How bad was U2’s “Rattle and Hum”?

Rattle and Hum - U2

I stumbled onto this brutal take down of Bono and U2 in this article about when U2 almost jumped the shark with “Rattle and Hum.” The video picks out the 5 worst parts of the movie with Bono in all of his self-important glory. The video shots of him walking around onstage shirtless with just suspenders on are pretty pathetic. U2 is a great band, and all great artists stumble from time to time. This was a particularly bad one.


Bruno Mars will perform at 2014 Super Bowl

The NFL is on a roll in terms of popularity, and that has also translated to the Super Bowl half time show. While most football fans are checking out sportsbook reviews as they prepare to wager cash on the big game, many more casual fans are waiting for the half time show each year. This coming year we’ll have Bruno Mars as the featured superstar as the organizers went for a much younger act.

Not that the older acts were busts. Madonna did an excellent job with her half time show. Bruce Springsteen was also excellent several years ago. But if you look at the performers recently since the program started focusing on one artists, it’s really been mostly a classic rock tribute show. Iconic performers like the Rolling Stones, Prince, U2, Paul McCartney and The Who have been tapped along with Bruce and Tom Petty.

Then, with Beyoncé last year and the Black Eyed Peas several years ago, we started seeing more contemporary artists getting the nod. The Beyoncé reunion with Destiny’s Child was a very big hit last year as the dancing became a huge part of the show as it did with the Madonna performance.

Now with Bruno Mars we have another young performer who can really dance, so we can expect a pretty lively show this time as well. Though you have to wonder if the cold weather in New York might affect the half time show along with the game itself. The decision to have the game in New York during February was quite controversial.

The Super Bowl has come a long way since the first game that wasn’t even a sellout, and the half time show has changed quite a bit as well. The spectacle of these performances are light years away from the marching bands that were booked in the early days. I remember when the Orange Bowl half time show was the most talked about event of its kind. Now nothing really compares to the Super Bowl show.


Kings of Leon: Come Around Sundown

RIYL: U2, Lynryd Skynrd, The Allman Brothers

Kings of Leon must be happy that they’re no longer being called the next big thing. Their breakthrough album, Only by the Night, which featured the hits “Sex on Fire” and the Grammy nominated “Use Somebody,” put them front and center on the radio and made them stars. Now, with the release of Come Around Sundown, there are some news outlets calling this record their U2 moment. The thinking is that like The Joshua Tree did for the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famers from Ireland, Come Around Sundown will propel the Kings into another stratosphere.  It’s certainly possible, but I’m not a hundred percent sold on that idea.

The new album will most definitely please anyone who just discovered the band with Only by the Night.  The songs throughout Come Around Sundown have the same power and aching moan that made its predecessor so successful. There’s no doubt that the guys in this band know how to write a great rock hook, as the new single “Radioactive” proves tenfold. Moreover, there are several songs on this album that will make fine additions to radio playlists and will translate just fine on stage, blending seamlessly with the Kings older material. I can certainly hear “The End,” “Mary” and “Pony Up” as hit songs.

However, there are points in the album in which singer Caleb Followill’s voice really starts to wear thin and the chiming guitars start to grow tiresome, primarily in the middle section of songs. However, things return to form as the record winds down, in particular with the lovely song, “Birthday.” Anyone strictly familiar with the bands radio hits will love this song. There is real depth and power on Come Around Sundown that makes it a remarkable record, despite its few flaws.

I’m not sure Kings of Leon will ever become one of the most important rock bands in the world; U2 is still around to hold that title. Until Bono and the Edge decide to hang it up, Kings of Leon will just have to remain one of the best American bands of the 21st Century. (RCA 2010)

Kings of Leon MySpace page


Brandon Flowers: Flamingo

RIYL: The Killers, Vigilantes of Love, U2

Brandon-Flowers-Flamingo-Official-Album-Cover[1] Flamingo, or chameleon? Listeners who mainly remember Brandon Flowers from early Killers hit singles like “Mr. Brightside” and “Somebody Told Me” may be in for a bit of a shock with his solo debut, which finds him toning down the gulpy vocal shtick that made him famous – and finally making the widescreen roots rock record he was aiming for with Sam’s Town.

Flowers has always struggled to get a grip on his outsize ambitions, and there are moments on Flamingo that don’t resonate as strongly as they’re supposed to. For the first time in his career, though, he doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard; these songs come across more like personal statements than would-be epics. They’re still woefully derivative of Flowers’ influences – seeing Daniel Lanois’ name in the credits is going to trigger waves of eye-rolling from U2 fans who still think of Flowers as a Bono wannabe – but the difference here is that instead of trying to stand on the shoulders of giants to craft Grand Statements, he’s just using his musical DNA to write songs. It may read like a pretty fine distinction, but when it’s pouring out of the speakers, it’s huge – the difference between being handed a message and beaten over the head with it.

Of course, he’s still earnest to a fault. Flamingo might present a slightly subtler Brandon Flowers, but this is still music that leaves you feeling like you’re speeding across a lonely highway, or pensively looking out over a sepia desert mountaintop. It never hits as hard as it wants to, but so few mainstream rock records even bother asking you to really feel anything anymore – there’s something hopelessly noble about an album aimed so squarely at the heart. (Island 2010)

Brandon Flowers MySpace page


U2, Black Eyed Peas, and Mick Jagger perform “Gimme Shelter”

On Thursday and Friday of last week, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame celebrated their 25th anniversary of honoring some good bands but forgetting many others. HBO will air the event on November 29th, featuring performances from John Fogerty, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, and many others.

Nevertheless, I know I’m going to forget about it. Thankfully, Sterogum has already posted some footage from both nights. In the video above, U2, the Black Eyed Peas, Mick Jagger, and a string section come together to perform the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter.” Who’s terrible idea was this?

I’m having a hard time pinning down how this collection of musicians could defile this song. Maybe I’m just put off by Bono’s singing in the second verse. Fergie surprised me, though. Girl can wail.