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Old 07-08-2002, 11:30 AM   #1
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U2 Pretentious?

John Mellencamp on U2:
"I'm a very indiscriminate music listener," he said. "I'm not bound by any style or fashion." But he's not shy about saying what he doesn't enjoy: "Is it hip to like R.E.M.? Quite honestly, I find R.E.M. pretentious. I find U2 so pretentious I couldn't even like their records. They probably make great records, but the things that come out of those guys' mouths is offensive to me. 'We are the greatest band in the world.' If you were, why would you say that? To me, that's so much more offensive than Johnny Cougar ever was."


pre·ten·tious

1. Claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit, especially when unjustified.
2. Making or marked by an extravagant outward show; ostentatious.

Jealously, or sincerity? Forthrightness or pettiness? I found the words of Mellencamp fascinating to say the least, and it got me wondering about what he had to say, even though I must admit I don't listen to his music personally, but he has been around the music business for quite awhile, so he has some credibility in my estimation.

I must admit that there have been times when Bono has said something and done something, and something inside of me has cringed, not so much for my sake, but for the sake of others who might in the words of Mellencamp see it as pretentious. Bono will be Bono, so I don't see much changing. But it is a little disheartening to hear a music lover like Mellencamp offering there take on U2, and saying he doesn't listen to their music because of how Bono conducts himself in public. Has anyone else been given that explanation from someone they know. Is it fair, or is it the result of Bono at times coming across as pretentious, therefore, justifiable?

Just some rambling on a Monday morning. Would love to hear some honest, thoughful take on Mellencamp's words, as well as your own times when Bono said or did something that came off as pretentious, and how it made you feel. For it obviously has not hurt the band, but you wonder, and you wonder as well what the other members think of Bono's demonstrations of pretentiousness as well.

Chris
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Old 07-08-2002, 11:44 AM   #2
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Often there is a debate about whether to separate the musician from the music. That is, could you still appreciate the music an artist created even if you didn't respect that artist. For example, I adore Billy Holiday, but I have issues with her drug-abuse. Can I still appreciate Holiday's work even though I don't approve of the things she did? In my case, the answer is "yes."

I have never been a big fan of John Mellencamp. He's made some catchy tunes, and some with rather thought-provoking lyrics. However, musically, I don't think he's approached the textures and sonic beauty R.E.M. or U2 have.

I would have to push Mellencamp on this topic further. What exactly annoys him about U2 or R.E.M.? Does he not like or appreciate the beliefs that U2 and R.E.M. share - especially with regards to the environment and people in need? Does he resent Bono stating that it is U2's goal to be the best band in the world? (Note that Mellencamp grossly misquoted Bono there - and indication that he either misheard or misunderstood Bono.) If he doesn't like Bono striving for such a goal, then I have to wonder - what should Bono strive for? Shouldn't all of his strive to be the best in whatever we do?

Bono's mouth has always been an issue - today as well as 20 years ago. And, just as most of us love him for that, there are others who do not. Ultimately though, this comes back to my first issue - the music and the musician. Apparently Mellencamp feels that one cannot dissociate the two. I feel we can.
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Old 07-08-2002, 11:45 AM   #3
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I know what you mean about cringing inside when Bono says something you know will just rub some people the wrong way. And I can certainly see how Bono's "best band in the world" comment could be taken as pretentious, although I think people who do are kind of missing the point of what Bono was trying do when he said that. In any case, I think Mellencamp is being sincere in what he's saying, but I also think he's being a bit petty by refusing to listen to U2's music at all. I think it's pretty silly to not even listen to someone's music because you don't like their personality, especially when you acknowledge that you'd probably like the music. Oh, well. His loss.
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Old 07-08-2002, 11:49 AM   #4
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PRETENTIOUS? MOI? LMAO!
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Old 07-08-2002, 12:02 PM   #5
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Oi..

For me, it's hard to separate the person from the music (for example, I dislike Eminem because of the person he is and the way he portrays his relationship with women in his songs, and I will therefore, to date, never listen to or enjoy his music)

So I'll try not to be a hypocrite.

I think Mellencamp is insulted, to be honest. I don't think he understood Bono's motives, which was to create competition. Plus it's true and I brag in my personal life a lot if I do something I know is awesome so I support Bono doing this. I think it also opens the door for Bono to receive some honest criticism, and I think he's looking for that, like I said, so he can further challenge himself.

But it sounds like Mellencamp didn't get that and didn't bother to get it, he just saw it as Bono saying "Mellencamp you suck, I'm better than you." and he's throwing himself a pity party rather than trying to prove Bono wrong.

As far as not listening to the band.. well I think that's stupid (I dont think i'm being hypocritical here because u2's lyrics are not eminem's lyrics) and he's missing out and he is not being challenged by listening to the best music out there and trying to make even better tunes. but, whatever. I think he's whining and it's a tad annoying lol.
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Old 07-08-2002, 12:17 PM   #6
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Big Grin What's wrong with wanting to be the best?

Just to follow-up with some previously stated comments, Bono said they're re-applying to be the best band in the world, not claiming to be the best, that's something the fans decide and you have awards shows like the Grammys.

I find it hard to call someone pretentious without looking at what they're trying to accomplish, their motive, their desire. U2 may be over the top at times, but the goal is to be the best and bring out the competitors bc this helps everyone get better and produces some great music. Part of being a rock star also gives you the right to be outlandish at times, to say things you wouldn't normally say, that's the beauty of it. I think the boys constantly struggle with the rock vs save the world lifestyle and it's ok to be both, that's what makes them so interesting and so much more human like than pop candy cardboard stars like Britney.

U2 is truly an experience of 4 men and their music exploring lots of issues everyone thinks about! I need more than just entertainment, I need to be challenged to understand lyrics, issues and musical diversions and if doing more than a rock band should do is pompous or pretentious so be it!
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Old 07-08-2002, 12:27 PM   #7
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Re: What's wrong with wanting to be the best?

nicely said, and welcome to the board, zoocarolina!
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Old 07-08-2002, 12:28 PM   #8
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it seems inevitable to me that when you're in the media a lot some of the stuff you say can be seen as being pretentious
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Old 07-08-2002, 12:32 PM   #9
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*wonders if Mellencamp is just jealous because he hasn't had a real hit in years*
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Old 07-08-2002, 01:19 PM   #10
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I was going to reply to Mellencamp's statements with a lengthy rant, but then I reconsidered. I don't think it matters much what people say about U2 now, because years and years from now U2 will be remembered as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, regardless of what folks like Mellencamp say. Back in the 1960s John Lennon made a remark about the Beatles being "bigger than Jesus" and that caused a real furor for a while among a lot of people who took the quote way out of context (just as they do with a lot of the stuff that Bono says), but look at how revered both Lennon and the Beatles are today.
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Old 07-08-2002, 02:22 PM   #11
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Yes, JaraU2 made a great point about separating the musician from the music.

For example, i think that Eminem provocative-at-all-costs style is lame and his lyrics are not much more than bashing and trashing around (also, i think he's often deliberatly pushing people's buttons rather than being serious all the time).
On the other hand, he is one of the very few rappers where i actually like his music, and i admire his rhyming/rapping talent.

"Best band in the world" - i see how it could be misunderstood, coming from one of the guys from the band itself. But the way i see it, this is a confident statement (after all, wouldn't any singer believe that about his band?) - and U2 is one of the few bands that can actually NOT come across as pretentious when they say it. Believing in yourself - in your work - is never wrong.

If you look at the longevity of their career, the number of Top 10 songs, the number of sold records, the succesfull tours, the relevance of their music, Bono's charisma and presence on stage, and that U2 are one of the few "outside" acts that are big in the US, the fact that there has been no change of line-up or any scandals despite U2 being in a business where few bands even last for 20+ years...that they are still friends and that they are pretty down to earth for their stardom and that they remained normal and sane in spite of all the fame, and that they support various causes.

Bono likes to talk - and people like that are more likely (and easily) targeted. Also, a lot of people dislike U2 because of misunderstanding Bono's charity work - though those two things should be separated.

"they probably make great records" - so he doesn't even know their music?!? Way to go to pass any judgement on them.

I recall a certain Liam Gallagher boasting how Oasis is "better than the Beatles" and "we're the best band in the world" - now THAT is pretentious.
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Old 07-08-2002, 02:42 PM   #12
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Personally, I think JM has a horn up is butt because U2 is doing so well. He is mad because he cant step up to the plate to do anything better then what our boys are doing!
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Old 07-08-2002, 02:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by oliveu2cm
Oi..

For me, it's hard to separate the person from the music (for example, I dislike Eminem because of the person he is and the way he portrays his relationship with women in his songs, and I will therefore, to date, never listen to or enjoy his music)

I am the same way. When I heard about comments that Don Henley made about U2, I tossed out a CD I have of his. You might say that was stupid or going too far, but it was really no big loss. It's not like I listened to the CD that much.

Mellencamp is alright. I like a few of his songs and I don't think I will necessarily stop now. REM and U2 pretentious? God...What is it with people cutting down my two favorite bands? Yeah, I think he's just jealous.
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Old 07-08-2002, 02:50 PM   #14
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Re: What's wrong with wanting to be the best?

Quote:
Originally posted by zoocarolina
Just to follow-up with some previously stated comments, Bono said they're re-applying to be the best band in the world, not claiming to be the best, that's something the fans decide and you have awards shows like the Grammys.
Exactly what I was going to say. I find it very difficult to take anyone's critique seriously when they are not even basing their opinions on facts.

edit: oh yeah, and how could I forget? *points to signature*
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Old 07-08-2002, 03:08 PM   #15
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I think Bono made the comment just to stir up some controversy(I think he even admitted this).

People tend to sit back and just listen to whatever crappy music comes their way. By saying this he encouraged people to debate what constituted good music.
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Old 07-08-2002, 03:36 PM   #16
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When an artist makes comments about U2, it catches my attention and I'm interested in their take. It doesn't bother me much at all when an artist is critical of U2. I may think "they just don't understand," but that's as far as it affects me. If the critical artist in question is someone who's music I like, I'll still go on liking their music.

And let's face it, Bono has a tendency -- when talking about his band -- to ramble on repetetively. At this year's Grammys, weren't we all hoping he'd cut himself off in the middle of his rambling monologue(s)?
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Old 07-08-2002, 04:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by pub crawler

And let's face it, Bono has a tendency -- when talking about his band -- to ramble on repetetively. At this year's Grammys, weren't we all hoping he'd cut himself off in the middle of his rambling monologue(s)?
No... I find Bono's ramblings quite endearing, actually.

I think a lot of the things he says are tongue-in-cheek and people always seem to take it wrong.
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Old 07-08-2002, 05:12 PM   #18
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I think there' s some misunderstanding here--U2 are ambitious and competitive, and are trying to be the best. It's the same notion as going for the gold in the Olympics and thinking yes, you can do it. By the same token, sometimes I cringe over the "best band in the world" thing. Bono has been making statements like that since they first came along, and God knows he'll never win a humility award. Perhaps Mellencamp feels insulted, as one poster commented. But I'd separate the music from the personality. Many very talented people have big egos and some of them are not the mose loveable people to ever be born. Some of my favorite writers, I won't mention any names, were downright a**holes. They're dead anyway so it's too late to insult them. The music business is the Competitive Business From Hell, so I sort of expect this stuff to happen. Disputes, confrontations and such are a dime a dozen. I think it's a bit of a cheap shot, but cheap shots are commonplace in this business. I'm glad I work in a library and no one knows who the heck I am. We autistics don't like confrontational situations at all!
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Old 07-08-2002, 05:22 PM   #19
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Everyone I know who dislikes U2 gives the same reason as Mellencamp--that Bono is pretentious and just annoys the crap out of them to the extent that they can't even listen to a record. I rarely hear from people that they don't like U2 because they don't like the music. It's nearly always because they don't like Bono. C'est la vie.

And yet, anyone who has actually met Bono (both fans and peers) only have good things to say. So it's too bad that his soundbytes irk people and that's all they know of him. Yet I understand because I am prejudiced against certain people for similar reasons.

Still, I am inclined to think that there is a bit of jealousy in Mellencamp's remarks. He's a straightforward down-to-earth kind of guy, bright but with simple songs (that's not a bad thing) and not that much new to say, in my opinion. I could certainly see him being more than a wee bit jealous of Bono's intellectual poetic artyness--especially since, assuming he's well-connected in the music biz, he must know of Bono's reputation as a pretty great guy and should certainly have heard through people who know Bono directly that there is much more to him than his media soundbytes.

I guess this explains why Mellencamp wasn't in the heart in Indy (yes, I was looking).
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Old 07-08-2002, 05:28 PM   #20
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Some good points already stated here, nice to see some new faces as well . I´d like to add one thing nobody mentioned yet and that´s authenticity. Beyond their talent and competency as musicians and songwriters they have an essencial quality that surpasses any bad critics and accusations on them being pretentious. They are authentic, they have been that way throughout their career. And they are daring. That´s what Bono was being when said "we´re reapplying for the job...the best band in the world´s job". I´d rather believe in someone authentic and daring than other that does always the same, over and over again. But now and then, some people seem to see only the surface of things. Bad for them.
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