U2 on iHeart Radio Awards: Innovators Indeed

Let’s do some freeform discussion on the iHeart Radio Awards, shall we? No? Okay, how about just U2’s part? Fair enough.

We all know U2 deserved to win the Innovator Award at the iHeart Radio Awards – but did anyone else? (Besides Pharrell Williams, I mean.) If you watched it, you may have asked yourself, “Why did Pharrell have to practically order the crowd to get up on their feet? Why weren’t they already on their feet? Is it because the selfie generation just doesn’t understand how great U2 is?” The answer to that last question is yes, we already know that to be true – with a few rare exceptions.

I’m going to say it: One of those exceptions is Taylor Swift. Taylor has a lot in common with Bono, really (I know I’m going to get hate for this, and so be it). Charity work (most of which we never hear about, at least not from her) is just one aspect of it. Another parallel I have noticed between them is that Taylor publicly gushes heaps of praise on everyone – like really, everyone. Sound like anyone else we know? Don’t worry, I didn’t set out to write a blog post about Taylor Swift; I just needed an example of someone in that sea of millennials Sunday night who actually gets what U2 is about. Pharrell obviously does, but he made it known. So I’ll say it: I think Taylor does too. (Stones hurled in 3, 2…)

Much has been said about Bono and Edge’s apparent disinterest in what was going on around them during the rest of the iHeart Radio Awards, and in the end many of us concluded that Bono was understandably tired after his Middle East work over the past few weeks. Heck, the man flew directly from Cairo to Los Angeles (we can presume). I personally wasn’t sure he would be there at all, which is why I made a decision to save $150 and not go down to the Forum that night (much to the chagrin of my Swiftie daughter, who has hopefully forgiven me by now). I thought that since Edge is such a true blue Californian now, he might be the only one representing just for the sake of convenience. Oh well.

I know lots of people like Bono’s Trump jab at the end, and I do too. But I think the dialogue that Bono and Edge delivered when accepting the Innovator Award was just as engaging.

Bono: “I guess a band using bass, guitar and drums all those years after rock n’ roll was invented doesn’t sound so innovative. But it turns out, rock n’ roll has more to do with spirit than flesh. Isn’t that right, The Edge?” When they are in a playing-to-the-crowd situation, Bono sometimes likes to over-pronounce “the” before “Edge” for emphasis. I love this because it shows they are not above going tongue-in-cheek when it comes to their stage names. After all, these are the nicknames they’ve had since high school. Speaking of high school…

Edge: “I think the thing that might be the most innovative of all about our band is that we are a real band. We are still in our high school band.”

Why did Edge say that? I think it’s because he completely understood they were the old guys in the room, and he was not afraid of handing those young-uns some Real Dad Talk.

Bono: (Turning up his own Real Dad Talk voice): “I don’t know if you know that The Edge is from the future.” Now, we know he has been using that line for years, but the iHeart Crowd didn’t. “And what is the future, The Edge?”

Edge: “Rock…and…roll.”

Interpret that answer any way you want; maybe it was a commentary on the crappy pop that gets made today, or maybe he just thought it was the most logical thing to say at the end of this acceptance speech. Either way, it worked. So while we could write off this iHeart Radio Awards thing as a strange appearance, I’m choosing to call it the night when Bono and Edge aimed to educate a generation of music listeners who needed it. Boy, do they need it. We’ve known for years about U2’s innovation, importance and incredible significance in music, in and apart from radio airplay. Now, some kids who maybe (if they’re lucky) only knew them as a band their parents listened to know about it too. Turning an award like this into an educational opportunity: just one more way that U2 are innovators indeed.

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U2 history seeker in the radical center. The air is so anxious; all my thoughts are so reckless. Contact via Twitter at @U2RadioBrook.

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