Stand Up Comedy

WARNING: As a still-current song, opinion may yet change and significant alterations to the post may occur as said opinion changes or new details emerge.

…in which U2 go (slightly – the whole thing always slips into U2 during choruses, solo, whenever it suits and so forth) Led Zeppelin, attempt some approach towards injecting funk and swing into the equation, and conclude the middle trilogy of Lillywhite-produced NLOTH songs designed to both provide a lighter mood and sloganeer a little. And much of it works fairly well, but there’s a slight feeling here that the song could be a bit more outrageous and crazy; there’s a feeling of restraint here. It’s that restraint that, for example, makes a fair chunk of Edge’s solo a bit nondescript (that end bit before the next verse, though? Brilliant). There’s a fair amount of comment, too, about the somewhat gauche line Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady, but whilst it’s not exactly a classic amongst U2 lyrics, it’s better than, say, the shoehorned God is love/And love is evolution’s very best day which sounds a bit too much like an attempt to get Dawkins and the Discovery Institute to come to reconciliation (something that makes ending poverty look like a piece of cake).

All of this, along with the graceless 60isms (endless “love” references, the “soul-rockin’ people” lines that sound like Bono’s trawled through 1967 back issues of the NME) detracts from the real purpose of the song, which is (lyrically) to shake audiences out of apathetic slumber and, as the title and repeated refrain suggests, “stand up” for an issue or a belief (though which is never necessarily made utterly explicit, something I’ve found can switch between universality and frustrating vagueness depending on mood), and inevitably question the world around them. I needn’t quote the Napoleon line.

So does all this work? Well, I joined the ONE campaign after I first heard this song, so maybe. And for all the criticism I seemed to pour on the song above, it could be worse (I mean, thank fuck it isn’t “pop-pickin’ people” that are movin’ on). It’s enjoyable enough whilst it plays, and it shows one of the band’s key post-1991 strengths – had this song emerged in the 80s, there’d have been a rigid straightness to the beat, a sledgehammer of a lyric, and an utter seriousness to their delivery. In an ideal world, it’d finally, once and for all, puncture the U2 image as being relentlessly serious and crusading. Will it happen in the real world? Nah, course not.


~ by 4trak on March 11, 2009.

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