U2’s Forgettable Fire or How to become a pop heretic in just one easy blog post

I don’t like U2. Truth be told, I never really have. Maybe it’s because I spent far too much time living in Utah, where I’ve discovered that it must be an FCC regulation that a U2 song must be playing at all times, on at least one station. Maybe it’s because Zooropa really left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure. I just know I really don’t think U2 is that good.

One thing I do know, though, is that U2 has been riding Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby for over 20 years, and every time you hear a U2 song on the radio made after those albums, it’s only because:
It’s U2–and they’re supposed to be best band in the world. They wrote a hand full of hit songs in the 80s and 90s
Call them the best branded rock band since the Beatles. But I digress…

I finally have proof that U2 has been riding its own shirt tails. Forget Discoteque. Forget that Batman Soundtrack Song. Their latest “hit single” is bad. As in “those annoying Yoplait Yogurt girls sitting around talking about how good the yogurt is” BAD.

I’m sure you’ve heard “Magnificent” off their latest album. Radio stations, if you still believe in them, have probably been force-feeding it to you. I haven’t listened to any of the rest of their latest album, and thankfully, I don’t have to. If the hit single is this bad, there’s no sense in listening to the rest. Magnificent is like U2 Unforgettable Fire-Lite. Take all the usual U2 style (the Bono wail, the echoing guitars), and then make it boring. No, make it elevator music. And you’ve got Magnificent. There’s nothing good about this music–it’s rehashed and photocopied, but using a copier that’s on its last leg and running out of ink.

Now, I know this is harsh…and I know that there will be plenty who will call me a heretic (what, insult the gods of the pop pantheon?!). At least by Itunes, it’s off the chart in popularity…

But then again, maybe I’m being too harsh on Bono and the guys. I mean, they HAVE been around a while, and most bands ride their own shirt tails after a good music run. REM lost it when they released Monster, and then somewhere a long the line, we had to endure a nauseating trip to Reno to become a Star. Coldplay just did it with that Ipod song album (yes, I know the title, but I prefer to refer to it in the same way we all refer to that Harry Potter nemesis). Either way, I think it’s time to admit it – U2 is done, or at least, should have been, a long time ago.

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First Look: Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns

I’m a firm believer in Indie bands that make it big. But I’m also not blind to the fact that once in the spotlight, Indie bands often reject the diversity and uniqueness of their own “indie-ness” for whatever worked for them to get them to the top.

I think it’s possible that Snow Patrol is approaching that point. They have found what works, and now they’re starting to hit the “copy” button.

Is A Hundred Million Suns good? Yes. No doubt about it. At times, it’s catchy and energetic. It has a great sound, and the usual Snow Patrol base lines and guitar riffs.

Is it new, unique, original? Not so much. If you like Eyes Open’s catchy radio-tunes like Chasing Cars and Hands Open, you’ll like this one. But the more I hear, the more I think: once you’ve heard one Snow Patrol song, you’ve probably heard them all. It’s the thing I hate most about U2. Every song sounds the same.

In fact, the first tracks sound like they were intended for Eyes Open, but kept on the shelf so the band could get some more mileage out of their sound. “If there’s a rocket, tie me to it” and “Crack the Shutters” are some of the worst offenders here. I swear I’ve heard “Engines” guitar riffs on another Snow Patrol song and “Set Down Your Glass” is the token slow and meaningful song, akin to Eyes Open’s “You Could be Happy.”

I will say this, though. Some songs are a complete departure from the Snow Patrol sound. “Lifeboats” and “The Golden Floor” have a distinct Iron & Wine flavor to them, though I doubt they will get much recognition from listeners or critics, and they’ll probably be written off as boring. “Lightning Strikes” is a moving piece with rich, whirling piano, horns, voice melodies and guitar riffs that make the song both deep and diverse. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve heard from Snow Patrol in a long time, and it’s stashed at the end of the CD.