I have argued for many years that U2 is the Greatest Rock Band ever. However, with this week’s release of The Beatles Stereo Box Set this week I have been pouring over their catalog and have been forced to rethink my position. I have not drawn any conclusions yet. But here have been some of my arguments:
- U2 have been consistently producing number 1 music over three decades from “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to “Get on Your Boots.”
- To stay together as a band for thirty years is a difficult and remarkable feat (thanks Yoko). The Beatles only recorded over eight years. U2’s longevity has allowed them to experiment (ex. U2 pop) and consistently innovate their musical style (ex. Vertigo vs. No Line). Yes the Beatles also experimented (Yellow Submarine) but again longevity gives the edge to U2 for me.
- There is no argument that The Beatles have had the biggest IMPACT on music through their complete reinvention of the medium of music. Their music is timeless and the definition of “Hall of Fame” And while U2’s influence is no doubt seen in bands like Coldplay (aka U2 wannabes) The edge here undoubtedly goes to The Beatles.
- The Beatles also have a long list of singles that have found their way into the lexicon of pop culture’s lexicon of musical hits like “Strawberry Fields, Let it Be, Lucy in the Sky, Help!, Good day Sunshine, Revolution, Hey Jude, Lady Madonna, Twist and Shout, etc.) Songs that after the first measure you just begin to sing along. Now “pop” hits don’t necessarily measure quality, for example, look at the top 10 songs on iTunes today and you will be hard pressed to see ANY quality music there. Quantity does not measure quality. However, I might just have to give the edge to The Beatles here.
- Bono and John Lenon have both used the microphone that Rock and Rock gave them to lobby the world for peace and humanitarian efforts. Both in their own unique ways. Still I give the edge to Bono who actively pursued world leaders and called them into accountability for their policies and the poor. Granted, this doesn’t have anything to do with music, but this is my list and my criteria, if you don’t like it, make your own list.
- When it comes to Album Rock, albums that you can listen to from beginning to end, I personally give the edge to U2. albums like Joshua Tree, Unforgettable Fire, How to Dismantle, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, are all albums I love to listen to from track 1 to the end without skipping a track. The Beatles have a significant number of tracks that I find needing to skip since they simply bore me. Winner here: U2
- We haven’t seen The Edge, Bono, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullin putting out solo albums that were junk like we did with Ringo and George Harrison (“I’ve got my mind set on you? . . . . Really ?!?!?!). Just have to mention Wings in this point . . . ’nuff said. Winner without a doubt: U2.
- It probably could be argued that without The Beatles innovation of music there would have never been a U2, so I have to give a point to The Beatles.
But again, as I look over the breadth of the undoubtedly amazing catalog or The Beatles that was created in a relatively short amount of time, there is no doubt they are in serious contention, but my heart has to still give the award to U2. I do have to thank the Beatles for their influence, artistry and pioneerism in music, but I love me my U2.