"Better by design"
Zooropa is one of the few U2 studio albums that I can listen to all the way through without it making me want to throw my stereo out of the window. Sure, I like a few of their singles, but for me U2 wear thin very quickly at album length.
Thankfully Zooropa is the least U2 sounding album that U2 have ever put out, which probably explains why I am more inclined to listen to it than any of their other albums. Following hot on the heels of the artistic rebirth that was Achtung Baby (which admittedly is one of the other albums of theres I don’t mind), Zooropa is in many ways Achtung Baby Pt 2, just a little more rough and ready. A little more playful and fun if you like.
For reasons I’ve never been able to put my finger on, I’ve always been fond of both “Numb” and “Lemon”, which is unusual for me, because if you had tried to explain them to me I wouldn’t have been remotely interested. I also have a fondness for the two most ‘normal’ tracks on Zooropa, “Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car” and “Some Days Are Better Than Others”, though quite why Johnny Cash felt the need to drag himself down to U2’s level is a bit of a mystery. Sure, “The Wanderer” isn’t an out and out awful tune, but it has always seemed a little contrived than is necessary to me.
Perhaps the secret to Zooropa’s success is that U2 didn’t over-think it. Originally intended to be a single, then an EP, the fact that this album happened organically without any grand game plan meant Zooropa is one of the most spontaneous albums by any stadium rock band ever. 25 years after the event and Zooropa is still the sound of U2 taking a break from their stadium-packing USA-pleasing antics and actually having fun, and it’s all the better for it. Sure, U2 may have considered Zooropa to be a relatively disposable and throw-away album, but it’s also one of the best things one of the biggest bands in the world has ever done.