The Taser's Edge

How U2 can become a musical snob and a personal jerk

I began listening to the newest U2 album, No Line On the Horizon, as I wrote the last post.  Did you ever hear the CCM/modern christian worship band, Tree 63?  Although there are plenty of other examples of Christian bands which have decided to be U2 clones in the past 10-15 years, Tree 63 stands out.  Why?  Their self-titled album from 2001 somehow sounds more like this 2009 U2 release than any U2 album that had come out before 2001.  Not sure how that’s possible.  Oh wait, there is one possibility: U2 has become the latest bad copy of itself.  The lameness of this album, especially in the areas of music and lyrics, deserves its own post.

I can no longer lie to myself about my music snobbery.  According to Metacritic, Rolling Stone is idiotic (for praising the album a lot) and Onion AV and Pitchfork get it right.  A quote from the latter: “The album’s ballyhooed experimentation is either terribly misguided or hidden underneath a wash of shameless U2-isms.”  Pitchfork’s so good at being a jerk.  By quoting them, I can pretend that I’m not also a jerk.  Or almost pretend: if Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois can’t save you, you really are lost.

Closing conflicting evidence: As much as I hate Edge’s guitar solos and as shaky as Bono’s voice sometimes seems in this Letterman clip from Tuesday night, U2 is still darn compelling live.  Also, in future I probably should hold off on reviewing an album until I’ve heard the whole thing.  Revisions possibly to follow.

4 Comments so far
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Have you seen U2 live? When Emily and I saw them a few years ago, I was a bit disappointed. They were too perfect. There was no variation from the tracks on the CD and the songs they played. Made for a lack of energy. It was like all the things that make them look great on a DVD oddly don’t translate well live. Also, Kings of Leon opened for them (and I still don’t understand what the big deal about them is). So maybe that spoiled it. U2 did, however, have the best Superbowl performance of all time.

Comment by T Jarrett

No, I haven’t seen them live live. Although I did see them on Entourage, giving a shout to Johnny Drama. The fact that Johnny loves them might be another sign of their has-been-ness.

I remember you and Emily going to see them, being disappointed in the Kings of Leon, and then you basically stopping being a fan of U2 at all.

More and more, I feel like I would rather see a band I’ve barely heard of in a really small setting rather than a band, even one that I love, in a huge setting.

Comment by tasersedge

you need not apologize for your “snobbery.”
i’d call it discriminating. real elitism is when you foist shit on the public and expect them to lap it up just because you have a slick media blitz to accompany it.
when I heard they had a new album coming out its as though someone said, “a fruitfly just entered your postal district.”
as someone who still has his cassette tape (when I say cassette tape you should think “street cred.”) of Joshua Tree, I can assure you, U2 has been over for a while–prob. since the debacle called Rattle and Hum. the one moment that stands out, when I knew it was over, was the scene where Bono spray painted “Rock and Roll” graffiti style on a wall during a live concert.
you sir, are now officially a chode.

Comment by joe gunby

Thanks for the comment, Joe. So colorful.

I can’t say that I have Joshua Tree on tape (although I think Holly has it on CD), and I’m guessing that in most people’s opinion there is much less street cred involved in my owning Zooropa on tape (released long after Rattle and Hum) and actually liking it. The David Byrne/Brian Eno album from last year actually strongly reminds me of Zooropa, and I like both of those albums quite a bit.

My bigger related problem is the fact that Rolling Stone has become so influential and yet is consistently disappointing (in its music criticism, its Us Weekly-esque paparazzi of the stars section, its knee-jerk un-nuanced excuses for political coverage, and now I find that I don’t have a conclusive opinion on their movie criticism, other than that the film industry at least pays way too much attention to it). Not that I think Pitchfork is the answer, I should mention.

Comment by tasersedge

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