After having so much fun compiling the list of the Best R.E.M. songs, I had to take a stab at doing the same for U2. I polled our Twitter followers
and my fanatical friends, who then suggested more than 50 different songs, including just about every cut from War
, Joshua Tree
and Achtung Baby
. All five of the first tracks off Joshua Tree
made this list, but it also draws from nearly every era—from Boy
all the way up to Atomic Bomb
(and an argument could be made for No Line on the Horizon
's "Magnificent" or "White as Snow"). Tell me why I'm wrong.
10. "New Year's Day" (War)
song might be Adam Clayton's shining moment. More than The Edge's
wailing guitars or Bono's pleading vocals, Clayton's bass line
communicates the piss and vinegar of "New Year's Day."
9. "Running To Stand Still" (Joshua Tree)
almost doesn't matter how bad your voice is; there are no better lyrics
to sing along to at the top of your lungs than "You've got to cry
without weeping/Talk without speaking/Scream without raising your
8. "Beautiful Day" (All That You Can't Leave Behind)
that it's been co-opted by every single political candidate from the
Peoria city council race all the way up to Indecision 2008. This song
was carefully crafted to fill every nook and cranny in the world's
largest stadiums and fundraising dinners.
7. "Bad" (The Unforgettable Fire)
The Eno/Lanois dreamy atmospherics also worked particularly well on "Bad," a song about heroin addiction.
6. "With Or Without You" (Joshua Tree)
Again, Eno and Lanois' ethereal sound collage transforms a straight-forward love song into the sound of a heart breaking.
5. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (Joshua Tree)
Spiritual longing has rarely been captured so well in a pop song.
4. "One" (Achtung Baby)
enough, "One" is the song that famously held the band together after creative differences were causing tension.
3. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (War)
of the most instantly recognizable drum beats kicks off this masterful
protest record like a call to arms. It's an album about war, and the
Irish band writes what they know.
2. "Where the Streets Have No Name" (Joshua Tree)
the first track on the band's best album, Bono again dips into the
band's deepest and most authentic well—a longing for peace and unity in
Ireland. With a full minute of Brian Eno atmospherics and nearly
another minute of instrumental build, Bono's stadium-rock pleading
1. "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" (The Unforgettable Fire)
at last/They took your life/They could not take your pride." As elegant
as the speech it drew from, this song is U2 at its best: celebrating
goodness in the face of terrible evil. The Edge's guitar and Bono's
vocals battle for the greatest heights. A perfect tribute for MLK.