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Old 12-12-2003, 11:29 AM   #1
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Stats and Sales : U2 and the Netherlands Part 2 *

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By Martijn Janssen

Part 2


U2 closed the '80s with a bang. Their New Year's Eve concert from Dublin was broadcast all over Europe and the band's make-up concerts in Rotterdam a week later were one big party. Then came the big silence, the band wanted to "dream it all up again" and the fans waited faithfully.

In the autumn of 1991 "The Fly" and the album Achtung Baby crush this silence. The album enters the charts at No. 6 on 30 November, the highest debut for a U2 album at that time. In its second week it repeats the feat of The Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum, as it also claims the top position. Ironically, Achtung Baby" dethrones On Every Street by Dire Straits, the same band that had pushed Rattle & Hum from the top position with the album "Money for Nothing." Unfortunately, Achtung Baby only stays at the top for one week, after which it succumbs to Queen's Greatest Hits II. However, Achtung Baby does manage to keep off one of the highest anticipated releases of the year, Michael Jackson's Dangerous.



The singles reflect the success of the album. "The Fly" goes buzzing to No. 4 and "Mysterious Ways" moves to No. 8, again earning U2 two solid top 10 hits. The performance of "One" does justice to its name as it goes double one, No. 11, again proving that U2's best known and most appreciated songs are not always their biggest hits. "Even Better than the Real Thing" performs better than "One" as it is yet another U2 song that goes top 10. In the end it will reach No. 8. With Achtung Baby it's also the first time that U2 releases five singles from one album. "Everlasting Love" might have been U2's fifth hit from Rattle & Hum, but the charting of that single was more of an accident since it was a B-side of "All I Want is You." "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" is the fifth official single from Achtung Baby and with a top position of No. 13 it's U2's worst performing single until that date. Not bad when you consider that it's their 18th chart appearance in 10 years. It does prove though that Achtung Baby has been promoted enough and that it's time for either a new album or again a big silence.

With their Zoo TV Tour U2 is on a commercial high and a creative roll. Early 1993 the band enters the studio again to record some songs between their US and European legs of the tour. The result from these sessions is Zooropa. Regarded by the band as a quick, stopgap kind of album they decide to release it in July 1993 with a minimum of promotion. The track "Numb" will be a video only single and it thus does not count for the singles chart, not that the album needs much extra promotion in Europe anyway. In May U2 play three sold-out concerts at the Feyenoord Stadium, kicking off their Zooropa tour. There's another concert in the Netherlands in August, bringing the total of concert tickets sold to 190,000, with 1 in 80 people in the Netherlands had seen U2 play in the summer of 1993. As a result of these concerts the interest in the album is enormous. Zooropa debuts at No. 2 and claims the top position the week after. For two weeks it holds the top, before slowly sliding down the charts. Nevertheless, U2 has done it again; they again have a number one album in the Netherlands. At the end of the year "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" is the first officially released single from the album. Even though its release is five months after the release of the album, and long after the Zooropa Tour has left the Netherlands, it is another top 10 hit.

In 1994 the big silence does begin. For the next three years there's very little news from the U2 camp. The moments U2 do step into the spotlight shine bright though. In the summer of 1995 there's suddenly a new single promoting the Batman Forever movie. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" was from the Zooropa sessions but did not make the album because it did not fit Zooropa's mood. The lyrics are nevertheless perfect for the superhero from Gotham City. Released in June 1995, the song is another smash hit for U2, with a top position of No. 7 it is their highest charting single since "The Fly." Later that year there's also the release of the Passengers record Original Soundtracks 1. In Europe the album is promoted with the single "Miss Sarajevo." While the single does fairly well, the sales of the album aren't that spectacular, then again, it was a side project for the band and the result was not released as a U2 record. The theme song to Mission: Impossible by Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen was another big single in the summer of 1996. But all these release could not hide the feeling that many were waiting for a new U2 album.

March 1997 finally sees the release of a new U2 album. Pop is again a big hit in the Netherlands. The album enters the chart at a modest No. 35 position. The reason for such a low debut is that it is entirely based on street date violations, while the album's official release date is on a Monday, shops already start to sell it on Friday. When the first full week of sales does kick in, the album shoots easily to No. 1, making it the biggest jump to No. 1 ever. Unfortunately, the album could not continue this initial success. After only one week it has to give up its top position. The following weeks it cannot reach a stable sales level, causing it to slowly slide down the charts. Still, it is another album that easily reaches platinum status. The singles from Pop show a similar pattern. Before the release of the album, "Discothèque" dances to No. 6. "Staring At the Sun" has less success, at No. 19 it's U2's lowest charting single, a dubious title it will lose only a few months later when "If God Will Send His Angels" only reaches No. 30. With that in mind "Last Night on Earth" and "Please" are more successful, charting respectively at No. 14 and No. 11.

Following the Pop Mart Tour the band retreats into the studio to dream it all up for yet another time. To lessen the wait for the fans and those curious for U2's best achievements, November 1998 marks the release of the first ever U2 compilation. The Best Of 1980-1990 covers their first decade and their rise to superstardom. Even though it comprises of previously released material the record is, it's getting boring here, yet another big hit for U2 in the Netherlands. The album debuts at the top of the charts, a first for the band. The next eight weeks it successfully fends off any contender for the top position. Eventually it has to bow to George Michael's compilation, but only for one week. After this week The Best Of 1980-1990 reclaims the top position for another two weeks. Over the next four years the album will slowly slide down the charts, drop off and re-enter again. In the end the album will have 12 chart runs before a new chart policy will make it unable to chart again. Even as late as August 2001, almost three years after the release of the album, the album is still able to reach the top 10. This happens at the height of Elevation frenzy as U2 plays three sold-out concerts in a small stadium (35,000 people).

The word has wrestled itself onto this page: Elevation. It's the name of a song on U2's album All That You Can't Leave Behind and the name of its subsequent tour. A name that's also appropriate to describe the commercial success in the eyes of critics and the general public. While Zooropa and Pop had been quite successful, those albums didn't have the commercial aura of albums like The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby. With All That You Can't Leave Behind the band jumps into the spotlight again, claiming the whole stage as their own. Officially released on 30 October, the album is already available the weekend preceding the release date. In those three days shops sell more copies than the No. 1 album of the week before, Limp Bizkit's Chocolate Starfish in the Hot Dog Flavored Water. So with sales of only a few days All That You Can't Leave Behind is still able to claim the top position and holds on to that position for five weeks as even 1 by The Beatles initially cannot knock the album off the top of the charts. After finally succumbing to the force of The Beatles the album stays in the top 10 for another 13 weeks before reclaiming the top position. Even though it is only for one week, the album shows its strength. As late as August 2001, 40 weeks after its release, All That You Can't Leave Behind is still able to sit comfortably in the top 10.

On the singles front the album is also a big success. For a long time U2 was high on the list of most successful acts without a No. 1 hit but in October 2000 their name could be removed. "Beautiful Day" was not only a promotional tool to let the public know a new U2 had arrived, it was a smash hit. Upon its release it immediately shoots to No. 1, a feat that hadn't occurred since Elton John's remake of "Candle in the Wind" in 1997. During the recording sessions of the album Brian Eno made a bet with Bono saying that "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out of" would become U2's biggest hit ever. Unfortunately for Brian Eno, he loses his bet, at least in the Netherlands. The single opens well, debuting at No. 12, however that position turns out to be its highest as the single drops the following weeks. More successful is "Elevation." U2 might have had to wait 18 years for their first No. 1 single in the Netherlands, their second No. 1 single comes less than a year later. In the weeks prior to U2's Elevation concerts in the Netherlands the single did reasonably well, reaching the top 10 for one week. But due to the mass attention of U2 coming to the Netherlands, and due to the fact that the single is sold at the concert venue, "Elevation" rises to No. 1. As the last single from All That You Can't Leave Behind, "Walk On" is U2's 30th appearance on the Dutch charts and also their 20th top 10 hit.


The success of All That You Can't Leave Behind nearly matched the success of The Joshua Tree. Although that album had an impressive 13-week reign at the top, the performance of All That You Can't Leave Behind is also noteworthy and deserves to be shown here. The album entered the charts on 4 November 2000:

1-1-1-1-1-3-3-3-6-7
6-5-7-6-6-6-5-6-1-2
8-12-16-25-30-36-38-40-45-48
49-43-39-39-45-42-36-27-15-7
6-6-14-25-29-39-37-43-55-47
38-65-60-66-69-80-81-65-57-61
44-41-44-41-56-58-52-45-51-50
54-74-91-89-88-90-out of charts

Where people had to wait eight years for a compilation of U2's first decade, those interested in U2's second decade as recording artists only have to wait two years with November 2002 seeing the release of The Best Of 1990-2000. The story is getting boring here, but the compilation is again a No. 1 album for the band, debuting at the top of the charts on 16 November. This marks the eighth consecutive time that a U2 album reaches the top of the charts, a record no other act even comes close to. While the album isn't as dominant in the charts as the first compilation, The Best Of 1980-1990, it does stay at No. 1 for two weeks, with another 10 weeks in the top 10. The single that promotes the compilation, "Electrical Storm" is yet another top 10 hit, indicating that after more than 20 years the Dutch audience still can't get enough of U2.

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For questions, remarks and suggestions you can always email me at popmartijn@hotmail.com
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Old 12-13-2003, 06:43 AM   #2
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wonderfully well researched as usual, martijn! great article (except the Feyenoord thing )
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Old 12-13-2003, 10:18 AM   #3
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Brilliant article Marty!
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Old 12-17-2003, 01:14 PM   #4
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deel 1?

waar vind ik deel 1 ergens?
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Old 12-18-2003, 09:04 AM   #5
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Als je in het overzichtsscherm van de content wat verder naar beneden kijkt dan zal je het waarschijnlijk wel tegenkomen. Misschien is het al van de pagina afgevallen en staat het op pagina 2 of zo, maar het hoort er wel ergens te staan.

Groeten,

Martijn

P.S. Een mailtje sturen kan ook.
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