If my math is correct, there are only about ten U2 album songs that are under three minutes, and most of them are on the early albums. Of these, I only found two that are under two minutes, and both of those were on Boy: Into The Heart, which is 1:58 on the US version, although it’s over three minutes on the UK version, so maybe it doesn’t count. The other one is The Ocean, at 1:35 I think it is therefore by far the shortest U2 song released on an album. Now, why is that? Because it was the early days, and they didn’t write them as long as they do now? Or because they needed some filler for their first album? Or maybe they just weren’t that inspired by the song.
This is another one of those songs with a trigger in it, in this case it’s the name Dorian Gray, which of course makes me think the line “A picture in grey, Dorian Gray.” Although there aren’t too many other lyrics in the song to cause a trigger, you don’t get too many words when you’re only a minute and a half long. There is one interesting line in there though, “I thought the world could go far, if they listened to what I said,” which is extraordinarily prescient for a young Bono to be writing. He has come back to that theme several times over the years, so I guess you could call this one of those genesis moments. He’s also come at it from the other direction, talking about his megalomania, so maybe that’s the transition, from thinking you can change the world to changing it to being somewhat full of yourself.
The song has a lot of guitar, pinging away at the top, and a bunch of drums popping in the background, but somehow I always think of it as a bass song. There’s an attempt to make sounds in the background that sound like the ocean, but it’s surprisingly annoying even despite the theme of the song. Would be a good song to play in an aquarium. The bass provides a depth to the song that otherwise wouldn’t be there, at times when I hear this song I’m trying to block out pretty much everything else and just hear the bass. It’s interesting enough, or maybe the rest of the song is boring enough, that it attracts my attention as a standout on the song.
Overall then, the rating below reflects the quality of the song, or lack thereof. I don’t think I have found a worse album song than The Ocean, it is one of those songs that I skip over almost every time it comes on. It is a definite contender for worst U2 song ever, certainly for those songs that actually made it onto an album. There are many non-album songs that are worse, and as I’ve said before there are many many non-U2 songs that I would rate lower than this.
My rating for The Ocean: 1 / 10