23.1.09

Obligatory U2 Post

10 years ago, the mere mention of a new U2 album would've sent me into a flurry of ecstatic, Bono-esque gyrations. And if you're reading this site, there's a 97% chance you responded in kind. For 20 and 30-something Christians, U2 are the most important artists in the history of the world. For instance, which song are you more likely to know the words to: Psalm 117 or "Mysterious Ways"?

Knowing Psalm 40 by heart doesn't count.

Which is why I'm sad to report a general apathy at hearing about the release of U2's upcoming album, No Line On the Horizon. Not even a stir of excitement.

Maybe it's the sample track, "Get On Your Boots", which sounds suspiciously similar to "Vertigo". Mostly, it's because How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb was so boring.

Then there was Bono's new column in The New York Times, which was so ridiculous I couldn't tell if it was parody or not. Consider this line:
Glasses clinking clicking, clashing crashing in Gaelic revelry: swinging doors, sweethearts falling in and out of the season’s blessings, family feuds subsumed or resumed.
Yikes. Who knew Bono was the forefather of Pitchfork reviews?

I feel bad jumping on the anti-Bono bandwagon, especially since the guy has become a post-modern Mother Theresa. I understand all the good he's doing, and I'm a million times thankful for it. But, sweet fancy Moses, man, give us a break. I'm content with War, Joshua Tree, Zooropa and Pop. Maybe No Line On the Horizon will be pleasantly surprising.

I mean, there's a stark difference between the legacies of The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Partly, that's due to music. But there's something to be said for The Beatles bowing out gracefully.

Is this just me? Am I a lone, contrarian voice bitching in the wilderness? I know plenty of folks who loved Atomic Bomb, but why? Please...if I'm being a snooty, Andy Rooney-ish crank here, let me know.

19 comments:

  1. If a contrarian rants alone in the wilderness and no one hears, was he really b*****ing?

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  2. When I went to the Community Bible Fellowship youth group for the first time they had me introduce myself to the large group. Then someone asked if I was a fan of U. I said I didn't know who U2 was (not knowing, but really not caring about most music in general). Blasphemy! That was probably the most uncomfortable I've felt in a long time, and I never heard the end of it.

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  3. Mr. Rooney-

    With all due respect, really?!

    I don't have a whole lot to say for the last album. But what I can say is, with a new album, there is bound to be a new tour, and that, my friends, is truly the way to experience u2. Everytime I've seen them live (even that darn 3-D IMAX concert/movie--yes, I saw that) I come away from the show incredibly blessed.

    You're turning into Henry Rollins.

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  4. I still love 'em... BUT I really wish they'd make some good music again.

    Really. It might be a cliche now...

    ... but they should just do a worship album. Who's kidding who... just do it.

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  5. @larry and rob:

    Those were my favorite comments in a long time.

    @Kristy:

    Was that me? Did I do that? Who at CBF would've said that?

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  6. "10 years ago, the mere mention of a new U2 album would've sent me into a flurry of ecstatic, Bono-esque gyrations"

    i would say 12 years ago, because after pop i lost some enthusiasm for them. i liked pop and all (more than zooropa even), it just wasn't what i wanted from them at the time. so i wasn't too excited when all that you can't leave behind came out, but that ended up being a great album. then vertigo.. i like vertigo ok, probably on a level with pop. i listened to it a lot when it first came out, then kinda lost interest. i'm not too excited for the new album and don't care much for the new song, but i'll probably end up buying it. i might even end up really liking it. we'll see...

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  7. War and Joshua Tree are the only albums worth getting excited about. After that, they fell into the trend of one or two good (not great) tracks per album to save it from total crapdom. The greatest hits album up to 1990 is proof of this. You can almost see the level of quality plummet at the halfway point.

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  8. i think you should add a link to jan's brilliant bono essay from a few years back. still love it, still very apathetic towards U2.

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  9. a) no line on the horizon.

    b) beatles bowed out gracefully?

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  10. @ manley:

    Thanks, man. I do believe you should be the actual editor of this site. Those were egregious errors (especially the wrong album name).

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  11. I'll confess: I LOVE the new single.

    I get what you are saying about U2's recent blandness. I don't listen past three songs of All That You Can't Leave Behind.

    Here's to hoping the new album breaks some fresh ground.

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  12. First of all, outside of a couple decent singles, I find Pop and Zooropa to be completely boring in their faux experimentation. Give me War, Joshua Tree, and Achtung Baby over anything else in the U2 canon, much less anything else in the past 3 decades of pop music.

    That being said - I agree with Jordan regarding any malaise one might feel regarding the approach of No Line On The Horizon. While I did prefer How To Dismantle... over All That You..., I just don't hear the same urgency in their music these days. Maybe Bono's energy is (rightly?!?) focused on his global relief work and the other guys wanted to make some new music. Who knows?!? Maybe we'll here a fresh U2 with this new record; I'd like to be proven wrong.

    But will I purchase the new record when it is released? Of course I will....

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  13. Jordan: A great topic for debate!

    "I feel bad jumping on the anti-Bono bandwagon"

    That line sums it up. The hipster-cool period for U2 ended long ago (the golden rule of hipsterism is: once something is established as successful...it's no longer cool or good [see editorial link below]), and every album made since reaching pop stardom has been criticized in eerily similar ways.

    The Times Op-Ed: it was classic Bono. He's always talking, writing, and singing using this similar style. It may be art hyperbole, and it sometimes sounds like a love-stricken ninth grader writing a myspace blog...but it's his approach, and has been for a long time. He's appealing in this way: being so carelessly (yet thoughtfully) bold.

    His extravagance translates into either extreme warmth or distaste. Nobody seems to take the stance "I think Bono/U2 is ok". It's either love or hate...

    A wonderful editorial by David Eggers (McSweeney's, 'What Is The What', etc.) regarding our critiquing of famous artists/musicians:

    http://www.geocities.com/temptations_page/eggers.html

    -Steve

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  14. While I did like that rant, I wouldn't say my problem with Bono is selling out...any sort of sell-out would've happened two decades ago, at least.

    It's just the music isn't all that good. And Bono's writing voice has become a bad cliche. Now, that's not Bono's fault, since at one point it was all fresh and new. But it doesn't make reading that sort of writing any easier.

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  15. @Jordan. Nope, not you. This was while you were still at Mt. Tabor. I don't know who it was...maybe the youth leader? Can't really remember. It was supposed to be a lighthearted question, but didn't work out that way. It's funny looking back though. I didn't realize people were so devoted to U2!

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  16. I had to take a pill so I could stop shaking and write this. J-Man, I almost called Mark Driscoll to come over to my house, split a half-rack, and then go looking for you.

    The last album wasn't the best, but it had songs on it like "Yahweh" and "Miracle Drug" and . . . boring?!?!?! @#&#@(!?

    The fact that you left Achtung Baby off your, a-hem, "content" list invalidates everything you have to say, IMO.

    "Get on Your Boots" rocks. Being similar to "Vertigo" is a good thing. Stop ruining my life.

    I want to pummel you until we both collapse into a weepy embrace while listening to "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own."

    I need to get in the shower and lay on the cold, hard tile in a fetal position for a couple of hours.

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  17. @Steve:

    Oh, i left "Achtung Baby" out, because i didn't want to be redundant. Everything from "Boy" through "All That You Can't Leave Behind" is gold to me. And "Achtung Baby" is probably third on my list overall.

    Yeah, "Yahweh" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" are great songs. Beyond that...meh.

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  18. @ Jordan.

    "Bono's writing has become cliche"

    Fair enough. So what are some current examples of good song-writing?

    -Steve

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  19. I didn't mean his songwriting. I meant how he uses words. The NYT column would be my most clear example of his over-the-top prose.

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