I started this year by making a list of all album songs, and rating them all. I did not rate any non-album songs until I reviewed them, and the album ratings were based on the average of the individual songs. If you’ve followed the blog for any length of time (the last 356 days, hopefully) you’ll have seen me talk a number of times about my changing opinions. I tend to dislike songs the first time I hear them, simply due to the lack of familiarity, and over time as I get to know them I like them more and more. So my opinions this year have changed somewhat, as I have gone through the year, and as I have listened to some of these songs more, some of them recent songs, a few of them old songs that I had never listened to much.
If I were to talk about one old song that has really jumped in my opinion this year, it would probably be Desert Of Our Love, which for the longest time I thought of as a slightly gimmicky song, but this year, on listening to it a dozen or more times, have been thinking of it as certainly worth at least a b side. It might be in competition with Rise Up though, which I think could have been on the album. Both of those are not coincidentally from The Joshua Tree sessions, by far the most fertile period in the band’s history (well, pretty much from Joshua Tree through Achtung Baby).
The other thing that gets me is seeing a song live for the first time. As everyone knows U2 is very much a live band, almost always better live than recorded. This means that when I was rating Songs Of Innocence, I only had a couple of months of listening to the album, and nothing of a live song (apart from that one live performance in the Apple release party). I definitely rated SOI harshly at that time, and it took me a while to change. I was slowly changing by the time I started the project, liking a few songs much more than initially, but it really did take until the tour began for me to love some of the songs.
Without going greatly into specifics, over the year I have adjusted the ratings for much of Songs Of Innocence. In some cases I published the review before adjusting, in other cases after (I will leave it as an exercise for the reader on discovering which is which). I have tracked the overall totals, and to be brutally honest I originally had SOI as the second worst U2 album ever, but it has rapidly risen the charts to the top half, and will very possibly rise a little higher than that. Along with songs like Invisible, which I rated as a 4 when I wrote the review, but I would give it a 6 or perhaps even 7 now (it was perhaps my happiest surprise when I saw Invisible live), it all proves my thesis that I have to really know a song before loving it. So if you’re ever talking to me just after a U2 album has been released, know that my feelings about it are very likely to change.