These guys are from England and who gives a shit?
The day U2 was released, I bought a copy at Amoeba Records in Berkeley. The clerk warned me that I was not in fact buying a U2 record; my first instinct was to tell her "well, why the fuck else would I be buying this record?"
For the record, I hate U2. Really, really, really hate U2. Here, let's take a typical U2 song:
Damn near eleven million people have watched this video, which features four middle-aged, obscenely wealthy Irishmen cavorting in what I assume is not Ireland. True to form, they're hamming it up in a foreign country (this time, it's Spain) in a way that only the most successful entertainers can afford. Watch as they rock out in a giant Target logo (OK, not really) featuring thousands of euros worth of gravel. Thrill to their listless miming of archaic, tired rock 'n roll styles - everything from the disaffected cool of Charlie Watts to the anemic almost-windmilling of Pete Townshend affected by some doofus who's ditched his real name for something cribbed from Euclid. Oh, and the sunglasses. The sunglasses. Always the sunglasses. At least they make sense in this context.
Listen to this song for a minute without looking at the screen and I find myself wondering what laundry soap commercial this is... no, wait... what second tier car marque this is advertising, probably with a chesty blonde in a convertible somewhere near Big Sur. Look back up at the screen; the only thing missing are the usual MPG statistics. This isn't a song, it's an advertisement for frozen entrées or Cialis; it doesn't really matter. Hey, there's nothing quite like middle-aged men, shirts unbuttoned to Club Med depths, clutching at their tacky necklaces in the Spanish desert sun, is there? Oh wow. Cool.
Best of all, this song features lyrics that are no better or worse than any other U2 song. They're vapid, they're cliché, and they probably sound incredibly meaningful to either American tweens searching for something "adult" or (more like) to anyone whose native language is not English, which would explain a lot in terms of their worldwide profitability/popularity. All of the following feature in Vertigo alone:
- Counting in a foreign language
- Mistaking fourteen for four
- Exhortations to increase the volume
- Comments on ambient lighting
- The jungle (is this where Toto blesses the rains?)
- Heads and their innate inability to rule hearts
- Feelings and how they're stronger than thoughts
- Your eyes, wide (open or shut not specified)
- Souls and their inability to be bought
- Intermittent Spanish ejaculations (perhaps in a bid to increase chart sales in Bogotá?)
- "You give me something I can feel" (hopefully "something" != "a natural woman")
- Twinkling bullets that feature sky-ripping mechanisms made of gold (?)
- Dance-challenged boys
- Rock and roll
- A girl featuring nails á la Nomi Malone
- Jesus straddling her face
- "Swinging to the music" (Trig Palin style? This is not further specified)
- A positively Nabokovian reference to chess for no apparent reason
- Product placement for U2 the b(r)and ("All of this can be yours!")
- Didactic, palpable love (not sure what this refers to - an audio-animatronic Steely Dan?)
- Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (sic)
For those of you on my friends list who love this song (or, hell, even this band): Why?