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Old 03-03-2017, 01:19 PM   #1
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Happy 20th Birthday POP!

Man time goes by so fast! 20 years ago seems like yesterday. Going to the record store at midnight to hear pickup this wonderful album by U2 called POP. Hearing Discotheque and Mofo on the radio the 1st time was awesome!! I still hold on to that feeling and hopeU2 ventures down that road again but what a album and time it was to be a U2 fan!!!

Happy birthday 20th POP

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Old 03-03-2017, 02:34 PM   #2
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PopMart at Giants Stadium was supposed to be my first U2 show. My sister gave my ticket away to her friend and didn't tell me till the day before. I ended up at a Mets/Expos game instead. I've secretly never forgiven her.
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Old 03-03-2017, 03:36 PM   #3
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Happy 20th Birthday POP!

Happy Birthday, Pop! I love this album. It took a while to grow on me after the first listen, but for not being finished, it came out great. Amazing how they still don't want to acknowledge it - zero mention on U2's social media accounts.
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Old 03-03-2017, 03:55 PM   #4
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Happy Birthday, Pop! I love this album. It took a while to grow on me after the first listen, but for not being finished, it came out great. Amazing how they still don't want to acknowledge it - zero mention on U2's social media accounts.
Sad there is nothing from U2.com. I know U2.com is pretty pathetic but just a small acknowledgment would have been a nice gesture.
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Old 03-03-2017, 04:18 PM   #5
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I think it was in December of 1996, or January 1997 when VH1 premiered the video during a U2 A-Z video marathon. I thought it was ok, the video that is. I liked the song and wasn't too put off to the village people portion. Honestly I was just psyched to record, on VHS, U2 videos because it was during that marathon that I saw for the first time videos for Night and Day, A Celebration, When Loves Comes to Town, and a couple others I think.
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Old 03-03-2017, 05:16 PM   #6
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Pop was the first U2 album I forced my parents to take me to buy on release day
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:17 PM   #7
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That reminds me of how I used to save my allowance as a teen and then make my dad drive me to Music Land to buy $17 to $20 cds. Then Best Buy opened a few years later and sold cds for way less then cd stores like Music Land went out of business.
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:42 PM   #8
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Pop was the first U2 album I forced my parents to take me to buy on release day
Me too! I was a freshman in high school, almost 15 years old. After I hellishly made it through the day at school, my Mom took me to Walmart. She had some errands to run there anyway. But THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT!!!! Mild panic set in... the lady at the counter said their shipment wasn't coming for another couple days. After Walmart my Mom took me to this little music shop across town (RIP Spinner's) and luckily they had 2 copies. I bought them both (one for me, one for my friend whose Mom wasn't cool enough to drive him to town to buy it).

I stayed up all night listening to the album and reading the liner notes, and the various magazine articles I had collected about the album. Just immersing myself in music the way that only a teenager can. It was great. My first new album as a fan, after having discovered U2 2 years prior and slowly building up my U2 album collection.

20 years later, I am listening to it, and I still love it! And that same friend I bought the copy for will be joining me at the Cleveland show this summer... where we will not hear any Pop songs... lol
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:48 PM   #9
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I was 16. Iremember going to Borders on Larkfield Road in Commack, Long Island to get Pop. It was right on the counter by the register. I think we went out to eat after, and then I listened to the first few songs on the way home on my discman.

I distinctly remember being blown away by Do You Feel Loved and MoFo, and that I didn't like Please on my first listen (love it now)
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:49 PM   #10
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Wow, Pop is 20. That's some crazy shit. I played that album daily for almost a whole year. Sadly, I think Pop was the album that caused people to fall out of love with U2. A lot of those people would fall in love again with the release of ATYCLB, though.
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Old 03-03-2017, 08:05 PM   #11
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Just one word! MOFO! Epic to a whole other level! I was 17 when this album came out! It was my second U2 album after I discovered them through my brother (a former die hard u2 fan himself, but fell out of love when ATYCLB came out). Popmart Toronto was also my first u2 concert and it was f*ing amazing! Since then I've seen them on every tour and will see them for TJT. I love ATYCLB and later albums but POP holds a special place in my heart! When I first heard it I was like wtf is this?? But surely enough it really grew on me! Oh to be a teenager again lol. Good times!
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Old 03-03-2017, 08:10 PM   #12
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I love Pop. It's not perfect, but I respect the ambition and guts to continue doing something different, particularly following up Zoo TV in such a way.

There isn't much U2 does that I don't like. So if it seems I'm harping on about U2 playing some songs from Pop, it's not because I don't like what's being played. It's because there are so many songs (not just from Pop) that deserve to be revived rather than resulting to a safer option yet again. (see Ax's comments about A Literal Suit Of Lights on the 360 Tour, where IALW was played and Gone wasn't)

Discotheque x2 and Staring at the Sun x1 being the only performances from Pop since the end of the Elevation Tour is a great disservice to this album. I remain grateful that U2 are still around, still playing shows and have a chance to remedy this a bit.

If they bust out Discotheque I might burst through the retractable roof.
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Old 03-03-2017, 10:43 PM   #13
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Yahoo. This means the PopMart anniversary tour is only 10 years away.
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Old 03-04-2017, 07:32 AM   #14
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I think it was in December of 1996, or January 1997 when VH1 premiered the video during a U2 A-Z video marathon. I thought it was ok, the video that is. I liked the song and wasn't too put off to the village people portion. Honestly I was just psyched to record, on VHS, U2 videos because it was during that marathon that I saw for the first time videos for Night and Day, A Celebration, When Loves Comes to Town, and a couple others I think.
It was the first or second week of January. I remember friends calling me and telling me to turn on the TV and go to MTV. There it was, U2 all day on MTV and only U2. No other videos by other artist, only U2 videos back to back, all day, 24 hours. Imagine if MTV did that today. The videos I saw that I had never seen before were for "A Celebration" and "Two Hearts Beat As One".
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Old 03-04-2017, 11:17 AM   #15
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I remember early snippets of POP coming out and being so excited. Then was worried when this came out:

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Old 03-04-2017, 03:11 PM   #16
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I remember around the release date a local Australian record company representitive was being interviewed on the radio about the album. He was desperately trying to spruik the album and even went as far to say that it contained Joshua Tree style songs and cited IGWSHA as an example. In hindsight a funny interview.
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Old 03-04-2017, 06:56 PM   #17
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I went to buy this at Midnight too... at record store... it was small but a chain it could have been Record Town or Sam Goody.... I don't even know if either of those exists anymore...

I was like 18, (19 on March 24,) but I recall forcing my mother to drive me to the store for some reason. I think I was too excited and knew I had to wait in line... I was a loser and didn't want to go alone I guess... you think I'd ask my GF now wife, man this story makes me laugh at how pathetic I am...

Anyway, I recall getting home and listening to the whole album even though had to be up at 6am for school... my first memory is loving IF GOD WILL SEND HIS ANGELS and the artwork of the album itself... the CD book and the album cover are top notch, second to Achtung Baby, but really fucking close...

I just missed the Zoo TV tour by a few months when I became fan of the bad... remember watching live show from Sydney... so I did experience the joy of getting a new album in Zooropa which I love too but POP was the first one I really had to wait for and it was 4 years of being a fan ramp up and getting excited to see them in concert for the first time...

So Rattle and Hum got me into the band... POP was the the first album I bought as a super fan so it's got a high rank from me.

Also, I know U2 shits on the album for some reason, but I think it has great tracks, so I don't see why.

And they kicked off this tour in NYC at fucking K-Mart, a store I would end up going to non stop when I moved to the city, so I always find that shit cool.
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Old 03-04-2017, 07:20 PM   #18
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Was going to post a thread, but forgot. Here's what I would've posted...

U2 has always had a degree of insecurity and self-doubt about them mixed in with seemingly boundless ambition. It's manifested itself in different ways. In the studio, they've always seemed to torture themselves trying to get it right - the sessions for UF came down to the wire with 20 hour days at the end to get it done, in the JT sessions they were so stressed about Streets that Brian Eno nearly destroyed the master tape of it, the band's near break-up during the AB sessions is well-documented, and in later years they would scrap an apparently finished version of HTDAAB to make a new one and compromise their artistic vision for NLOTH. In terms of how they presented themselves publicly, their personas, etc, they often seemed awkward in the 80s, as if they didn't quite believe in the bravado they were selling, and in later years, they too often appear to be chasing a relevance they used to have.

But for a brief period of time, maybe from the Zooropa recording sessions up through the early stages of the Pop sessions, they appeared to have a confidence that they never had before or since. They recorded Zooropa in only a couple of months and soon after were performing those songs live, they dove into the experimental Passengers project with Eno, in which they boldly played with everything from trip-hop to opera. They were rarely more creatively ambitious or confident in their ability to follow that ambition to a result than they were in those years. And ambitious they were heading into the Pop sessions, desiring to meld together rock, dance, electronic, and trip-hop elements with high concepts - the nature of consumerism and materialism in the late 20th century, crises of faith, etc - to create a club record that was still distinctly a U2 record. It was perhaps the most ambitious they ever were going into the production of a record.

Ultimately, it appears that they were unable to satisfy that ambition, even if a lot of people love the finished product. The sessions were plagued from the beginning. The band started working with a drum machine while Larry was recovering from surgery, leading to an intensification of the use of technology that the band had been immersed in all decade, from which the band would begin backing off of even before the subsequent tour was over. Combining all of the aforementioned musical elements proved difficult, and they could never really fully commit to making it a techno/dance record or a straight-ahead rock record. As a result, the record straddles between the former(Discotheque, Do You Feel Loved, Mofo, Gone, Miami) and the latter(If God Will Send His Angels, Staring At The Sun, Last Night On Earth, Wake Up Dead Man), with several tracks that take from both(The Playboy Mansion, If You Wear That Velvet Dress, Please). The band struggled so much picking a direction and getting the songs to sound they way they'd envisioned that they used up tour rehearsal time(after having booked the tour ahead of time in their pre-album confidence) to finish, going to literally the last hour before the deadline to give the record to the record label. Because they used up tour rehearsal time to finish the album, they were underrehearsed and were embarrassed in the first few shows, took nearly the entire first leg of the tour to get into the swing of things.

Whatever confident state of mind they might have been in going into Pop, it was gone(no pun intended) by the time the record was released, the tour was underway, and neither was setting the U.S. on fire. They were playing to half-empty stadiums while the record was getting lukewarm reviews. Although the band's live performance was back up to their standards later in the tour(producing some truly great and memorable moments) , and the new material was better received elsewhere in the world, the record remains, and will probably always remain, the most polarizing entry in their catalog.

We can argue forever about why Pop flopped in the U.S., why nobody(relatively speaking) went to the shows, and why the band have behaved as though they are so ashamed of the whole era. We can argue forever about the band dressing up as the Village people, picking the wrong singles, continuing to push irony when people were tired of it, being too derivative of other hot acts at the time(Prodigy, Oasis) etc etc etc.

I frankly, think it might be as simple as they underestimated how much the musical landscape had changed in just a few years. In 1997, the pop revival was blooming - Backstreet Boys and Nsync were already there and Britney and Christina were on the way. Hip-hop was becoming a greater and greater mainstream force. Alternative rock was beginning its great decline; grunge was over and most of the rock music on the radio was of the Third Eye Blind/Matchbox 20/Wallflowers/Barenaked Ladies/etc pop-rock variety. More serious rock acts like Oasis and Radiohead were at their peak in terms of mainstream commercial success(Radiohead are great to this day, but they've never been as big in the mainstream as they were with OKC), same for harder acts like Marilyn Manson. The Nu-Metal scene was exploding, a harbinger of hip-hop taking over completely in the years to come.

Simply put, I think it might be as simple as the mainstream music listening audience in 1997 wasn't hungry for U2's brand of alternative rock anymore, particularly when said brand was artistically reaching away from what had made them huge in the first place.

Whatever the reasons, the album wasn't as successful as the band needed it to be(everything is relative, it did sell six million copies), especially in the U.S., and today there are two views of it. Some see it as a misstep, during which the band got lost in ambition and technology and concept and got swallowed by all of it(and from which they returned to form with ATYCLB and HTDAAB). Some, including many here, see it as a great, exciting, brave, and yes, flawed record. As something to aspire to, because even though its flawed and has its issues, at least they were trying to do something great and interesting and provocative.

Discotheque, however it's regarded in the mainstream, is just a really good rock song, with a monster guitar riff and numerous earworm vocal melodies - from the 'you can this but you can't that' repetitions, to 'you know you're chewing bubble gum...', to 'you get confused but you know it...', to the second part of the chorus('looking for the one/but you're somewhere else instead/I want to be the song/the song that you hear in your head') to the coda('but you take what you can get/'cause it's all that you can find' with Edge's 'you want heaven in your heart' in the background). Also some love for the instrumental breakdown after the first chorus which was never performed live and omitted from the 'new' mix in 2002. And I love the boom-chas.

Do You Feel Loved is arguably the sexiest track they've ever put to record, with a heavy but smooth sound and a huge chorus alongside a borderline x-rated lyric. I always thought should've been a single, and it's a shame they never nailed it live.

Mofo's tremendous bassline - the whole rhythm section really - and Bono's painfully inward-looking lyric that practically screams 'I may be a world famous rock star but I'm still just a child grappling with his mother's death and a man grappling with how to be a good father and husband while doing all of this' make it an intense headphone experience and an explosive live performance. As heavy a track as they've ever done.

If God Will Send His Angels takes the album on a left turn into more straight-ahead pop-rock territory. The closest thing to a ballad on this record other than Velvet Dress, I've always loved the minimalist riff, the vocal melodies, Bono's delivery, the lyric about someone at their wit's end regarding their faith, and the trip-hop coda of the album version.

Bono always though Staring At The Sun should've been a huge hit, and although some people think it's too bland or stale or Oasis-wannabe or whatever, I've always loved it. Immensely catchy, a big, warm guitar riff in the chorus, and a thought-provoking lyric. While I like the acoustic versions, I wish they would've come back to the full-band electric version live.

Last Night On Earth is just a huge rock song. From the first notes, everything is gaining momentum as it leads into that huge, earth-shaking chorus. This is one of the tracks I used to enjoy just turning up loud and rocking out to the most. And the live version. My goodness the riffage at the end. How the band thinks this didn't work live is beyond me.

Gone is just a tremendous song, from the crying sirens Edge gets out his guitar, to the powerful performance of the rhythm section, to Bono's impassioned vocal take, to the dark atmospherics and subtle, aching background vocals, to the great lyric, it's just clearly one of the best tracks here. This one needs to come back to the live set.

Miami is simultaneously a big joke here(U2 wrote Miami) and also greatly appreciated for its live renditions(in which the riffs get ten times bigger). Yes, the lyric is kind of crap, but even on the studio version, I find it be sonically pretty interesting with the riffs and the atmospherics between the riffs. If it had been recorded the way it was played live, I don't think it would be a joke here, bad lyric or not.

The Playboy Mansion frustrates me. Musically, I like it a lot - it's got a mellow vibe, but actually becomes sort of emotionally intense by the end, and there are some beautiful melodies in the middle eight('I don't know if I can hold on') and the 'then will there be no time' sections. But the a lot of the lyrics are just so dated with pop culture references. But then maybe that actually fits, since the song is kind of about the fleeting nature of success in pop culture.

If You Wear That Velvet Dress is an exceedingly atmospheric, captivating, and sexy ballad, delivered in that smokey 90s Bono voice. I just wish that vocal had been turned up a little in the mix because you can barely hear him until halfway through the song. Also have to mention the really nice, mellow guitar interlude in the middle. This track doesn't sound like anything else on the record, or anything else the band have ever done, really, but it's great.

Please. What can be said about Please that hasn't been said? It's one of their greatest songs, imo. Lyrically, it's political most of the way through, being about the troubles in Ireland, but then at the end - it might have still been intended to be political, but it also doubles as one of the most biting break-up lyrics I've ever seen - 'love is big/bigger than us/but love is not/what you're thinking of/it's what lovers deal/it's what lovers steal/you know I found it hard to receive/'cause you my love/I could never believe'. That will always be on my favorite lyrics that Bono ever wrote. Musically, Adam and Larry kind of own the song, with Edge kind playing a supporting role(until the end of the solo and live versions, obviously). The rhythm section is hypnotizing here, verging on jazzy, and I know a lot of people don't care for the single version because a lot of that is missing from it. I love all versions of the track. The album version is really intimate, and you can really feel the smoldering anger underneath it all; it's grittier, and it's also the only version that has that Edge backing vocal at the end that I love. The full-band live version, however, is considered by many as one of the greatest things the band has ever done, and rightly so. It's a fucking tour-de-force, from the band's performance, to Bono's performance to Bono and Edge singing together to Edge's solo to the quiet finish after the explosion. There is a reason Please is my holy grail of songs I've never seen performed in person.

Wake Up Dead Man is one of the darkest songs the band ever wrote. It's heavy, musically and lyrically. Musically, the song combines quiet vocals with heavy, succinct guitar riffs in the chorus until halfway through when the song picks up pace. Lyrically, it is a midnight of the soul, a crisis of faith, a breakdown. There is such anger there, especially in the first verse and chorus, both quiet anger and loud anger(the riff). It's riveting stuff, and one of the band's greatest album closers. IMO, only Love is Blindness definitively tops it, while others come close(The Troubles, Mothers Of The Disappeared, 40).

It is a flawed, and it's not for everyone, but for some, it is a powerful record, and one that stands in stark contrast stylistically, sonically, and spiritually to much of what came after. For some, it was a misstep, but for many others, this record marks the the end of 'old u2', a kind of last stand. In 1989, at one of the last Lovetown shows, Bono famously said 'this is just the end of something for U2'. He could've just as well said the same thing at one of the last Popmart shows. Months after the tour wrapped, the first Best Of was released and their VH1 Legends episode aired, the following year the classic albums documentary about the Joshua Tree was released, and the year after that they released the back-to-basics All That You Can't Leave Behind. The commercial and critical success that they had started to take for granted had been threatened with Pop and it seems like the band reacted to that. In the last fifteen years, after the Elevation tour, they've barely acknowledged the record.

But we can. Happy 20th, Pop.
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Old 03-05-2017, 11:53 AM   #19
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My favorite U2 album. I wish it wasn't so underrated, and I wish the band gave it more attention. But it is good to at least see that it gets love on these forums.
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Old 03-05-2017, 07:36 PM   #20
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i stole my copy of pop from the church when i was 11 years old.

there was a boom box in the "youth room" with a stack of random CDs next to it that would get played in the half hour or so before youth group as everyone was showing up. it was always inoffensive boring crap like amy grant or some terrible christian rock band. one day pop just happened to be sitting in the stack and i pocketed it instantly. i have no idea where it came from or who's it was, although a lot of the older kids wouldn't shut up about achtung baby when it came out so i imagine it was one of theirs. i never heard anyone mention that they were missing a cd
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