I Might Be Wrong: Why U2 Sucks

He might be wrong, but Reverb columnist Colin St. John thinks U2 sucks. Photo by Alexandre Meneghini, AP.
He might be wrong, but Reverb columnist Colin St. John thinks U2 sucks. Photo by Alexandre Meneghini, AP.

“Sucks” is admittedly a very childish word, as least as far as its utilization within the modern lexicon. But, it’s immediate, descriptive and evokes an emotional response. Everybody knows, plainly, that “sucks” is bad. And, quite possibility, it is very bad. Using the word “sucks” may be juvenile, but so is liking U2.

U2’s entire image, catalog and influence are a major drain on the rock ‘n’ roll that surrounds it. The Dublin quartet — quite literally — sucks the life out of whatever it touches, progression be damned. (When’s the last time you heard a U2 song and said, “Oh my god! That was completely unexpected and fresh!”?) And whether you are as vitriolic and vehement as this all might seem, or you plain don’t care about U2 — like, say, Ric Ocasek whose Cars played Denver on Sunday — you then have, at least, dismissed them in some way, shape or form. If, however, you are going to Invesco on Saturday, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. Of course, as Ocasek says in his New York Times interview, musical preferences are subjective. The point here is just that you shouldn’t subject yourself to listening to U2.

The worst thing about U2 is right in front of you: Bono, well-documented as one of the biggest self-righteous turds in the world. But what’s worse, his affected, bogus, second-coming-of-Albert-Schweitzer turd-ery browns out the perfectly competent and even inventive musician in the Edge. His parts in the 2008 documentary “It Might Get Loud” were enthralling and exhibited a guitarist fully embracing his craft with stupendous effect (and effects). The problem is the Edge’s sometimes ethereal guitar parts are almost always drowned out by Bono’s awful, syrupy voice. The Edge-helmed “Numb” from 1993’s “Zooropa” might be U2’s best song not only because it eschews the band’s safety zone in favor of industrial territory but also because Bono is largely absent.

But, what about “The Joshua Tree”? Some might cite it as U2’s best record (or perhaps “War” or “Achtung Baby”). Well, what about them? Unfortunately, even the most well-known and “best” songs from those records are, by-and-large, boring schlock. Take, for instance, the sacred cow “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” from “The Joshua Tree.” Lyrically, it’s one cliché after another (love not found, how original) sprinkled on top of an Edge loop and terribly simple drumbeat. The words are the clincher, though. Check out the beginning of the second verse: “I have kissed honey lips / Felt the healing in her fingertips / It burned like fire / This burning desire.” Did it “burn like fire,” Bono? Sweet simile, bro.

And what of its massive, elaborate touring sets? Isn’t U2 keeping big, arena rock alive? There might be something of an argument here, but check this out: The average (mean) ticket price of the show at Invesco Saturday (including the Red Zone seats — whatever the hell those are — and service charges) is $159.27. That can buy any damn 360 Tour set the greedy dudes want. And given how rich they all already are, the ticket prices are simply unethical. Couple that with the fact that there are many other arena-size acts — the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan among them — worth seeing far and above U2 and you’ve got a nonstarter.

It all adds up to too much going against the guys. Sure, they were a fairly lovable group of Irish lads when they stormed America (and Red Rocks) back in the day. The music wasn’t very good back then, either, and three decades into its career, the band isn’t even the creepy guy who hung around for too many years after college. At least that guy had some personality.

It’s the attractive, older wealthy woman who slops on way too much makeup every morning and doesn’t really have much to talk about besides her tennis game. I might be wrong, but if you’re going to U2’s concert Saturday, you’re —here’s that word again — a sucker.

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Colin St. John is a Denver-based writer and merrymaker. Follow him on Twitter and check out his blog.