Boy (Average song ranking: 94.8)
33. I Will Follow
49. The Electric Co.
88. An Cat Dubh / Into The Heart
93. Out Of Control
98. Stories For Boys
104. Shadows And Tall Trees
105. A Day Without Me
117. Another Time, Another Place
150. The Ocean
It makes sense that U2's first album would be so relatively poorly represented, with its highest-ranking song "only" at #33. But on the flip side, issuing your #33rd-best song right out of the gate is not too shabby.
October (Average song ranking: 107.6)
89. I Threw A Brick Through A Window
125. Stranger In A Strange Land
132. I Fall Down
140. Is That All?
152. With A Shout
October is widely considered U2's weakest outing. That sentiment is not contradicted here.
War (Average song ranking: 90.9)
6. Sunday Bloody Sunday
25. New Year's Day
96. Like A Song...
110. Drowning Man
128. Red Light
155. Two Hearts Beat As One
156. The Refugee
War, on the other hand, is widely considered U2's breakout album, and with a #6 and #25 ranking in there it shows nicely, if not as well as I may have guessed when starting out. It also points out the limits of this exercise of looking at albums - while War holds up very well as a cohesive album, some if its songs sound very dated today, to me at least. These rankings are meant to look at the songs apart from the albums they come from, so when you smash them back together like I am doing here, it's not an entirely fair view.
Unforgettable Fire (Average song ranking: 82.4)
8. Pride (In The Name Of Love)
40. The Unforgettable Fire
81. A Sort Of Homecoming
99. Indian Summer Sky
158. 4th Of July
160. Elvis Presley and America
Such an odd album. Two top ten songs, and two in the bottom three. That is some goofy range going on. It also points up the value and risk in experimenting. "Bad" is an experiment that wildly succeeded. "Elvis Presley and America" is one that did not.
Joshua Tree (Average song ranking: 43.0)
1. Where The Streets Have No Name
19. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
28. Bullet the Blue Sky
29. With or Without You
30. Red Hill Mining Town
36. Running To Stand Still
37. One Tree Hill
57. In God's Country
80. Mothers Of The Disappeared
113. I Trip Through Your Wires
The Joshua Tree is still my favorite U2 album. But what this exercise forces me to admit is that a good portion of that is nostalgia. As remarkable an album as it is, I have to really look at whether I place it too high given that it was the album I fell in love with the band on. Still, it is the only album with eight songs in the top fifty. That counts for something.
Rattle & Hum (Average song ranking: 80.8)
13. All I Want Is You
47. Love Rescue Me
67. Angel of Harlem
76. Van Diemen's Land
79. When Love Comes To Town
91. Silver And Gold
107. Hawkmoon 269
123. God Part II
A solid enough showing for an odd melange of an album. And of course there are several covers and live cuts here that do not get ranked.
Achtung Baby (Average song ranking: 40.6)
9. Love Is Blindness
22. The Fly
32. Until The End Of The World
35. Mysterious Ways
39. Zoo Station
41. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses
51. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)
65. Even Better Than The Real Thing
78. So Cruel
106. Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around The World
And we tie the record, with Tehran eight songs in the top fifty. Also - three songs in the top ten, and only one out of the top 100 (and barely at that)? This is likely my real favorite U2 album.
Zooropa (Average song ranking: 94.1)
20. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
52. The Wanderer
60. The First Time
122. Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car
124. Some Days Are Better Than Others
130. Dirty Day
This is another example of an album that works much better as an album than if you examine the songs apart from the whole.
Pop (Average song ranking: 81.8)
24. Wake Up Dead Man
74. Do You Feel Loved
85. Staring At The Sun
94. If God Will Send His Angels
112. Last Night On Earth
131. If You Wear That Velvet Dress
154. The Playboy Mansion
I really thought I liked Pop more than the numbers suggest I do.
All That You Can't Leave Behind (Average song ranking: 48.1)
3. Walk On
7. Beautiful Day
21. When I Look At The World
31. Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of
48. In A Little While
82. New York
100. Peace On Earth
119. Wild Honey
U2's "comeback" album shows very strongly - four songs in the top twenty-five.
How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (Average song ranking: 64.5)
14. City of Blinding Lights
45. Original Of The Species
46. All Because Of You
53. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own
59. Love And Peace Or Else
63. One Step Closer
97. Miracle Drug
118. Crumbs From Your Table
129. A Man And A Woman
This is an album that has fallen some in my estimation since its release.
No Line on the Horizon (Average song ranking: 49.9)
12. Moment of Surrender
26. No Line on the Horizon
27. Unknown Caller
50. I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
56. White as Snow
68. Get On Your Boots
72. Cedars of Lebanon
84. Stand-Up Comedy
102. FEZ-Being Born
A pretty strong showing for one of my favorite U2 albums, with six top-fifty songs.
And after all this analysis, how would I rate the U2 albums? Pretty close to those averages, but with Zooropa and HTDAAB big outliers.
1. Achtung Baby (40.6)
2. The Joshua Tree (43.0)
3. No Line on the Horizon (49.9)
4. All That You Can't Leave Behind (48.1)
5. Pop (81.8)
6. Zooropa (94.1)
7. How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (64.5)
8. Rattle & Hum (80.8)
9. The Unforgettable Fire (82.4)
10. War (90.9)
11. Boy (94.8)
12. October (107.6)