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10 Best U2 Songs

When four teenagers from Dublin got together in the mid-'70s, they probably had no idea that someday U2 songs would be celebrated as some of the most important rock music ever made. Remarkably, frontman Bono, guitarist the Edge, bass player Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. achieved greatness without experiencing a single lineup change in their 30-plus years together. Many of the best U2 songs captivated audiences around the world while touching on religious, social and political themes.
'All I Want Is You'
The final single from U2's 1988 movie and album project 'Rattle and Hum,' 'All I Want is You' was a straightforward love song at its core, though the final two of its six-and-a-half minutes featured a darker string section. The track was just a minor hit in the US, but reached the Top 10 hit in several countries.
'New Year's Day'
Bono said it was easy to write the words for this U2 song from the 1983 album 'War,' after hearing the Edge's "icy" keyboard notes and a bass line from Clayton that sounded "outdoors." The singer proceeded to pen lyrics inspired by his imaginary vision of Polish Solidarity movement co-founder Lech Walesa leading a union strike on New Year's Day.
'Where the Streets Have No Name'
The euphoric energy of 'Where the Streets Have No Name' made it the perfect choice to kick off U2's 1987 album 'The Joshua Tree,' considered a five-star record by many critics. Adding to the song's legend was the Grammy-winning music video in which U2 channeled the Beatles and gave a rooftop performance in Los Angeles, getting shut down by the police in the process.
'Sunday Bloody Sunday'
Opening with Mullen's military-style drumming, this 1983 track was a musically aggressive response to the political violence in Northern Ireland, though its lyrics were toned down a bit to remove the some of the most controversial lines. The song appeared on 'War,' the band's third album and first where they began heavily addressing social and political issues.
U2 struggled with the recording of 1991's 'Achtung Baby' until reaching a breakthrough with 'One,' perhaps the band's most moving song. The ballad became a worldwide hit and its proceeds were donated to AIDS research. The song charted again in 2006 after U2 re-recorded the track with R&B star Mary J. Blige.
'Beautiful Day'
The rebirth of U2 in the new millennium began with 'Beautiful Day,' the first single from 2000's 'All That You Can't Leave Behind.' The optimistic song captured Record and Song of the Year as well as Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the Grammy Awards, where Bono remarked during an acceptance speech that U2 was "reapplying for the job of 'best band in the world'."
For their fourth album 'The Unforgettable Fire,' U2 teamed up with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, who helped expand the group's sound. Though never released as a single, 'Bad' became a concert favorite. U2's 12-minute performance of 'Bad' was one of the high points of the Live Aid benefit concert in 1985.
'I Will Follow'
The opening track from U2's 1980 debut 'Boy,' 'I Will Follow' is still considered one of the best U2 songs even decades later. The Edge's jangling guitar merged with new wave elements and an urgent rhythm section to make this U2's first charting single in the US, reaching No. 20 on the Mainstream Rock tally.
'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'
"I believe in the Kingdom Come," sang Bono on one of U2's most overtly spiritual songs, which also described mingling with angels and devils. It was U2's second consecutive No. 1 single and helped 'The Joshua Tree' go platinum 10 times in the US, and sell more than 25 million copies worldwide.
'With or Without You'
Our choice for the best U2 song is 'With or Without You,' which represents the band's commercial and critical peak. The band almost discarded the song before stumbling upon the proper arrangement, with a slow build eventually leading to a dramatic climax. The No. 1 hit from 'The Joshua Tree' elevated U2's status as one of the elite rock bands in the world.

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