Wednesday, February 08, 2006

U2? Me Too!

Is it still cool to like U2? They swept the major categories at the Grammy's I read (but did not have time to watch). Awesome! Not that I put much stock into awards, but still, good to know there is some justice in this world (Mariah Carey? WTF?!) Much as I love Kanye West, I have to say, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a tight record. Solid, consistently good, much like most of U2's alboms (except Discotheque). I've been a U2 fan since the 80s, and I was born in 1980--mainly because my brothers were fans (my sisters were fans of Air Supply and Chicago, which is why I don't hate them today). So cool or not, stand the test of time or not (I think they have), I like U2.

But I don't like them the way I like Neil Young, the Clash, the Beatles, the Who, Bob Dylan, any really indisputably good, groundbreaking rock band that decades later, you still really, really like. I've always felt a little insecure in my love for U2. Maybe because it always seemed to be about Bono. Maybe because they got kind of preachy at the end, and while I admire their politics I question their feel-good tactics. (Live 8 to change the minds of the G7? Give me a break. It's like "We Are the World" redux. But I used to study international relations, maybe that's why I'm a skeptic.) They are solidly good, in my opinion. I like their melodies, lyrics, stage presence. But are they the greatest rock band in the world, when the Rolling Stones are still (alive) around? I don't know. I guess if you measure a band/artist's greatness by their innovation and influence, they qualify. After all, Coldplay is compared to them (for the mix of ego, rock balladeering, front-man focus, and preachiness). I hate this comparison though. While I liked the first two Coldplay albums, the last album was disappointing and overhyped. They themselves have become overhyped. The stirring loveliness of "The Scientist" has been replaced by bland Deepak Chopra plattitudes masquerading as political statement like "I will fix you." For now, they're not groundbreaking, but they're pleasant enough. Let them be tested another decade, and we'll see if they're the next U2.

So tonight, I declare, once and for all, with pride I like U2, and I think I always will. They're a good band. I don't regret having their albums the way I do a few months after purchasing flashes in the pan like say "The Killers" or, heaven help me, (this was 1995), Matchbox 20. I'm always insecure about some of my music tastes, since I used to have such bad music taste when I was a teenager, and when I dated a Ryan Seacrest Dj'd Star. 98.7 listening boyfriend who seemed to love, just love, cheesy rock ballads. But here's to the belief that my two decade affair with a band isn't some prolonged one-night stand I'll regret tomorrow. Kind of like what you would wish a boyfriend to be.

UPDATE: Things I am mad about: Arcade Fire didn't win for best alternative album, but the ponderous White Stripes did. John Legend's "Stay With You" didn't win best traditional R&B. Kelly Clarkson's Breakaway won best pop vocal album, but not Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine. You see why awards mean nothing?


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