We all are familiar with at least some of U2's hits -- I mean, unless you've lived under a rock for the past 30 years, you've at least stumbled into "Beautiful Day," "With or Without You," "Mysterious Ways," or countless other hits.
Unless you're a hardcore U2 fan, you probably aren't familiar with some the band's better album tracks. With the Irish band set to tour in 2015, it's a good time to check U2 out to see if you're a fan -- they're one of the best live bands in the world, and if you're on the fence about seeing U2, these 10 underrated U2 songs may sway you to want to see them.
Here's a list of the 10 best U2 songs you've probably never heard of. The criteria is simple -- none of these songs were released as singles.
"Acrobat" -- Found on Achtung Baby, "Acrobat" has been overlooked by both U2 and the general public. U2 have never performed "Acrobat" live, nor was it released as a single -- but that doesn't stop it from being one of U2's very best songs. With menacing music (for U2's standards, at least), "Acrobat" tackles a familiar topic for everybody: how overwhelming and crushing life can leave us, but, in typical Bono fashion, we're left empowered by the end of the song.
Key lyric: "And you can stash, and you can seize, in dreams begin responsibilities / and I can love, and I can love/ And I know that the tide is turning 'round, so don't let the bastards grind you down"
"Bad" -- Most U2 fans have to be familiar with "Bad," since it's easily one of U2's best songs -- especially live. Non or casual fans probably aren't familiar with it, though. "Bad" was written about heroin addiction, but really, the song can be about any type of addiction -- drug, alcohol, gambling, or anything else. "Bad" is simply one of the best songs written by anybody, and it's worth seeing a U2 concert just for this one song. It's that good.
Key lyric: "If I could, I would let it go: this desperation, dislocation, separation, condemnation, revelation, in temptation, isolation, desolation -- let it go"
"Running to Stand Still" -- Like "Bad," "Running to Stand Still" is one of U2's very best songs. It's simultaneously understated, dark, and uplifting. The song grapples with hopelessness and despair. The character in the song, however, deals with her depression the wrong way -- she tries to escape her problem, literally and figuratively, leaving where she's from, and turning to drugs to eventually escape.
Key lyric: "She is raging, and the storm blows up in her eyes / She will suffer the needle chill, she's running to stand still"
"Gone" -- Unfortunately, it seems like U2 want to forget that Pop exists, but "Gone" is one hell of a reason for the band to remember its 1997 album. "Gone" is a song about fame, and how much Bono had to change to achieve his stardom, and getting lost along the way. While (probably) nobody reading this is famous, we can all take to heart the song's meaning: don't lose yourself on your journey for acceptance or a career -- or anything.
Key lyric: "You're taking steps that make you feel dizzy, then you learn to like the way it feels / You hurt yourself, you hurt your lover, then you discover: what you thought was freedom is just greed"
"Mofo" -- "Mofo" is U2 pushing its sonic envelope as far as it can in the 1990s -- and it's just awesome. The death of Bono's mother when he was just 14 is what moved him to join a rock band, and "Mofo" speaks about Bono looking for meaning in anything following the death of his mother.
Key lyric: "Lookin' for a sound that's gonna drown out the world/ Lookin' for the father of my two little girls/ Got the swing, got the sway, got the straw in my lemonade / Still looking for the face I had before the world was made"
"A Sort of Homecoming" -- This song is the first track on The Unforgettable Fire, and one of U2's very best songs. The music paints a perfect sonic landscape to match the somewhat melancholy lyrics. "A Sort of Homecoming" can be interpreted a few different ways, but in the most literal sense, it's about leaving your native land and finally coming home, despite home being a changed place.
Key lyric: "And your heart beats so slow, through the rain and fallen snow / Across the fields of mourning, lights in the distance/ Oh don't sorry, no don't weep / For tonight, at last -- I am coming home"
"Zooropa" -- The title track off of 1993's Zooropa, "Zooropa" fits the theme of U2's ZooTV tour perfectly: it's musically as far out there as U2 gets, while the lyrics in the first verses, essentially marketing slogans, are meant to be ironic and a play against pop culture and commercialism. The song flips itself on its head two thirds of the way through, where the protagonist in the song decides to let himself be free of everything that weighs him down.
Key lyric: "No particular place names, no particular song / I've been hiding, what am I hiding from? / Don't worry baby, it's gonna be alright, uncertainty can be a guiding light"
"Ultra Violet (Light My Way)" -- Another hidden gem off of Achtung Baby, "Ultra Violet" is U2 at its very best. The band wisely decided to play it again on its 360° Tour, and it was one of the highlights. "Ultra Violet" is one of Bono's finest moments. The lyric is relatively straightforward: it's a plea to take comfort in a loved one, even when times are at their toughest. Ultra violet light, of course, can't actually be seen by the human eye -- so the protagonist's plea, "light my way," is referencing the feelings that are there, even if they can't be seen.
Key lyric: "There is a silence that comes to a house where no one can sleep / I guess that's the price of love; I know it's not cheap"
"Promenade" -- One of U2's shortest songs, "Promenade" features one of U2's most beautiful soundscapes. Fitting perfectly on The Unforgettable Fire, "Promenade" is a stark contrast to what the band had put out on its previous record, War -- it's understated, mellow and haunting at the same time.
Key lyric: "Words that build or destroy / Dirt dry bone, sand and stone / Barbed-wire fence cut me down, I'd like to be around/ In a spiral staircase, to the higher ground"
"Until the End of the World" -- The song about ultimate betrayal, "Until the End of the World" tells the story of Jesus and Judas. Musically, it's U2 at its best 90s rock. There's a reason U2 have played it at nearly every concert since Achtung Baby came out -- it's that good.
Key lyric: "In waves of regret, In waves of joy / I reached out for the one I tried to destroy / You, you said you'd wait until the end of the world"