Achtung Baby is the seventh studio album by Irish rock band U2. It was produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, and was released on 18 November 1991 on Island Records. Stung by criticism of their 1988 release Rattle and Hum, U2 shifted their musical direction to incorporate influences from alternative rock, industrial music, and electronic dance music into their sound. Thematically, Achtung Baby is darker, more introspective, and at times more flippant than their previous work. The album and the subsequent multimedia-intensive Zoo TV Tour were central to the group’s 1990s reinvention, by which they abandoned their earnest public image for a more lighthearted and self-deprecating one. Achtung Baby is one of U2’s most successful records; it received favourable reviews and debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 Top Albums, while topping the charts in many other countries. Five songs were released as commercial singles, all of which were chart successes, including “One”, “Mysterious Ways”, and “The Fly”. The album has sold 18 million copies worldwide and won a Grammy Award in 1993 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Achtung Baby has since been acclaimed by writers and music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time. The record was reissued in October 2011 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of its original release. Here are all of Achtung Baby’s songs ranked.
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12. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
“Another piece about love and the difficulties it presents. Very nice piece and very well executed, Edge always at the top. I have listened to it, plenty of times already, and there is no doubt that this has lots of golden material, worthy of my attention, and every time I give this a spin I can see why many critics and listeners hold this so high.”
11. Love is Blindness
“Closing piece and other sublime poetry. Start of keyboards and then attack drums and bass, then guitar and vocals. Ballad that speaks both of love of pain that sometimes involves but also of a terrorist act, in this case “love” for a (wrong) cause. Powerful bass and a painful Edge final solo. Creepy song.”
10. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
“In this sweet ballad we talk about an extraconuigal relationship of one of the married U2s. Musically always excellent.”
9. Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World
“Very light lyrics and song to break the mood. Probably the result of a hangover at Fleming Colossus, a famous Los Angeles club.”
See more: U2 Albums Ranked
8. The Fly
“Here it is the manifesto of U2’s change. After two quiet pieces, The Fly arrives as another well-aimed blow to the Joshua tree. Distorted guitar and vocals, supreme bass, drums that go great, then Edge gives 110% and makes the guitar sing. Great. Cynical and ironically malicious text.”
“Another innovative and very beautiful piece. Text as we said cynical and angry. It is about defending one’s ideals from contemporary standards of thought. Musically perfect, excellent drums as always.”
6. So Cruel
“Speaks directly about the end of Edge’s marriage, left by his wife while filming. Very sad text but the piece is beautiful. Intentionally repetitive drums as well as the initial piano, the rest is all in crescendo. As Eno says: “song cold and passionate at the same time”.
5. Mysterious Ways
“Energetic song, guitar and drums that wink at the funky. We talk about women and the “power” they have over men. There is also an explicit reference to oral sex.”
See more: U2 Songs Ranked
4. Until the End of the World
“Written for the homonymous film by Wim Wenders, it is the Last Supper of Jesus revisited in a modern key. The rhythm session was excellent and, needless to say, Edge’s guitar. Grand finale, exasperated guitar, powerful bass and Larry hitting the “snare” and the “crash”.
3. Zoo Station
“The first distorted guitar notes are the first ax blows on Joshua’s tree. You are blown away when you hear this song for the first time being used to 80’s U2. Guitar and distorted voice, according to Eno “the dark Berlin of the 30s and the chaotic Berlin of the 90s merge”. The subway line that brought U2 to Hansa Studios was the U2 that stops at the Zoologischer Garten, the Station of the Berlin Zoo. The metro line as a symbol of the path that led U2 to the new “Berlin” sound. After you get used to it, you feel it’s a great song.”
2. Even Better Than the Real Thing
“Another track from which The Edge immediately emerges with his guitar; excellent solo. A bit cryptic text and totally new sound.”
” Sublime poetry that deals with universal themes such as love, mutual respect and forgiveness. The text fits everything, the most accredited hypothesis is that of a quarrel between lovers. It is the awareness of having to support each other in this world, it is the awareness of being able to do it if we help each other. Musically perfect and harmonious. Flawless and sublime.”