U2 Spotlight – Alternate Versions of “You’re The Best Thing About Me”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m absolutely loving all these different versions of “You’re the Best Thing About Me”. Hardly a week has gone by this month that we haven’t gotten some small release from the biggest band in the world, and they’ve mostly centered around the new single that is preceding Songs of Experience. First, back on the sixth of this month, we received not only the album mix of the song and an adorable little lyric video, but also an alternate mix of the new song, titled the “Sci-Fi Soul Mix.” This alternate take (note that I’m careful not to call it a “remix”, as that word isn’t included in the song’s official title, and I don’t believe that that descriptor fits here) starts out more gently than the album version and adds some kind of filter to some of Bono’s vocals. Overall, it’s a smoother version of the song that would fit great on more pop-oriented radio stations, versus the more rock leaning instrumentation on the original version.


The next version to be officially released was the U2 vs. Kygo remix that was teased over a year ago when Kygo played the song live at a festival. I believe that this version aims to capture the EDM (Electronic Dance Music) crowd, in much the same way that remixes of “Even Better Than the Real Thing”, “Lemon”, and “Discotheque” were club hits in the 1990s. The first time my wife and I heard the officially released variant of this song, we couldn’t release – we got up and danced right there in the living room, so the song definitely has its desired effect. As the song starts, a string section fades in then gets taken over by a synthesized beat that persists throughout the remainder of the song. It’s a fun mix of the song that, for a highlight, cuts some of the vocals up in unique and interesting ways, using parts of sung words as instrumentation.


Finally, this past week saw the release of an acoustic translation of “You’re the Best Thing About Me.” This version starts out with a riff that is similar to that found at the start of the “Sci-Fi Soul mix”, with the difference that here it is played on an acoustic guitar. Bono’s singing is quiet and tender at the beginning and throughout the majority of this version of the song, until we get to the final chorus he’s really belting out the lyrics in his typical passionate fashion. The only percussion in this take of the song is some energetic hand claps (generated by keyboard, I believe) that come in at the start of the second verse and continue throughout most of the rest of the song. Unlike some of the acoustic versions that U2 did for the Songs of Innocence album, (“Every Breaking Wave,” for instance) however, this one is plenty upbeat and retains the energetic vibe of the original. The acoustic performance was debuted at the final American concert of the Joshua Tree 2017 Tour, but I wonder which came first – did U2 perform the song acoustically, then get the idea to record an acoustic studio version for official release, or did they record the acoustic version in the studio then try it out live? Wherever the idea came from, it will be interesting to see which version gets played in Mexico and South America, on the tour’s remaining dates.

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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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