In the 90s, U2 made a trilogy of highly experimental albums. The first of the three: Achtung Baby (1991), is considered a masterpiece and perhaps their most significant musical achievement since The Joshua Tree (1987).
Their second release in the 1990s: Zooropa (1993), was their most experimental album, not only of the 90s but of their entire musical career.
The third and final release of their 90s trilogy of albums — was the album: POP (1997), which was their most commercially unsuccessful album, and their most ambitious ever. Nevertheless, in my opinion, POP is, without a doubt, one of U2’s best albums of all time.
POP came out during a time when I was exploring electronica, a time when I was listening to a lot of music by Aphex Twin, The Prodigy, and The Chemical Brothers, just to name a few — and needles to say, I was drawn to this album from the first time I listened to it.
It’s been twenty years since this album was released, and it’s been twenty years since I been consistently listening to this album…. I’m pretty sure I play it once a month or bi-monthly.
Bono was quoted saying that the album “begins at a party (discotheque) and ends at a funeral (wake up dead man),” which is a pretty accurate way to describe the mood of this album. POP initially got positive reviews from critics, while other critics did not “get it,” for some, it relied too heavily on electronic influences. In contrast, others felt there was too much “religion” on most of the songs.
Regardless of the criticism, this album showed us just how ahead of their time U2 was, even way back in the 1990s; they were using sampling, sequencer software, loops, and a few other sound techniques, which are now part of the norm in today’s music scene.
This past summer of 2018, U2 finally released POP on vinyl double LP format, and obviously, I had to get it. What a treat it is to listen to this record on vinyl finally, and I still find it to be as deep, profound, and remarkable as I did in the 90s — it is a kick-ass record. So do yourself a favor, and listen to it.
1.Discotheque: Funky, techno dance vibes dominate this track. Edge’s guitar solo is my favorite part of this track, where an effects pedal is used, which is a device that creates a distorted sound.
2. Do You Feel Loved: One of my favorite tracks on this record, it uses many electronic elements throughout the song, it has a nice techno beat.
3.MOFO: This is probably the most techno heavy song on this entire album. It wasn’t one of my favorite tracks when I first listened to this album back in the late ’90s. However, it is one of those songs that grow on you with time, and it has become one of my favorite tracks from this record. Bono wrote this song as a way to deal with his mother’s passing.
4.If God Would Send His Angels: This is a beautifully performed electronic ballad; Bono’s voice comes across like a crooner wrapped in a techno melody, while at the same time the lyrics provide a view of the state of our world from the point of view of a religiously devoted person. In any case, I feel as though the lyrics made sense then, just as they make sense now.
5. Staring At The Sun: This song reminds me of Oasis a bit, with a techno touch. It was the second single from this album. It was probably the most radio-friendly track from this record. I wasn’t much into this song at first, but in time it has also grown into one of my favorites.
6.Last Night On Earth: Another funky techno song, along with the lines of the first three tracks. It has more of a stadium rock feel to it than the previous tracks. It became one of my favorites from the moment I first listened to it.
7.Gone: Probably my favorite track from this record. It is the perfect blend of rock, techno, funky drums, and bass. Also, the lyrics are on point here. I’m regularly playing this track on my U2 playlist.
8.Miami: My least favorite track from this album, it was probably their most experimental song, and definitely not one of my favorites, but the boldness and courageous attempt to create something original is highly appreciated.
9.The Playboy Mansion: This song has a nice mellow feel, and loops are utilized all over this track. The lyrics are basically a rundown of pop culture and celebrity life in the ’90s.
10.If You Wear That Velvet Dress: Larry Mullen’s drums paired with some keyboards set the mood for this track. It is full of dark tones, and Bono’s melodic delivery gives this track a unique sound and feel. Definitely one of the best songs on this record.
11. Please: Drums take center stage once again on this track; there is also a delicate balance of guitar and bass on this song. Bono’s lyrics have political/religious undertones that fit perfectly with the entire album’s central thesis.
12. Wake Up Dead Man: This track feels like a follow to up “if God Would Send His Angels” (Track 4). It is all about Jesus returning and making sense of all the nonsense going on in our world. The lyrics are a direct appeal to Jesus to return. It is definitely the darkest song on this record, there is a bit of sampling going on here, and it works excellently. This song works great as a final track to complement the overall theme of this album.