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Best U2 Songs: 13 of Their Greatest Anthems, Ranked

From 'With or Without You' to 'Mysterious Ways' find out which anthems mad our list!

U2, one of the most iconic rock bands of all time, has left a mark on the music industry with their memorable songs, anthemic sound and socially conscious lyrics. Formed in Dublin, Ireland, in 1976, the band consists of lead vocalist Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton, and drummer Larry Mullen Jr.

Over the years, they have evolved their sound, experimented with various genres, and garnered a massive global fanbase. U2 has not only stood the test of time but has continued to shape the landscape of rock music.

We ranked our 13 best U2 songs—see if you agree with us.

13. ‘With or Without You’ (1987) Best U2 songs

Written by Bono, ‘With or Without You’ is a haunting ballad that explores the complexities of love and desire. The song was a massive success, topping charts worldwide and earning U2 their first Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Rock Duo or Group with Vocal.

The atmospheric guitar work by The Edge and Bono’s emotive vocals make this track an enduring classic. It appeared on ‘The Joshua Tree’ album.

12. ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ (1987)

Co-written by the entire band, ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ is an anthemic piece that captures the spirit of hope and transcendence. The song’s uplifting melody, coupled with The Edge’s iconic guitar riff, contributed to its success. Interestingly, U2 shot the music video for this song on the rooftop of a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles, reminiscent of The Beatles’ famous rooftop performance.

11. ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ (1984) Best U2 songs:

From the album ‘The Unforgettable Fire’, the song ‘Pride (In the Name of Love)’ is a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. The song’s driving beat and anthemic chorus made it a commercial success. “Pride” remains one of U2’s most iconic tracks, often performed in their live shows, and it has become a symbol of the band’s commitment to social justice.

10. ‘All I Want is You’ (1989)

A fan favorite, ‘All I Want Is’ You appeared in the soundtrack of the 1994 movie Reality Bites. It was a hit in the UK, Australia, Canada and the U.S. From the ‘Rattle and Hum’ album, this song is played at almost every concert since its release.

9. ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ (1983) Best U2 songs

‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ is a powerful protest song written by U2, addressing the violence in Northern Ireland. The song’s driving rhythm and passionate lyrics became a symbol of resistance. Despite its serious subject matter, the track manages to be both anthemic and deeply moving. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” remains a staple in U2’s live performances, showcasing the band’s commitment to social justice. It appeared on the ‘War’ album.

8. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ (1987)

From ‘The Joshua Tree’ album, this gospel-inspired track explores themes of spiritual longing and the search for meaning. The song’s soulful melody, coupled with Bono’s soul-stirring vocals, contributed to its success. ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ earned U2 another Grammy Award, solidifying its place as one of their most beloved songs.

7. ‘One’ (1991) Best U2 songs

Co-written by the band, ‘One’ is a poignant ballad that addresses themes of reconciliation and unity. The song’s raw emotion and stripped-down musical arrangement set it apart from U2’s earlier work. ‘One’ received critical acclaim and won a Grammy, further establishing U2’s ability to evolve their sound while maintaining their artistic integrity. It appeared on the ‘Achtung Baby’ album.

6. ‘Beautiful Day’ (2000)

‘Beautiful Day’ is from the album ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind.’ It’s an uplifting anthem that celebrates resilience and optimism. The song’s infectious melody, combined with Bono’s hopeful lyrics, resonated with audiences worldwide. ‘Beautiful Day’ won three Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year, underscoring its impact on both critics and fans.

5. ‘New Year’s Day’ (1983) Best U2 songs

The song ‘New Year’s Day” is a politically charged song inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement. The track’s combination of poignant lyrics and melodic instrumentation showcased U2’s ability to address social issues through their music. ‘New Year’s Day’ remains a fan favorite and a testament to the band’s commitment to using their platform for meaningful storytelling. The song appeared on the ‘War’ album.

4. ‘Mysterious Ways’ (1991)

From the ‘Achtung Baby’ album, ‘Mysterious Ways’ is a funky and experimental track that marked a departure from U2’s earlier sound. The song’s unique blend of rock and dance elements contributed to its success. ‘Mysterious Ways’ won a Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Rock Duo or Group with Vocal, highlighting U2’s versatility in exploring different musical genres.

3. ‘Bad’ (1984) Best U2 songs

From ‘The Unforgettable Fire’ album, the song ‘Bad’ is a powerful and introspective track that explores themes of addiction and redemption. The song’s atmospheric instrumentation and Bono’s emotive vocals create a haunting and unforgettable listening experience. While ‘Bad’ may not have achieved the commercial success of some other U2 hits, it has become a fan favorite and a testament to the band’s ability to tackle complex subjects in their music.

2. ‘Desire’ (1988)

From the album ‘Rattle and Hum’ the song ‘Desire’, is bluesy and energetic. It pays homage to American roots music. The song’s catchy melody and Bono’s charismatic vocals contributed to its success. ‘Desire’ won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, showcasing U2’s ability to infuse their music with diverse influences.

1.  ‘Angel of Harlem’ (1988) Best U2 songs

The song ‘Angel of Harlem’ is a homage to the legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday. The song’s soulful and upbeat sound, combined with Bono’s heartfelt lyrics, pays tribute to the rich musical history of Harlem. While ‘Angel of Harlem’ may not be as well-known as some of U2’s other hits, its musical diversity and homage to iconic figures make it a standout track in their repertoire.

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