Today, we’re continuing our series on the songs from U2’s 1997 album Pop, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, with an article on that album’s second track, “Do You Feel Loved”. “Do You Feel Loved” is noteworthy in that it is the one U2 song that I am aware of that most heavily borrows from another work. I know that other acts have claimed that U2 “ripped them off”, such as British guitarist Paul Rose, but “Do You Feel Loved” is the one instance where I can hear a clear similarity to a song by Naked Funk titled “Alien Groove Sensation”. The bass riff and one of the main guitar riffs are clearly modeled after the same elements from the Naked Funk song, and proper credit is given for “inspiration” in the liner notes of the Pop album. I’ve read in forums where some fans wondered why Naked Funk wasn’t given credit for samples taken from their song, and I believe that the reason for that is that nothing was sampled. Edge and Adam clearly didn’t just copy-and-paste the Naked Funk song, they re-recorded the parts that are similar. Adam’s bass groove is bouncier and less robotic sounding, and Edge’s guitar riff at the beginning of the song is slightly faster and more textured. What’s more, there are large bits of “Do You Feel Loved” that have absolutely nothing in common with Naked Funk’s song, such as all of the instruments during the choruses, all of the keyboards, all of the drums, the second main guitar riff, and all of the lyrics. Some fans seem to feel that U2 were plagiarizing here, but I don’t have a problem with what they did. Like Bono sang six years earlier, “every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief” and U2 gave clear credit where credit was due.
As one of the original aspects of the song, the lyrics definitely deserve some attention. I have a feeling that this might be one of those songs wherein Bono is singing to U2’s fans. The verses seem to be about Bono’s feeling that he gives all that he has to give to the band’s rabid fan base, and the fans are still clamoring for more. The chorus almost feels like it is asking if the fans will ever be satisfied, which we never seem to be, even with all that the band gives us. The phrase “this tangle of a conversation” from the second verse could be a reference to Bono’s own lyrics through the years, and the following line “turn it into your own prayer” could be echoing Bono’s oft repeated hope that the band’s songs become prayers at their live performances.
“Do You Feel Loved” was performed at a string of six shows at the start of the Pop*Mart tour, then was unceremoniously dropped, never to be heard from again. With the band’s apparent decision to pretend like Pop never happened, I don’t expect “Do You Feel Loved” to be played again, ever – if the band do decide to play something from Pop, “Discotheque” is the most likely candidate, and even that seems unlikely. That said, though, I think that it would be fascinating for this song to get a little bit of attention, especially in the form of a remix. I’d love to hear what Edge or another remixer could cook up for this under-appreciated song, and if the band decided to play that remix live in concert…how much fun would that be?