New Year's Day

New Year's Day
History of the Band
Under a Blood Red Sky
The Unforgettable Fire
Wide Awake in America
The Joshua Tree
Rattle and Hum
Achtung Baby!
Original Soundtrack No. 1
The Best of 1980 - 1990
Hasta La Vista Baby!
All That You Can't Leave Behind
The Best of 1990-2000
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
U218 Singles

the eighth album...

Originally slated to be an EP, it was recorded between legs on the Zoo TV Tour and released in May 1993 by Island Records as a full-length album.  It was very much an "alternative rock" album in the climate of 1993. In North America, grunge was at its peak. While contemporaries R.E.M. latched onto this trend with their distortion-filled Monster, U2 released an album without angst or even a single guitar solo. In Europe, BritPop was beginning to conquer the charts, yet Zooropa owed more to the experimentation of David Bowie and Brian Eno than to the melodic pop of The Beatles and The Kinks.


Zooropa was a successful release--perhaps riding the wave of popularity started by Achtung Baby and the Zoo TV Tour--winning a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album the year of its release and spending two weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 despite lacking a strong single. It has subsequently sold more than 7 million copies worldwide.


As the title suggests, the album has a distinctly European texture (in contrast to the distinctly American roots of their late eighties work), continuing the band's experimentation with electronica, techno, and other predominantly European forms of music. Heavy on samples and irony, it also ties the "media overload" themes of the Zoo TV Tour into the context of a post-Berlin Wall Europe. The lyrics seem fascinated with the way technology unites as well as separates us. The spacey title track, for instance--laced with ad slogans like "Better by design" and "Vorsprung durch Technik"--paints a babel-filled vision of a single Europe united by satellite television.


But largely, the album's vision of technology is a cynical one. On the techno-rap "Numb", guitarist The Edge's drones a list of "dos and don'ts," overwhelmed by a noisy backdrop of arcade sounds and "fat lady vocals." The Edge notes that the inspiration for this song came from "that sense that you were getting bombarded with so much that you actually were finding yourself shutting down and unable to respond because there was so much imagery and information being thrown at you."[1]


The dreamy German disco of "Lemon"--sung by Bono in a longing falsetto amidst waves of almost unrecognizably distorted guitar--documents man's futile attempts to preserve time through technology:


    A man makes a picture

    A moving picture

    Through the light projected

    He can see himself up close

    A man captures colour

    A man likes to stare

    He turns his money into light to look for her


The songs conclude that we should not get so caught up in technology--and with it, the perceived need to know, keep, and broadcast everything--that we lose sight of ourselves and each other. The closing track, "The Wanderer", features country music legend Johnny Cash on lead vocals. It lays his haggard voice over a wobbly synth line, a bizarre juxtaposition in line with the album's central irony: that the band's most synthesized and postmodern album would be a condemnation of technology. The song's narrator wanders through a soulless world "in search of experience", ultimately finding meaning in the spiritual rather than the superficial.


"Numb" was an unlikely choice for a first single, and was released in an even more unlikely format, being released exclusively on VHS as a "video single". Though Madonna had already released "Justify My Love" as a video single in 1990 following the blacklisting of that video by MTV, it was still quite a progressive move for the early 90s, anticipating the commonplace release of DVD Singles by the best part of a decade. The single very much reflects the avant-gardism and obsession with multimedia that marked both the album and the accompanying Zoo TV world tour.


The band also released two more conventional singles from the album. "Lemon" received a limited release in North America, Australia, and Japan, and "Stay (Faraway, So Close)" was released worldwide.



   1. "Zooropa" (6:30)

   2. "Babyface" (4:00)

   3. "Numb" (4:18)

   4. "Lemon" (6:56)

   5. "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" (4:58)

   6. "Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car" (5:19)

   7. "Some Days Are Better Than Others" (4:15)

   8. "The First Time" (3:45)

   9. "Dirty Day" (5:24)

  10. "The Wanderer" (4:44)


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