A couple of songs off the Passengers album made it into the popular consciousness, or at least the U2 fan consciousness. The rest of them were not famous, not well-known, not really very good at all. So I’m covering the album as a whole and most of the songs here.
The official title for the album is Original Soundtracks 1, although I think I have always called it the Passengers album. It’s interesting that the Wikipedia article about it mentions that it is the lowest-selling U2 album, because most people don’t recognize it as a U2 album. I have to agree, I don’t see it as a U2 album, because Brian Eno was involved so much, I think even more than usual. He tends to have quite a bit of influence over the band when they’re recording together, but in this case I think all the influence was his, that they were following him this time rather than him guiding them a little.
So the two songs that came off the album that hit it big were Miss Sarajevo and Your Blue Room. Miss Sarajevo much more of course, it bled out into the public eye for a while, possibly due to the Pavarotti connection. It then took off like wildfire in U2 circles when Bono started doing the Pavarotti bit, and became one of those semi-staples (although I don’t think it has been played on the current tour yet). Your Blue Room was fun, interesting with a little connection to NASA (which is why they played it at one of the Houston shows I attended a few years ago), and generally enjoyable.
But the rest of it struggled. The point of the album was an attempt to make soundtracks for made-up films, and that gives us the one part of the album that is interesting. That is the descriptions of the movies, which I think turned out well. I believe it was Eno who made up descriptions of a bunch of movies, and they all took those descriptions and made music based on them. I don’t know how it works in real life, but I guess it might be the same, that you agree to write a song for a movie and they tell you what it’s about (or what the scene the song is going to is about) and you write a song. So it was really well done for them to do it that way, to be that creative. It seems almost inspiring to me, like it’s something I could do, make up some movies and do something to relate them to the real world. You never know.
I think I read that three of the movies were actually real, although I haven’t seen any of them.
The music itself is nothing, like I think most movie soundtracks. There are certain parts where you kind of get a feeling of interest, but it quickly fades. There are a couple of songs where you’re like “I see what you did there” and it makes sense. There are definitely songs where you have a specific feeling, one of them (and sadly I don’t remember which, because I can’t distinguish them that much) does give me a feeling of Japan. And yet I don’t think it’s Ito Okashi.
Oh yeah, and there’s Elvis Ate America, which is possibly the silliest song on the album, and perhaps one of the more enjoyable.
My rating for Original Soundtracks 1: 2 / 10