One of my favorite things about being a U2 fan is the build-up to the release of a new album. Well, it seems that it’s about that time once again as, over the past week, we’ve had the beginnings of stirrings of promotional material for Songs of Experience.
I suppose that, technically, it all started about eleven months ago when Norwegian DJ Kygo played a remix of a previously unreleased U2 song called “The Best Thing About Me is You” at a festival in Norway. Just a few days before this, Bono played an un-remixed version of the same song from his home in the south of France, where fans recorded it from the beach outside of the house. Both versions of the song made the rounds on the interwebs before eventually being taken down by U2’s record company a few days later. From what I could make out, the song had a very modern sound (especially the Kygo version) and a great pop hook, making it a likely first single for the forthcoming new album, and one that I thought might have a chance at giving U2 another big radio hit.
Fast forward to this past month, almost a year and two legs of a new tour devoted to a thirty year old album later, and the ball finally starts rolling. In several interviews recently, various band members have stated that they felt that it was likely that Songs of Experience would finally be released this year. Several other news releases on U2 fan-sites stated that the album would, in fact, be released in December, with a first single coming a few months beforehand. As I and many others predicted last year, that first single was rumored to be “The Best Thing About Me is You”. I started to get excited.
Two days ago, U2 held a “secret” (despite being advertised on U2.com) concert for what has been described as 150-300 fans. A totally different new song, called “Blackout” or “Black Out” (with or without a “The” preceding the title) was performed five times in front of this audience, ostensibly for the purpose of recording a music video. This reminds me of a couple of promotional stunts from U2’s past, such as the video for “Where the Streets Have No Name”, where the song was performed on top of a liquor store in Los Angeles for live fans back in 1987, and, more recently, the video for “Invisible”.
Suddenly, the status of “The Best Thing About Me is You” as lead single was in doubt. As much as I like that song, I was still revved up to hear that U2 were recording a video for a new single. New music from the band was imminent! That’s definitely cause for celebration! Then, earlier today, concert-goers at U2’s gig in Amsterdam were greeted by signs proclaiming that U2 was filming a video for “The Best Thing”. So now I’m confused. Is U2 planning to release two new singles simultaneously? I can’t see the band doing that. If they have a potential hit single, they wouldn’t want to dilute its impact by releasing a competing single at the same time. Maybe they’re just preparing ahead of time for the album’s second single. More likely in my mind is that they’re recording some material for inclusion as bonus footage with a deluxe edition of the new album. Whatever the case, it seems that my wish for new music from U2 is about to be granted, and I couldn’t be more excited!