Lemon (U2 song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Single by U2
from the album Zooropa
ReleasedSeptember 1993
RecordedMarch–May 1993
GenreDisco, alternative rock
  • 4:39 (edit)
  • 6:58 (album version)
U2 singles chronology
"Stay (Faraway, So Close!)"
Music video
"Lemon" on YouTube

"Lemon" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the fourth track on their eighth album, Zooropa (1993), and was released as its second single in September 1993. Inspired by old video footage of lead vocalist Bono's late mother, the lyrics describe an attempt to preserve memory through film. More than any previous U2 song, "Lemon" showcases Bono's falsetto vocal range, aided by atmospheric backing vocals from the Edge and Brian Eno. At almost seven minutes, it is among the band's longest songs.

The single and promo releases were complete with different dance remixes, as well as a shortened edit of the title track. The "Perfecto Mix" by Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne was used on the PopMart Tour, being played as the band walked out of their Spinal Tap-like rock prop, a 40-foot mirrorball lemon, onto the B-stage for an encore, and was later reworked into "Skin on Skin" by Oakenfold's band Grace.

Recording and composition[edit]

"Lemon" was written late during the Zooropa sessions between March–May 1993 during the band's break in the Zoo TV Tour.[1] Guitarist the Edge said the song originated from something he "worked up with a drum machine and bass, very rhythmic." He explained that he found it difficult to compose a guitar part to the song until he utilized an "unusual gated guitar effect which worked with the rhythm."[1]

Lead vocalist Bono wrote the lyrics with his late mother in mind. He explains that it was a "strange experience to receive, in the post, from a very distant relative, early Super 8 footage of my mother, aged 24, younger than me, playing a game of rounders in slow motion."[1] The footage showed Bono's mother at a wedding as the maid of honour, wearing a lemon-coloured dress.[1] The film footage inspired Bono to write lyrics about using film to recreate and preserve memory.

Live performances[edit]

The song was played live at 10 different Zoo TV Tour shows in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, during the show's encore. During each performance, Bono would perform the song dressed as Zoo TV character "MacPhisto," a former cabaret performer with devilish horns. Each performance was immediately followed by the band's "With or Without You".[2] As with most of Zooropa’s material, "Lemon" has never been performed live by U2 since the close of the Zoo TV tour.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic called the song a wonderful moment from the album, describing it as "space-age German disco".[4] Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "Jittery, danceable moment from the yummy Zooropa collection is yet another step away from standard U2 fare. This time, Bono dabbles in sunny pop/soul, wrapping a luscious falsetto around an infectious hook and funk-fortified rhythm base. In its original form, track will be a joy for top 40 programmers. Inspired remixes by Robbie Adams and David Morales will open doors at crossover radio and in clubs."[5] Troy J. Augusto from Cashbox named "Lemon" Pick of the Week, stating that here, the band "continues to push the envelope, adding yet another style twist to its catalog." He added, "Bouncy and quite danceable cut, which follows the desensitizing "Numb" single, starts with a funky groove and augments with powerful and fun vocals from Bono and one of the strongest hooks the band has unleashed in quite some time."[6]

Peter Paphides from Melody Maker wrote, "Similar in sentiment to "Mysterious Ways", yet as otherwordly as U2 have ever dared to be, "Lemon" sounds like it was recorded in a padded cell, saturating the senses like some abstract European road movie. When Bono sings, "Midnight is where the day begins", over a harsh electronic funk groove, you're struck by images of a semi-mythical Europe, of speeding past neon-lit landscapes on deserted Autobahns."[7] Alan Jones from Music Week noted that it finds the singer "adopting a Jagger-like falsetto over a bouncy but sparse track that could lend itself to a dance remix."[8] Stephen Dalton from NME felt Bono's falsetto croon on the "sleek disco cruiser" slips "from Bowie parody into understated New Order melancholy."[9] Parry Gettelman from Orlando Sentinel viewed it as a "fast number" and "strictly for the polite Eurodisco crowd."[10]

Music video[edit]

The accompanying music video for "Lemon", directed by Mark Neale, was filmed in black and white with a grid-like background as a tribute to Eadweard Muybridge.[11] Muybridge was a photographer who was the first person to successfully capture fast motion on film, using his device, coincidentally named the Zoopraxiscope, a reference to the lyrics ("A man makes a picture – a moving picture/Through light projected he can see himself up close"). The video primarily features a sequence of clips of the band members playing their instruments and performing a series of distinct actions, with captions for each one (e.g. "man walking up incline", "man running", "man playing pool"). In the background of the video, a pendulum can be seen swinging, a clock can be seen ticking, as well as dollars falling from the sky, various scientific objects (DNA, satellite feeds, etc.), and a cross. All of these symbols seem to be representing man's attempt to preserve time, via money ("He turns his money into light to look for her"), religion, or technology. The video also featured Bono dressed as both "The Fly" and "MacPhisto".

Track listings[edit]

  1. "Lemon" (Bad Yard Club Mix) – 8:47
  2. "Lemon" (Momo Beats) – 4:34
  3. "Lemon" (Version Dub) – 6:46
  4. "Lemon" (Serious Def Dub) – 6:42
  1. "Lemon" (Edit) – 4:42
  2. "Lemon" (Oakenfold Jeep Mix) – 5:32
  3. "Lemon" (Album Version) – 6:58
  4. "Lemon" (Morales BYC Version Dub) – 6:36


Note: The "Bad Yard Club Mix" has differing durations depending on the release. The original version is well over 10 minutes long,[15] and an edited version that fades out around the 8 minute mark exists on some releases. Also, the "Version Dub" remix is titled differently on certain releases, such as "BYC Version Dub" or "Morales BYC Version Dub", but these are all the same.

Charts and certifications[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d McCormick (2006), p. 248.
  2. ^ "U2 Melbourne, 1993-11-12, Cricket Ground, ZOO TV Tour - U2 on tour". Retrieved 2006-12-20.
  3. ^ ‘Lemon’ by U2 Concert statistics
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "U2 – Zooropa". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  5. ^ Flick, Larry (25 September 1993). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 73. Retrieved 27 October 2020.
  6. ^ Augusto, Troy J. (2 October 1993). "Pop Singles: Reviews - Pick Of The Week" (PDF). Cashbox. p. 13. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  7. ^ Paphides, Peter (3 July 1993). "Albums". Melody Maker. p. 28. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  8. ^ Jones, Alan (3 July 1993). "Market Preview: Mainstream - Albums - Pick of the Week" (PDF). Music Week. p. 23. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  9. ^ Dalton, Stephen (3 July 1993). "Long Play". NME. p. 32. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  10. ^ Gettelman, Parry (23 July 1993). "U2". Orlando Sentinel.
  11. ^ "U2faqs.com - Videography FAQ". Archived from the original on 2012-09-21. Retrieved 2006-12-20.
  12. ^ "U2 – Lemon Remixes (1993, Vinyl)".
  13. ^ "U2 – Lemon (1993, CD)".
  14. ^ "U2 – Lemon (1993, CD)".
  15. ^ "U2 – Lemon (Remixes) (1993, Yellow, Transparent, Vinyl)".
  16. ^ "U2 – Lemon". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  17. ^ "U2 – Lemon" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2305." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 2379." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (16.09.1993 – 23.09.1993)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir – Tónlist. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e Dischi (in Italian). Retrieved 28 May 2022. Set "Tipo" on "Singoli". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "U2".
  22. ^ "U2 – Lemon". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Dance Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 20 November 1993. p. 24. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  24. ^ "RM Club Chart Number Ones Of 93" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental insert). 25 December 1993. p. 3. Retrieved 8 May 2023.
  25. ^ "U2 Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  26. ^ "U2 Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  27. ^ "U2 Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  28. ^ "U2 Chart History (Dance Singles Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  29. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 292.
  30. ^ "Árslistinn 1993". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 4 January 1994. p. 16. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  31. ^ "The RM Club Chart 93" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental insert). 25 December 1993. p. 4. Retrieved 3 February 2023.
  32. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – U2 – Lemon". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 16 November 2019.