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A Look Back at U2's 'Pop' 20 Years Later

03-03-2017
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U2

(Radio.com) Twenty years ago this week, U2 released one of their most daring and most misunderstood albums, Pop. Continuing down the sonic road they started on with 1991's Achtung Baby and continued with 1993's Zooropa and their 1995 side project Passengers, Pop took them further into dance music territory; their image became more arch and snarky, as the po-faced Irish dudes who looked so serious on the cover of 1987's The Joshua Tree became a distant memory.

It all started with "Discotheque." The song and video were, ostensibly, a celebration of dance music and culture. Commercially, this was a dangerous move for U2. They were a post-punk band who crossed over to the mainstream via massive MTV play in the '80s; by the end of the decade, they were a mainstay on rock radio alongside Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones.

Embracing industrial dance music on 1991's Achtung Baby was a risky move that paid off: it seemed nearly as radical as Dylan going electric -- or, at least, as radical as the Beastie Boys picking up their instruments, to use a more recent artistic 180-degree turn -- and it worked. 1993's Zooropa saw them delve further into digital music.

But "Discotheque" may have been a few steps too far onto the multi-colored dance floor for U2's American rock audience to digest. Rock legends had embraced disco before -- like the Rolling Stones on "Miss You" and Rod Stewart on "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" -- but none dove in with the enthusiasm of U2, or at least Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton. Drummer Larry Mullen looked unamused in the video, and through most of the promotion for Pop. Read more here.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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