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U2’s considerable triumph

February 28, 2009

Tube advertisingI hate U2 and I like Bono even less.

I’m one of those sorts of people who will start foaming at the mouth when I see the man in a picture. You may also like to know that I also run a very high risk of bursting a handful of blood vessels if I see him open his mouth and hear him talk. I didn’t get (and still don’t) understand anyone who get’s excited by their music. Even a casual listen to their music leaves me wondering what the fuss is about. But more tiresome than any of that : One of the band members is called “The Edge”, for God’s sake. The words ‘pretentious’ and ‘idiots’ spring to mind?

And yet, something weird has happened this weekend. Given my limited knowledge and even less desire to research the topic fully for something approximating a reasonably interesting blog post, I appear to have made a discovery. 

U2 are everywhere with their new album New Line On The Horizon. That might be one of the reasons I responded to a Radio 2 web producer on Facebook when I read his status message noting Adam and Joe’s mild slagging-off of U2 in their 6 Music show with the very real feeling : “Jon wonders whether U2 stayed on the roof of Broadcasting House last night and, if they didn’t, perhaps they ought to have done.”

Of course, if you’ve been on some kind of alcohol-fuelled bender for all of Friday you will be blissfully unaware that U2 descended on the BBC’s Broadcasting House yesterday, playing in the Radio Theatre at around lunchtime, doing an interview with Chris Evans later in the day before hopping around like the middle-aged rockers they really are (I’ve not watched the resulting video but I bet Bono’s wearing those damn sunglasses despite it being dark) on the roof overlooking 750 fans cramming Regent Street below. (I bet their view was a little restricted. Shame. My heart bleeds.)

Pictures abound of the event and a spot of mobile video from Flickr user and BBC-Audio-and-Music-technology-blokey-who-I-need-pay- back-for-a-coffee-he-bought me FatController.

Not only that, U2 have been on most music related outlets I know of (predictably most of these are BBC things) including The Culture Show (there were moments when I found Bono to be at his most irritating) and Radio 4’s Front Row – don’t be surprised like I was to discover that the interviews contain pretty much the same responses in both programmes.

U2 on the BBC websiteU2 even have their own BBC website featuring all the exclusive content the Corporation’s Audio and Music department has produced. With my pseudo-geek multiplatform webbie type hat on, I can confirm it’s a tasty design and a well executed web offering. It feels right for the event. It ticks all the right boxes any web producer has to face on a daily basis at the BBC. It is, in short, the kind of project I wished I’d worked on despite the fact that I loathe U2. Most pertinent of all is that the website shows the way in which BBC websites should (and I think I’m right in saying will go) in pulling together relevant content from right across different networks into one easy to absorb “topic” based site. You might want to speak to someone more senior for a more official statement on this. 

With all that in mind, I have to report that my initial feelings about U2 may well be changing given the band’s now obvious masterstroke.

I first saw their new album advertised on the Tube journey to work. I found it difficult to resist taking a picture. “Oh, it’s them” I thought. “Marvellous. I bet we’ll be hearing a lot of them in the next few weeks. Might be interesting to follow that little process.” Even if you’re reading that cold it might be worth me stressing I was rolling my eyes and generally sneering about the whole thing. (For further evidence please see the opening gambit of this post .. many thanks.)

Now I’ve finished what amounts to my usual regular Saturday afternoon doze and log on to Spotify (for the first time since I got my login set up) I discover the entire album is being promoted on the new music service. Seeing as everyone else is talking about them (at least it seems that way), I’d better listen to the album. In the interests of research, lets see if I hate the music on the new album as much as my gut reaction to Bono and his stupid glasses and even more irritating viewpoints on various global issues (with particular emphasis on climate change).

The answer is .. I quite like the album. In fact, I really like the album. If this is U2 (and really – I know it’s a sad thing to confess – but really, I’ve never made a point of listening to their stuff before – it’s always been white noise) then maybe they’re not quite so bad after all. I might even download the album or .. who knows .. buy it on CD. Actually, I might go as far as to say .. well done them. 

And what did it take? A massive PR effort involving a global broadcaster, various print media outlets, advertising sold all over the internet and a deal with new belle-of-the-internet-ball Spotify. It must have cost them a fortune.  Still, at least they can count me as a new convert. I bet they’ll be delighted with that.

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4 Comments
  1. Bono’s arrogance and apparent lack of insight and self-awareness annoys me beyond belief. Frankly I was surprised at the amount of coverage they got from the BBC, with the news being interrupted to go to their live performance.

    Bono even turned up in the opening sequences of the Ireland vs England six nations game yesterday (to which I am sure you were glued). Unlike yourself, I used to like their music to a moderate degree, but have found it to be increasingly repetitive and grating.

    One album I will not be buying this year…

  2. Re: “Ireland vs England six nations game yesterday (to which I am sure you were glued)” Richard ..

    I note how wrong you are in this assessment, but acknowledge you could well be utilising heavy doses of sarcasm in relation to my perceived interest in the rugby.

    Worth noting as well that I seriously doubt I’ll become a serious advocate of Bono’s any time soon. 😉

  3. U2 and their music is very much loved here in Asia. I must admit that I like the way they perform as a group.They’ve been here a couple of times.

  4. Many hundreds of years ago, U2 had a single “New Year’s Day”. I thought it was superb. A serious singalong song. So I bought the album. It had one other quite good song on it. So I bought the next album. It didn’t. Here endethed my relationship with U2.

    I must say Bonio has exactly the same effect on me Jon. I have to turn away when he comes on.

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