The Sweetest Thing

“The Sweetest Thing” isn’t particularly the longest, shortest, worst or best U2 song, but it is arguably the most straightforward. Indeed, for anyone who doesn’t geddit, the video spells it out pretty explicitly, with those banners reading “I’m Really Really Sorry”, etc. The music is also seemingly designed to align to the lyrical tone entirely, that hesitant piano and chiming guitar along with a steady but cautious pace all suggesting a man who’s gotten into a bit of trouble.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the song, really, is the way it’s effectively lived a double life: for over ten years, it was a brief, three-minute, modest but effective b-side, with a somewhat raw vocal from Bono and a scatting breakdown towards the end in which the drumming winds up in energy and tempo. But when the band needed a new song for a Best Of (it’s seemingly de rigueur nowadays that for new fans, simply having an introduction to the band isn’t enough, and for diehards who’ll buy the version with a bonus disc, the bonus disc isn’t enough either. Both demographics absolutely need an extra three minutes on first disc. Bizzare.), they dusted this down, made it somewhat poppier, and made it said new song. That said, both versions seem somewhat interchangeable; whatever the case, the song has now become one of the more recognisable numbers amongst the U2 canon, and it reached #3 in the UK. The song succeeds, but it doesn’t really aim for much, which actually makes it an oddity amongst U2 songs.

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~ by 4trak on May 17, 2008.

2 Responses to “The Sweetest Thing”

  1. I loved the original; as you say, it’s a simple song, and it doesn;t exactly aim at being great art. So, for me, the ‘best of’ version was overproduced and didn’t quite have the magic of a slightly raw, but touching b-side…

  2. […] Certainly, it ends U218 on a high, and it is an effective closing of an era that started with the first top 5 hit in the run. Which, incidentally, was also piano-driven. Posted in non-album […]

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