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This article is about the band.
For other uses, see U2 (disambiguation).U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin.
Formed in 1976, the group consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards, and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen, Jr.
(drums and percussion).
U2's early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music.
Throughout the group's musical pursuits, they have maintained a sound built on melodic instrumentals.
Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal themes and sociopolitical concerns.U2 formed at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency.
Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy.
By the mid-1980s, U2 became a top international act.
They were more successful as a touring act than they were at selling records until their 1987 album The Joshua Tree which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band's stature "from heroes to superstars".
Reacting to musical stagnation and criticism of their earnest image and musical direction in the late-1980s, U2 reinvented themselves with their 1991 album, Achtung Baby, and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour; they integrated dance, industrial, and alternative rock influences into their sound, and embraced a more ironic and self-deprecating image.
Similar experimentation continued for the remainder of the 1990s with varying levels of success.
U2 regained critical and commercial favour in the 2000s with the records All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000) and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004), which established a more conventional, mainstream sound for the group.
Their U2 360° Tour from 2009–2011 was the highest-attended and highest-grossing concert tour in history.U2 have released 13 studio albums and are among the all-time best-selling music artists, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
They have won 22 Grammy Awards, more than any other band, and in 2005, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 in its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" and has labelled them the "Biggest Band in the World".
Throughout their career, as a band and as individuals, they have campaigned for human rights and philanthropic causes, including Amnesty International, the ONE/DATA campaigns, Product Red, and The Edge's Music Rising.InstrumentationSince their inception, U2 have developed and maintained a distinctly recognisable sound, with emphasis on melodic instrumentals and expressive, larger-than-life vocals.
This approach is rooted partly in the early influence of record producer Steve Lillywhite at a time when the band was not known for musical proficiency.
The Edge has consistently used a rhythmic echo and a signature delay to craft his distinctive guitar work, coupled with an Irish-influenced drone played against his syncopated melodies that ultimately yields a well-defined ambient, chiming sound.
Bono has nurtured his falsetto operatic voice and has exhibited a notable lyrical bent towards social, political, and personal subject matter while maintaining a grandiose scale in his songwriting.
In addition, The Edge has described U2 as a fundamentally live band.Despite these broad consistencies, U2 have introduced brand new elements into their musical repertoire with each new album.
U2's early sound was influenced by bands such as Television and Joy Division, and has been described as containing a "sense of exhilaration" that resulted from The Edge's "radiant chords" and Bono's "ardent vocals".
U2's sound began with post-punk roots and minimalistic and uncomplicated instrumentals heard on Boy and October, but evolved through War to include aspects of rock anthem, funk, and dance rhythms to become more versatile and aggressive.
Boy and War were labelled "muscular and assertive" by Rolling Stone, influenced in large part by Lillywhite's producing.
The Unforgettable Fire, which began with The Edge playing more keyboards than guitars, as well as follow-up The Joshua Tree, had Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois at the production helm.
With their influence, both albums achieved a "diverse texture".
The songs from The Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum placed more emphasis on Lanois-inspired rhythm as they mixed distinct and varied styles of gospel and blues music, which stemmed from the band's burgeoning fascination with America's culture, people and places.
In the 1990s, U2 reinvented themselves as they began using synthesisers, distortion, and electronic beats derived from alternative rock, industrial music, dance, and hip-hop on Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop.
In the 2000s, U2 returned to a more stripped-down sound, with more conventional rhythms and reduced usage of synthesisers and effects.Lyrics and themesSocial and political commentary, often embellished with Christian and spiritual imagery, are a major aspect of U2's lyrical content.
Songs such as "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Silver and Gold", and "Mothers of the Disappeared" were motivated by current events of the time.
The former was written about the troubles in Northern Ireland, while the latter concerns the struggle of a group of women whose children were killed or "disappeared" by the government during the Salvadoran Civil War.
The song "Running to Stand Still" from The Joshua Tree was inspired by the heroin addiction that was sweeping through Dublin—the lyric "I see seven towers, but I only see one way out" references the Ballymun Towers of Northern Dublin and the imagery throughout the song personifies the struggles of addiction.Bono's personal conflicts and turmoil inspired songs like "Mofo", "Tomorrow" and "Kite".
An emotional yearning or pleading frequently appears as a lyrical theme, in tracks such as "Yahweh", "Peace on Earth", and "Please".
Much of U2's songwriting and music is also motivated by contemplations of loss and anguish, coupled with hopefulness and resiliency, themes that are central to The Joshua Tree.
Some of these lyrical ideas have been amplified by Bono and the band's personal experiences during their youth in Ireland, as well as Bono's campaigning and activism later in his life.
U2 have used tours such as Zoo TV and PopMart to caricature social trends, such as media overload and consumerism, respectively.While the band and its fans often affirm the political nature of their music, U2's lyrics and music have been criticised as apolitical because of their vagueness and "fuzzy imagery", and a lack of any specific references to actual people or characters.InfluencesThe band cites The Who, The Clash, Television, Ramones, The Beatles, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Elvis Presley, and Patti Smith as influences.
Van Morrison has been cited by Bono as an influence and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame points out his influence on U2.
U2 have also worked with and/or had influential relationships with artists including Johnny Cash, Green Day, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, B.B.
King, Lou Reed and Luciano Pavarotti.Campaigning and activismSince the early 1980s, the members of U2—as a band and individually—have collaborated with other musicians, artists, celebrities, and politicians to address issues concerning poverty, disease, and social injustice.In 1984, Bono and Adam Clayton participated in Band Aid to raise money for the 1983–1985 famine in Ethiopia.
This initiative produced the hit charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which would be the first among several collaborations between U2 and Bob Geldof.
In July 1985, U2 played Live Aid, a follow-up to Band Aid's efforts.
Bono and his wife Ali, invited by World Vision, later visited Ethiopia where they witnessed the famine first hand.
Bono would later say this laid the groundwork for his Africa campaigning and some of his songwriting.In 1986, U2 participated in the A Conspiracy of Hope tour in support of Amnesty International and in Self Aid for unemployment in Ireland.
The same year, Bono and Ali Hewson also visited Nicaragua and El Salvador at the invitation of the Sanctuary movement, and saw the effects of the El Salvador Civil War.
These 1986 events greatly influenced The Joshua Tree album, which was being recorded at the time.In 1992, the band participated in the "Stop Sellafield" concert with Greenpeace during their Zoo TV tour.
Events in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War inspired the song "Miss Sarajevo", which premiered at a September 1995 Pavarotti and Friends show, and which Bono and the Edge performed at War Child.
A promise made in 1993 was kept when the band played in Sarajevo as part of 1997's PopMart Tour.
In 1998, they performed in Belfast days prior to the vote on the Good Friday Agreement, bringing Northern Irish political leaders David Trimble and John Hume on stage to promote the agreement.
Later that year, all proceeds from the release of the "Sweetest Thing" single went towards supporting the Chernobyl Children's Project.In 2001, the band dedicated "Walk On" to Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
In late 2003, Bono and the Edge participated in the South Africa HIV/AIDS awareness 46664 series of concerts hosted by Nelson Mandela.
The band played 2005's Live 8 concert in London.
The band and manager Paul McGuinness were awarded Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for their work in promoting human rights.Since 2000, Bono's campaigning has included Jubilee 2000 with Bob Geldof, Muhammad Ali, and others to promote the cancellation of third-world debt during the Great Jubilee.
In January 2002, Bono co-founded the multinational NGO, DATA, with the aim of improving the social, political, and financial state of Africa.
He continued his campaigns for debt and HIV/AIDS relief into June 2002 by making high-profile visits to Africa.Product Red, a 2006 for-profit brand seeking to raise money for the Global Fund, was founded, in part, by Bono.
The ONE Campaign, originally the US counterpart of Make Poverty History, was shaped by his efforts and vision.In late 2005, following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, The Edge helped introduce Music Rising, an initiative to raise funds for musicians who lost their instruments in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast.
In 2006, U2 collaborated with pop punk band Green Day to record a remake of the song "The Saints Are Coming" by The Skids to benefit Music Rising.
A live version of the song recorded at the Louisiana Superdome was released on the single.U2 and Bono's social activism have not been without its critics, however.
Several authors and activists who publish in politically left journals such as CounterPunch have decried Bono for allowing his celebrity to be coopted by an association with political figures such as Paul Wolfowitz, as well as his "essential paternalism".
Other news sources have more generally questioned the efficacy of Bono's campaign to relieve debt and provide assistance to Africa.
Tax and development campaigners have also criticised the band's move from Ireland to the Netherlands to reduce its tax bill.Other projectsThe members of U2 have undertaken a number of side projects, sometimes in collaboration with some of their bandmates.
In 1985, Bono recorded the song "In a Lifetime" with the Irish band Clannad.
The Edge recorded a solo soundtrack album for the film Captive in 1986, which included a vocal performance by Sinéad O'Connor that predates her own debut album by a year.
Bono and The Edge wrote the song "She's a Mystery to Me" for Roy Orbison, which was featured on his 1989 album Mystery Girl.
In 1990, Bono and The Edge provided the soundtrack to Royal Shakespeare Company London stage version of A Clockwork Orange (only one track, "Alex Descends into Hell for a Bottle of Milk/Korova 1", on the b-side to "The Fly" single, was ever released).
That same year, Mullen co-wrote and produced a song for the Irish International soccer team in time for the 1990 FIFA World Cup, called "Put 'Em Under Pressure", which topped the Irish charts.Together with The Edge, Bono wrote the song "GoldenEye" for the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, which was performed by Tina Turner.
Clayton and Mullen reworked the "Theme from Mission: Impossible" for the franchise's 1996 film.
Bono loaned his voice to "Joy" on Mick Jagger's 2001 album Goddess in the Doorway.
Bono also recorded a spare, nearly spoken-word version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the Tower of Song compilation in 1995.
Additionally, in 1998, Bono collaborated with Kirk Franklin and Crystal Lewis along with R.
Kelly and Mary J.
Blige for a successful gospel song called "Lean on Me".Aside from musical collaborations, U2 have worked with several authors.
American author William S.
Burroughs had a guest appearance in U2's video for "Last Night on Earth" shortly before he died.
His poem "A Thanksgiving Prayer" was used as video footage during the band's Zoo TV Tour.
Other collaborators include William Gibson and Allen Ginsberg.
In early 2000, the band recorded three songs for The Million Dollar Hotel movie soundtrack, including "The Ground Beneath Her Feet", which was co-written by Salman Rushdie and motivated by his book of the same name.In 2007, Bono appeared in the movie Across the Universe and performed The Beatles songs.
Bono and The Edge also wrote the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Additionally, The Edge created the theme song for Season 1 and 2 of the animated television series The Batman.LegacyMain article: List of awards received by U2U2 have sold more than 150 million records, placing them among the best-selling music artists in history.
With 51.5 million certified units by the RIAA, U2 rank as the 21st-highest-selling music artist in the US.
The group's fifth studio album The Joshua Tree is one of the best-selling albums in the US (10 million copies shipped) and worldwide (25 million copies sold).
Forbes estimates that U2 earned US$78 million between May 2011 and May 2012, making them the fourth-highest-paid musical artist.
The Sunday Times Rich List 2013 estimated the group's collective wealth at €632,535,925.Rolling Stone placed U2 at number 22 on its list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", while ranking Bono the 32nd-greatest singer and The Edge the 38th-greatest guitarist.
In 2004, Q ranked U2 as the fourth-biggest band in a list compiled based on album sales, time spent on the UK charts, and largest audience for a headlining show.
A 2011 readers' poll in Q named U2 the Greatest Act of the Last 25 Years.
VH1 placed U2 at number 19 on its 2010 list of "The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time".
In 2010, eight of U2's songs appeared on Rolling Stone's updated list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", with "One" ranking the highest at number 36.
Five of the group's twelve studio albums were ranked on the magazine's 2012 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"—The Joshua Tree placed the highest at number 26.
Reflecting on the band's popularity and worldwide impact, Jeff Pollack for The Huffington Post said, "like The Who before them, U2 wrote songs about things that were important and resonated with their audience".U2 received their first Grammy Award in 1988 for The Joshua Tree, and they have won 22 in total out of 34 nominations, more than any other group.
These include Best Rock Duo or Group, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Rock Album.
The British Phonographic Industry has awarded U2 seven BRIT Awards, five of these being for Best International Group.
In Ireland, U2 have won 14 Meteor Awards since the awards began in 2001.
Other awards include one AMA, four VMAs, eleven Q Awards, two Juno Awards, three NME Awards, and a Golden Globe Award.
The band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in early 2005.
In 2006, all four members of the band received ASCAP awards for writing the songs, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and "Vertigo".Concert toursMain article: List of U2 concert tours
With Or Without You
New Year's Day
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
I Still Haven't Found What I'M Looking For
Where The Streets Have No Name