In fact, the early stirrings of what would ultimately make U2 great pop up throughout their second record. This was due in large part to Steve Jobs’s knack for promotion and keen understanding of his customers. Yahweh and City of Blinding Lights evoke a sense of longing familiar to U2’s catalog, and they’re presented with the oversized sound and bombast the band has turned into an art form. Yet, any true U2 fan or post-punk aficionado will find a lot to love. Read on for EW's definitive ranking of U2's titanic body of work.
Achtung Baby 1.
Uno, dos, tres…catorce? Gone and Please, on the other hand, take a more aggressive approach. Their most experimental LP is their most underrated, but Zooropa has hallmarks of primo U2: big-ass hooks ("Some Days Are Better Than Others"), Bono in cyber-dystopian mode ("Zooropa"), Bono in sex-god mode ("Lemon"), plus surprising vocal turns from the Edge and Johnny Cash. And the band uses every second to create a sweeping hymn that ranks among their best work.
We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. Exit11. The Joshua Tree achieved in 11 tracks more than most rock bands do in their entire careers. 14. This partnership, unlike the one led by current Apple CEO Tim Cook, was an unqualified success. After all the hard-hitting political commentary, brash guitars, and Gatling-like drumming, the album closes with “40”, a stunning hymn showcasing the beautiful harmonic synergy of Bono and the Edge’s voices.
Then, there’s Bono.
WORST TRACK: "Love and Peace or Else" — A dirty, plodding, on-the-nose call for…guess. Like a Song…5. Dubbed as U2’s first true "rock record," this solid follow-up to All That You Can’t Leave Behind won a Grammy for Album of the Year, yet Bono was right in his later assessment that "the whole isn’t greater than the sum of its parts." U2’s latest album has all the hallmarks of an instant classic. In fact, I would argue that it’s one of U2’s deepest records and absolutely rewards multiple listens. The sounds on Zooropa are just as colorful as the album cover when U2 goes electronic. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. BEST TRACK: "Walk On" — A politically charged anthem about persevering with grace. Drowning Man6. In fact, it’s a rewarding listen for the open-minded. While the majority of the album’s tracks deal with society and politics en masse, this gorgeous piece is intensely personal and finds Bono at his most lyrically self-aware. WORST TRACK: "Red Light" — A messy, trumpet-filled bore. Rather, it’s the simple moan of the Edge’s slide guitar riff, the rise and fall of Clayton’s bassline, and most of all, Bono reaching new vocal heights in a bridge that stretches his range, as if pulled up by sheer emotion. On which U2 try to capitalize on the era’s hottest music trend (that’d be electronica) but wind up looking like old guys chasing tail at the club. Even Better Than the Real Thing3.
Where the Streets Have No Name2. 4th of July7. — There’s a reason it’s the last song on the album. 1. The opening cut, Zoo Station, immediately sounds like nothing the band had ever produced before. After noodling with electronica and pop irony in the late '90s, U2 rebooted in 2000 with a rousing throwback to Joshua Tree-style classicism. Four decades and 13 albums later, the quartet stands as one of the greatest rock bands in history.
That said, it’s one of the records that first got me interested in the band. And boy, did it meet a moment: When heard after 9/11, Leave Behind ministered to our grief with a beautiful exhortation to hope. Most intriguing is Sleep Like a Baby Tonight, a dirge-like consideration of a pedophile priest. Meanwhile, Larry Mullen punctuates crucial moments with tight snare stabs and dramatic pummeling of the toms.
WORST TRACK: "When I Look at the World" — A banal entry in the "crisis of faith" category of U2 songs. “This was the album where U2’s music changed completely.
Read on for EW's definitive ranking of U2's titanic body of work.
Some may disagree with my choice to place Atomic Bomb so high on this list, but to relegate the album to a spot further down the list would be to neglect both the emotional depth of the album, as well as its enormous worldwide popularity. and the band at its techno-funkiest. BEST TRACK: "I Will Follow" — Their first hit and, to this day, a bulletproof classic. The top rated tracks by U2 are Sunday Bloody Sunday, With Or Without You, One, New Year's Day and Where The Streets Have No Name.This artist appears in 6,192 charts and has received 101 comments and 375 ratings from BestEverAlbums.com site members. WORST TRACK: "Is That All?" It wasn’t just the controversial Apple rollout — the record magically appeared "for free" in users’ iTunes accounts without their consent — but the music sounded overly populist too. While the record was released in mid-2000, the themes and tone of All That You Can’t Leave Behind took on a deeper resonance after the events of September 11, 2001, smack in the middle of the band’s Elevation world concert tour.
WORST TRACK: "Exit" — An edited jam and sketchy portrait of a serial killer. BEST TRACK: "One" — If this immortal ballad doesn’t wreck you, you’re dead inside. That is, incorporate new technologies and electronic sounds to adapt to a new era in music. If you think the greatest U2 album isn't high enough on the list, then be sure to vote for it so it receives the credit it deserves. The first three tracks draw you into a particular sonic landscape. And yet, the record displays U2 honing in on the sound that would define them for the remainder of the 1980s. If God Will Send His Angels and Staring at the Sun are lovely melodies that explore characteristic lyrical themes: yearning, spiritual uncertainty, and identity. What’s so strange about the song is that, despite sounding much more like something from an earlier period of U2’s career, it still manages to sound perfectly at home on Achtung Baby. But there’s so much more to The Joshua Tree than these first three masterpieces.
The barrage of sound on Acrobat and the organ-fueled dirge of Love Is Blindness comprise the perfect one-two punch to close out an album shot through with innovation, restless creativity, and a very real sense of urgency. BEST TRACK: "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For" — The gospel rocker that summed up U2’s theology and restlessness. Seconds 3.
Though critics slammed it for overreach, highlights like "Desire" and "All I Want Is You" are stone classics today. Bad8.
If ever a band had a magnum opus, U2’s 1987 The Joshua Tree would be a top contender for the title.
The Unforgettable Fire5. This sonic approach continues on the nearly-danceable Mysterious Ways, a hugely successful hit single that features some memorable wah-wah guitar from the Edge. Admittedly, the Irish foursome did it exceedingly well, but they were far from breaking the new ground that later outings would accomplish. That said, I want to suggest that this very 90s recording is misunderstood, at worst. We'll cover every U2 album, from good to great to transcendent. It’s on this anthem of love and civil resistance that the Edge locks in his trademark delay, while the steadfast rhythm section joins him in holding up Bono’s rich vocal and lofty message. Dirty Day, a deep cut if there ever was one, is one of the album’s greatest achievements.
But it was also a great record. I’m a sucker for Bono’s falsetto, so I was thrilled to find the theme continue on the next track, Lemon. Many will be surprised to find U2’s debut album, Boy, so low on this list, and that’s reasonable.
Bono said Achtung Baby is “the sound of four men chopping down The Joshua Tree,” and he’s never been more right.
A nearly two-minute-long intro weaves audio samples with ambient sounds, eventually giving way to the Edge’s spaced out wah-wah riff and Bono’s lightly-processed vocals. In a decade known for pop sounds and shredding guitars, U2 released chose soaring emotion. The truth is, there is not a weak track on the album, not a single song that seems out of place.
With or Without You4.
This list includes every U2 studio album they've recorded, including The Joshua Tree (1987), Achtung Baby (1991) and more. At the very least, it’s far from the “disaster” that some critics labeled it.
In God's Country8. ), and, most shocking of all, slightly insincere.
Let’s dig into this iconic U2 album that helped define the sound of the 2000s. Inspiring.
The worldconquering collection — the A side is one of the strongest runs on an album ever — forged the sonic formulas that U2 would revisit, and deconstruct, for years to come. But it wasn’t just the masterful production team that made this album so special. The sessions were fraught from the get-go: They booked time with Rick Rubin, but ended up returning to triedand-true collaborators Eno, Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite.
U2’s debut album, Boy, shows the promise of a young, energetic band searching for its sound.
All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000). This U2 discography is ranked from best to worst, so the top U2 albums can be found at the top of the list. Yes, it was a bad idea. On The Joshua Tree, we hear the culmination of everything that has come to be synonymous with U2: The record exemplifies the many aspects of U2 that have firmly established the band as one of the greats.
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