Even Better Than The Real Thing has become a regular during the Innocence + Experience tour, I saw it at each of the four shows I attended last week. It’s a really fun song, they play it inside the screen (is there a proper name for that thing yet?), with dots all over their faces which are also shown big. The dots slowly dissolve and show the band members, it looks good (much better than what I describe here).
Even Better Than The Real Thing came off Achtung Baby, but it’s one of those songs, or one of those titles, that I often associate with Pop. I mean, I know it came off Achtung, but the Real Thing always makes me think of Coke, and when I think of that I think of both the consumer addled ideas of Pop, and also the idea of soda-pop. One of those strange associations that comes into my head, I guess.
In terms of ratings I actually have it as a well-rated song, definitely above average, but for Achtung Baby it ends up being much more of an average song in the album, showing how strong the album was. That’s not necessarily a good thing for some of those songs, which may hide their lights under a bushel, but Even Better Than The Real Thing actually got a lot of publicity, and has become a fan favorite, especially since it was released as a single. It disappeared for a while from the live playlist in the 2000s, before returning a little during 360 then coming back regularly on I+E.
I switch back and forth on the point of the song. Obviously Bono’s said before that it’s about the culture of the time, where people aren’t trying to get deep into things but just looking at the surface. The famous quote is something like “sometimes you want to read a magazine, not a novel.” I always have the feeling that Bono has read a bunch of novels, a whole lot more than I have (and I read a lot), because he’s always coming up with weird and wonderful quotes and lines from the most obscure of people, along with the most famous people. Technically Bono reads more literary stuff than I do (my genre is fantasy), which is why his stuff doesn’t always have meaning for me.
Even Better begins with the weird whining of the guitar, but really takes off when the whole band comes in together. Then Bono comes in with lyrics and I have to say that the album version sounds somewhat muted compared to live versions. Not a problem, it sounds like it does and it shows the evolution of the song over the years. There’s a section in the middle, about 2:30, where it’s just Edge and I love that short little part of sound, the guitar raising and lowering as it goes. Then the rest of the band come back and finish the song, and it’s just really good as it rolls to an end. A great song.
My rating for Even Better Than The Real Thing: 7 / 10