Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"New Years Day" by U2

Song#:  1396
Date:  04/02/1983
Debut:  90
Peak:  53
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  The quartet that Rolling Stone would dub the "Biggest Band in the World" got their start when teenager Larry Mullen, Jr. founded a band with a few other classmates. Initially known as Feedback and then The Hype, by 1978 the band was reduced to four core members: Mullen, Paul Hewson (Bono), David Evans (The Edge), and Adam Clayton. With a name change and Bono leading the way, the band won a talent contest that got them some money and an opportunity to record a demo. That led to an EP release by CBS in 1979 called "Three." It charted in Ireland, but failed to get attention elsewhere. The band then signed to Island Records and issued their first full-length album "Boy" in 1980. The LP got them noticed, but not in a big way. Their next effort, "October," didn't do much to expand their following. However, their next release "War" finally got them a larger audience. This first single would go Top 10 in several countries including the UK where the album reached #1. In the US, the song was a hit at rock radio reaching #2 while almost getting into the top half of the pop chart. The album would reach #12 and go gold. Over time, it would end up selling over 4 million copies.

ReduxReview:  I have to admit that it took me a while to get into U2. Their sound and lyrics were just a bit too heavy for my pop mind to take in. However, the band was hugely popular at my college and the more I heard, the more I dug their sound. I didn't buy any of their music until "The Unforgettable Fire." After that, I backtracked to "War" and really loved it. It's such an intense record with moments of shear brilliance. I actually didn't know that this specific song did so well on the pop chart. Rock radio I can understand, but this really isn't a pop single. This song also reached the US dance chart and peaked at #38, which considering the lyrics and themes of the album, is a little weird. I can't imaging being in a club and this coming on and someone going "hey, it's my jam!" and running out all happy to the dance floor to do the Elaine ("Seinfield" reference...). But you know, whatever. If a song affects you at any level, that is a good thing.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) U2's "War" album was far more politically charged than their previous works (as evidenced by the bold title). The lyrics for this song originally were not political at all. Bono's lyrics were first drafted as a love song to his wife. The subject of the ode would then be reworked into a song about the Polish Solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa, who eventually became President of Poland.  2) Later in 1983, U2 would issue a live album titled "Under a Blood Red Sky." That title was derived from a lyric line in this song.


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