U2101 – The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)

1394319982The last few albums released by the band have all been introduced to the world via a first single that tried to strike a balance between sing-along hooks and buzzsaw guitar rock. The first example of this came about back in 2004 when How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb was launched with “Vertigo”. Vertigo may not have been a huge chart single for the band, at least where I live, but it is one of the band’s most well-known and well-liked songs from the past twenty years or so. U2 rather obviously made an attempt to follow up on “Vertigo’s” success with their first single from the next album, “Get on Your Boots.” Now, I know that there’s a lot of hate out in the world for this song, and the fact is that it was a poor choice for a first single – again, I think that that song was influenced by the success of the somewhat similar “Vertigo” from a few years before – but if I’m being honest, I think that “Boots” is unfairly maligned. Many of my favorite U2 songs would have been poor choices for singles, from “Bad” to “Kite”, and while “Boots” isn’t the stone-cold classic that either of those songs is, it’s far from the stinker that it’s been written off as, too.

20105088Because of the relative failure of “Boots”, I expected this time around to be a little different. Maybe an uplifting piece of fine-pop-art like “Beautiful Day” or a hook laden anthem along the lines of “Pride” or “Still Haven’t Found”, but not another rocker, surely. By now you all know that I was wrong and that the first single from Songs of Innocence is the swinging punk-infused “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone). Thinking back, I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was one of those “do or die” albums for the band, and the last time the band were up against such odds, what did they start their onslaught with but the most rocking song in their entire repertoire, “The Fly”.

“The Miracle” has probably the best melodic hook the band have written since “Elevation”, and listening to the album it’s from, it was a pretty clear choice for first single. Not that it’s the only single, mind you – I think that “Every Breaking Wave” might still be released to radio, and “California” was also tailor made for radio play. But “The Miracle” is everything that U2 needed to lay down the gauntlet for Songs of Innocence – a catchy but aggressive guitar riff that’s a bit different from what people might expect from the band, a winning vocal melody on both the verse and the chorus, and some great lyrics about how music can change us.U2 beat the odds by going back to a formula I was sure they’d moved past, and I’m glad they did.


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Ever since I realized as a kid, while poring over the liner notes of the Bob Marley - Songs of Freedom boxed set, that writing about music was a viable career choice, one of my greatest desires has been to write about U2. The band has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to contribute a little something to the fantastic online community that's been built around the band.

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