Pop Did Not Fail Because Of The Music, It Failed Because... - U2 Feedback

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Old 03-04-2005, 04:08 PM   #1
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Pop Did Not Fail Because Of The Music, It Failed Because...

...of how it was presented.

There are Pop haters out there. I'm not one of them. It's not their best album, but it's definitely a solid one. Gone is one of U2's best songs.

But Pop was not a huge success by U2's standards, and not because of the album. Pop failed because of presentation alone.

First Mistake: Releasing Discotheque as the first single. Had they released Gone first instead, Pop would have done much better. Discotheque isn't a bad song, it's just a bad first single. Gone would have been a big smash on radio.

Second Mistake: The Discotheque video. As a U2 fan, I can enjoy it. It's funny, and it shows the boys having a laugh. Nothing wrong with that. But commercially, U2 couldn't have done themselves any more harm had they started killing fans.

You've earned tons of cool collateral from the Zoo TV era, and how do you spend it? By giving The Edge a child molester's moustache and dressing the band up as The Village People. It was supposed to be ironic. It was supposed to be cheesy. It definitely wasn't cool.

Third Mistake: The clothing. Bono oozed cool as The Fly. So what was with the bubble pants and muscle shirts? He may have been mocking the outlandish absurdity of fame and excess, but it was too ridiculous by half.

"Well who gives a shit if those stupid people didn't get what U2 was trying to do!"

That argument doesn't hold up. U2 were able to say exactly what they wanted to say about music, culture, and stardom during the Zoo TV era and still look incredibly cool at the same time. Here, they just looked absurd.

Imagine if Bono and the boys had worn some darker colors, some grays and blacks, and some dark shades. Not recreating Zoo TV, but not recreating 1977, either. The clothing did not match the music. It took me a very long time to think about Discotheque without thinking of the video. Now I finally like the song.

There are a few outfits from the Pop era that were pretty cool. But for every cool outfit there were 3 huge cowboy hats, 4 yellow jumpsuits and 5 spandex bubble pants.

Fourth Mistake: PopMart. The tour was too gaudy, too big, and far too impersonal.

"But that's the point, stupid!"

Just because it was the point doesn't mean it was a good idea.

I watched the live performance of Gone from the Best Of 1990-2000 DVD last night. The band was dwarfed by the scenery. Sure, Zoo TV was flashy, huge, and excessive, but U2 managed to feel part of the spectacle. Popmart nearly drowned them in it. The band looked so tiny and insignificant in front of the huge screen, enormous yellow arch and gigantic metallic lemon. The whole concert felt distant.

I wasn't able to see the tour in person, but I have friends who did, and I've read about it. It seems that it was less a U2 concert and more a multimedia extravaganza while 4 men happened to be playing instruments.

Watching Zoo TV concert videos, I can see it all come together: the setting and scenery serve the band. "PopMart Live in Mexico City" left me feeling cold. Who knew such a huge band could look so small? U2 were defeated by their own technology.

Pop is a good album. It didn't get the presentation it deserved.

It's not that people didn't 'get it': people got it and didn't care for it.

Good album. Poor delivery.

-Miggy D
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:21 PM   #2
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I agree with a lot of what you're saying. But I'm not sure about Popmart though. I wasn't there but it did look really impressive on TV.

They definitely released the wrong songs as singles, Discotheque, If God... Angels, Last Night??? Gone, Do You Feel Loved, Staring and Please may have been better received.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:28 PM   #3
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It failed in the United States because electronica based music was not as popular as it was in Europe.

U2 saw Electronica / Techno / House music becoming popular in Europe, and they knew (thought) it was going to be popular in America, so they decided to ride the wave and get on top of it.

America didn't accept it well.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:36 PM   #4
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I agree with most of your post. I know those who adore it hate to hear it, but really, the way they looked, dressed and presented themselves during that era was a joke to a lot of people, from longtime fans to casual fans to critics. It lost them some respect and it took them awhile to get it back. The designer of those clothes should be shot.

Discotheque dug them a hole they were not able to totally emerge from. As J often points out, the album debuted high, probably on U2's previous rap, but dropped fast after people heard (and saw) what it was. They became a laughingstock to many, even many who used to like them. It was like, WTF is up with them? I know a lot of you say they were funny and being loose, but the difference between PopMart and ZOOTV is that ZOOTV and the AB era, as MiggyD said, 'oozed cool', the look, the outfits, the attitude, the stage set, while Pop was more of a gaudy, flashy, silly image (well to a lot of people) I heard some people say it was embarrassing and they felt bad for the band! If they made people laugh, in many cases it wasn't in a positive way

I think if SATS or Gone had been the lead in single and the look of the band and the stage set was different (can the lemon!) Pop would not have the unfortunate rep it does. I do think the image hurt the sales, unfair and shallow as some of you think that is. Musically, it's my least favorite, regardless of the look.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by theu2fly
It failed in the United States because electronica based music was not as popular as it was in Europe.

U2 saw Electronica / Techno / House music becoming popular in Europe, and they knew (thought) it was going to be popular in America, so they decided to ride the wave and get on top of it.

America didn't accept it well.
Mofo is the most experimental track on the entire album. Though there are electronic/techno flourishings on different songs, the album is fairly straightforwad rock. U2 may have sold it as a techno album, but does anyone ever listen to the stuff Bono says before a new ablum comes out? Last time I checked, HTDAAB is not 'punk rock from venus.'

-Miggy
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:51 PM   #6
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hindsight is 20/20
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:52 PM   #7
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Re: Pop Did Not Fail Because Of The Music, It Failed Because...

I Agree First Leg of Pop Mart Tour was pretty bad... but ... Pop Mart South American Leg and Sarajevo 1997 were the most personal, honest and poingnant concerts I´ve ever heard since UF Tour days By far more personal than any Zoo TV concert - well maybe Sarajevo satellite Links were the exception - and any Joshua Tree and Lovetown concerts

Peace
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:53 PM   #8
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Pop failed because of the way U2 presented it and themselves. They delved a little too deeply into the irony they portrayed with Zoo TV.

I understand why they released "Discotheque" as the first single. Much like "The Fly" they tried to hit the public over the head with a "new" U2. However, as good as a song as it is, it isn't as good as "The Fly", and it was just a little too weird for most American tastes.

The second problem was the way Popmart was done. It was WAY over the TOP. I enjoyed the video screens, and all the pizazz, but did we really need a 50 foot Lemon? My problem was that it was a complete distraction from the music. Zoo TV worked because you understood the concept. I realize they explained what they thought Popmart was, but I think a lot of people never really got it.

Lastly, for every great song on Pop, there are two that just don't move me too much. I've said it before and I'll say it again, it was like listening to an album of B-sides on my first listen. I've grown to appreciate the album more and more, but I think had they nailed down "SATS" and "Please" this album would have kicked some major ass. Not to say those songs are very good as is, but I think they could've been better. The remix of "Please" is far superior to the remix of "SATS" that said. "SATS" just doesn't work for me anymore.

It's strange to think that this album is 7 years old today. Wow, where has the time gone?
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:56 PM   #9
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the lemon was 40ft, not 50
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by discothequeLP
the lemon was 40ft, not 50
While we're on technicalities... it's been 8 yrs, not 7.
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Old 03-04-2005, 04:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Reggie Thee Dog


It's strange to think that this album is 7 years old today. Wow, where has the time gone?
Make that 8!

And after all this time it's still a sore subject that can't rest in peace.
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:03 PM   #12
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I agree with most points everyone has said so far.

I think Pop was received less than strongly because u2 expected electronica to be the next big thing, and were trying to get there first. unfortunately, it didn't happen, and the sounds on Pop seemed more like a failed attempt at that by some fans (not by me).
I always thought it would have benefitted from a slightly different image. I mean, I couldn't care less if they wore togas onstage, but I guess some people do. Imagine a u2 fan from the JT era, used to seeing them in cowboy hats, blue jeans, and boots....

I also think the title "Pop" sucks. I know it's ironic, whatever...it sucks...if they called it something like "Wake Up Dead Man"...that would be classic u2....or even "Last Night On Earth".

My fixes for whatever some deem "wrong" with Pop:
(personally I think it's great as is, but I'm playing along)

1. Better Image: remember Bono's look at the Sinatra speech Grammies? Bas Ass. Should've done that look.

2. 1st Single: Should've held onto HMTMKMKM from that stupid Batman movie....imagine hearing THAT after a 4 year hiatus...nice!

3. "Playboy Mansion" and "Discotecque" should've been canned for 2 better tunes.....anything....

4. The Golden Arch and The Giant Lemon, The Martini Olive and the kareokee.......gone.

that's all.....but can't change the past....glad I saw it in person; had a blast.
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:04 PM   #13
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Did Pop fail at all? Honestly. It didn't do as well, either commercially or in some cases critically as U2's other releases of the period, but does that mean it was a failure?

I mean it sold millions of copies, still has legions of fans who love it, and perhaps moved U2 along a path they needed to travel. I don't consider that failure.
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra
Did Pop fail at all? Honestly. It didn't do as well, either commercially or in some cases critically as U2's other releases of the period, but does that mean it was a failure?

I mean it sold millions of copies, still has legions of fans who love it, and perhaps moved U2 along a path they needed to travel. I don't consider that failure.
yeah, I agree, but at the time alot of people didn't like it.
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:12 PM   #15
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a little off topic, but think about this song list:


1. HMTMKMKM
2. Do You Feel Loved
3. Mofo
4. IGWSHA (single version)
5. SATS
6. LNOE
7. Gone
8. Miami (ok, most of you hate this song, so replace it with something else)
9. unrecorded song along the lines of COBL
10. IYWTVD
11. Please
12. Wake Up Dead Man
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by JOFO
a little off topic, but think about this song list:


1. HMTMKMKM
2. Do You Feel Loved
3. Mofo
4. IGWSHA (single version)
5. SATS
6. LNOE
7. Gone
8. Miami (ok, most of you hate this song, so replace it with something else)
9. unrecorded song along the lines of COBL
10. IYWTVD
11. Please
12. Wake Up Dead Man

No.

9. is pointless speculation.

And Discotheque is brilliant, you can't just knock it off. I don't care if people didn't get it. It's their loss.

The Playboy Mansion is a great tune as well...'then will there be no time for sorrow, then will there be no time for shame'.

HMTMKMKM worked very well as a stand alone single between records, keep it that way.
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:23 PM   #17
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I agree with your whole post, Miggy. Great job. Especially with the Discotheque video.
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:24 PM   #18
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mmmm theres nothing wrong with pop at all, its gud

popmart is also gud, but yeah i think it was a little 2 impersonal...... but still amazing!
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:45 PM   #19
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I disagree with pretty much everything that has been said.

I really don't care if the public 'got it' or not. What we saw with 'Pop' is U2 using their music as an artistic medium. It wasn't just about catchy tunes. It was about looking deeper into themselves then they ever had before or have since. It is imo the greatest lyrical achievement of their career as far as lyrics go. Songs like 'Mofo' and 'Gone' are some of the most personal songs Bono has ever penned the lyrics to:

"mother, am I still your son/you know I've been waiting for so long/to hear you say so/mother, you left and made me someone/now I'm still a child/but no one tells me no"

"you hurt yourself/you hurt your lover/then you discover/what you thought was freedom is just greed"

"You wanted to get somewhere so badly
You had to lose yourself along the way.
You changed your name
Well that's okay, it's necessary
And what you leave behind you don't miss anyway"

just to name a few.

All of the songs on this record and all of the videos made for this record were excercies in art and artistic expression, even the village people bit, that was making a statement - it was a statement about how ridiculous U2 saw their stardom as, about how seriously they DIDN'T take themselves at the time.

The K-Mart announcement of the Popmart Tour was another medium with which U2 made that same statement, about how ridiculous that kind of stardom and fame is. And the arch and lemon? They were works of artistic expression just like the record was, and the use of 40ft video screens was quite innovative in the area of rock concert tours - read U2 Show for more info. It was like they built a different world to play those songs in, and that world was Popmart.

The thing is, I see the U2 of 1997, making music and videos and tours aimed how showing how unseriously they tookthemselves, and then I see the U2 of 2005, who seem to take themselves much more seriously. The music is still very good, no doubt, but the attitude has changed. The only thing that makes me a little uncomfortable is that I am not sure which one is the 'real' U2.

Anway, Pop was brilliant, so was Popmart - I'm getting an itch to watch my Popmart DVD again(I convered my VHS to DVD).
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Old 03-04-2005, 05:50 PM   #20
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I agree that Pop was largely a commercial and critical failure; basically a failure by any measure in the music industry.

I love it, though, and wouldn't change it (much as I hate "Miami"). The PopMart tour also had some incredible moments (although, granted, none of them were thanks to the overwhelming visuals). I just wish the band would stop trying to "fix" this stage of their career with revisionist remixes and such and stop apologizing for it. They should stand behind their work.
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