U2 Lists: Top 10 U2 Songs to Use to Convert Non-Fans
March 19, 2014
[Ed. note: This is the 56th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]
Like a preacher stealing hearts at a traveling show, I'm an unashamed full-on U2 evangelist. I can understand if Bono's causes annoy folks, or if their lyrics sometimes lean too Christian for the non-believing crowd, but I do have a tough time with people (especially musical people) who don't recognize the way the band has impacted the music landscape since their debut in the '70s.
I may not go door-to-door spreading my gospel, but I most certainly challenge friends and acquaintances who say they "don't care for" U2 or "never got into them." That to me is unacceptable. Everyone should realize that U2's catalog goes a lot further than "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Though I personally think that song is brilliant, it may be too political. I get it.
Whenever I encounter someone who is really dismissive of the band, I make a playlist for them and wait to see if my plan will work. The following 10 tunes are the core of my persuasion. Feel free to use them in your own defense. So far, I'm winning.
10. Mysterious Ways
This is a good one to start with because it was so popular during its prime and continues to enjoy semi-regular radio play. Most people already know it but forgot that they like it (or that U2 created it). The hook is undeniably catchy, the imagery associated with it features sexy belly dancers and celebrates the female spirit. What's not to love?
9. Angel Of Harlem
I dare you to play this one for your friends who possess serious soul—they won't be able to deny that they feel it. The classic, gritty arrangement born in Memphis tells of the band's first ride in a limousine in New York City. They recalled hearing Billie Holiday on the radio and made their lyrics a tribute to her legend.
8. Beautiful Day
It's so conventional it almost pains me to include it, but who can deny the way this song makes you feel on a sunny day, driving fast with the top down? Yeah, I thought so. It's mandatory for these purposes.
7. Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me
Because this song was created for a Batman film, it isn't as "U2-ey" as some of their more mainstream songs. In fact, it's downright seductive in the way it pulls you into the story—from headaches to suitcases to turning tricks with a crucifix, there's a lot of ground covered here. And every ounce of it rocks.
6. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
For anyone who has ever had a complicated relationship with a parent, this song is bound to hit home. Bono balances paying tribute to his late father with detailing all that was wrong in their relationship and celebrating what he gained from it. It's a eulogy of cathartic forgiveness, passionately released if for no other reason than to get it out. If only all of us could extinguish our pasts with such grace.
For the dancers among us, there's no better U2 song to put forth than this one. An infectious beat, a silly falsetto and layers of real meaning via the lyrics. Midnight is indeed where the day begins, and the result here is a burst of hip-shaking awakening.
4. Slow Dancing
I'll be the first to admit that country music is not my favorite. I can appreciate the early greats—Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, etc., but I've never been one for the modern stuff. That said, I do respect the genre, and songs like this Willie Nelson-injected ballad give me clarity as to why so many people embrace it.
If you're old enough to remember the debut of this song, it probably conjures up memories of a certain iconic iPod commercial, starring four dapper rock stars. Though iPods have become almost obsolete since the advent of the smartphone, the electric energy captured in the moment here will never dissipate.
This song is so delicate and beautiful it's often an afterthought even for the most dedicated of fans. Bono is understated here in ways he seldom holds back, and the result is pure poetry. You can follow the fog of the riff all the way to the end, absorbing its beautiful calm.
1. Walk On (America: A Tribute to Heroes live version)
Though the song was written about Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, following 9/11 it assumed compound meaning, and this specific arrangement was performed in the wake of the attacks when everyone was raw from the pain. It's difficult to imagine anyone, American or otherwise, not moved by the conviction in Bono's voice and the power of the band's performance. It was unifying, healing and inspiring in the moment, and now lives on in a sonic time capsule of positive energy.
(c) @U2, 2014.
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