In Rolling Stone‘s new U2 cover story, Bono and Co. take us inside their troubled quest for a new sound and soul as they wrote and recorded No Line on the Horizon. We asked some of their contemporaries for their favorite songs and albums from the group’s three-decade career — check out what Wayne Coyne, Duffy, Pete Wentz and Taylor Swift had to say, and share your own picks below, in our U2 album poll.
The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne
I have a favorite U2 song: “One.” My favorite album is All That You Can’t Leave Behind. There’s something about Bono coming from this Irish family. I’m from a sort of Irish family. There’s something about the way he sings about his family and friends and even the death of his father, even though “One” isn’t about that. When my father was dying I listened to that song, it struck me. Later on I read about Bono’s father dying. I understood his state of mind and related to it. It’s a well-written song and he sings great. The Edge sings great. As hokey as it can be, there’s something very powerful about the way Bono can get away with those big, overreaching kinds of songs.
Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard
War from start to finish is unbelievable, the songs are amazing, but the production — it’s such a large-sounding record that when you break it apart. There aren’t a lot of overdubs, not a lot of [what the band embraced] when U2 moved into some flashier stages in the late ’80s and ’90s. That’s my favorite record by them because it shows exactly what they are really great at doing. All the songs are there. They weren’t so self-aware. The same way as R.E.M.’s Murmur.
I’m a huge U2 fan. “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” is my favorite. I actually hadn’t heard it and really paid attention to it until I saw it in their 3D movie and I almost started crying because it moved me so much. His vocals on that song, somehow Bono has this way of evoking emotion that no one will be able to describe it.
Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz
[Producer and engineer] Jack Joseph Puig was mixing a U2 thing off Joshua Tree and I went in there and he soloed Bono’s vocal, and I was like, okay, cool. And then he soloed the Edge’s vocal, and I was like, okay, cool. But it was weird, because neither one sounded like U2 to me. Then he played them together, and it actually made a definitive sound. Every band wants to be U2 now, and I always wonder whether it’s sonically or career-wise. I think of it in terms of the unrelenting humanitarian stuff Bono does. He gets goofed on for that, but it’s pretty amazing in reality if you actually stop and think about it. I went from Guns n’ Roses right into Nirvana, and when I was into U2 was Achtung Baby. That was the record I liked, but my friend’s older brother would be like, the cool record is Rattle and Hum, or Joshua Tree, but I’m not that cool a guy.
The greatest band ever. Here’s why I love U2: The only band that I’ve ever seen, so far, that cares about the music that they make — they don’t make a record unless they care about every song that they make — but also care about being the biggest band in the world, unapologetically. Somehow it doesn’t fuck up their art. They completely say that they are going to be the biggest band in the world but the music they make is heartfelt, it’s sincere. And they go into the studio and fucking beat themselves up over every note, on every record, on every song, and so they bring it to the world. And they don’t bring it flippantly. It’s hard to say one favorite song. That Atomic Bomb record I lived with for so long, it really ate me up for a while. That and All That You Can’t Leave Behind. When my mom died “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” really hit me.
Bono, what a genius. Joshua Tree — I remember my stepbrother bought it, I think he had to go to like the next town. So it took him a half -hour to drive there. And when he brought it back we all listened to it and it was amazing. Very kind of symbolic moment in my life, we didn’t even own any records, there wasn’t even a record store in our town. It was sort of the turning of the era. It might have even been on cassette, but it sounded amazing!
Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst
The Edge is an incredible guitar player. He has an incredible style of delays and chords and strumming. Anyone that sounds like Edge, you think he’s biting Edge. I’m a fan because of how simple yet complex their music is and how timely the music is. It falls in the pocket and Bono has made himself such a significant part of our culture and even our evolution as our culture. U2 has such a deep meaning behind it. I’m a fan of little bits of all their work, even if one album was better than another. I’m an unconditional fan of U2. I really love the addictive basslines they have. Bono always finds that perfect melody to put in the pocket. I love that song “Beautiful Day.” I mean, I love it so much.
“Beautiful Day” is a song that I have always loved. It’s one of those songs that never gets old. It’s like, when a song is on the radio 5 million times, you might love it in the beginning but the next year you’re like, “I hate that song. I wish it would go away.” That’s one that makes me happy no matter what. We always play it before my shows and everybody hypes up. It makes you feel something really special and brings you to this pretty awesome place.
I don’t really have a favorite U2 song. All I wanna do is work with U2. One of these days. They did a Christmas song, “Christmas Baby (Please Come Home).” They cut it for the Special Olympics and asked me to come in and do the background vocals on it. I did. I thought I was going to meet them, that they were going to be there. They weren’t. I’ve always had this desire. I’ve run into them, crossed their paths — but I was always either too late or too early. One day before I depart from this Earth, I want to work with them.
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody
Joshua Tree was my first U2 record. I was Irish, but Joshua Tree was the first record that really was just sort of global. And since then, I went back to War, and Boy, and Under a Blood Red Sky — you have to admit these things, you can’t say, “I was there from the start,” you know. But Joshua Tree is probably the best melodic rock record ever. You really know you¹re in the presence of something very special. U2 are part of a, you know, the collective consciousness of the world. You can’t say that you haven’t been influenced by them, even if it’s just to avoid sounding like them.
Disturbed’s David Drainman
The Joshua Tree — “Where the Streets Have No Name” — there’s so many great songs on that record and it’s such a beautiful collaboration of artistry. It was the one that really put them on the global map. I was a fan of War and the earlier records, but that album really spoke to a greater range of people and transcended them. That’s still my favorite. It’s a timeless album.
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