Known as Ireland’s fabulous four, U2 have written and recorded some of the most popular radio hits in alternative rock history. While lead guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist David Howell Evans (also known as The Edge) has contributed his songwriting talents to the band and helped add to U2’s long list of memorable hits, collectively each member has brought something to the table which has profoundly impacted their successful career. Here is a list of U2’s top five greatest hits.
“With or Without You”
As the third song from the band’s fifth studio album The Joshua Tree, it probably remains the most popular U2 hit to date. The Edge’s spotlighted sustain effect on his guitar gives the track it’s a notorious ghostly trademark. While it does not follow a traditional verse-chorus arrangement, the lyrics have (by some) been translated into a religious context.
“Sunday Bloody Sunday”
Seen as the opening track on their 1983 record War, “Sunday Bloody Sunday” takes a step back from love and hope and musically relays a political message based on the 1972 Bogside Massacre in Ireland. It remains a concert staple for U2, and has been called the band’s signature song.
This track is U2’s bestselling single to date, and was even on of the first songs in music history to be available to download. The song was written in several stages over the course of time and appeared on the band’s 2000 album All That You Can’t Leave Behind as the title track. Once again musically relaying a political message, the song comes from frontman Bono’s urge at the time to encourage an end of Third World Debt.
“Where the Streets Have No Name”
As another track off of Joshua Tree, it is the album’s third single from 1987. The official music video was filmed on an LA rooftop and went on to win an award for Best Performance Music Video at the Grammy’s. Producer Brian Eno had played the organ intro, and engineer Steve Lillywhite mixed the final version fans know today.
“In A Little While”
This song was the last song Joey Ramone heard before his death in 2001. Written about a hangover no less, Bono has said about the track “…setting it in a hangover gives it some comedy and earthiness that balances out the philosophical pretensions.” It appeared on the band’s 2000 album All That You Can’t Leave Behind.