I would like to emphasise that in this list, I am discussing the studio versions - some of these songs are significantly better live. In fact, two are that much better live that I've given their live versions special mention.
This song is often hailed as one of the best on Pop. It would help if it had better vocals and the guitar solo. After hearing the live versions, I simply can't listen to the studio version, it's so weak and lifeless in comparison. And with songs like Gone, Last Night On Earth, and Wake Up Dead Man floating around, you certainly can't say Please is one of the top Pop songs. You can say it was one of the best live, though. It is truly incredible live, and the performance on 23 September 1997 in Sarajevo may just be one of U2's highest moments.
9. Beautiful Day
U2's mammoth hit of this decade, the song everyone knows, the song that redefined U2 after the Pop-era. It frankly isn't that monumental. Good song? Yes. It's the perfect pop-rock song with the rousing anthemic chorus patented by U2. But is it Pride? Hell no. Pride, not Beautiful Day, may just be the pinnacle of anthemic rock.
Horrible choice for Pop's lead single, and generally, the studio version cannot hold a candle to the live version. Some parts of the studio version make me cringe. Live is a completely different story - the Popmart performances with Edge's grinding, wailing guitar and the almost trance-like Vertigo performances are like another song, that's how superior they are.
7. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Great anthemic number? Great gospel song? Quality all-around tune? Yes, I'm not disputing that. But for this to be one of the most famous Joshua Tree songs is absolutely insane. On most albums, ISHFWILF would dominate as the obvious class track, but it's thoroughly over-shadowed by other parts of Joshua Tree, such as Red Hill Mining Town, In God's Country, Mothers Of The Disappeared, and most notably, One Tree Hill, which went on to be the best live song ever, and Where The Streets Have No Name, the single best song ever recorded. ISHFWILF should hand its stature over to Red Hill Mining Town, which was meant to be the second Joshua Tree single anyway.
This song may rock, and I may've gone nuts for the thing when it was released, but a year's assessment is an amazing thing and I cannot fathom why this song has suddenly risen to the point that U2 are "the Vertigo band" amongst the ignorant masses who considered U2 the "Beautiful Day band" five years ago. Vertigo's definitely not good enough for U2 to play it twice at some gigs. Memo to Bono: if you that desperately want to end your concerts on an uptempo note, you have this incredible song called 11 O'clock Tick Tock. U2 are not short of rockers, and Vertigo is not even qualified to join the top half of the rockers.
5. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
This is an intensely emotional song and Bono does some nice singing, but it takes way too long to get going and it's quite simply musically uninteresting. It doesn't improve live, either. I would not miss it if it were dropped from the setlist.
Ever since this song (an unreleased tune from the How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb sessions) leaked, the hardcore U2 fanbase has been going nuts, proclaiming this as everything from "the next Bad" to "the best song since Achtung Baby". How about no? The verses are overloaded with metaphors, and while it tries to reach a point, it ultimately loses focus and doesn't get where it wants. Memo to U2 fans: the "best song since Achtung" that you're looking for is City Of Blinding Lights, which is actually the best song since Heartland. It took U2 some sixteen years to top Heartland, but they sure did it in style.
3. Stuck In A Moment
WHY IN THE WORLD WAS THIS POPULAR? The tacky studio engineering leaves the album version sounding tacky and hollow. It's made to sound just like a generally bland, pop-y/adult contemporary ballad. However, in Stuck's favour, the brand new acoustic version is absolutely gorgeous, it brings meaning and beauty to the song.
2. Ultra Violet (Light My Way)
This is a perfectly alright song ruined by one of the worst choruses in history, the kind of chorus I can hear the Backstreet Boys harmonising. U2 were definitely prophesying the coming of boybands when Bono sung "baby, baby, baby, light my way". Talk about lazy lyricism. Much of the rest of the song has quality lines, but instead of giving them a meaningful chorus, Bono cheapens them with some cliche, tacky line and repeats it ad nauseum, to the point of dragging the song out a minute past its welcome. To me, claiming this as one of the best songs on Achtung Baby is bordering on lunacy, and grouping it with Acrobat and Love Is Blindness as a trinity is sacrilege. Ultra Violet should not be allowed anywhere near the genius that is Acrobat. Oh, and by the way, Bono, you were quoted as saying you deliberately sung "baby" in Ultra Violet to shock eighties fans as you'd never sung that word in a song before. Wrong. It's called Spanish Eyes, it's catchy genius, it should've been on The Joshua Tree, and it pounds Ultra Violet into the dirt.
Most. Over-rated. Non-Beatles song. EVER. Go away, Whore of Berlin. One may've had some meaning when U2, losing direction and tearing themselves apart, suddenly created it in Berlin, but since then, it has been prostituted out to every cause under the sun and sucked totally devoid of meaning and any spark it once had. To add to that, the studio version just isn't that amazing anyway, with subpar singing from Bono and some rather cliche lines, not to mention the fact it's incomplete, lacking the live "do you hear us coming?" verse. That additional verse makes the song worth listening to. Without it, it's generally a bit of a bland bore. I cannot comprehend why people rank this as the best U2 song ever and place it on the level of Where The Streets Have No Name.
It's because of songs such as these ten that true gems such as The Electric Co., Drowning Man, Promenade, Spanish Eyes, Heartland, Acrobat, Zooropa, Wake Up Dead Man, and When I Look At The World do not have the status they deserve. Why the general public fawn over Vertigo rather than Crumbs From Your Table is beyond me.