I have a soft spot for Sweetest Thing, simply because of the video. The song is lovely, bouncy, entertaining and all, but the video is really what makes it. Incidentally, I always thought the song was The Sweetest Thing, but it’s not, the The does not appear on the album titles.
Now, if you didn’t see the video or heard the song, and just read the lyrics, you might not get the same impression. From the lyrics it sounds either like a couple that’s breaking up, or a guy who has a girl not responding to his overtures. There’s nothing about the sweetness in the lyrics (except of course for the repeated “sweetest thing”). But you read through it and it sounds like she’s pretty mean to the guy, whether as non-responsive, or as “a stormy kind of love.” Which doesn’t make it a love song.
So then you listen to the music, and it’s all happy and bouncy, and so you kind of forget what the words are saying and you think that everything is lovely and wonderful. And then you watch the video and you think that he screwed up somehow and is trying to apologize for something he did. So three different ways of looking at the song, each of them wildly different.
The video is fun, a ride down the street with all kinds of people in the background doing crazy things, trying to show Ali that Bono is sorry. If you haven’t seen it (and if you’re reading this you have, because you’re a U2 fan) go watch it. Bono looks really kind of goofy throughout, I’m not sure what it is that makes him look strange. Can’t be the camera angle, we always see him like that. The hat? The glasses? I don’t know. My favorite part of the whole thing is right at the end, when he takes off his hat and Larry holds up a halo above Bono’s head, trying to make him look like an angel. It’s hilarious, I don’t know why Larry isn’t cracking up at that point.
Interesting comment from Edge that they realized later that Sweetest Thing should have been on The Joshua Tree. This brings up multiple questions. Firstly, how could it be on the album since it sounds so much different from all the other songs. I think the closest in terms of sound would be Trip Through Your Wires, but even that’s a stretch. Sweetest Thing is much bouncier and relaxed that anything on the album. Next question would be which song would it replace? Assuming that they kept the same number of tracks for a similar running time, which is what mattered back in those days, when you had to fit it all on vinyl, or on a CD, instead of being unlimited because it’s all going on your phone anyway. So, again, Trip Through Your Wires? Sweetest Thing doesn’t necessarily fit in the vibe of the album, does it? Not much of a spoiler alert here, but Trip is tied for worst song on The Joshua Tree (which as I’ve said before makes it a good to very good song on most other albums), and I rate it the same as Sweetest Thing, so the album wouldn’t have gained or lost by exchanging one of those songs.
My rating for Sweetest Thing: 6 / 10