Have U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy? - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-17-2021, 07:02 AM   #1
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Have U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?

Let's say if U2 have retired after All That You Can't Leave Behind, how would their legacy & public perception be effected, or similarly - had they retired after POP?

It actually would've been quite fitting in hindsight - As ATYCLB was their maiden record with regards to the band looking back (for the 1st time) in maturity, since all the bad members crossed 40 during the process of recording the album. Adam had just finished rehab & all the band members had since become fathers during that period.

All That You Can't Leave Behind is a better album about experience than Songs of Experience. Musically & lyrically that album has so many better, more direct songs about life experience than Songs of Experience. The entire record is about resilience, growth, and reflection, but those themes are especially apparent in tracks like 'Walk On', 'Stuck in a Moment', 'Kite' and 'Grace'. There are songs that address the state of the world ('When I Look at The World', 'New York') and those about seizing life before it's too late ('Beautiful Day, 'Elevation').

ATYCLB really caught Bono in a moment of true, genuine reflection. It was also a vulnerable moment, coming off of POP, and with his vocal issues & throat surgery making for a pretty challenging period within his career. He had to re-learn how to sing during this time.

That 'looking back' approach worked as a one-off, it got them back their relevance & the title of biggest band in the world again. But dubbling-down on this approach & the success that stemmed from ATYCLB proved to be the 'beginning of the end' one could perhaps argue.

One safe, 'back to basics', adult contemporary album after POP was acceptable for most U2 fans as it achieved what it set out to, make U2 relevant again, but for many fans HTDAAB was a bridge too far & that's when the tide started to turn. And with that release & corresponding tour it seemed like the U2 hate train/machine really started to take off during that period..

That lingering after-taste that originated circa HTDAAB-era still endures for many music critics today.
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Old 06-17-2021, 07:28 AM   #2
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No.

Spamming everyone's iPhone did.

In 2000 they had massive hits, won every damn award possible, and had the biggest tour of all time.

It all went down hill when they spammed everyone's iPhone.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:00 AM   #3
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Yeah, HTDAAB was huge. Multiple Grammys. Vertigo was everywhere, even the alt/indie websites were giving the track a positive write-up. iPod commercial. MTV broadcasting Brooklyn Bridge concert. They were putting shows onsale one after the other in the same market, immediate sellouts. Incredible demand. They were kinda cool again. The reason U2 was able to go back to US stadiums was the 1-2 punch of the “back to basics” records. Given the songs and reception of NLOTH, one could argue maybe they should’ve done stadiums for HTDAAB instead like they did in Europe (and Hawaii), but that’s mostly hindsight talking.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:22 AM   #4
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Yeah, HTDAAB was huge. Multiple Grammys. Vertigo was everywhere, even the alt/indie websites were giving the track a positive write-up. iPod commercial. MTV broadcasting Brooklyn Bridge concert. They were putting shows onsale one after the other in the same market, immediate sellouts. Incredible demand. They were kinda cool again. The reason U2 was able to go back to US stadiums was the 1-2 punch of the “back to basics” records. Given the songs and reception of NLOTH, one could argue maybe they should’ve done stadiums for HTDAAB instead like they did in Europe (and Hawaii), but that’s mostly hindsight talking.
Yeah, I'm still glad we got Vertigo. I don't think HTDDAB was terrible, far from it, however it's definitely among my least favourite U2 albums alongside October/NLOTH/War etc.. but it does contain some stellar individual tracks from that era (such as: Vertigo, Miracle Drug, COBL, Mercy, Original of the Species - particularly the Single Mix with those horns & other additional layers of instrumentation.. chef's kiss!)
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:22 AM   #5
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since all the bad members crossed 40 during the process of recording the album.
So Adam & Bono are bad and Edge & Larry are good?
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:24 AM   #6
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Get On Your Boots can’t have helped either.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:27 AM   #7
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They sold out 90,000+ seat stadiums throughout the 2000s.

Invisible was downloaded 3 million times in early 2014. Ordinary Love momentarily hit the Hot 100.

It's the iPhone mess. That's it. It's not more complicated than that. That's the moment where their legacy took a gigantic hit that they still haven't fully recovered from, fairly or unfairly.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:36 AM   #8
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Invisible was downloaded 3 million times in early 2014.
- should've continued with the optional download for the main event 5 months later!
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:45 AM   #9
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- should've continued with the optional download for the main event 5 months later!
100%
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:46 AM   #10
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It's the iPhone mess. That's it. It's not more complicated than that. That's the moment where their legacy took a gigantic hit that they still haven't fully recovered from, fairly or unfairly.


Sometimes I wonder if it would not have been so bad if the previous album was a hit, but NLOTH was a whiff that lost the mainstream momentum the band had worked so hard to build back up. So they looked even *more* out of touch forcing themselves upon a public that had kinda not cared about the last release. 360 sold based on previous records and live demand after the rabid sellouts of the prior 2 tours.

That said, as much as the release method kicked them down, the I+e tour demand was a testament to the band’s legacy. And those shows were, for me, some of the most memorable.
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Old 06-17-2021, 08:59 AM   #11
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Sometimes I wonder if it would not have been so bad if the previous album was a hit, but NLOTH was a whiff that lost the mainstream momentum the band had worked so hard to build back up. So they looked even *more* out of touch forcing themselves upon a public that had kinda not cared about the last release. 360 sold based on previous records and live demand after the rabid sellouts of the prior 2 tours.

That said, as much as the release method kicked them down, the I+e tour demand was a testament to the band’s legacy. And those shows were, for me, some of the most memorable.
Absolutely - but just imagine the reception that tour would have gotten if not for the stink of the apple mess?
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Old 06-17-2021, 09:29 AM   #12
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Absolutely - but just imagine the reception that tour would have gotten if not for the stink of the apple mess?


Incredible. It was a word-of-mouth hit anyway, but could’ve been their latter day Zoo-level smash.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:15 AM   #13
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No. When all is said and done, U2 will be known as one of the all time greats no matter what their missteps were.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:27 AM   #14
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Agreed. And the biggest missteps were about ambition, as opposed to abandoning their principles. Pop now is beloved amongst a sizeable portion of the core audience. SOI is similarly appreciated in relative retrospect. They’re not going to have a big PR mishap again and if they do, Guy needs to go.

All that’s left for them to do is be themselves. I’m excited about the future. I want to see them tour new music with an innovative production, deep cuts in a more stripped down setting, that crazy 2+hr Greatest Hits stadium singalong tour and maybe, just maybe, the Zoo Redux (never say never).
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:36 AM   #15
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Obviously none of this matters in the end - but yea I don't get the sense that they've been able to put the apple thing fully behind them yet, and while yes, they will go down as one of the biggest rock bands of all time? They were headed down a path of rarified air prior to that fuck up.

I'm not sure they'll ever get back to that point.

They're a punch line to an entire generation.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:39 AM   #16
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This board is pretty evenly divided on ATYCLB vs HTDAAB. So to act like the latter was "a bridge too far" for an significant number of people doesn't make sense to me. Did the ever-present Vertigo iTunes ad gain Bono a lot more haters? Hard to say; it was easy to ridicule via something like South Park, but him and the band were already overexposed by that point anyway. Beautiful Day was everywhere. They did the Super Bowl.

And as it's been said above, deserving or not, HTDAAB won the AOTY Grammy, plus other Grammys for FOUR of its tracks. That's sheer industry dominance. It sold 2-3 million copies less worldwide than ATYCLB, but we're also in the digital music era at this point, with album sales down across the board. A band in the middle of their third decade selling close to 10 million copies worldwide is staggering. I make this comparison all the time, but for context you can look at where the Rolling Stones were 24 years into their recording career, somewhere in between Dirty Work, which went 1x platinum in the USA, and their "big comeback" Steel Wheels, which went 2x platinum. HTDAAB went 3x platinum, a significant difference.

Also, I don't know why one would classify HTDAAB as doubling down on "Adult Contemporary" when it's considerably rougher and more rock and roll than its predecessor. There are a couple tracks that fit the description, but for the most part it still falls under Modern Rock and was getting airplay on radio stations like KROC.

And no offense, but I don't see the point of this theory having its own thread. "Where did they go wrong?" is literally the same subject we discuss here on a daily basis, and have done so over, and over, and over again.
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:50 AM   #17
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htdaab wasn't adult contemporary, it was just contemporary. It was the only (?) time U2 were in line with what was going on in mainstream rock. I do think the Apple ad hurt them - Vertigo became a bit of a joke, and it was a bad look for a a band who was always against using songs in ads to suddenly be in one, regardless of the nuances of the deal. It made them look like just another old band that sold out...and it only got worse with the SOI spam. They are a joke to a generation, and that will probably hurt their legacy, but the Stones were a joke too, and they recovered just fine. Their legacy was considerably stronger, though - more hits, greater cultural impact, cool af, etc.
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Old 06-17-2021, 02:04 PM   #18
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I think the iTunes ad had more of a positive effect of making them cooler to younger listeners than it did negatively in making other people thinking they were sellouts.

And I'm sure they would agree that sacrifice would be worth it.
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Old 06-17-2021, 02:05 PM   #19
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I think while the Apple debacle hurt them, it's nothing big enough to chip away at their overall legacy. Hell, Michael Jackson is still considered a legend even though he clearly raped little boys. If that didn't crush his legacy, the Apple debacle won't hardly be mentioned when it's all over and people talk about the greatness of U2's career. And if it is mentioned, it's not going to be a major issue. Most of their legacy will focus on 84-93 with their resurgence from 2000-2005.
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Old 06-17-2021, 02:05 PM   #20
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I think the iTunes ad had more of a positive effect of making them cooler to younger listeners than it did negatively in making other people thinking they were sellouts.

And I'm sure they would agree that sacrifice would be worth it.
Yeah I don't really recall any major backlash from the Vertigo ad.
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