Just feelin’ the need to make a brief statement here, having contemplated it while listening to the radio on the way to put a few hours of work in on a Sunday - joy.
I have never been a U2 guy - in my parlance, I respect 'em more than I listen to 'em. The one exception is Achtung Baby, which to me is the big hook that hauled them up to the Pantheon, since it blew open their breadth and showed they had more places to go, even with a somewhat limited rhythm section.
Anyway, so while I am not Mr. U2, I listen to them hard and respect them. And listening so that “rule the world” song by Coldplay on the way up, it was so obvious why any comparisons between the two bands were ludicrous, and why, to my ear, Coldplay will never be a, well, rocking band. They have no Edge - in this case, I mean a legitimate guitar hero player who gives their overall sound access to actual rock n’ roll. The Edge may have created his own sound and be more sonic landscape vs. a shredding lead-frontman kinda guy, but his voice is the dominant one in U2’s music - heck, even with a bass-led song like Two Hearts Beat As One, the guitar’s supporting part is what identifies it as U2 before Bono kicks in.
You listen to Coldplay - you got nuthin’ - no harder-edged tone to counterbalance the earnest melodies and ideas Chris Martin is selling. When Bono sells, he has some thunder behind him - The Edge’s playing anchors Bono’s ambitions with both a cooler intelligence and a much harder, well, edge. Sunday Bloody Sunday is a gentle plea if The Edge can’t match Bono’s lofty ideals with a powerful riff.
That is all - just had to get that out there…YMMV and all that.
No worries - like I said, I am not a big fan; and if you want to argue that when U2 are just phoning it in, they churn out songs with 1-string riffs built-up with delays - fine by me. But it is an established sound, created and branded by Dave Evans/The Edge, and those simple riffs can be used to get a hard edge. It may be simplistic to your classically-trained ear, and deservedly so - it sometimes grinds my blue-based guitar-loving side to listen - but it is effective. ***I Will Follow ***rocks, QED IMHO YMMV:D;)
I’ll tell you why I can never take them seriously. I heard that Rule The World song for the first time a couple weeks ago. Someone had put it to a really cool mountain biking video on Youtube. A few days later it was still stuck in my head so I needed to hear it again, and I looked up the official video. The singer is SUCH. A SPASTIC. DOUCHE. He was wiggling around all bug-eyed in the camera and doing some weird standing backstroke thing and basically just making Joe Cocker look normal. It took a song that I had a borderline reverence for after only one listen and made a complete mockery of it.
I bounced around Wikipedia looking for similar music (with that kind of orchestral rock sound) and ended up with The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, which really sounds nothing alike at all, but is pretty good.
Oh, **GorillaMan **- dude! You are preaching to the choir. What a badass! Thank you for that link.
I think we’re gonna agree to disagree on The Edge. Watching him live, he may not be showing technical prowess over the mechanics of the string instrument, like your blues master or a Paganini, but the ability to create and control those multiple layers of sound that he generates is hard in its own way and worthy of respect, IMHO. And he is serving a somewhat different purpose - he is not trying to be a violin, he is trying to be the string section. He manipulates a guitar-driven Wall of Sound approach. There aren’t many Guitar Heroes who earn their way to Godhood via the Sonic Landscape approach - Andy Summers of the Police, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Steve Stevens with Billy Idol come to mind - but The Edge is among them. As a player, he is not one of my influences or idols, but I give him respect.
I think I lost GorillaMan’s respect when I professed my liking of Shostakovich, and I’m afraid that my following comments are just going to sink me further but here goes:
I don’t see the pretence.
The criticism seems to be that he uses effects. Well, yes, he does. So did Jimi Hendrix, and essentially every guitarist who doesn’t plug straight and clean into the amp. But the Edge uses thick layers of effects that can hide less than perfect technique… and I say: so what? I almost quit playing the violin the first time I played in an almost completely acoustically dead room – I hadn’t realized how much reverberation was a part of my sound and how much it was covering up.
There is no other way to create these kinds of timbres and musical textures. I personally don’t care if the signal originated from a plucked string or a synthesizer wavetable. All that matters is how the sound works in the piece.
The “typical U2 sound” is easy to pastiche, and in my opinion U2 themselves have phoned quite a few tracks, but listening again to some of my favourite songs, I find a very good range of sonic atmospheres.
I may be completely off base here, but why are people comparing these two bands? I’m not a real muso, so I don’t know the in’s and out’s but when I hear coldplay, I hear a synth or piano focused arrangement, and when I hear U2, I hear a guitar focused arrangement. Mostly.
To me it’s apples and oranges, but I like both bands.
I don’t think anyone will be “the next U2”, U2 has their place in history secure. I remember the hype about stone roses and the ancillary comparisons to The Beetles. Would they be the new Beetles? Pahleeeze.
I guess I am responding to a common meme I read in music writing - Coldplay aspires to be like U2 both in size but also in ambition - to be about bigger things. I think they are a fine pop band, but not capable - at least not from what I’ve heard so far - to truly have the breadth of U2…
**percussion **- interesting to hear your thoughts on U2, given your username and U2’s reputation. Do you feel Larry Mullen, Jr. is as limited a drummer as his detractors portray him to be? Is that what is behind your meh-ness for U2?
You know how I know all of you are gay? You listen to Coldplay.
Why do they have to be the “next U2”? Or “next Radiohead”? Or “next Oasis”? Or “first Snow Patrol” for that matter? Can’t they just be Coldplay?
And which U2 are they supposed to be? The angry Irish rebel band from the 80s? The earnest Americana band from their Joshua Tree days? The pretentious electro-dance rock band of Actung Baby and Zooropa? Or the even more earnist rock band from the past decade?
I will agree that all Coldplay videos are kind of lame though.
Also the “rule the world” song is called Viva la Vida, if you were wondering.
While I agree The Edge has created a distinctive and cool sound that makes U2 a lot of what it is, I’d say the differences amount to pretty much the entire bands. Coldplay are pretty much a beige-boring outfit from top to bottom, and it’s way past musical ability; their SONGS are boring and unoriginal. They have decent hooks but lack highlights. All scenery. What I find particularly notable about their songs is the lack of notability of their choruses.
If you had U2 perform a set of Coldplay songs they’d probably be able to add a little bit of zest to it, but not much. There’s just no way to change the fact that songs like “Viva La Vida,” “Clocks” and “The Scientist” are dull, while “Mysterious Ways,” “Beautiful Day” and “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” are interesting.
I’m inclined to agree with msmith; comparisons are sort of silly. (In fact, I’ve never heard anyone suggest the two bands could be compared until this thread.) It’s like saying Avril Lavigne isn’t quite up to the chops of Aretha Franklin, or that the Spin Doctors did not fully evoke the rockingness of Led Zeppelin and their guitarist wasn’t quite Jimmy Page. Well, duh. Any band’s going to look pretty bad if they’re compared to the ultra-elite.