U2: Your Song Saved My Life – The pipe and slippers phase of the megastars’ career

The band’s new track is like a slowed-down Beautiful Day bobbing in a huge mug of Ovaltine

U2: Your Song Saved My Life is thumpingly catchy and only moderately cloying. Photograph: Kurt Iswarienko

U2: Your Song Saved My Life is thumpingly catchy and only moderately cloying. Photograph: Kurt Iswarienko

 

YOUR SONG SAVED MY LIFE

U2
★★★☆☆
U2’s new single soundtracks the animated film Sing 2, so it is fitting that it has a vaguely cartoonish quality. Your Song Saved My Life is U2 pastiching U2, which isn’t necessarily a disastrous decision at this point in their career. It is uplifting in a generic sort of way, and is 90 per cent Bono emoting his lungs out, with swooping strings coming in during the part where the Edge was traditionally given permission to cut loose.

The guitarist does seemingly pop up on the chorus, however. After a lilting piano opening, the tune builds to a big, weepy chorus featuring Bono and Edge’s voices in gruff unison. The results aren’t world-shaking, and Your Song Saved My Life is a long way from being cutting edge.

Yet its refrain – “Your song saved my life … I sing it to survive” – is undeniably soothing, no matter that it appears to herald the pipe-and-slippers phase of U2’s adventures in pop. Their Achtung Grandad years, if you will.

There are worse things than musicians with a rich and varied catalogue turning into their own covers act. Especially when the alternative is Bono and the Edge pretending to be the Script

There’s also something quietly lovely about U2’s willingness to make peace with their station as elder statesman of anthemic rock. Bono’s voice has acquired a creaking timbre, and the lyrics – “Are you a stranger in your own life? What are you hiding behind those eyes?” – express the sorts of feelings that are typical of people in late middle age: life is bittersweet, friends will be lost along the way, but we’ll always have music.

More than four decades in, U2 are probably well past the point of reinvention. David Bowie continued to confound and astound deep into the twilight of his artistic journey. Who else, though, has pulled that off? That being the case, Your Song Saved My Life ticks many classic-U2 boxes by being epic and very, very sincere. And by the standards of their pretty wobbly last few LPs, the fact that it is thumpingly catchy and only moderately cloying arrives almost as a relief.

As an appetite-whetter for Sing 2 it is probably less successful. The original Sing was brash and soulless. Sing 2, released in January 2022, promises to be more interesting, given that it will feature Bono voicing a “reclusive” (ha!) rock star named Clay Calloway. Alas, all Sing really has going for it are its musical cameos – Jennifer Hudson and Tori Kelly starred in the original; the sequel will feature Pharrell Williams. And what under-10 cares about any of those?

But what does the song say about U2’s potential future? Adam Clayton revealed over the summer that the band are at work on a new LP. If this is a teaser of where they’re at, then the next chapter could be a story of Karaoke U2. Would that be a terrible turn of events? There are worse things than musicians with a rich and varied catalogue turning into their own covers act. Especially when the alternative is Bono and the Edge pretending to be the Script, as was the case on their Euro 2020 We Are the People hook-up with the DJ Martin Garrix.

U2 fans are unlikely to remember Your Song Saved My Life for terribly long. It’s mono Bono, a slowed-down Beautiful Day bobbing in a huge mug of Ovaltine. But it isn’t without its charms. On the 30th anniversary of Achtung Baby, perhaps their finest album, U2 clearly still have a few firecrackers up their sleeves. There continues to be a spring in their step and a hungry gleam in their eyes. And whatever about Clay Calloway, with this new tune there are reasons to believe that Bono hasn’t quite lost his roar, even if nowadays it sounds more like a purr.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.