Even Better Than the Real Thing

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"Even Better Than the Real Thing"
U2 Even Better Than the Real Thing.png
Single by U2
from the album Achtung Baby
B-side"Salomé"
Released8 June 1992 [1]
Format
Recorded1991
GenreAlternative rock
Length
  • 3:41 (Original Mix)
  • 6:40 (Perfecto Mix)
  • 4:30 (Perfecto Mix Edit)
LabelIsland
Songwriter(s)U2 (music), Bono (lyrics)
Producer(s)Steve Lillywhite with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois
U2 singles chronology
"One"
(1992)
"Even Better Than the Real Thing"
(1992)
"Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"
(1992)
Alternative cover
Remixes single
Remixes single

"Even Better Than the Real Thing" is the second song on U2's 1991 album Achtung Baby. It was released as the album's fourth single on 8 June 1992, and it reached number three in Ireland and Canada while becoming a top-ten hit in Austria, New Zealand and Sweden. A remixed version of the song released the same year peaked at number eight in the United Kingdom and number 10 in Ireland. In 1997, readers of Mojo named the song the 71st-best track of the 1990s.[2]

Writing and recording[edit]

"Even Better Than the Real Thing" originated from a chorus guitar riff that the Edge composed in Los Angeles during the Rattle and Hum sessions.[3][4] A demo of the song, called "The Real Thing," was recorded at STS Studios during the same session in which "Desire" was recorded.[5] The band remarked that the song's guitar riff reminded them of the Rolling Stones, but that it sounded "deeply traditional."[3] Consequently, it was shelved until the Achtung Baby recording sessions, when the band took the multitrack recording of the demo to Hansa Studios in Berlin in late 1990.[5] The band made little progress on the demo there, as the Berlin sessions were fraught with conflict and difficulty in completing songs.[5]

The recording sessions, as well as the general mood, improved after the band returned to Dublin in 1991 to record at the "Elsinore" mansion on the Dalkey coastline.[3] The song turned around after the Edge purchased a DigiTech Whammy pitch shifter pedal, which created a "double octave sweep" on the guitar riff.[3] The band rediscovered their sense of fun and incorporated that into the writing of the song.[5] Producer Brian Eno originally argued against the song's inclusion on the album when it contained the lyric "There ain't nothing like the real thing", claiming the song had to be "more ironic." After the lyric was revised to "Even better than the real thing," Eno changed his stance and supported the song's inclusion.[6] Lead vocalist Bono explained the song's lyrics, as well as why the title was lengthened to "Even Better Than the Real Thing": "It was reflective of the times [the band] were living in, when people were no longer looking for the truth, [they] were all looking for instant gratification."[3] Richard Branson requested to use the song in advertisements for his "Virgin Cola" to compete with Coca-Cola (who had been using the tagline "the real thing" for years), but the band declined.[5]

When the covers to "Even Better Than the Real Thing", "The Fly," "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," and "Mysterious Ways" are arranged, a picture of the band members driving a Trabant is formed.

Chart performance[edit]

The song peaked at number three in Ireland and number 12 in the United Kingdom,[7][8] becoming one of the few U2 singles that failed to reach the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. However, a few months after its initial release, English DJ Paul Oakenfold remixed the track; this version reached a new peak of number eight.[9] Oakenfold later supported U2 on their PopMart Tour.[citation needed]

In the United States, the original version of the song reached number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100,[10] number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart[11] and number five on the Modern Rock Tracks chart,[12] while the remix peaked at number 27 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart[13] and number 35 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart.[14] In Canada it reached number three to became the third consecutive top-five hit from Achtung Baby.[15] Elsewhere, the song reached the top 20 in Australia, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.[16][17]

Music video[edit]

The music video was shot in the Rock Circus, and former Zoo clothes shop located at 32 Carnaby street and Pinewood studios in London, England in February 1992.[18] It featured U2 and their own lookalike band the Doppelgangers for parts of the video. It was directed by Kevin Godley, formerly of 10cc and Godley & Creme, and produced by Iain Brown.[18] It won an MTV Video Music Award in 1992 for Best Special Effects for its unique 360-degree camera rollover rig, designed and built by Simon Tayler of Artem in London specifically for the video.[19] The video also features a snippet of Sega's arcade version of G-LOC: Air Battle.

Live performances[edit]

The song was performed at every date of the band's Zoo TV and PopMart Tours, and was played sporadically on the Elevation Tour. The "Fish Out of Water" remix, later released in the 20th anniversary edition of Achtung Baby, was played as the opening song during the 2011 legs of the U2 360° Tour. This remix would return for performances during the Innocence + Experience Tour.

Track listings[edit]

7": Island (IS525) and cassette: Island (CIS515)
No.TitleLength
1."Even Better Than the Real Thing"3:41
2."Salomé"4:32
12" maxi: Island (12IS515) and CD maxi: Island (CID525)
No.TitleLength
1."Even Better Than the Real Thing"3:41
2."Salomé"4:32
3."Where Did It All Go Wrong?"3:57
4."Lady with the Spinning Head" (Extended dance remix)6:08
CD maxi: Island C REAL 2 and cassette: Island (422-862 281-4)
No.TitleLength
1."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Perfecto mix)6:41
2."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Sexy dub mix)7:18
3."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Apollo 440 Stealth Sonic remix)6:42
4."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (V16 Exit Wound remix)3:19
5."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Apollo 440 vs U2 instrumental)6:27
12" maxi: Island REAL U2
No.TitleLength
1."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Perfecto mix)6:37
2."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Trance mix)6:47
3."Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Sexy dub mix)7:14

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Covers[edit]

In his Jacques Lu Cont guise, Stuart Price reworked the song for the 2011 tribute album AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered. "The original multitracks gave me an insight into how U2 worked," he remarked, "but I couldn't be too precious about the track."[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sams, Aaron; Kantas, Harry. "U2 – "Even Better Than the Real Thing" Single". U2songs.com. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Mojo Readership Top 100 Tracks of the '90's". Mojo (40). March 1997.
  3. ^ a b c d e McCormick, Neil (ed), (2006). U2 by U2. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-719668-7. p. 225.
  4. ^ Graham, Bill; van Oosten de Boer (2004). U2: The Complete Guide to their Music. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9886-8.
  5. ^ a b c d e Stokes, Niall (2005). U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song. Thunder Mouth's Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 1-56025-765-2.
  6. ^ Gill, Andy (June 1995). "Brian Eno". Mojo. (subscription required)
  7. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Ever Better Than the Real Thing". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  10. ^ a b "U2 Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  11. ^ a b "U2 Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b "U2 Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  13. ^ a b "U2 Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  14. ^ a b Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved 16 January 2009)
  15. ^ a b "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1930." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  18. ^ a b The Best of 1990-2000 (DVD). U2. Universal Music Publishing BV. 2002.CS1 maint: others (link)
  19. ^ "Artem Homepage".
  20. ^ "Austriancharts.at – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Lescharts.com – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – U2 – Even Better Than the Real Thing". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  24. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 29, 1992" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  26. ^ "Charts.nz – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  27. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Swisscharts.com – U2 – Ever Better Than the Real Thing". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  29. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Ever Better Than the Real Thing". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  30. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1992 (61–100) (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 152)". Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  31. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1992" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 56 no. 25. December 19, 1992. p. 8. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  32. ^ "What's On Your Free CD?", Q, December 2011, pp6–7

External links[edit]