Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?

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restofit

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Let's say if U2 have retired after All That You Can't Leave Behind, how would their legacy & public perception be effected, or similarly had they retired after POP? It actually would've been really fitting - As ATYCLB was their 1st record with the band looking back (for the 1st time) in maturity, since all the bad members crossed 40 during the process of recording the album. Adam had just finished rehab & all the band members had since become fathers during that period.

All That You Can't Leave Behind is a better album about experience than Songs of Experience. Musically & lyrically that album has so many better, more direct songs about life experience than Songs of Experience. The entire record is about resilience, growth, and reflection, but those themes are especially apparent in tracks like 'Walk On', 'Stuck in a Moment', 'Kite' and 'Grace'. There are songs that address the state of the world ('When I Look at The World', 'New York') and those about seizing life before it's too late ('Beautiful Day, 'Elevation').

ATYCLB really caught Bono in a moment of true, genuine reflection. It was also a vulnerable moment, coming off of POP, and with his voice in rough shape. He had to re-learn how to sing during this time.

That 'looking back' approach worked as a one-off, it got them back their relevance & the title of biggest band in the world again. But dubbling-down on this approach & the success that stemmed from ATYCLB proved to be the 'beginning of the end' one could perhaps argue.

One safe, 'back to basics', adult contemporary album after POP was acceptable for most U2 fans as it achieved what it set out to, make U2 relevant again, but for many fans HTDAAB was a bridge too far & that's when the tide started to turn. And with that release & corresponding tour it seemed like the U2 hate train/machine really started to take off during that period..

that lingering after-taste that originated circa HTDAAB-era still endures for many music critics today.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2020, 11:02:13 PM by restofit »

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SwimmingSorrows

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2020, 11:34:44 PM »
Retiring after POP would have been a disaster for their legacy.  They'd be remembered as the band who lost their way chasing experimentation and sputtered to a halt with an unfinished flop of an album and a flop of a tour.  I like that album, but it was their worst-received release to date besides maybe October.  If they wanted to maximize their "legacy," the best time would have been after 360.  Winning a Grammy and having a hit with Bomb helped their public perception, and then No Line wasn't very well received, but the highest grossing tour ever helped their legacy too. 

Frankly, I think if they had just not done the stupid iTunes release and picked better singles, SOI and SOE wouldn't have really damaged their legacy either.  REM has continued to release albums that aren't as well received as their 80s/90s work into the 2000s, and those albums haven't impacted their legacy at all because nobody pays attention to them.  If U2 had simply faded into obscurity like most of their peers, lackluster later releases wouldn't have done anything to their legacy.  It's basically the expected path for an aging rock band that doesn't break up, Rolling Stones etc.  Problem is U2 would never willingly fade out of the public eye.  They want to be huge forever, and in attempting to remain so, they tarnished their reputation with the SOI release, especially among younger listeners.
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restofit

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2021, 12:02:03 AM »
Retiring after POP would have been a disaster for their legacy.  They'd be remembered as the band who lost their way chasing experimentation and sputtered to a halt with an unfinished flop of an album and a flop of a tour.  I like that album, but it was their worst-received release to date besides maybe October.  If they wanted to maximize their "legacy," the best time would have been after 360.  Winning a Grammy and having a hit with Bomb helped their public perception, and then No Line wasn't very well received, but the highest grossing tour ever helped their legacy too. 

Frankly, I think if they had just not done the stupid iTunes release and picked better singles, SOI and SOE wouldn't have really damaged their legacy either.  REM has continued to release albums that aren't as well received as their 80s/90s work into the 2000s, and those albums haven't impacted their legacy at all because nobody pays attention to them.  If U2 had simply faded into obscurity like most of their peers, lackluster later releases wouldn't have done anything to their legacy.  It's basically the expected path for an aging rock band that doesn't break up, Rolling Stones etc.  Problem is U2 would never willingly fade out of the public eye.  They want to be huge forever, and in attempting to remain so, they tarnished their reputation with the SOI release, especially among younger listeners.

In my mind, I do think that 360 was their 'last hurrah', probably the last time you could say the band were 'truly' at the top of their game. (Bono's voice was at it's best since the 90's after an horrendous period between 2004-2007). An hugely ambitious, innovative tour, which was basically the grand culmination of their live career, and magnum opus in terms of proportion & magnitude, (this also pretty much co-incided with the band's 30 year anniversary since forming 1980-2010).

Although.. having said that I'm thankful they stayed around to release their best record since POP with SOI. The corresponding tour in 2015 was pretty great too, I thought the songs from that album translated extremely well live (compared to the tracks on SOE, which didn't have the same impact).
« Last Edit: January 01, 2021, 12:11:38 AM by restofit »

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SwimmingSorrows

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2021, 12:28:28 AM »
Retiring after POP would have been a disaster for their legacy.  They'd be remembered as the band who lost their way chasing experimentation and sputtered to a halt with an unfinished flop of an album and a flop of a tour.  I like that album, but it was their worst-received release to date besides maybe October.  If they wanted to maximize their "legacy," the best time would have been after 360.  Winning a Grammy and having a hit with Bomb helped their public perception, and then No Line wasn't very well received, but the highest grossing tour ever helped their legacy too. 

Frankly, I think if they had just not done the stupid iTunes release and picked better singles, SOI and SOE wouldn't have really damaged their legacy either.  REM has continued to release albums that aren't as well received as their 80s/90s work into the 2000s, and those albums haven't impacted their legacy at all because nobody pays attention to them.  If U2 had simply faded into obscurity like most of their peers, lackluster later releases wouldn't have done anything to their legacy.  It's basically the expected path for an aging rock band that doesn't break up, Rolling Stones etc.  Problem is U2 would never willingly fade out of the public eye.  They want to be huge forever, and in attempting to remain so, they tarnished their reputation with the SOI release, especially among younger listeners.

In my mind, I do think that 360 was their 'last hurrah', probably the last time you could say the band were 'truly' at the top of their game. (Bono's voice was at it's best since the 90's after an horrendous period between 2004-2007). An hugely ambitious, innovative tour, which was basically the grand culmination of their live career, and magnum opus in terms of proportion & magnitude, (this also pretty much co-incided with the band's 30 year anniversary since forming 1980-2010).

Although.. having said that I'm thankful they stayed around to release their best record since POP with SOI. The corresponding tour in 2015 was pretty great too, I thought the songs from that album translated extremely well live (compared to the tracks on SOE, which didn't have the same impact).

Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't actually want them to have retired after 360 or at any other time.  I'd never have seen them live if they retired before JT30.  I'd also take SOE and everything before just to get Red Flag Day and Little Things.
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Achtung Baby

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2021, 12:54:15 AM »
No.  ATYCLB (Beautiful Day, in particular) gave them that second wind/rebirth.  HTDAAB (Vertigo) gave them what probably will be their final hit and had the iPod/iTunes tie-in.  I think their legacy was written and secured with that TJT-R&H-AB stretch of albums.  They won't be remembered by the masses for NLOTH (360 Tour aside), SOI (yada, yada, yada, Apple) and SOE.  However, I wouldn't say their legacy has been irreparably damaged by those releases either.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2021, 01:59:51 AM by Achtung Baby »
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Soloyan

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2021, 03:57:22 AM »
Not sure where this discussion is going...

Death is always a great career move for artists. So I guess yeah, U2’s legacy would be bigger if they’d split already.

So... in that sense, you could say anything they’ve been doing since their peak (1993 ? 2001 ?) is damaging their legacy.

But then again, would you rather have them split ? I wouldn’t.

I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. Whatever has been released since... I still love it as much as I ever did.

But of course I watched the old edits of the movies, not the altered versions that came up afterwards, just like I’m gonna pick a JT 1987 show over any JT 2017 or 2019 show.
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restofit

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2021, 04:43:35 AM »
Not sure where this discussion is going...

Death is always a great career move for artists. So I guess yeah, U2’s legacy would be bigger if they’d split already.

So... in that sense, you could say anything they’ve been doing since their peak (1993 ? 2001 ?) is damaging their legacy.

But then again, would you rather have them split ? I wouldn’t.

I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. Whatever has been released since... I still love it as much as I ever did.

But of course I watched the old edits of the movies, not the altered versions that came up afterwards, just like I’m gonna pick a JT 1987 show over any JT 2017 or 2019 show.

I think their live peak was probably 1992, that first leg of AB tour. Feel that Bono's recent smoking habit (since R&H tour) started to catch up to him & have more prominent effect from 93 onwards.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2021, 04:45:18 AM by restofit »

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SwimmingSorrows

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2021, 06:42:11 AM »
Not sure where this discussion is going...

Death is always a great career move for artists. So I guess yeah, U2’s legacy would be bigger if they’d split already.

So... in that sense, you could say anything they’ve been doing since their peak (1993 ? 2001 ?) is damaging their legacy.

But then again, would you rather have them split ? I wouldn’t.

I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. Whatever has been released since... I still love it as much as I ever did.

But of course I watched the old edits of the movies, not the altered versions that came up afterwards, just like I’m gonna pick a JT 1987 show over any JT 2017 or 2019 show.

Good example.  No matter how bad the prequels were or how bland and sometimes bad the Disney trilogy was, it doesn't lessen the original trilogy's impact.  But, on the other hand, you could argue they have damaged Star Wars as a whole's legacy.  The prequels and the special editions certainly damaged George Lucas' legacy.

So long as U2 doesn't release a Joshua Tree special edition with added computer effects and "fixed" parts, I don't really care what they do.
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Soloyan

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2021, 08:52:23 AM »
Not sure where this discussion is going...

Death is always a great career move for artists. So I guess yeah, U2’s legacy would be bigger if they’d split already.

So... in that sense, you could say anything they’ve been doing since their peak (1993 ? 2001 ?) is damaging their legacy.

But then again, would you rather have them split ? I wouldn’t.

I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. Whatever has been released since... I still love it as much as I ever did.

But of course I watched the old edits of the movies, not the altered versions that came up afterwards, just like I’m gonna pick a JT 1987 show over any JT 2017 or 2019 show.

Good example.  No matter how bad the prequels were or how bland and sometimes bad the Disney trilogy was, it doesn't lessen the original trilogy's impact.  But, on the other hand, you could argue they have damaged Star Wars as a whole's legacy.  The prequels and the special editions certainly damaged George Lucas' legacy.

So long as U2 doesn't release a Joshua Tree special edition with added computer effects and "fixed" parts, I don't really care what they do.
Yup. The mistake George Lucas did was to make the original versions of the old trilogy unavailable.

Fortunately the Joshua Tree will always be available in its original form.
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Soloyan

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2021, 09:00:16 AM »
Not sure where this discussion is going...

Death is always a great career move for artists. So I guess yeah, U2’s legacy would be bigger if they’d split already.

So... in that sense, you could say anything they’ve been doing since their peak (1993 ? 2001 ?) is damaging their legacy.

But then again, would you rather have them split ? I wouldn’t.

I’ve rewatched the original Star Wars trilogy. Whatever has been released since... I still love it as much as I ever did.

But of course I watched the old edits of the movies, not the altered versions that came up afterwards, just like I’m gonna pick a JT 1987 show over any JT 2017 or 2019 show.

I think their live peak was probably 1992, that first leg of AB tour. Feel that Bono's recent smoking habit (since R&H tour) started to catch up to him & have more prominent effect from 93 onwards.
It might be true of Bono in terms of vocal cords condition.

But for the band as a whole, if we consider how they sound and the way they play, I consider Elevation Tour U2’s peak. It’s the perfect balance between U2’s DNA (the way they sound as a whole) and musical skills.
It occurred to me when I did a playlist of the best versions of live tunes. I ended up with 50% of Elevation tour tunes and maybe 2 Zoo TV tunes. For example, most of the Achtung Baby songs sound better on the Elevation tour than they did on Zoo TV : One, Mysterious Ways, The Fly, Until the end of the world...

I’m not saying Zoo TV ain’t U2’s best tour. That’s another topic.
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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2021, 09:38:07 AM »
I havent read thro the responses to this thread. But, suffice to say, there are planty of people who adore u2s output this past 20 years. From my own point of view, the 21st century u2 is nowhere near as creativley interesting as 20th century u2. But overall, i can still happily listen to it.
Although physical sales of albums have drastically dropped, when you see wordwide sales, for any year that u2 brings out a new album, they are still among the top sellers. So relatively, they still seem to be universally appreciated
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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2021, 10:11:25 AM »
I havent read thro the responses to this thread. But, suffice to say, there are planty of people who adore u2s output this past 20 years. From my own point of view, the 21st century u2 is nowhere near as creativley interesting as 20th century u2. But overall, i can still happily listen to it.
Although physical sales of albums have drastically dropped, when you see wordwide sales, for any year that u2 brings out a new album, they are still among the top sellers. So relatively, they still seem to be universally appreciated

Those sales are down to having a huge and very loyal fan base not because the records are good.

Look at the critical responses to their music over the last 10 years especially....look at sites like rateyourmusic (which is where normal everyday people like you and I, well ok like you) rate the albums.....

u2 are now mostly received as being a band who now make mostly very mediocre music and worst of all very uninteresting music.

Of course at the end of the day as long as a person as an individual is happy with the music then that is all that really matters. ..so good for those who are still happy.

My view on the whole legacy thing that the O.P. asked about is that it won't make any difference - these late career albums will be largely forgotten (they are mostly already) and just be footnotes....their legacy was formed and forged a long time ago and they'll be remembered for the work that did that.

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2021, 10:22:28 AM »
Bottom line. In years to come, U2 will be mostly remembered for their 80s and 90s output.
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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2021, 02:29:16 PM »
Their legacy is intact.

Their 21st Century output is not.

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Re: Has U2's 21st century releases done irreparable damage to their legacy?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2021, 03:35:08 PM »
No. They've always been one of the most polarizing bands out there from the day Boy was released. If they'd broken up in 1990, 2000, 2010, or were they to break up tomorrow, the haters were and are always going to outnumber their fans.

On an unrelated note, I've been switching fonts for my posts every NYD since this place started. I like this Verdana one, and I'm probably going to stick with it, but don' be surprised to see me trying out some others over the next week or two.
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