Do You Feel Loved

The middle part of Pop‘s opening trilogy, and the weakest part. This is, in my view, like telling a seven-year old that The Empire Strikes Back is the weakest part of the original Star Wars trilogy (it’s got blipping laser noises, who gives a shit?), but the band more than disagreed in any event, feeling that Bono’s vocal problems at the time ruined it (if anything, they expose a discontent implicit within the lyrics) and as a result giving it airing a mere six times during the PopMart tour before quickly dropping it. Yet the intro is sheer brilliance, a guitar (well, maybe) reverbed and high-passed, giving it a muzak feel like it’s blasting out over a supermarket tannoy. It’s not exactly a device I’ve never heard elsewhere, but it is simply used brilliantly here, and the hard, non-filtered song that enters afterwards is especially brutal and heavy for that contrast.

As for the song, I’ve already mentioned ‘discontent’ as a mood, though you can also add self-deprecation (Take these hands, they’re good for nothing), hopelessness (Take these boots, they’re going nowhere) and confusion (You got my head filled with songs/You got my shoelaces undone) from the first verse alone. Despite the band’s ambition of going for something sexy, it’s a relationship here that’s empty, that simply won’t work as it lacks a real basis or substance behind it. The protagonist knows what’s needed – To stick together/A man and a woman (see chronologically later and less successful song title turning up) – but it isn’t happening. Incidentally, Bono earns postmodernity cred with self-reference (Heavy rhythm taking over) in the bridge, possibly with added irony (yes, the bridge seems more intense, taking away all the treble, but it then spirals upwards into light reverb in a way not too dissimilar to “Stuck In A Moment”).

Even if “Do You Feel Loved” is a weaker song than those either side of it, however, it’s hard to imagine how it’d be removed from the album, and that’s due to its trilogy status. Arguably the first three songs on Pop are of an individual wanting something emotional; here, the issue is lack of eros as opposed to philia or agape. It is this strong sense of trilogy that makes all three songs fairly important as a group and reinforcement of one another. Good song – although great is probably stretching it.

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~ by 4trak on September 4, 2008.

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