine. You have nothing left to prove!' Strange days. I mean the paint by the numbers stuff makes October sound revolutionary and experimental! (and, yes, I actually do like that album) I do think the Eno-Lanois work is the best and it is a shame they let them go per se. I really think NLOTH had the potential to be a great exploration and a solid album, but someone got scared and they crammed the middle of it with what they hoped would be radio friendly hits. Maybe they'll change? Maybe SOE will surprise us? In the meantime, I can always enjoy the electric violin on War, the rage electronica of Pop and some UF psychedelic ventures....

I think they are doing what they want. Not just want some people think they wish they want them to do. Maybe what they are doing is conservative but that's most people, especially people in their late 50s, rock stars or not. You might say their legacy wouldn't be tarnished if they did an album full of The Wanderer type songs (see what bites I get at that) but maybe - probably - they don't want to be as adventurous as some want. And that's fine. It is their music. You just have to enjoy what you get for what it is. I keep getting something out of each album. And if you don't, well you have had a good run with them and switch to whatever takes your fancy.

We are about to get the 14th album of a band that most of us on here see as the best ever (to us). Wow. How good is that. Plus all the other non album release stuff. And they just happen to be a killer live band and you can download pretty much every concert they have ever done for free. How good is this deal. It will never happen again. Not for any of us, in our lifetimes anyway. It really doesn't get much better than this in terms of a rock band to have latched onto. What we have got from this band is amazing. Don't worry about what you wish you had and didn't get.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: trevgreg on September 01, 2017, 09:10:59 AM
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I just want to say, 'You're U2, do whatever you want!' I recall at one point, they were talking about doing a dark and a light side double CD - this was before SOI was released - but Adam said something to the effect of they didn't know how they would pull it off live with only playing certain themed songs on certain nights. Of course, I was thinking, 'You're U2, do what you want. People will come. Be experimental. Go crazy. When you do that, it is great! You don't have to open every encore with the same song! You can play in crazy time signatures or add a string section or have a band with guest artists or do a Passengers 2 album. It is fine. You have nothing left to prove!' Strange days.

Maybe it's just me, but if the band's the only four or so people that are going to be at 100+ shows on a tour, then their insight into what constitutes a "good" show or not is worth considering. For all the fans on here (which sometimes includes me) that wouldn't mind hearing so-and-so, it's going to be limited by the fact that I only attend 1-3 shows on any given tour. Not even 2-5% of them, really. And if something weird is played, then a lot of us just might watch two minutes of it on YouTube, think "Cool" and be done with it. I don't know if that alone justifies saying "Just play whatever you want," imo. Heck, there's quite a few songs off a lot of their albums that I couldn't sing along to for the life of me, and I consider myself a fan enough to post on here.

In the end, it's the same discussion 99% of bands have on their message boards anyway. The important thing I take out of it is that set lists will never satisfy every single online fan and there's always going to be a discussion of safe vs. experimental/"new" styles for studio albums. It's hard enough to write a song as it is and unless someone's done it before, you probably can't realize that restricting yourself to just this or that form or whatever is going to make your work suffer in the end. A lot of it is being spontaneous and making thousands of decisions at a time into what it is and what it's supposed to be. I don't need every song to sound "different" or have an electronic beep or bop for street cred among 10 or 20 people that post opinions online... just give me a good song at the end of the day.

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I think they are doing what they want. Not just want some people think they wish they want them to do. Maybe what they are doing is conservative but that's most people, especially people in their late 50s, rock stars or not. You might say their legacy wouldn't be tarnished if they did an album full of The Wanderer type songs (see what bites I get at that) but maybe - probably - they don't want to be as adventurous as some want. And that's fine. It is their music. You just have to enjoy what you get for what it is. I keep getting something out of each album. And if you don't, well you have had a good run with them and switch to whatever takes your fancy.

We are about to get the 14th album of a band that most of us on here see as the best ever (to us). Wow. How good is that. Plus all the other non album release stuff. And they just happen to be a killer live band and you can download pretty much every concert they have ever done for free. How good is this deal. It will never happen again. Not for any of us, in our lifetimes anyway. It really doesn't get much better than this in terms of a rock band to have latched onto. What we have got from this band is amazing. Don't worry about what you wish you had and didn't get.

Nail on the head (for me anyway). Bootlegs of every show I go to and a favorite band still recording/releasing in light of a bunch of musicians we lost recently... like you said, I usually get something out of it every time. At this point, it's gravy.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Matty_Mullens on September 01, 2017, 10:23:53 AM
I certainly love U2's 80's and 90's work more so than their post Pop work.  But I'll make a small list of essential post Pop songs that I think can possibly rank with their 80's/90's work:

Beautiful Day
Elevation
Walk On
Vertigo
Miracle Drug
City of Blinding Lights
No Line on the Horizon
Magnificent
Moment of Surrender
Fez/Being Born
Breathe


I know this list is pretty short and some people might not agree with some of the choices, but I simply tried to pick some songs that could possibly compete with their earlier work.
One thing I'll say is that the song titles of the last few albums have not been my favorite.  U2 used to have great song titles.  Until the End of the World, Stay(Far Away, So Close!), Mofo, Bullet the Blue Sky, I could go on.  Nowadays with the Little Things That Give You Away and other possible new song titles like Summer of Love and You're the Best Thing About Me.  I don't know.  They're just too wordy!  Plus, when it comes to the actual music, they all have a similar sound.  The past 5 years or so.  Hopefully they will prove me wrong with Songs of Experience.  We discuss all of this stuff because as fans we care.  We might care too much lol.  But that doesn't mean I dislike U2 nowadays.  I just want to like their new material because I actually like it.  Not because U2 is my favorite band and they happen to have released new music.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Olek on September 01, 2017, 08:15:18 PM
Greetings. Many thanks to all who've created and contributed to this post. I regret I cannot offer some meaningful insight, but I regard U2 as kind of like the Fellowship of the Ring.  When they started, they reminded me of Frodo(s) - earnest and courageous and fearless, or at least full of angst and other visceral stuff. And as they've evolved and progressed and created, they now remind me more of Galdalf - older and wiser and more powerful, yet a bit more philosophical and whimsical. Who's better - Frodo or Gandalf?  Both are important and both can be appreciated, but both are also distinct and different.

Yes, I know that this is a ridiculous premise, but I figured I'd contribute it anyway, and I'd make two other observations

First, I do find that many of the modern artists publishing stuff today seem to opt for formulaic or sampled or digitally-familiar stuff that sounds rather bland. Its not that these artists are bad people, but perhaps, their record companies or managers or minders are providing them with advice to make something catchy or popular or trendy, and thus some generic elements creeps into their output AND they end up adopting a narrower range of sound or profile. I've not always agreed with U2's choices and musical evolution, but I've never associated U2 with this preference for copying or narrowness at any stage of their career, including the most recent.

Second, and as an aside, I'd considered citing some famous actor or actress for purposes of artistic reference, whose image has changed or evolved AND this would likely be more practical, as it would be examining one entity in different stages of his / her life. But I could not come up with a great example except say Helen Mirren, whose had a long career and a pretty diverse range of roles. All of U2's output can learn to be appreciated, though the first or second half will be more appealing based on one's age and when they discovered the band. Keep well and safe travels too.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Allhorizonbomb on September 02, 2017, 01:52:54 PM
All of you who think the band don't make good music anymore don't buy it anymore, simple as that. Don't complain that U2 is dead because according to you they've been dead for over 20 years now, and nothing has changed. Just don't buy and leave the people that actually still like the band alone.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: robgalloway on September 02, 2017, 02:07:26 PM
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All of you who think the band don't make good music anymore don't buy it anymore, simple as that. Don't complain that U2 is dead because according to you they've been dead for over 20 years now, and nothing has changed. Just don't buy and leave the people that actually still like the band alone.

Absolutely +1



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: shineinthesummernight on September 02, 2017, 04:46:49 PM
I'm hoping this forum is taking a turn toward the positive. 8)
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: davis on September 02, 2017, 05:00:27 PM
Quote
All of you who think the band don't make good music anymore don't buy it anymore, simple as that. Don't complain that U2 is dead because according to you they've been dead for over 20 years now, and nothing has changed. Just don't buy and leave the people that actually still like the band alone.

Gee, and I thought discussion forums were for thoughtful discussion...

By the way, nothing in the original post said I didn't think U2 made good music anymore or that they were dead.  I even said this:
Quote
I still listen to, and buy, everything they put out.  Most of it I enjoy for awhile.  Some of it I think is pretty good.  I admire that they're still together and still writing and recording music.  I still go to as many shows as possible (and have never really been disappointed live).

I don't mind if you disagree with me, but no one likes to be misrepresented.




Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: The Exile on September 02, 2017, 05:24:55 PM
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Quote
All of you who think the band don't make good music anymore don't buy it anymore, simple as that. Don't complain that U2 is dead because according to you they've been dead for over 20 years now, and nothing has changed. Just don't buy and leave the people that actually still like the band alone.

Gee, and I thought discussion forums were for thoughtful discussion...

By the way, nothing in the original post said I didn't think U2 made good music anymore or that they were dead.  I even said this:
Quote
I still listen to, and buy, everything they put out.  Most of it I enjoy for awhile.  Some of it I think is pretty good.  I admire that they're still together and still writing and recording music.  I still go to as many shows as possible (and have never really been disappointed live).

I don't mind if you disagree with me, but no one likes to be misrepresented.

Look Davis, just quit with the negativity already. U2 are immune to age, stagnancy, and writer's block. Bono's hair is real, Edge doesn't color his goatee and wears a beanie because he likes it, Larry hasn't had facial work done, and every song is tied for first on the Best Songs Ever list.   ;D
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 02, 2017, 05:37:11 PM
Thank you, Davis, for sharing your perspective with such passion and eloquence. You seem to feel people don't believe your statements are heartfelt. I don't think that's the problem.

I'm a pretty new member of this forum and I initially worried this site might be totally dominated by fans who think 90s U2 is God's gift and post-90s U2 is complete crap, and anyone who wasn't on board with that shouldn't bother sticking around. I soon realized that isn't the case, there really is a diversity of opinion among forum members, but there is a clique that posts that perspective so frequently and aggressively that other voices tend to get elbowed aside.

You and some like-minded fans seem to have great difficulty understanding that your feelings on this matter are your truth, not THE truth. A previous comment pointed out this issue in your original post. You apologized, and sort of recognized the subjectivity of your opinions, but also sort of insisted on the objective validity of your artistic judgement, using Shakespeare as an example.

Yes, if a work of art inspires love and acclaim over a looong period of time, calling it great art becomes a semi-objective statement. But there is no comparison between that sort of judgement of history and the opinions of a clutch of rock fans -- or even a gaggle of rock critics -- regarding the output of a band that is still alive and active (thank God). Sorry, but your perspective really is *subjective.*

As is true for all of us. Our response to music is an incredibly personal and variable thing, especially in the case of a band like U2. I agree there is something sublime in their music, but I don't agree that quality vanished in the 21st century. I base that on my own personal experience.

I was a big U2 fan in the 80s. When Achtung Baby came out, I wanted to like it but I just didn't. I know, heresy. But that happened to a lot of people. There's a big bloc of folks out there who feel that post-80s U2 is crap. There's a smaller but still significant group who think U2 stopped being good after War. They may not be represented on this board, but they definitely exist.

I had already been underwhelmed by R&H, so after AB I stopped following the band's music. They always kept a special place in my heart, though. So I occasionally checked in on them during the 90s, and thought, huh? When ATYCLB came out and made a big splash, I bought the album in hopes of reconnecting. It didn't happen. I then bought the 1990-2000 compilation, thinking I'd take another crack at the 90s. No dice. After that, I pretty much gave up.

So what am I doing on this forum now? Things changed for me last year, when my mom became ill and then passed away. I started watching old U2 videos on YouTube that I hadn't seen in a long time, like Gloria and Two Hearts Beat As One, because I found them comforting. From there I started watching some of their newest music, that I was completely unfamiliar with, and discovered I liked a lot of it. Such as Ordinary Love, for example. I first heard that song as a performance clip from the Tonight Show. Four guys in their fifties sitting on a couch, and they killed it. I worked my way back from the 2010s, to the 2000s, to the 1990s. I discovered I liked most of it, including both ATYCLB and Achtung Baby. It was the same music, and I was the same person (or was I?) but my reaction was completely different from the first time I heard those albums. The only way I can describe it is that I became able to recognize that sublime quality in their music, which is what made me love them in the first place, through the veil of their changing styles.

Anyway, the point is:  music appreciation is extremely subjective.

I believe that you, Davis, and other like-minded fans, should be free to express your sense of loss, your disappointment with current U2, on this forum. Just please try to express it in a way that is respectful of fans who disagree, and allows some space to breathe for their excitement about the new music.

Also, please be respectful of the band as human beings. I'm not talking about you specifically, Davis, but I have read some comments on here from the "2000s are crap" brigade that I think are not and that is very unpleasant.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Rasmus on September 03, 2017, 04:19:47 AM
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Quote
All of you who think the band don't make good music anymore don't buy it anymore, simple as that. Don't complain that U2 is dead because according to you they've been dead for over 20 years now, and nothing has changed. Just don't buy and leave the people that actually still like the band alone.

Gee, and I thought discussion forums were for thoughtful discussion...

By the way, nothing in the original post said I didn't think U2 made good music anymore or that they were dead.  I even said this:
Quote
I still listen to, and buy, everything they put out.  Most of it I enjoy for awhile.  Some of it I think is pretty good.  I admire that they're still together and still writing and recording music.  I still go to as many shows as possible (and have never really been disappointed live).

I don't mind if you disagree with me, but no one likes to be misrepresented.

Look Davis, just quit with the negativity already. U2 are immune to age, stagnancy, and writer's block. Bono's hair is real, Edge doesn't color his goatee and wears a beanie because he likes it, Larry hasn't had facial work done, and every song is tied for first on the Best Songs Ever list.   ;D

The Edge has been non-stop on fire for 18 years! How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is like punk rock made on Venus! Song for Someone is like a modern With or Without You! U2's collaboration with Apple is innovation at its purest! Get on Your Boots was a great first single! OMG it's working!
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: trevgreg on September 03, 2017, 11:18:15 AM
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Thank you, Davis, for sharing your perspective with such passion and eloquence. You seem to feel people don't believe your statements are heartfelt. I don't think that's the problem.

I'm a pretty new member of this forum and I initially worried this site might be totally dominated by fans who think 90s U2 is God's gift and post-90s U2 is complete crap, and anyone who wasn't on board with that shouldn't bother sticking around. I soon realized that isn't the case, there really is a diversity of opinion among forum members, but there is a clique that posts that perspective so frequently and aggressively that other voices tend to get elbowed aside.

You and some like-minded fans seem to have great difficulty understanding that your feelings on this matter are your truth, not THE truth. A previous comment pointed out this issue in your original post. You apologized, and sort of recognized the subjectivity of your opinions, but also sort of insisted on the objective validity of your artistic judgement, using Shakespeare as an example.

Yes, if a work of art inspires love and acclaim over a looong period of time, calling it great art becomes a semi-objective statement. But there is no comparison between that sort of judgement of history and the opinions of a clutch of rock fans -- or even a gaggle of rock critics -- regarding the output of a band that is still alive and active (thank God). Sorry, but your perspective really is *subjective.*

As is true for all of us. Our response to music is an incredibly personal and variable thing, especially in the case of a band like U2. I agree there is something sublime in their music, but I don't agree that quality vanished in the 21st century. I base that on my own personal experience.

I was a big U2 fan in the 80s. When Achtung Baby came out, I wanted to like it but I just didn't. I know, heresy. But that happened to a lot of people. There's a big bloc of folks out there who feel that post-80s U2 is crap. There's a smaller but still significant group who think U2 stopped being good after War. They may not be represented on this board, but they definitely exist.

I had already been underwhelmed by R&H, so after AB I stopped following the band's music. They always kept a special place in my heart, though. So I occasionally checked in on them during the 90s, and thought, huh? When ATYCLB came out and made a big splash, I bought the album in hopes of reconnecting. It didn't happen. I then bought the 1990-2000 compilation, thinking I'd take another crack at the 90s. No dice. After that, I pretty much gave up.

So what am I doing on this forum now? Things changed for me last year, when my mom became ill and then passed away. I started watching old U2 videos on YouTube that I hadn't seen in a long time, like Gloria and Two Hearts Beat As One, because I found them comforting. From there I started watching some of their newest music, that I was completely unfamiliar with, and discovered I liked a lot of it. Such as Ordinary Love, for example. I first heard that song as a performance clip from the Tonight Show. Four guys in their fifties sitting on a couch, and they killed it. I worked my way back from the 2010s, to the 2000s, to the 1990s. I discovered I liked most of it, including both ATYCLB and Achtung Baby. It was the same music, and I was the same person (or was I?) but my reaction was completely different from the first time I heard those albums. The only way I can describe it is that I became able to recognize that sublime quality in their music, which is what made me love them in the first place, through the veil of their changing styles.

Anyway, the point is:  music appreciation is extremely subjective.

I believe that you, Davis, and other like-minded fans, should be free to express your sense of loss, your disappointment with current U2, on this forum. Just please try to express it in a way that is respectful of fans who disagree, and allows some space to breathe for their excitement about the new music.

Also, please be respectful of the band as human beings. I'm not talking about you specifically, Davis, but I have read some comments on here from the "2000s are crap" brigade that I think are not and that is very unpleasant.

Great post... and welcome aboard! I'm glad to hear the band has given you some comfort in recent tough times as well.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 03, 2017, 12:33:37 PM
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Thank you, Davis, for sharing your perspective with such passion and eloquence. You seem to feel people don't believe your statements are heartfelt. I don't think that's the problem.

I'm a pretty new member of this forum and I initially worried this site might be totally dominated by fans who think 90s U2 is God's gift and post-90s U2 is complete crap, and anyone who wasn't on board with that shouldn't bother sticking around. I soon realized that isn't the case, there really is a diversity of opinion among forum members, but there is a clique that posts that perspective so frequently and aggressively that other voices tend to get elbowed aside.

You and some like-minded fans seem to have great difficulty understanding that your feelings on this matter are your truth, not THE truth. A previous comment pointed out this issue in your original post. You apologized, and sort of recognized the subjectivity of your opinions, but also sort of insisted on the objective validity of your artistic judgement, using Shakespeare as an example.

Yes, if a work of art inspires love and acclaim over a looong period of time, calling it great art becomes a semi-objective statement. But there is no comparison between that sort of judgement of history and the opinions of a clutch of rock fans -- or even a gaggle of rock critics -- regarding the output of a band that is still alive and active (thank God). Sorry, but your perspective really is *subjective.*

As is true for all of us. Our response to music is an incredibly personal and variable thing, especially in the case of a band like U2. I agree there is something sublime in their music, but I don't agree that quality vanished in the 21st century. I base that on my own personal experience.

I was a big U2 fan in the 80s. When Achtung Baby came out, I wanted to like it but I just didn't. I know, heresy. But that happened to a lot of people. There's a big bloc of folks out there who feel that post-80s U2 is crap. There's a smaller but still significant group who think U2 stopped being good after War. They may not be represented on this board, but they definitely exist.

I had already been underwhelmed by R&H, so after AB I stopped following the band's music. They always kept a special place in my heart, though. So I occasionally checked in on them during the 90s, and thought, huh? When ATYCLB came out and made a big splash, I bought the album in hopes of reconnecting. It didn't happen. I then bought the 1990-2000 compilation, thinking I'd take another crack at the 90s. No dice. After that, I pretty much gave up.

So what am I doing on this forum now? Things changed for me last year, when my mom became ill and then passed away. I started watching old U2 videos on YouTube that I hadn't seen in a long time, like Gloria and Two Hearts Beat As One, because I found them comforting. From there I started watching some of their newest music, that I was completely unfamiliar with, and discovered I liked a lot of it. Such as Ordinary Love, for example. I first heard that song as a performance clip from the Tonight Show. Four guys in their fifties sitting on a couch, and they killed it. I worked my way back from the 2010s, to the 2000s, to the 1990s. I discovered I liked most of it, including both ATYCLB and Achtung Baby. It was the same music, and I was the same person (or was I?) but my reaction was completely different from the first time I heard those albums. The only way I can describe it is that I became able to recognize that sublime quality in their music, which is what made me love them in the first place, through the veil of their changing styles.

Anyway, the point is:  music appreciation is extremely subjective.

I believe that you, Davis, and other like-minded fans, should be free to express your sense of loss, your disappointment with current U2, on this forum. Just please try to express it in a way that is respectful of fans who disagree, and allows some space to breathe for their excitement about the new music.

Also, please be respectful of the band as human beings. I'm not talking about you specifically, Davis, but I have read some comments on here from the "2000s are crap" brigade that I think are not and that is very unpleasant.

Great post... and welcome aboard! I'm glad to hear the band has given you some comfort in recent tough times as well.

Thank you! Yes, U2 have really given me a lot. It's exciting to have so much to catch up on, and to be able to share my severe case of U2 mania on this forum, with people who are so passionate and well informed about the band.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: cabral255 on September 03, 2017, 03:12:04 PM
I think they are better now!
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: rank on September 03, 2017, 06:33:09 PM
I have been a U2 fan since 1983. I witnessed the amazing rise of the greatest band in the world but ever since the success of The Joshua Tree & the subsuquent failure of Rattle & Hum, every album seems like a reaction to the previous (with the exception of Zoorpa). I am constantly amazed at a band who was so successful at blazing new ground ending up second guessing their every move. Eno's comments on No Line on the Horizon especially telling with his allegeding that more experimental songs were removed & more radio friendly material put in it's place in order to get on the radio resulting on an uneven album instead of an experimental one. As an older fan, I keep hoping that each new release will match the heights of their 80's or early 90's material only to have my hopes dashed with an "I'll go crazy...". Trying to get radio airplay is pointless in this day & age. I have liked every album from 2000 on but have loved every album before that. I know that the lads can still pull out an album that will floor everyone if only they would get out of their own way... 
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: cabral255 on September 03, 2017, 06:38:31 PM
What was wrong with their last album?
Title: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: aviastar on September 03, 2017, 06:42:51 PM
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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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Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Blueyedboy on September 03, 2017, 07:36:18 PM
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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! 

Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: rank on September 03, 2017, 07:42:44 PM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Argo on September 03, 2017, 11:03:41 PM
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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."
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: j2736 (i'm not a boy ! ) on September 03, 2017, 11:13:55 PM
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All of you who think the band don't make good music anymore don't buy it anymore, simple as that. Don't complain that U2 is dead because according to you they've been dead for over 20 years now, and nothing has changed. Just don't buy and leave the people that actually still like the band alone.
  i agree. expecting too much, sometimes, or perhaps, most of the time, leads to frustration. i started to know and got hooked with U2 in 1985 and now i'm nearing 50 y/o - BUT, each time the band releases new music, i try to focus on the new material and stop comparing to their previous works. the members of the band are human beings- they are not prophets and bards. With these lyrics in The Blackout (assuming Jack and Zack are really part of the lyrics),
 " Statues fall, democracy is flat on its back, Jack
   We had it all, and what we had is not coming back, Zack
   A big mouth says the people, they don't wanna be free for free
  The blackout, is this an extinction event we see.,

Simple words but meaning is deep, especially for those who believe that the freedoms they enjoyed before are in trouble, if not gone. Bono is a musician who makes songs based on different convictions - religion, politics, social injustice. But, as a musician, he knows that he needs to level up with the CURRENT generation. He does not make songs for EXISTING U2 Fans only. he wants to win new generation to add up to the already existing fanbase.

As Bono sang.. "Go..Easy on me..Easy on me..Brother..".  8)
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: rank on September 04, 2017, 05:23:00 PM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: shineinthesummernight on September 04, 2017, 06:59:31 PM
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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Kmama07 on September 04, 2017, 08:40:13 PM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: soloyan on September 05, 2017, 05:33:51 AM
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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: trevgreg on September 05, 2017, 06:24:01 AM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Rasmus on September 05, 2017, 06:56:23 AM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Neil Young, man! on September 05, 2017, 09:40:08 AM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: jadasa78 on September 09, 2017, 07:15:22 AM
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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Droppo on September 09, 2017, 05:28:34 PM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Catlithco on September 10, 2017, 05:00:26 AM
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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Droppo on September 10, 2017, 08:01:41 AM
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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on September 10, 2017, 10:57:58 AM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: The Exile on September 10, 2017, 11:24:48 AM
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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.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Catlithco on September 10, 2017, 11:30:41 AM
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 :)
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: WookieeWarrior10 on September 10, 2017, 11:39:48 AM
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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?
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Catlithco on September 10, 2017, 11:47:46 AM
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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?

I don't know because I don't do that anymore. The last time I did it was when they released Achtung Baby. I hated it. I've compared AB with JT, and I've compared AB Bono with JT Bono. That caused a 25year lasting U2 break in my live. Now Achtung Baby is my favorite. So that's why I don't compare anymore.
As long as they are still active as musicians I will accept what they release,  and the new songs don't sound bad at all. Just different than what they did before. But this has been every new release.
I know if I don't like it now I will like it later.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 10, 2017, 01:44:52 PM
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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.

U2 has always been a band defined both by their artistic integrity and by their desire to reach a big audience. They have always been unreasonably ambitious in both areas. If they give up the ambition to be popular and relevant, does that amount to "aging gracefully?" You say they shouldn't compromise, but wouldn't that be compromising who they are and what they want?

You don't like YTBTAM and that's fine, that is subjective. But you also talk about whether or not their songs have been hits and there are objective measures for that. When a song charts Top 40 across multiple countries, that is a hit single. Window in the Skies and Boots both did that. So your statement that Vertigo was their last hit single is inaccurate. When betting everything you have that YTBTAM will not be a hit you insert the word "massive" -- it won't be a "massive" hit -- whatever that means. Well that's certainly hedging your bets, and quite wisely. When you come down to it, it is only SOI that didn't have hit singles, and given that album's unusual release it isn't possible to gauge the popularity of the songs by normal measures. Tens of millions of people had no reason to buy or stream any SOI singles since they already owned the songs.

I have no idea whether YTBTAM will be a hit, massive or otherwise. For myself, I don't care. I know the song makes me happy and that is enough for me. But if U2 wants a hit, then I am rooting for one. They have given me so much over the years, because of all their ambitions, because of being the remarkable people that they are. Even though, as in Catlithco's case, they lost me for a while due to their artistic integrity, I wouldn't have it any other way. I feel zero desire to try to tell them what they should want, and every desire in the world to support them in what *they* want.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Droppo on September 10, 2017, 03:28:34 PM
So you genuinely consider Window in the Skies and Boots to have been hits? You think U2 was happy with Boots' reception, in particular?
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 10, 2017, 03:42:47 PM
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So you genuinely consider Window in the Skies and Boots to have been hits? You think U2 was happy with Boots' reception, in particular?

It isn't about whether I consider them hits. Like I said this isn't subjective. They charted Top 40 in multiple countries, therefore they were hits.

Whether U2 were happy about the reception of Boots is a different question.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Droppo on September 10, 2017, 04:36:03 PM
Charting in several countries is not what U2 counts as a subjective hit. They constantly talk about relevance. I'm not using "massive" as a slippery caveat....it's obvious that U2 wants Coldplay-level airplay and charting with their new material.

The last song to do that in any sort of meaningful way was Vertigo. Come on, that's not a remotely controversial statement.

Now, all that said - I think it's immaterial and the wrong thing for U2 to be focused on. Love or hate Radiohead, but, one listen to Moon Shaped Pool makes it achingly obvious that they're not trying to write a hit.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 10, 2017, 06:13:16 PM
You said:

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they haven't had a hit single since Vertigo

So you are now clarifying that you didn't really mean that, you really meant "haven't had a hit single as big as Coldplay's biggest" and therefore your statement was not objectively incorrect. Okay I accept that.

Then you repeat your desire for them to want what you want and be more like somebody else, for example Radiohead. You are entitled to your feelings. As I already said, I do not share them.

Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Droppo on September 10, 2017, 09:29:34 PM
No, and you're being a bit precious with your word play.

No one, not even U2's staunchest defenders, would claim that their post-Vertigo singles have had the kind of success the band wanted. The songs have not been big hits. ANYTHING U2 puts out will chart. But, the songs have in no way captured people's imagination in the same way their older material did. Come on.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 10, 2017, 11:34:26 PM
I truly am not being precious with my wordplay, I just took you to mean what you actually said. I tried to correct what I perceived as a factually inaccurate statement. When you explained you meant more, I accepted that.

In any case, the definition of a hit is peripheral to the content of both of our original posts. Unless you are saying that if YTBTAM becomes a Coldplay-style smash hit then you would like it? Because that isn't what I understood you to be saying.


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Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: sulphur76 on September 11, 2017, 06:20:33 AM
You can call any song in the Top 40 a "hit song", but you won't see many legacy artists boasting, "Here's our last single that went to #34 on the charts for one week!"
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: EdgesExplorer on September 11, 2017, 07:15:26 AM
Name me one band whose members are aged 40+, that are 'relevant' in the current musical climate.
I cannot think of any. Well at least none in the definition that (i imagine) Bono alludes to.

U2 can never deny their age no matter how catchy, brilliant or weird the new album is, so relevance or indeed popularity with the teenagers, young adults, is just never going to happen. They (ok a majority) want to go on journeys with the bands they admire, watch them grow, see how they develop and learn their craft. Not hang on to the coat tails of a band that has all of that in the past.

I just want my favourite band to produce music that satisfies themselves first and foremost, trusting in their musical judgement, ability and creativity and seeing that relevance and good music do not go hand in hand.
Title: Re: We're not just being negative: an open letter to ardent defenders of the new U2
Post by: Luzita on September 11, 2017, 09:43:51 AM
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Name me one band whose members are aged 40+, that are 'relevant' in the current musical climate.
I cannot think of any. Well at least none in the definition that (i imagine) Bono alludes to.

U2 can never deny their age no matter how catchy, brilliant or weird the new album is, so relevance or indeed popularity with the teenagers, young adults, is just never going to happen. They (ok a majority) want to go on journeys with the bands they admire, watch them grow, see how they develop and learn their craft. Not hang on to the coat tails of a band that has all of that in the past.

I just want my favourite band to produce music that satisfies themselves first and foremost, trusting in their musical judgement, ability and creativity and seeing that relevance and good music do not go hand in hand.

I'm a little confused by your post. It seems to contain (though not nearly to the same degree) the same contradiction as Droppo's original post.

Are you saying that U2 shouldn't pursue hits because that causes them to create music that isn't "good"? Or are you saying they shouldn't pursue hits because there's no way they can succeed?  Because if the first is true, the second should be irrelevant.