40 is a fairly basic title and it seems unlikely that U2s anticipated its almost mythical destiny at the time. It is on stage that the band's fans will take it over and make it one of the most emblematic titles of the Irish career.
Traditionally played with Adam on guitar and Edge on bass, the track was played at the end of all concerts from the War Tour to the end of the Lovetown Tour. The group members got into the habit of leaving the stage one by one and the audience sang the famous "How long to song this song" until the end of the night. There is no doubt that this is the song that U2 will choose when they close the last concert of their career.
40 is a fairly basic title and it seems unlikely that U2s anticipated its almost mythical destiny at the time. It is on stage that the band's fans will take it over and make it one of the most emblematic titles of the Irish career.
In A Little While is a rhythmic and colourful track, a pretty love song about distance and the impatience to find the other. We particularly like the singer's performance, very lively on the studio version, even if his register will be very difficult to reproduce live afterwards. Played during the Elevation Tour in homage to Joey Ramone, who died after listening to the title according to legend, In A Little While will leave the setlists at mid-tour to reappear briefly only on the 360° Tour.
Book Of Your Heart is considered by many to be one of the best songs in Songs Of Experience, but it's forgetting that it only came out on the B side, which the band failed when they validated their tracklist. Given this status, we would have liked it to be a little more adventurous.
Two Hearts Beat As One is a well-crafted, rhythmic track, released as a War single, but necessarily eclipsed by the hits Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day. He will not survive the Unforgettable Fire Tour despite three good appearances but remained without follow-up during the Innocence + Experience Tour in 2015.
Winter is a great success, a singular title, atmospheric, full of character and off the beaten track. We like its progressive construction and Bono's meticulous service. This song would have had its place on No Line On The Horizon, too bad the band didn't dare.
Bono presented Summer Of Love as "a romantic song with black clouds over his head", and indeed this definition fits him well. It is not expected that such a light-looking summer love song will actually deal with the devastated streets of Aleppo and the war in Syria, but that is what gives it its character. Musically the track is carried by a distinctive and very successful guitar riff which, another paradox, has nothing to do with U2 as since it was offered by One Republic. And let's face it, it hurts a little.
For U2, writing and recording a song is sometimes a very long process. It is necessary to go back to 1986 to discover the first trace of Wake Up Dead Man, mentioned by Bono during an interview. In 1993, the name of the title is present in the design of Zooropa's cover. But it's on Pop that he'll finally get out. Hidden in last place, it is nevertheless one of the best pieces, unfairly ignored and ignored by almost everyone. We particularly appreciate his bare live performances in the introduction to Walk On during the Elevation Tour.
Released as the second single of No Line On The Horizon, Magnificent is a clever mix between U2's expertise in singles hit, effective and rhythmic, and the originality of the Moroccan sounds specific to the album. It is one of its masterpieces. We particularly like the progressive rise of the introduction, the almost "dance" tempo of the song, the richness of its production, and the guitar riff. Unfortunately the title will not prove to be as good as expected live.
Red Hill Mining Town was supposed to be the second single from The Joshua Tree but was finally put aside for the benefit of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. The good old Larry, always measured, said the song was "over-produced and under-written". We see rather a good track with a lot of potential whose main flaw is undoubtedly to be lost in the middle of The Joshua Tree and eclipsed by the multiple nuggets of the album. The song will seduce us in 2017 during the Joshua Tree tribute tour, thanks in particular to the accompaniment of a brass band played on the screen.
Breathe had the potential to be the summit of No Line On The Horizon. This track, a pure classic rock title, was a great surprise at the time and widely sold by the band and its entourage. Brian Eno lives there one of the best pieces of their career. But it lacks a little something to make it a masterpiece, maybe a little crazy or a real live stature. Played at the opening of the 360° Tour in 2009, it did not totally convince in this role.
To date, Numb is the last track of U2's career to be sung by The Edge and this has earned him a place in our ranking. This particular title, which is unusual in its construction, symbolizes Zooropa's experimental specificities. A bold song the spearhead of a group at the height of its creativity.
This is a title that the U2s will have had a hard time writing. After Glastonbury, played on stage during the 360° Tour, and Volcano, released on Songs Of Innocence, American Soul is the third phase of a single demo. We are wondering whether we should expect a fourth version one day. Musically speaking, however, let's admit that this song from Songs Of Experience is the most accomplished version, an effective and committed rock song, sometimes evoking Love And Peace Or Else or Bullet The Blue Sky. A genre in which the group excels.
Oh, that bass! Oh, those guitar sounds in all directions! Oh, that chorus slamming like a slap in the face! New York is a big track, a real rock track, in which U2 comes out a little bit from the search for the ultimate federating hit. A Miami style but more accomplished, better produced, and much more successful. His live version, heard at Le Man Ray one evening in October 2000, remains an unforgettable memory.
Mercy has the particularity of being the only track in our ranking that has never officially been released in studio version. But we couldn't possibly ignore this sublime ballad of more than six minutes whose demo was broadcast one evening in 2004 on an internet forum. An atypical, unstructured title, which takes its toll from the very first notes.
Mentioned in the booklet accompanying How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomo, it will be eliminated at the last moment of the album for reasons that only U2 know. The band will finally offer it live six years later, on the 360° Tour stage and on the EP Wide Awake In Europe, but in a reworked, refined, smoothed version, having lost a little of its flavor and charm.
The hopes of one day seeing a real studio version of Mercy released have been dashed. We will never know if this title could have been the masterpiece that the demo suggested.
With Sleep Like A Baby Tonight, U2 offers a magnificent ballad on a delicate subject about Ireland in the 70s, perfectly anchored in the universe of Songs Of Innocence. This track is musically a highlight of the album, one of those moments when the band excels by breaking out of its usual formats. We would have loved to hear the track live.
Miracle Drug is a good title of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb that we appreciate for its smooth production, its progressive rise, and the presence of The Edge and Larry on vocals, which - for the latter - is quite rare. We regret however that he did not succeed in winning in concert, the last attempt made at the beginning of the Innocence + Experience Tour probably sounding the death knell of his live career.
Mysterious Ways is Achtung Baby's most successful track after One on radio. Happy, rhythmic, he is appreciated for his dancing side and the guitar loops of The Edge. The latter owes him his second wife. Almost unavoidable in live, it usually offers a good time and allows you to get out the faceted ball that is fine. Nevertheless, the overdose is close.
We were entitled to fear the worst given the name of the song, but there is something endearing about Yahweh. We particularly like the alternative version, a bonus release of The Complete U2, cleaner and more direct than the original version of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. The live version, stripped down and with our lovely friend, Larry, on keyboard, evokes the memory of the pleasant summer dates of the Vertigo Tour and the friendly video clip accompanying the song.
Born from a guitar melody found by The Edge in the winter of 1988, All I Want Is You was transcended by her violin arrangements and her sumptuous instrumental finale. It's a singular track, almost unique in the band's discography, and one of their very best album fences. But despite some good passages, it is also a track that has not been able to impose itself in concert, often confined to the role of a second knife, and much less interesting once his studio arrangements have been cut off.
Zoo Station carries within it the musical reinvention operated by U2 with Achtung Baby. No other title, apart from The Fly, better symbolizes the group's shift towards electronic and industrial sounds. Thirty years later, the song has not aged and we are still surprised to listen to it with nostalgia when we think back to the slap received at the time. Fantastic opening title during the Zoo TV Tour, the rest of his live career will unfortunately never reach these heights again. We might have liked U2 to revisit it at some point.
Last Night On Earth is an effective track whose rhythm changes and chorus are appreciated for the stadiums. Much criticized for having been recorded so hard during the last night of Pop recording, he nevertheless gets an interesting advantage with the emphasis of The Edge on vocals on the choruses and the bridge. We even prefer the mix of the album version, more raw and less artificial, to the single version. In concert, the title was a brilliant companion to Until The End Of The World during the Popmart Tour and would have deserved to make a small place in some setlists during the following tours.
During Achtung Baby's long recording sessions, U2 struggled for months with a demo called Take You Down. This particularly fertile demo will eventually produce three distinct tracks: The Fly, Ultraviolet, and Lady With The Spinning Head. The latter will not make his hole on the album but will prove to be one of the band's best B-sides, especially in its Extended Dance Mix version.
Your Blue Room is undoubtedly the best track of the Passengers period, a superb mid-tempo ballad with a bewitching bass and a smooth production. Bono moves from one register to another, whispering in a deep voice on the verses to go up into almost female trebles on the choruses. We like to hear Adam at the end of the song. Played seven times in concert on the 360° Tour, the title brought a little freshness and an interesting virtual duo with Sinead O'Connor, just before she went crazy.
Released as the second single of the eponymous album, The Unforgettable Fire is already a turning point in U2's young career. This song with its atmospheric and ambient sounds is the symbol of an album that takes the band to the next level, under the influence of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. The composition is meticulous, musically rich, and seems to be light years away from the rawer titles of the first three albums. Thirty years later, the title has aged rather well and was very comfortable on the 360° Tour stage.
Placed at the very end of the album and with a rather sober mix, The Electric Co is not really highlighted on Boy. It is in live that this track will take all its dimension and will prove to be a real concert dynamiter, often chained to the mini-song "The Cry". His return to the setlists in 2005 during the Vertigo Tour after almost twenty years of absence, then more sporadically in 2015, was a real pleasure. Each time a great opportunity for Bono to show that he knows how to spit water and throw his bottle at his audience.
Relatively unknown to the general public, Kite is nevertheless with Walk On one of the best compositions of All That You Can't Leave Behind. Bono wrote a poignant text that he would later dedicate to his father at the end of his life. A little too smooth on the album, the track will be sublimated on the Elevation Tour stage, illustrating Bono's sometimes relevant contribution to the acoustic guitar. We also salute the live version proposed in 2006 during the Australian concerts of the Vertigo Tour, with a didgeridoo on stage and long solos by an enthusiastic friend Edge and even the appearance of a...kite on stage! A metamorphosed title that you can't get tired of twelve years later. They can do it again any time they want.
In God's Country is one of the fastest tracks on U2 and that's why we love it. The composition is effective and gives way to an omnipresent, clear guitar that slams in your face. It is also a piece that plays on imagery and whose sounds take you far, very far, into the great spaces where the horizon extends to infinity. A great success in the context of The Joshua Tree.
Stay (Faraway, So Close!) is a ballad with an unstoppable and universal melody. It is probably the least experimental title of Zooropa and naturally the one that will be the most successful with the public. We prefer the soundtrack version of Wim Wenders' film "Faraway, So Close" to the album version, which is more powerful and better produced. Stay is certainly one of the big hits of U2's career but with the downside of not being able to compete with tops like One or With Or Without You. We will regret his live evolution, too often confined to boring acoustic versions, despite some complete band interpretations (unexpected) at the end of the 2018 tour.
With I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, we tackle the heavy, the very heavy. Inspired by gospel music, this track opens U2 to American culture and marks a decisive turning point in his career. It's an undeniable hit, the band's second single to reach first place in the American charts. Brilliant from its release, the track becomes a hymn in concert and is skillfully renewed on Rattle And Hum with a gospel choir. It culminated in 1992 with an electrifying version in which Bono regales with his acoustic guitar. But he has known a long and painful descent since then. Too often played mechanically, with sufficiency and ease, the track has become disgusting and we can no longer hear it in concert. Even poor The Edge falls off the stage.
One Tree Hill is a bit like the hidden gem of The Joshua Tree. Eclipsed by the planetary hits on the A side of the album, this track forms with Exit the highlight of its B side. A poignant piece written in homage to Greg Carroll, so emotionally strong that Bono took time to be able to sing it correctly in concert. We obviously like it for its intensity and the story of friendship it tells.
Moment Of Surrender is a magical and timeless ballad from the recording sessions of No Line On The Horizon in Fez. Born from an improvisation with Brian Eno's baton, the track extends without complex over more than seven minutes and is thus the longest ever released on a U2 album. It is undoubtedly a major piece of the U2 of the 2010's, unanimously acclaimed for its crescendo rise, its heady melody, and its live version sublimated by its rapped finale.
Chosen in 1979 to be on the A side of the EP Three during a radio survey, Out Of Control was already popular with the public at the time. Re-recorded the following year to release on Boy, the song was, along with I Will Follow, one of the two nuggets that launched U2's career. A simple rock track, with a raw sound but very effective. Forty years later, it has kept the freshness and candor of his debut, and it still takes the crowds on board for each concert release.
U2's most "pop" titles are often the ones that divide fans the most, and Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way is no exception. It seems obvious that a song based on such a ridiculous name, and on "oh-oh" to no longer know where to put it, can only be unbearable.
However, we let ourselves be taken by the very successful melody, the smooth production, the convincing flights of Bono and the choirs of The Edge. The group signs a delicate ballad, full of freshness and pleasure. In concert, the track hits the mark and is easily tamed by the audience; we even regret that its so communicative finale does not last a little longer. Special mention for the orchestral version played during the BBC concert, probably the best to date, and for - in another register - the acoustic duo Bono / Edge on an American television channel. Proof that the title also adapts well to different formats.
Rattle And Hum's main single, Desire was a commercial success and the first U2 title to be number one in the UK and win a Grammy Award. It must be said that it is particularly well adapted to radio by its short format and fast pace. We particularly like his energy, Adam's groove, and the lyrics that already put Bono on the rails of the characters he will play later on Achtung Baby. In concert, the song will prove to be full of resources, seductive as well in its traditional electric version, as in its megalomaniacal and crazy version of the Zoo TV or in the sobriety of the acoustics. Fucking beautiful.
So Cruel is not a very popular song and has only had three (short) live performances by Bono solo. Yet it is a typical Achtung Baby track, a melancholic and dark ballad that reminds us of the doubts and difficulties known at the time by the band, notably by The Edge in its couple life. You have to listen again to the version sung by Bono alone in a room of Hansa Studios in Berlin. A track with an engaging melody, very well produced and very rich in sound.
With Original Of The Species, U2 is a pop song but not a marshmallow. Originally written in homage to one of the girls from The Edge, the title is one of the most beautiful pieces of How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and probably its best composition. A neat and refined piece, full of humility and optimism. The kind of piece that fits perfectly with an orchestra.
Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses is a complex track that is not easily tamed. Born in difficulty, not totally convincing on Achtung Baby, it was transformed when it was released as a single in a more acoustic version than the original. Difficult to play live, it is only played intermittently, reappearing every ten years according to the band's inspiration, oscillating between electric and acoustic, each time for our greatest pleasure. This is a title that improves over time and whose rarity and perpetual movement are the hallmarks of its quality. Its 2018 version will be one of the few undeniable satisfactions at the end of the Experience + Innocence tour.
Raised By Wolves recounts that late afternoon of 1974 when three bombs exploded in the heart of Dublin, marking Bono - then a teenager - forever. Forty years later, the singer wrote a powerful piece, full of electricity, whose great success is to translate pain and anger into both the text and the music. The title will take on an even greater dimension in concert through its staging. One of the central titles of the Songs Of Innocence concept and a clear artistic success for the group.
Pride (In The Name Of Love) is a fantastic hit, a universal, unmissable and immediately recognizable anthem, one of the songs that fits the band's skin the most and that made its legend. Some will therefore consider that he had his place in the top 10 or even the top 5 of this ranking. There is no denying this status as a mastodon or its ability to always make a stadium rise. On the other hand, the candour of his text, its chorus that has become absolutely unbearable, and its total inability to renew itself over time, are severely sanctioned. Pride is certainly a masterpiece, but a masterpiece worn to the core and which would certainly have benefited from being fallowed from time to time.
With Song For Someone, U2 signs a simple and sincere love song, a moving look at the young Bono who wants to seduce his first love, and engages in a relationship that will last a lifetime. We like the efficiency of the melody, the mix of acoustic and electric, and the simple beauty of this piece. The video featuring Woody Harrelson and his daughter is a monument.
A true declaration of love for an idealized America, Heartland originated from a road trip made by Bono and Adam in the heart of the country. The track exudes a change of scenery, its slow and progressive rhythm makes you dream. Worked on from the sessions of The Unforgettable Fire, the song has the sounds of it and is considered a classic U2, seeming a little apart in the blues atmosphere of Rattle And Hum. It is nevertheless the best title, a real gem, unfairly misunderstood, underestimated, and unfortunately never played live.
Dirty Day is a dark title, speaking of abandonment, and inspired by an expression used by Bono's father. We love this darkness and the tribute to Charles Bukowski it contains. We also like the changes in rhythm on which the song is based, alternating slow verses lulled by Adam's bass with more violent choruses in which Edge enters the stage. A style that U2 masters like no other. We would have liked the title to have had a chance in concert over the past twenty-five years, long before the recent surprising and late dusting off of the Experience + Innocence Tour stage, even if it was well worth it.
Let's be honest, Landlady's only fault is to finish too early. This ballad is one of the highlights of Songs Of Experience. Well written, well sung, played with class and restraint, it is all that is expected of U2 at the end of his career. A nugget to consume without moderation. Written for Ali, the song allows us to measure the progress made by U2 since Sweetest Thing. And thus to illustrate, much better than two years of concerts, the concepts of innocence and experience.
From the very beginning, Unknown Caller seduced us and plunged us into the atmosphere of a sunny morning in Fez. These oriental sounds, which are the brilliant charm of No Line On The Horizon, do wonders here. The title turns into a superb ballad featuring choirs (in which Eno and Lanois participate) and guitar, omnipresent until the brilliant final solo. A melodious, subtle, perfectly produced title, with a communicative pleasure. The giant karaoke proposed on the 360° Tour stage in 2009 was a brilliant idea, unfairly and too quickly abandoned.
The band worked for a long time on a demo called "The Real Thing" before giving it a more ironic name that fits perfectly with the theme it addresses: superficiality, especially the one Bono was watching on television and in commercials. In this respect, Even Better Than The Real Thing is undoubtedly the first visible manifestation of the Zoo TV Tour and its open criticism of the media, which gives it a major importance. The track will have a great live career during Zoo TV, Popmart and even occasionally during the Elevation Tour before being completely rediscovered thanks to a remix that will be all the rage on the stages of the 360° Tour and the Innocence + Experience Tour.
Too dull and too cold on Pop, artificially doped with steroids in its single version, it is live on the Popmart Tour that Please has become a real monument. Everything changes from the bridge, from the brilliant idea of incorporating Sunday Bloody Sunday's drums, to the sublime sequence with Where The Streets Have No Name and Bono's incantations on the verge of tears. In three and a half minutes, Please goes from a good title to a masterpiece. It offers a moment of pure magic of which only U2 has the secret. Why the hell would you deprive yourself of it since then?
A Sort Of Homecoming is one of the most beautiful compositions of U2, a track that shines through its effectiveness as an album opening and announces the rest of The Unforgettable Fire in a masterful way. We discover the new sound of U2, richer and more worked, and which will lead him 3 years later to the summit. We like the construction of the song, its power and its great maturity. The live version released on Wide Awake In America is superb. We will miss its rare appearances in 2017 during the Joshua Tree's anniversary tour.
No other B-side is ranked higher in our ranking. Four years after its release, The Crystal Ballroom is still a huge slap in the face. A track that would have had its place on Songs Of Innocence if it had not been so far from it artistically. U2 experiments with an unusual sound, evoking at times the Black Keys and probably inspired by Danger Mouse in the production. A sound that works perfectly and that we would have liked to hear more often in concert, especially since the snippet of Miss You, added during her second performance, was brilliant.
With Lights Of Home, U2 signs a neat and efficient mid-tempo track, in line with what can be expected from the band for its end of career. A particularly exciting track in its "St Peter's String" version, featuring a rich sound, blues and gospel influences, and perfectly anchored in the concept of experience. We like Bono's very personal lyrics and the final choirs full of optimism.
The Miracle, it is Bono who takes to the stage of the Innocence + Experience Tour amazed by his audience, applauding them and thanking them for the "great life" people are giving him. The Miracle, it's a generous U2 who breaks the codes by inviting himself during an Apple keynote to distribute their album for free to the whole planet in front of a stunned audience. The Miracle, it's a band that draws on all its influences to create the ultimate, obvious, timeless, unanimously recognized hit, squatting charts and radio waves from around the world. The Miracle, it's a hymn, a terrific melody spontaneously repeated by the crowd in concert and reminiscent of 40 years of its glorious past. The Miracle, it's the quintessence of perfection, the greatest title of the entire career of a group that has reached the grail after forty years of activity. We were obviously on our way to put him in first place in our ranking... and then all things considered, no.