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Why is U2 so popular?


Guest Giles Walker
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Guest Giles Walker

Answer summary:

Big market

Product market fit

Usability

Big Market

Imagine youre a middle-aged, upper-middle class male.You live in a large metropolitan area. You have a good job. Your wife does Pilates. Your oldest just started Kindergarten. Yes, youre an adult but youre still cool! Your jeans cost $125. Sometimes you wear sneakers with a blazer!

You like the idea of being a guy whos into live music but the last few concerts youve been to were a) too loud b) too crowded c) too foreign (you're lucky if you recognize one song). Youll snap a few photos with your smartphone and tell your bros about it to get some street cred but lets face it you didnt enjoy yourself. There are millions of you. And youre willing to drop cash to have a concert make you feel cool again.

Product Market Fit

Then you learn that U2 is coming to town U2! Earnest, melodic, Oprah-endorsed U2! $200 a ticket? No problem. You get a sitter. Your wife is excited this is going to be great! You invite some friends from college to join you.

On the way, you listen to the early stuff. Joshua Tree pumps through the speakers of your Lexus SUV (no judgement - you have two kids!). The harmonies soothe. The lyrics are straightforward. You recall a simpler time before car seats and prostate exams. The nostalgia is so thick you have to wipe it from your face. You havent looked at your phone in nearly 11 minutes.

You arrive at the show and see yourself everywhere. Tasteful North Face and Patagonia jackets abound. The stands are awash in earth tones. No one is shoving. No one has a nose ring. These are your people.

Usability

The band begins with A SONG YOU RECOGNIZE! Youre on your feet. Youre drinking craft beer. Everyone is singing terribly.

And the best part YOU CAN DANCE HERE! 80,000 people surround you and theres not a coordinated movement in sight. Even the band sets a low bar. Bono doesnt so much dance as lunge and bounce. The other guys seem content to nod and rock. All around you, middle-aged people are rocking and lunging and bouncing and singing badly. Is that guy wearing Tods loafers and a Barbour jacket? Yes he is. And hes in the zone.

The set is basically a greatest hits playlist. The band graciously performs two new songs that no one recognizes to give you a few minutes to use the john and grab another IPA. They might as well flash an intermission sign.

Even the political statements go down smooth: Democracy! Fight AIDS! How could you possibly disagree? Youre not only dancing and reminiscing youre spreading freedom and reasonably-priced medicines to distant lands!

And the kicker: not one but TWO encores, the ones you know best the ones you first heard that summer you painted houses or kissed Katie at the beach party. Youre closing your eyes now. This is sad and sweet. You put your arm around your wife. Youre wondering if Katie ever got married. A third of the crowd departs after the first encore. Its no big deal some of us have work in the morning! Anyway, the traffic will be better if everyone doesn't leave at once.

Made me lol anyway...

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Seems a bit of a silly article, obviously they're popular because they have wide appeal, simple as. Some bands have it for a short time, some for a bit longer, U2 have managed to keep hold of theirs longer than most, it's just a kind of easy listening, unlikely to be too challenging but often thats what you want from a band, something that is just a bit entertaining.

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Seems like none of you are 'getting' the joke.

I get it, i just don't think it's very fuinny, seems to me to be a lot of cheap and even occasionally untrue sweeping generalisations about a band that is for whatever reason very popular. Never eally my kind of thing but i do own the greatest hits and enhjoy it on a Summer's day. In a world where the Darkness has reformed, i can't help thinking of U2 as a minor inconmvenience ;)

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I really liked a lot of their stuff from The Unforgettable Fire through to Pop but everything else I don't care much for. I would have gone to see them at Glastonbury mind if Primal Scream weren't doing the whole of 'Screamadelica' on the other stage at the same time. I do quite like 'Fix You' by Coldplay but that's our little secret :)

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You could pretty much substitute any long-standing band into this article - The Stones, AC/DC, Neil Young, etc. They have such a wide-ranging back catalogue that the audience naturally wants to hear a wadge of the well-known songs. It would probably be to the band's advantage to try and shoehorn in as much of the new album as possible to try and boost sales but they know their audience. Bob Dylan probably stands alone in playing what he wants, how he wants. He doesn't give a f**k. I went to see Neil Young at AECC, I'm glad he played loads of old, well-known songs. I would have been well p**sed off if I had to endure endless songs from his latest tossed out quickie.

U2 are an easy target, trendoid indie dicks seem to love to make them the target of their ire, when in fact bands such as the beloved Manics are probably more laughable than U2 have ever become. At least U2 didn't claim they would split up after their 1st album only to go on to make some of the most turgid MOR pap that has ever been seen. U2 have reinvented themselves a couple of times when they didn't have to, sometimes with differing success but at least they tried.

Bono is probably one of the best frontmen that has existed, he can connect with an audience effortlessly but he gets into all the charity and political gubbins and that seems to wind folk up. I have never thought he takes himself as seriously as the majority of people seem to take him.

As you can probably gather I am a long-standing U2 fan, I don't have any need to make my tastes palatable for the alterna-gronks on here.

And that article is just shite. 'The Joshua Tree' and it's attendant over-exposed singles is probably all the guy has ever heard.

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I'm a long-standing U2 hater, about as long as I've hated Bon Jovi, so '85 was when it really kicked in. They were actually still the height of trendcool then, hard as that may be for the young to comprehend, and I've seen nothing to contradict that viewpoint yet. And that is not taking any of the peripheral bullshit into consideration, on the music alone, gads.

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