The Playboy Mansion

Poor topic, poor music, poor lyrics. The trifecta of poor. Just a dull dull song that I haven’t listened to in a long time, and won’t listen to again for a long time if I have the choice. It came off Pop, one of the lowest rated albums, and was one of the worst songs on the album, so it’s another that would have a serious shot at being worst U2 song ever. I don’t think it is, but it would certainly be in a bottom ten somewhere.

The topic of the song is difficult to discern, it does seem to be all over the place a bit. The initial sections of the song make me think of religion, make me think that he’s talking about whether he has been good enough to get into the mansion of heaven. That image is of course burst, and burst badly, at the end, when he flips it around to talk about the Playboy Mansion instead. It is an interesting image though, to take what is essentially the two opposites, heaven and Playboy, and invert the song that way.

The music is kind of funky, it starts out sounding like it might be a little bit interesting. You hear some fairly regular drums and bass, but there’s a waah-waah coming from the lead guitar, and that seems like it might make a song. But then Bono starts singing, and those ten or fifteen seconds or so of interesting stuff suddenly dips down and becomes very bland, hanging around in the background, just making much of nothing really. The music just doesn’t grab me at all after that.

Despite the words messing up the music, the lyrics in general struggle, but there are occasional bursts of interest in them. There’s a quote from Bono talking about how mentioning Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson tends to date the song, and he’s right about that. I am one of those people that dislike movies that have very topical references, that kind of movie tends to age badly, and tends to suck for many other reasons too. Mostly that if you’re the kind of movie trying to put those references in, it’s because you don’t have much of a story in the first place. The same applies to the song, there is not much there and he is trying to put them in to fill it out.

So despite all that, I have to find something good about the song, right? Well there is one part that I like, somewhere in the middle. And it’s not so much the music, or the lyrics themselves, but it’s more just the feeling at that point in the song. It’s the verse that begins with “I never bought a lotto ticket,” and also the verse that starts with “Chance is a kind of religion.” Ignore the words, listen to the tempo, and it is really quite interesting. It speeds up just a little compared to the rest of the song, again not the music, but the speed of the words that Bono is singing. It speaks to how the song could end up being better, with different and more interesting lyrics, but also a slightly faster tempo. Again, the possibility of something decent coming out if they worked on it more.

My rating for The Playboy Mansion: 2 / 10