Song of the Day #821: ‘Original of the Species’ – U2

Top Ten Male Vocalists – #4 – Bono

Bono is the guy on this list who would probably actively lobby to be on this list. He sings everything as if he’s auditioning for the title of Most Awesome Rock God of All-Time, Ever. And I can see how that can be a turn-off to people who aren’t particularly into Bono or U2 (including some regular readers of this blog).

But the thing is, this guy can sing like a son of a bitch. He might have a massive ego, but he backs it up with massive talent. And I have to hand it to him for that.

It’s one thing to pose like a big shot when you aren’t one, but Bono has earned the right. Thirty years of releasing platinum albums and filling stadiums will do that for you.

As for the vocals, nobody can tear into an anthem quite like Bono. Nobody else can so successfully make every word feel like it’s the last one he’ll ever sing.

But he’s a master of the subtler moments as well, often in the same song. Today’s SOTD is a good example. A little-known track from the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album, ‘Original of the Species’ was written by Bono for his kids.

The construction of this song has always fascinated me. It’s not verse-chorus-verse… it’s verse-chorus-chorus-chorus. It’s as if Bono and the boys had three great choruses but didn’t feel like writing three songs, so they crammed them all into this one. It just keeps escalating. And it’s a perfect showcase for Bono’s vocals.

Baby slow down
The end is not as fun as the start
Please stay a child somewhere in your heart

I’ll give you everything you want
Except the thing that you want
You are the first one of your kind

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
I kneel ’cause I want you some more
I want the lot of what you got
And I want nothing that you’re not

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it

Some things you shouldn’t get too good at
Like smiling, crying and celerity
Some people got way too much confidence baby..baby

I’ll give you everything you want
Except the thing that you want
You are the first one of your kind

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
I kneel ’cause I want you some more
I want the lot of what you got
And I want nothing that you’re not

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it, no….
Sugar come on, show your soul
You’ve been keeping your love under control

Everywhere you go you shout it
You don’t have to be shy about it
Everywhere you go you shout goodbye
Oh my my

And you feel like no-one before
You steal right under my door
I kneel ’cause I want you some more
I want you some more, I want you some more…
Oh no…..

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #821: ‘Original of the Species’ – U2

  1. Amy says:

    First, I have to take issue with the notion that someone should be forgiven a big ego if he has the talent to back it up. When there are so many incredibly talented but also modest individuals, why bother giving the egotistical ones any due at all?

    Now I’m not suggesting that Bono falls into that category. I don’t follow the guy’s career all that much, but it seems he often is out pontificating in the name of some cause or another that earns his passion. If he’s using his talent and ego to give voice to a cause that would otherwise not have one, then I find that as good a reason as any.

    Unfortunately, Bono’s chorus filled lullaby has been pulled at the moment, so I’ll have to check it out later. Still, I’m familiar enough with his voice to know that he belongs on a list like this, though he wouldn’t have a place on mine.

  2. Clay says:

    Frackin’ YouTube. New clip posted now.

  3. Dana says:

    Well, as I am the reader to which you elude, I will not disappoint in saying that I can’t stand Bono’s voice. And, by the way, I was annoyed by his voice LONG before I was annoyed by his ego. I remember hearing him in the early 80’s and being turned off by his voice.

    In fact, using my previously stated criteria as to whether any song would be better by Bono singing it, or even using your criteria that the songs he does do are made better because of him, I say he fails under either standard.

    Now, I am not suggesting Bono has a technically bad voice–he doesn’t, at least in terms of hitting the notes on key (warbley and nasally, but on key). But the tonal quality of his voice annoys me like few others–the anthemesque over-singing is like nails on a chalk board to me. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

    Did I disappoint?:)

  4. pegclifton says:

    Geez Dana, I’m not sure why you don’t let us know how you feel 🙂 Actually, I happen to really like Bono’s voice and his music. That he takes on world issues just makes him all the more special. So glad he’s on this list. Just saying.

  5. Amy says:

    Okay, I went in search of the simplest song I could find to test Dana’s theory. My theory is that Dana (and I, for that matter) would enjoy Bono’s voice more if he weren’t using it to belt some self-important anthem he’s also penned.

    Of course, the fact that the simple song I found has been tailored as birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela makes it almost worthy of an SNL skit. Still, I think it demonstrates the point. Bono has a damn good voice, whether applying some universal, technical test or the more subjective criteria Clay established at the start of this countdown – namely, the ability to create an emotional connection with the song being performed. Bono certainly does that.

  6. Dana says:

    To me, that clip shows the weakness and range limitations in Bono’s voice when he isn’t compensating for his shortcomings by over-singing. Now, by contrast, please listen to a man with a truly great voice sing the original version:

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