The Saints Are Coming

A very different cover song for U2 in two key respects – one, it was actually released as a single, and two, Green Day proved a somewhat controversial collaboration. It’s relatively easy to see the logic – by 2006 Green Day had moved closer to U2 territory than ever before, a situation that was probably not going to last. Yet the biggest problem, really, with Green Day is that they add little to the song; it seems like removing Green Day would’ve resulted in a slightly thinner sounding song that is, nonetheless, pretty much the same bar the “House of the Rising Sun” quotation that ties the song with New Orleans.

Which leaves the actual song itself, courtesy of not-exactly-huge late 70s punk band The Skids, which is covered fairly faithfully. That said, like a lot of punk songs it seems bare harmonically and lyrically (even the verses have a lot carried over into each other, like the how long now? refrain), and U2 are trying to amp this song up to something it isn’t. If “The Saints Are Coming” is a failure here – and it’s not quite – then it’s because punk does sound like The Joshua Tree, and never can. It’s a valiant effort, and the size is possibly achieved by a doubling of guitars, basses and drums, but ultimately one that’d always have ended up futile. Still, with charity singles commercial success is always important, and this single did not do too badly. There’s also the fact that the oddly apolitical U2 went with what was surely a highly politically charged video for the song, effectively arguing for the military to be out of Iraq and in New Orleans. Of course, they then stated that this wasn’t necessarily their views, just a hypothetical situation. Yeah, right.

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~ by 4trak on August 11, 2008.

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