Sunday, September 25, 2016

public prophetic theology: U2 on Trump

She’s the dollars, She’s my protection
She’s the promise, In the year of election
- U2, Desire, off Rattle And Hum album

U2 played in Vegas last night, the headline act of iHeart radio. U2′s opening song was Desire and in the space of 1 minute and 12 seconds, as this opening song ended, they made a public announcement. Here’s the clip:

Lyrically, the song is Desire. Bono ad libs, offering a set of one-liners: Las Vegas are you ready to gamble? Are you ready to gamble your car? Are you ready to gamble your house? Are you ready to gamble the American Dream? The one-liners begin as a locating statement. They are performing in Las Vegas, so the opening question regarding gambling locates this live performance. The repetition of gamble allows Bono to seque from Las Vegas to the American Dream. In terms of sampling, they play a segment from a Donald Trump speech. What do you have to lose? This is now located as a gamble. In terms of performance art, money begins to fall. (You can see it fluttering against the American flag.) They are $10,000,000,000 (ten-trillion) dollar bills with Donald Trump on them alongside the phrase “Make America Hate Again.” Visually, a set of visuals loop, ZooTV style: American flag, gambling, crosses. With the Trump sample looping – What do you have to lose? – spoken over the mouth organ, the last word now belongs to Bono:

What do you have to lose? Everything.

I have analysed the live performance of U2′s Bullet the Blue Sky, exploring how U2 use samples to communicate (Taylor, S. (2012). “Bullet the Blue Sky” as an Evolving Performance. In Scott Calhoun, ed. Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll?: Essays on the Music, Work, and Influence of U2, Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, pp. 84-97. I have also analysed U2′s live performance and how one-liners – short spoken sentences – allow each U2 performance to be contextualised. (Taylor, S. (2015). Transmitting Memories: U2′s Rituals for Creating Communal History. In Scott Calhoun, ed. , U2 Above, Across, and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Assessments, Lanham, Maryland, USA: Lexington Books, pp. 105-121). Both dimensions – sampling and one-liners – are present in this performance. Both allow U2, in just over a minute, to offer a public, prophetic response.

Posted by steve at 10:30 AM

1 Comment

  1. Brilliant – thanks for this. I am glad U2 are making such statements during their shows as the election time draws closer. Rock bands get the message across, especially the big bands. We need all the messages we can get.

    Cheers
    Yonderman
    U2 shows seen in 1984 (CHCH), 1989 (Wellington), 1997 (Oakland), 2006 (Auckland), 2010 (Auckland)

    Comment by Yonderman — September 26, 2016 @ 11:35 am

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