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How would you respond to my friend's criticism of U2?


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Hey guys. I have a friend who is a strong critic of U2 and their work. He likes to hate on them as much as he can. A few weeks ago, he sent me an emailexplaining his dislike for the band.

 

Here's what he had to say:

 

Musically speaking, there is nothing impressive or compelling about U2 to catch my attention. I'm not a person that listens to music for thoughtful lyrics. So that aspect is lost on me. From an instrumental perspective, there isn't any noteworthy or groundbreaking musicianship going on in their music. They could be any other rock band, as far as I'm concerned. The reason why I make such a big issue about it is that I simply don't feel that their music is necessarily worthy of all the attention they get. Sometimes I think people give their music a bit of a pass because of Bono's humanitarian projects. I believe that people love Bono too much not to overrate U2. So it really bothers me when a band achieves more success than they deserve like that.

 

 

After speaking with a few U2 fans that I know, I then confronted my friend and defended U2 by making the following points:

 

1) U2's musicianship consists of simple pieces of musical composition woven into a well-crafted "lattice" for the right feel.

 

2) U2 boasts a diverse catalogue of material spanning several decades, in which they made very unique music that went against the norms of a given time period.

 

3) He should get an mp3 collection of U2 songs from 1980 through 2009, in order to get a breadth of U2's evolution.

 

Yesterday, my friend emailed me with this rebuttal:

 

1) U2's musicianship consists of simple pieces of musical composition woven into a well-crafted "lattice" for the right feel.

 

U2 fans' take on U2's musical approach is a sheer matter of opinion, just like the opinion I stated when I said that there was nothing in their musicianship that impressed
me
. If combining simplistic musical structures from all the different instruments is what U2 fans like, that is fine. It isn't what
I
like.

 

2) U2 boasts a diverse catalogue of material spanning several decades, in which they made very unique music that went against the norms of a given time period.

 

Appeal to numbers, argument to antiquity. The number of people who still like U2 does not make them a good band, in my opinion. U2 made different music than other groups in the late '80s and early 90s? Good for them...so did a lot of other bands. What impact should the history of a band have on my appraisal of their work?

 

3) He should get an mp3 collection U2 songs from 1980 through 2009 to get a breadth of U2's evolution.

 

I am not about to download a bunch of songs from a band that I don't like. I have heard older songs from U2 because it's hard to avoid, just like I have heard their newer songs. I stand by my evaluation that U2 is overrated and is not a band that I personally find deserving of fame.

 

I think it's interesting that U2 fans feel that there needs to be some sort of logical, historical process that one must utilize to determine if they like a band or not. Appreciation of music is subjective, so most of their arguments are wasted. History, building a "lattice" of simple songwriting, standing out in the 80s (in a sea of terrible music, I might add). All of these things are not part of my personal criteria for good music.

 

This is why people shouldn't debate about what good music is, because there is no standard set of criteria that everyone can agree to.

 

So how would you guys respond to my friend's criticism of U2? What does this say about his line of thinking?

 

By the way- My friend is a self-professed metalhead and worships the Swedish death medal band In Flames.

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He doesn't have to like U2 of course, but...

 

Bono's humanitarianism didn't make U2 a supergroup. They were megastars when he became known for his charity work.

 

Nothing groundbreaking? So I take it he has heard other guitarists that sound like The Edge. Any moron can play fast speed metal guitar solos if they practiceenough, but originality requires something else entirely. Every aspect of U2's sound is original. What distinguishes U2 from most other bands is that theyhave changed their sound radically throughout the years, and each time they came up with something that distinguished them from everybody else.

 

Building simple musical structures doesn't make you a good band, but finding originality in simplicity is the mark of a great artist -it worked for Mozart.Having said all of that, there is nothing simplistic about U2. Their sound has always been very sophisticated.

 

Musical taste is indeed a very subjective thing, but someone who thinks U2 could be "any other rock band" must have some sort of cognitiveimpairment.

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Your friend just likes to stir the pot. Of course, that's his prerogative, and he makes some valid points. Popularity and longevity do not equate togreatness, and music IS a subjective medium. Perhaps your time would be better spent debating more concrete matters. Music is a very personal thing, and weshould expect and even find comfort in the fact that musical tastes vary widely. U2 just happens to be a band that has made a mark upon your personal history,and it sounds like In Flames has impacted your friend's life in a meaningful way as well. I hope you will both just agree to disagree and move on, becauseneither one of you will ever back music into a corner and make it cry "uncle."

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Well, your friend has made his point very clear. He doesn't like U2 and for his own reasons. The man is absolutely entitled to his own opinion. But Iunderstand where you are coming from as far as wanting an explanation as to why he feels the band to be overrated. I'v been a U2 fan since 1983 and unlesspeople really know their music, they will never have a clear understanding of the bands greatness and originality. This is something that stems from theirroots and what their music stands for. U2 have always been very political and spiritual which many people don't like. Bono has always had strongconvictions and speaks for what he believes. He'll always be the man with the white flag, which btw, he hates. His humanitarian efforts should becommended, not condemned just because he's a celebrity. He's smart to use his celebrity status to put pressure on world leaders. Plus, he has the meansto do it. To me, U2's music is a celebration of the life and times that we live in. Their music sends a positive message of hope to the world while alsostating the reality of the human condition. I believe this to be the true reason they are loved by so many. There's really nothing complicated about theirmusic. People either chose to listen and feel the music, or not. Some people care about the worlds problems, while others don't. Trying to convince peopleof U2's music is pointless and unnecessary. Don't be offended by useless words and opinions because people really do mock what they don'tunderstand.

 

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Well I guess it's his loss! Ask him, who he listens to, and you can measure his knowledge and taste in the music department. I've worked with so manyartists (live) and here's what I see:

 

U2 is one of the few bands that have it's original members after 30 yrs. Bands, that I've been working with have so many roster changes. Some don'teven have original members! THIS BAND STARTED IN HIGH SCHOOL!!!!!

 

Of course he doesn't see anything that separates U2 from other bands. It's because their sounds now is so common, and widely influenced by bands likeU2, The Police, Pearl Jam. A history lesson here would show that. It's been done already!...by U2.

 

U2 takes the approach of 'less is more'. I'm tired of all these guitar solos that try to 'outrun' each other...and for what? The song, orthe guitarist. (I also play the guitar).

 

Bono's humanitarian....what's original about this band is that the other 3 members show disagreement with some of Bono's campaigning, like meetingwith Bush. Other bands would break up, or have a common cause. This is why U2 is also good when it comes to composing....there's conflict on ideas, yetthey chose to use them to come up with these great songs.

 

All of the concerts I've done are basically 'typical'...end stage (national acts of course), the portion where each band member has a solo, theirhit song is always the last one played, so that people will stick around for the entire show.

 

If he likes hip/hop, rap...it's elementary. I can't tell you how many times that their DJ is faking it....just hit play on the laptop, or the iPod.Plus the lyrics...typical. Music has been done already, or ripped off another song. Just look at the roadies(take note when they go on stage), most listen torock (they know what goes on behind the scenes, as far as talent goes). These gigs are usually the last resort for us audio techies.

 

If he likes heavy metal/rock, I take it, he likes more of the progressive kind...which I like too, but. Some just over do just to say they're original, butthen you go see another band, and it's been done already (by a bar band, or weekend warriors). Solos can be carried away to the point that it gets awayfrom the song.

 

If his favorite band/artist is an indie band, well, if they become huge, they will have to deal with the business side of music. It's a lie that a bandDOES NOT want to become big...they would be lying to their fans, and themselves. Just the initial cause of forming a band is to get the girls, ultimatelybecome famous, and earn a very lucrative living off it. Why do you think they make flyers, posters, play in clubs, try to get airplay....simply perform inconcerts? If they really did it for the music, they would remain a garage band, or something that small. So, if he falls into this category, then you just needto ignore whatever else comes out of his mouth when it comes to music. I'm so sick of hearing old fans of Metallica, Green Day, Incubus, etc. thatthey've sold out....no, that's the nature of the business. Give any local band/garage band the same opportunity, and they'll jump on it straightaway. Could you imagine these bands refusing to play in arenas, and settle for a bar? Those sponsorships....it would be stupid for a band whose worked almostall of their lives to turn down these opportunities.

 

You never know, the band he likes, might listen to U2. I've seen it, hard rockers listening to reggae. Rappers listening to heavy metal, R&B artistslistening to country. You never know. If his favorite band/artist listens to U2, it usually has an affect on how they compose and perform. Would that mean thathis favorite band/artist isn't as good now that he found out they listen to U2?

 

In the end, it's jealousy!!! U2 is just too good!!!

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This is one of my biggest peeves in here is that some people think that u2 can do no wrong and all that nonsense.

 

You're friend makes some valid points and is of course entitled to them as are we all. the problem is that whe people who are not u2 fans and even folklike myself who is a fan criticise the band we get roasted for it because as i said some folk think u2 are perfect which of course they are not.

 

Maybe the best course of action is to not discuss u2 with you're friend as he/she has made thier feelings about them pretty clear.

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i wouldnt argue with him. i would do the opposite. either start talking about u2 and say how good they are to you, and explain why like you have to us.

 

or find an artist he like so much and start slagging them off just to wind him up like he does you!

 

and the end of the day u2 are just a band. they are not virtuo muso's, but its the songs they write together that speak volumes. and the sounds and visionsthey create come from the heart.

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basher1 wrote:

This is one of my biggest peeves in here is that some people think that u2 can do no wrong and all that nonsense.

 

You're friend makes some valid points and is of course entitled to them as are we all. the problem is that whe people who are not u2 fans and even folk like myself who is a fan criticise the band we get roasted for it because as i said some folk think u2 are perfect which of course they are not.

 

Maybe the best course of action is to not discuss u2 with you're friend as he/she has made thier feelings about them pretty clear.

Exactly!

Why does everyone else have to like them?

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