Saturday, December 3, 2011

OK - absolutely the last U2 post ever: 5 things U2 should do to not suck

I don't know why I'm talking about U2 so much, I think it's just because they're everywhere at the moment but I promise this is the absolute last time I talk about them (this week). In my recent conversation with SC, a good friend who is a lifelong U2 fan as well owning a record collection that is bigger than my apartment. We talked about his incomplete U2 vinyl collection because even though he's a completist, he didn't want to be so precious about owning No Line on the Horizon when he felt there were only three good songs towards the end of it. But the most interesting thing he said is that Bono himself had opined if U2 had made two bad albums in a row, they should give it up. I hadn't heard that before but I believe they've met that quota. However, I am of the belief that they've got one good album left in them yet. This is how I would remedy the U2 situation. Gentlemen, please take note:

1. Get a muzzle for Bono: Eminently quotable and passionate, in the information age where every Bono offhand quip is broadcast worldwide within seconds, he needs to get away from the public eye and focus on his music. The consequences of every word coming through Bono's unfiltered mouth seems to put undue pressure on the band. Dude, shut the fuck up.

2. Fuck being relevant: In five years, U2 will have been around for 40 years(!) yet Bono is prattling on about staying relevant (Bono: see point 1). Any band this far into their career are lucky not to be playing a greatest hits tour at local RSL's to a handful of people watching. U2's best work has always being a product of them following their muse and essentially working a small scale. While Achtung Baby is influenced by a number of German bands, the exploration of very personal matters is what makes that record resonate so brightly. On the other hand, Pop seemed like too much focus on what was popular at the time (electronica) and they second guessed themselves. Their best work always comes from within.

3. Rock n' roll is a young man/woman's game: This is an extension of the last point, it's ok for U2 to sing about being older. We don't need them to be sexy or rocking, we need them to speak to their experience. Let the kids fight, fuck and do the drugs, U2 can be the elder statesmen of music and that's ok.

4. Get a new producer: Sure, U2 got burnt when you broke the Lanois/Eno producing stronghold on Pop but even when they got different producers for Atomic Bomb, it was the Pop guys again. Essentially, they need someone who is going to take the time to re-focus the band on their core values. My recommendation would be to Nigel Godrich, not because of Radiohead but because of Beck's Sea Change record. That record aches with beauty and insight and I think they need someone who can get that out of them in the picture. However, they shouldn't get Rick Rubin - we all love the Johnny Cash stuff but really, watch any recent making-of documentaries featuring RR. It's a bunch of studio monkeys doing all the work and Rubin comes in for a couple of hours to lie on the couch and give an opinion. U2 need someone 'present' to work with them.

5. Don't turn into Pink Floyd: As Rino pointed out the other day, all these re-issues and nostalgia is actually hurting U2. An Achtung Baby re-issue for $495? Seriously, go fuck yourselves. Elvis Costello shows you how the true punks do it - get out of the business model and get in touch with your post-punk selves. They're in there somewhere and it's ok for you to keep those core values in mind even though you're billionaires.

OK that's it. Get back to me when the new record's done...


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