As I’ve written before, I’m often convinced that my iPod shuffle setting isn’t at all random. Inside that tiny piece of wonder there’s a budding DJ bursting to impress me. And yesterday I got a mix of half a dozen songs alternating between two of my long-time favourite groups – Queen and U2. Which makes sense, because the two bands have all sorts of things in common…
- They both kept their original line-up for over 20 years. Queen only broke up after the death of Freddie Mercury. Subsequent efforts to reform have been weak in comparison.
- The band is driven (at least on the outside) by a massively charismatic and talented singer..
- Indeed, the singer is such a powerful presence with such a distinctive style that their songs have only rarely been covered successfully
- Their sound is instantly recognisable, even when they have taken tangential excursions from time to time. U2’s dalliance into dance was miles better than Queen’s efforts at disco. Achtung Baby was hailed as a reinvention of U2, but it’s still obviously U2.
- The singer and guitarist are the songwriting heart of the band, but the recording process is truly collaborative, with signficant contributions from everyone. Take away their rhythm section and all that’s left is a massively talented guitarist and a show-off!
- Their live shows are amazing. The connection between even a massive stadium crowd and the band is fantastic, and it’s a joyful experience.
- They command an enormous fanbase on every continent, and tour to bigger audiences than just about any other band
- The singer appears to have an ego the size of a planet, and can completely polarise opinions. Many people adore them, others cannot stand the sight or sound of them…
That’s enough for me. I reckon U2 learnt a lot from Queen. Good job.