Well, where can I start on this one? Discotheque, there is so much right with it and so much wrong with it. On balance though, it’s the wrong that makes all the difference, and ends up dropping the song in my estimation.
For starters, it’s the song that is the signature of the Pop era, the weakest era of U2’s history, which means that it’s a reminder of one of the low points in the band’s life. I just recently said that it was the likes of MacPhisto and other characters that Bono has taken on, that end up defining the band. I probably should have thought of this era, which is perhaps even more in the public’s memory than that is. When I think of the times for Pop, it is the images from the Discotheque video which spring unbidden and unwanted into my mind. It is their time of being freaky, and it is a little disconcerting for me to watch and think about that time.
Weird sound at the start, this is not your parents’ music. It bounces in and out, there’s a lot of distortion, they make Bono’s voice sound weird, and so on. Short, staccato sounds throughout the song. It’s definitely a child of the club scene from that time, which is something I wasn’t ever really into. You get into the section “looking for the one” and you start to hear a little music in the background that sounds pretty good (I actually think it’s just the bass that I like), but then it twists back into the regular stuff and the good disappears. It’s almost like one of those songs that get left off an album for being terrible, but there’s that one sound that gets pulled into something else that is good. Unfortunately in this case they left the terrible in with the very small good. And then you get to the end with the boomchas and the repeated title, where they apparently ran out of a way to finish.
Looking at the video, I don’t know why but the mirrorball at the start looks like Edge. Bono jumping around like a fool. Edge looking weird with that beard. Adam and Larry hiding in the back while the other two make fools of themselves. The costumes. The lights. The Village People. And Larry going through the motions at the end, I can’t blame him, as always. Yeesh.
And a short note to finish with, today Dennis Sheehan died while on tour with the band. I never met him, but I had heard about him and seen him in several videos and photos. In fact just the other day I saw a picture of him on Twitter, Bono was outside one of the recent shows (don’t remember if it was Phoenix or San Jose) meeting and greeting the fans, and there was Dennis standing in the background, checking something on his phone. I thought at the time that would be a cool job, being lead guy for a U2 tour. Many respects to him and to the band tonight.
My rating for Discotheque: 2 / 10