Do you still listen to U2 songs? I do, sometimes. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the Joshua Tree album especially, and sometimes Achtung Baby. I still think “One” is one of the most beautiful songs to come out of the 1990s. “With or Without You” still hits. “Pride (In the Name of Love)” didn’t age well, but it’s still okay. “Bullet the Blue Sky” can still slap. I didn’t even remember that U2 had a song called “Vertigo” but they did and, according to Bono, that’s their best song? Or his favorite song. Bono chatted with the Awards Chatter podcast about how most of U2’s songs make him cringe, and how the band name is stupid.
U2 frontman Bono has said many of his band’s songs makes him “cringe” with embarrassment, and that he doesn’t like their name much either. The band, comprised of Dublin schoolmates, has sold more than 150 million albums over a 40-year career. But speaking on the Awards Chatter podcast, the 61-year-old said that, aside from 2004 track Vertigo, he finds it hard to listen to their music. He added that his voice sounds “very strained” on earlier recordings.
“I’ve been in a car when one of our songs has come on the radio, and I’ve been the colour of – as we say in Dublin – scarlet,” he told The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg during an hour-long interview. “I’m just embarrassed. I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot. And maybe that’s the place to be as an artist is right at the edge of your level of pain for embarrassment, your level of embarrassment. And the lyrics as well. I feel that on Boy and other albums it was sketched out very unique and original material. But I don’t think I filled in the details.”
In defence of his band, U2 have had 10 UK number one albums and seven chart-topping singles, since arriving on to the scene in the early 1980s. Their fifth album Joshua Tree – featuring anthems like With Or Without You and Where The Streets Have No Name – was recently named as the best album of that particular decade by Radio 2 listeners.
While Bono agrees that his band “sound amazing”, he said he does not like the sound of his own voice at all, except on Vertigo, which featured on How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. “Most of the other ones make me cringe a little bit,” he said.
And despite a career spanning four decades, the Irish singer believes his voiced sounded weak early on and that he “only became a singer recently”.
“I just found the voice very strained and kind of not macho and my Irish macho was kind of strained by that,” he continued. “A big discovery for me was listening to the Ramones and hearing the beautiful kind of sound of Joey Ramone and realising I didn’t have to be that rock and roll singer. But I only became a singer recently.”
I listened to “Vertigo,” thinking I was missing something. His voice sounds TERRIBLE on that song!! It sounds really strained, so I don’t know what he’s talking about here at all. Personally, I don’t think U2 was particularly good at lyrics or vocals, and yet I would probably agree with the sentiment that they were/are one of the best bands of the last fifty years. They were more than the sum of their parts.
His vocals sounded best in the Joshua Tree/Achtung Baby era, my God. I have no idea what he’s talking about.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.