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Old 10-22-2004, 07:41 PM   #1
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Why does U2 have to "prove" themselves???

This has troubled me for quite some time.

Back during JT, R&H, AB, and even Zooropa, U2 songs in the US were embraced by the Top 40 radio crowd...they were HUGE. A new U2 song was released, and you'd get absolutely sick of hearing it on the radio.

Then Pop was released, and the pattern continued. Discotheque and Staring At The Sun were also played, instantly, and repeatedly, until many of us were almost - dare I say it - sick of hearing the songs on the radio.

Then something happened.

Starting with Last Night On Earth, suddently, U2 had to prove themselves. The songs weren't instantly heard on the radio. In fact, you had to pay VERY close attention to even find a station that would play them. And this sudden change continued with several releases to radio from that time on. Even Beautiful Day, which nabbed three grammies and a #21 spot on the charts, took quite a bit of time to find a "home" on mainstream radio.

Even after the relative success of BD, U2 still find themselves having to "prove" their songs are worth radio play. Never heard Elevation, Walk On, or even SIAM much on the radio. Not hearing Vertigo much either, and I would guess the pattern continues, regardless of how great the new album is.

I just don't get it...why, all of the sudden back in 1997 with Last Night On Earth, did U2 suddenly go from being a band you could count on for popular radio play, and now, it's a struggle to even hear them?

Any ideas???

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Old 10-22-2004, 07:43 PM   #2
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Trying to remember what other bands were "it" in '97.... That could have something to do with it perhaps....

The only other album I remember being nuts about at that time was Oasis'. Imagine how ticked I was that I didn't get to go to Popmart.

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Old 10-22-2004, 07:55 PM   #3
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Why the airplay dropped off mid-Pop I couldn't begin to guess. I haven't listened to FM radio in years. One theory I have is that corporate radio takes into account the age of the artist. Excepting the classic rock stations, if you're an older band or artist that's still putting out new music you're shit out of luck. You don't get played. It's ageism. I think it might have to do with their "target demographic", the 18-34 year-old listener that advertisers covet so much.

U2 ain't young anymore, even though they STILL put out some of the best rock and roll around.

EDIT: Come to think of it, if you're an older band and you release your new song, the classic rock stations will play it a few times and dump it. For example, I'm a Rush fan. They put out a great new album a few years ago. The stations played the new single a few times, then it was right back to "Working Man", released in 1974. Sad, as the new song was original and rocked like hell.
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Old 10-22-2004, 07:55 PM   #4
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97 was the start of music trends like rap/rock and bubblegum pop was really starting to surface. in 97 my favourite bands were duran duran, U2, and the spice girls! now look at where the spice girls are. they were big, as were bands like chumbawumba (i'm probably spelling it wrong), oasis, the verve, etc. limp bizkit, korn, etc. all came around then or maybe in 98 or 99. bands like U2 who just played straightforward rock weren't exactly very welcome on the radio. i think the only reason discotheque and sats got airplay is because they were still riding high off of ab/zooropa and hmtmkmkm. people were like "ooh look, U2 has a new song out!"

and this is coming from someone who LOVES the pop album to death.
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Old 10-22-2004, 08:53 PM   #5
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I believe 1997 also was about the time Clear Channel started taking over tons of radio stations, which lead to extremely narrow playlists.
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Old 10-23-2004, 12:36 AM   #6
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I'd like to add that Electrical Storm and The Hands That Built America got ZERO airplay too.

I think radio is for the teenage crowd, and U2 who are at their 40's would be like a sore thumb sticking out if they got a lot of airplay. The Rolling Stones haven't been heard on the radio in the past 25 years, except for their 70's songs - but none of their current songs.

Face it, U2 aren't hip for the teen generation anymore. They'd rather listen to The Darkness or Beyonce or Usher. And U2 never do try to prove themselves. They write music for men, not for boys. Now if U2 were to write music targeted at the hip young crowd, then that would be a sign of them being desperate and trying to prove themselves. But they haven't.


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Old 10-23-2004, 12:58 AM   #7
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You are judging from a paticular geography. I lived in an area that didn't play anything from Zooropa but played a lot from Pop and even Passengers.

But you also have to realize age does have something to do with it(its a sad state of affairs). Name one group that's been around this long or an artist that's the same age group as U2 and has heavy rotation with new songs.
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Old 10-23-2004, 01:05 AM   #8
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Actually, I think U2 might take the prize for that very thing!
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Old 10-23-2004, 01:08 AM   #9
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Because the crap music world we live in at the moment doesn't appreciate bands who defy the norm by creating their own songs and write songs THEy want to write.

Also, a band like U2 is almost like pollution in the top 40 in this day and age.
In the 21st century the chart is supposed to be full of repetitive recycled hip hop, talentless R n B "artists, Idol cop outs, and rock n roll which reeks of eddie vedder wannabe's and the so called "garage rock"

When Vertigo and Miracle Drug and SYCMIOYO hit the top 40, it will be considered contamination of the charts by those who accept the sorry state of music (those who base their taste on image and not talent), and it will be a breath of fresh air( or the way it should always be) for those who appreciate audacious but brilliant creativity.
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Old 10-23-2004, 01:13 AM   #10
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I actually think Vertigo is helping to turn things around. It's had fantastic radio exposure, at least where I live. I can find it on the radio at least once an hour, and sometimes two stations are even playing it at once. The song is usually followed by glowing remarks from the DJ, and a bit of hype about HTDAAB.

However, to be honest, the relationship with Apple has done wonders for them. This may be the best marketing move ever by a band. Not only have many non-U2 sites picked up one of the various U2/Apple news stories, but it's hard to find a forum that doesn't have a thread about Vertigo. I can't tell you how many posts I've seen from non-fans (many of them being teens) talking about how cool Vertigo is, and how they're looking forward to the album. The Apple partnership has made U2 cool to many people that never paid attention before.

Vertigo is truly everywhere at the moment, and I think that momentum will continue to build as HTDAAB is released and the tour starts. There are masses of new fans in the works

It's true though, U2 don't need to prove themselves, and I don't think they have ever done anything for that purpose. Even without doing anything though, they have already proved themselves this time around. That's obvious due to the popularity of Vertigo amongst the general public. A good example of that is the fact that it's been #1 on iTunes for weeks.
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Old 10-23-2004, 01:35 AM   #11
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Everyone seems the need to prove themselves in one way or another whether you're a musician or a banker, it all comes down to a pride thing.
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Old 10-23-2004, 09:02 AM   #12
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I hear you guys.

I'm in Edmonton, and I listened to the premiere of Vertigo on 96X, which is this area's Top-40 station. That was the ONLY time I've heard the song on that station, and they've gone back to Beyonce, Usher, Bowling for Soup, etc. etc. (which reminds me - have you heard Bowling for Soup's newest song, '1985'? They mention U2 in the chorus! Awful song nonetheless). However, I must point out the huge format flip-over that has happened recently here b/c if it didn't happen, I bet Power 92 (the old Top-40 station) would've played Vertigo a lot...they do now as the hodge-podge non-rap 80's focused station Joe FM. Very U2-friendly station. The rock-only station (The Bear) is giving it heavy rotation - it's constantly #2 on the charts behind that American Idiot song by Green Day. I have no problem hearing Vertigo on that station. Hell, there's this classic rock station here that doesn't really play anything past 1991 or so, and I heard 'em play Vertigo once. So yeah, they've pretty much been abandoned by the Top-40 station here, which is too bad, but I think you're dead on with the age thing. It's unfair, considering how many young people are here who love this stuff (hey, I'm 23!). Let the listeners make that decision, not Clear Channel.

Speaking of that old Top-40 station here, you should've heard the promotions Power 92 was doing when U2 announced they were coming here for Popmart - "123 more days until U2 comes to Edmonton...keep listening to win your free tickets"..."122 more days until U2 comes to Edmonton..." A good buddy of mine was almost getting sick of U2 b/c of it! They also pulled what would be one of the worst April Fool's jokes to play on a U2 fan - the morning show set themselves up in a warehouse where, apparently, U2 was holding auditions for their next video, which would be shot in Edmonton. Lots of people headed over there, only to be given a sign saying, 'April Fool's Day! We fooled U2!'

I don't think I need to say that the new Top-40 station would EVER do that, unless it was for a Simple Plan video or something as crappy as that. It's sad too, b/c before they changed their format, they were an 'Alternative' station (well, not really alternative...), and they used to have a feature called U2@2 where they'd play 2 U2 songs (common and obscure stuff) at 2pm.
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Old 10-23-2004, 09:39 AM   #13
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I think that Vertigo is doing just fine.

I have friends who really weren't interested in U2 tell me that they love that song, and that they are going to buy the album because they think it will be worth checking out. These are people who have never felt compelled to buy a U2 album before. My friends and I are true rock fans, and don't listen to the radio much. I think that most of the people who appreciate U2 are the same way... don't listen to much radio. Because the radio plays nothing but shit. U2 don't even belong in the same chart as Destiny's Child or Eminem.

I do hear it frequently on the radio here in Ohio, however.
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Old 10-23-2004, 10:02 AM   #14
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I liked it better when U2 didn't try to prove themselves, but let's face it, the landscape has changed.
I woulda told you you we're nuts if 10 years ago you told me that "U2 will push their records thru Target or with Ipod in the future".

In any event the landscape has changed and I'm ok with it.

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Old 10-23-2004, 10:05 AM   #15
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"You are judging from a paticular geography."

Yep. A lot probably depends on where you live and what type of music is most popular in the local scene, plus all the format categorizing that's been going on.. U2 just don't neatly fit into any one radio format.. that's a problem here in the category-happy US. It's becoming increasingly rare for ANY act to have a "crossover" hit.

Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason. A "classic rock" station in a city north of my location played the song "Zooropa" over and over and over, but I didn't hear it once on any of the local stations. For no apparent reason, just the opposite happened with "Last Night On Earth". I heard "Sweetest Thing" and "Beautiful Day" on everything from the alternative rock station to adult contemporary to Top 40 formats. "Walk On" and "Electrical Storm" also had huge airplay here. Didn't hear "Stuck in a Moment" at all and "Elevation" only a handful of times.
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Old 10-23-2004, 10:27 AM   #16
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Sure its kind of sad that we don't hear U2 on top 40 stations as much anymore, but to me it looks like top 40 radio is interested in the massive Tween market more than any other specific demographic. Its only natural that bands like U2, REM, (even younger bands like Coldplay and Radiohead) get little if any airplay on top 40 radio in North America.

And actually, it really doesn't look like there is much of a correlation between top 40 radio airplay and U2's level of success... Just look at ATYCLB and the Elevation Tour... and of course 'Vertigo' being the #1 downloaded song everywhere!

I predict that U2 will only further cement their place amoung music's all time greats in the next few years... The ITUNES marketing agreement is absolutely brilliant... Just imagine how many teens who were in daipers when AB came out will hear Vertigo and then take an interest in U2... just imagine discovering them today with their incredible catalogue????

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