Ah yes, the song I couldn’t play in front of my mother. Might have been about her (or at least about Bono’s mother, who stands in for many other mothers), but that doesn’t mean I could play a song with a title like Mofo or words like that. I would have gotten a whooping for doing that, and it might have changed the entire trajectory of my musical history, Well, not really, by the time Pop came out U2 was well entrenched in my life. But still, might have engendered some unhappy memories. Not that the song didn’t manage to do that by itself.
Of all the songs on the album, which is where U2 went kind of crazy for a little while, this is very close to the worst. By very close I mean there are three or four songs on Pop that rate around this badly, and honestly I haven’t ranked them in order from worst to least worst. I’ve done that at the top of the list, ranking the top songs, but haven’t done the bottom. Maybe that’ll get to be one of the year-end pieces, if I can stand to do it. Mofo will certainly be a contender for the top spot, or the bottom spot, or however you want to term it.
So we’ll start with the music, it is pretty terrible, dance music much more than the rest of the songs on the album. I have to admit I am not a dance music fan, I’m not a fan of all those versions that U2 did trying to get into clubs, the 101 mixes of some of the songs in the 90s. I’ll listen to them, but not very often. That’s kind of the same with this song, Mofo is all beeps and whistles instead of real music. Just a bunch of looping crap back and forth, I’m glad Edge got it out of his system but I’ll be honest and wish it had never gotten in there in the first place.
And then you get Bono singing, and his voice is extraordinarily distinctive on this song, isn’t it? I mean, he must have been up all night smoking cigar after cigar to try and get his voice to sound like that. Rough, stretched out, scratchy. Terrible. Painful to listen to. Not even much better when you see it live, when you watch the PopMart video. I can’t help thinking of this when I think of bad sound from the band.
The whole point of the song then is the relationship to his mother, of course. An early attempt at something, but not very well done. Thankfully he tried and tried again, and ended up with Iris, which is a thousand percent better all round. The one little weird bridge in the middle of Mofo is out of sync with the rest of the song, and it really does sound like a line that could have come out of Iris. But the rest of it, no, just awful.
Must admit to liking the “white dopes on punk” line but then again I think he took that from somewhere else so it might not even count.
My rating for Mofo: 1 / 10