Sunday, November 7, 2021

"Desire" by U2

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Grammy Alert!
Song#:  3668
Date:  10/01/1988
Debut:  50
Peak:  3
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  When you've become the biggest band in the world, your last album sold millions worldwide, and it won a Grammy for Album of the Year, what do you do next? For U2 it was to make a documentary film about their tour supporting The Joshua Tree. Film director Phil Joanou approached the band with the idea to do a "rockumentary" while on tour in America. The band agreed and arrangements were made to shoot two shows in Denver that would serve as the basis for the film. In addition, a companion album would be released. However, instead of just a straight concert album, the band opted to mix live performances with new studio recordings. The new songs would focus on the band's minor obsession at the time with American roots music and would feature guest appearances by a pair of iconic American artists, Bob Dylan and B.B. King. Both the film and the double-album would be titled Rattle and Hum and prior to the film and album release, this first single would be issued out. Anticipation for the new song from the band was high and it was greeted quite well with the single reaching #1 Rock and #1 Alt Rock while making the Pop Top 10 and #37 Dance. The album of course would hit #1 and quickly go double-platinum by the end of the year. U2 would earn four Grammy nominations stemming from the album/film and would win one for this song for Best Rock Performances by a Duo or Group with Vocal. While the album would be a worldwide #1 hit with fans, critics were less enthusiastic with the LP getting mixed reviews. The film would ultimately make only $8 million and would not do well with critics.

ReduxReview:  With its bouncy beat (see below) and memorable "desi-i-i-i-er" delivery from Bono, this was a solid tune to follow up the hits from The Joshua Tree. It didn't sound like anything from that album, yet still sounded distinctly U2. It was a quick hooky song that was able to storm pop and rock radio and help keep the band's momentum going. It would still be another three years before they would follow up Joshua Tree with a proper studio album, so the Rattle and Hum stopover was probably a good idea and it was timely. However, it wasn't without its flaws. The album does have some bright spots, but overall it was kind of a mess. The mix of live and studio tracks along with some other oddities didn't make for a cohesive listen. This single was the true bright spot of the project and it earned them a third Pop Top 10 and a Grammy

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The band chose to explore the roots of American music for the studio cuts and this first single incorporated a specific beat that had long been associated with early rock/R&B artist Bo Diddley. Based on a clave or hambone rhythm, Diddley's first single in 1955, "Bo Diddley," utilized the rhythm and it would become a #1 hit at R&B. He would use the rhythm in other songs and it wasn't long before the pattern became known as the "Bo Diddley beat." Other artists over the years would use the Bo Diddley beat in their songs including Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and the Rolling Stones. In 1969, the first track on the '69 debut album by The Stooges titled "1969" utilized the beat. It was that song along with the Bo Diddley beat that influenced U2 for "Desire."


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