Pop by U2

The Weight of Your Love by Editors


Call it a quirk, but I always gravitate toward the most underrated record in an artist’s catalogue and prize it atop said artist’s discography as one of his, her or their better work. And as if to drive the point home, I shy away from the more conventional sounding tracks from what is essentially an experimental album, which is what these types inevitably are. U2’s Pop from 1997 fits this bill, and mind you, it found itself at the bottom of a compilation we put out recently, ranking the band’s discography start to finish, all dozen albums of it. But who cares, I love it.


#1. Discothèque 5:19
#2. Do You Feel Loved 5:07
#3. Mofo 5:46
#4. If God Will Send His Angels 5:22
#5. Staring at the Sun 4:36
#6. Last Night on Earth 4:45
#7. Gone 4:26
#8. Miami 4:52
#9. The Playboy Mansion 4:40
#10. If You Wear That Velvet Dress 5:14
#11. Please 5:10
#12. Wake Up Dead Man 4:52
Japanese Bonus Track:
#13. Holy Joe (Guilty Mix) 5:10


Bono: Lead Vocals, Additional Guitar
Adam Clayton: Bass Guitar
The Edge: Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Cocals
Larry Mullen, Jr.: Drums, Percussion, Programming


Howie B
Steve Osborne


3rd March, 1997


Staring at the Sun
Last Night on Earth
If God Will Send His Angels


The recording and subsequent release of Pop was a comedy of errors in itself, owing to a missing (recuperating) Larry Mullen Jr. during the initial half of the compositions, initiating recording sessions with a sea of various producers in the meantime, and booking the supporting PopMart tour too early. This last one was especially a near-own goal, as the band were rushed into completing the album well before it reached artistic maturity.


The chaos still didn’t dampen its initial commercial performance, and Pop galloped to the top of the charts in as many as 35 countries. It struggled thereafter though, and its lifetime sales are amongst the lowest in U2’s catalogue. Perhaps in hindsight, the chaos proved too much. Maybe some were desirous of more of an orthodox sound after the hit-and-miss which was 1993’s Zooropa. Or the audience at large were finally tiring of a band that had been around for the better part of a couple of decades by that point. I’d disagree with all such charges though, and for the better – as those are reactions which aid us critics in placing such records – gently – into the underrated bin.


Firstly, and I’ve gone back and had a look at the exact nature of the panning that this record received upon its immediate release; this is not a techno album. Mofo at #3 might have some industrial leanings, but that’s about it. For real techno stuff from the era of 1997, you might want to check out Plaid or Orbital or some such outfit, for U2 and Pop is not it.


Everything else was largely experimental at best. Discotheque up top is a rhythmic opener by itself, and the likes of Mofo continue the trend, but Gone is yet a bigger gem than both of those, a squealing guitar in the backgorund complimenting its structure very well. Miami might seem barebones on a first listen, but it satisfies a top filler quotient by the time it rolls around during its quarter of the record, and leads on to the hilarious The Playboy Mansion that follows right after at #9. Then who can leave out the equally creative Please, Staring at the Sun and If God Will Send His Angels? Not Moi.


Take my word for it. This is a quality effort that is horribly underrated to the point that I might actually pick up the disc should I see it lying around at a store. Exactly, it isn’t – for labels have moved on to marketing the more dynamic U2 efforts before and after. The band themselves canned a majority of Pop from their live shows by the time the Elevation tour came around at the turn of the century, but that might be attributable towards marketing tactics for the reboot that was 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind. None of which yet proclaim that this is a rubbish album. Far from it.





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