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POP (1997)
Pop - Click to view! If you want a summary of Pop, take a close look at the cover. Everything is gray except for the faces of the band members which are outlined with bold colors and shadowed with black. Although the bold colors attempt to add a more pleasant and appealing touch to the cover, they instead portray what Pop is about: frustration.

U2's frustration is directed towards God, a common thing for people who feel like they're in a dead end. And when you feel this way, your initial reaction is to shift the blame from yourself and onto someone else. Often, that "someone else" is God. "Why does uncertainty abound? Why does pain fill my life? Why doesn't God make life happy?" Though the answer may be right in front of you, it is difficult to believe in these situations.

Throughout Pop U2 attempts to ignore this predicament by searching for salvation in other areas. "Do You Feel Loved" attempts salvation through love (sex); "Last Night on Earth" suggests that salvation can be found in oneself; "Miami" samples the life of a celebrity; "The Playboy Mansion" indicates that there is no shame, sorrow, or pain in that mansion. Yet, none of these things succeed. Behind the glamorization, behind the makeup, and behind the temporary satisfaction is the nagging fact that something is missing.

Other songs demonstrate that U2 realizes that these "salvatory" things are less than satisfactory. Though "Mofo" is "lookin' for to fill that God shaped hole", "If God Will Send His Angels" mournfully states that God has His "phone" off the hook. Yet, God is there, and "Staring at the Sun" doesn't want God to discover the rottenness inside. "Please" defies Christians, who are viewed as hypocritical: they can offer no hope to people searching for truth. But even this wears off, and U2 is left broken and shattered. As one final desperate plea, they call on God to reveal Himself in "Wake Up Dead Man". Though they know that there is nothing else to turn to, U2 is defiant to the last, unwilling to give in.

For U2 fans this album leaves questions unanswered. Are they falling away from the Christianity they professed in the 1980's? Have they been corrupted by fame? The answers can only be found on their next album. Until then, Pop serves as a reminder of the joylessness of life without God. As Bono said, the world is a messed up place when Jesus is simply a dead man. But if you recognize Him as Lord and Savior, you're looking at a whole new landscape. And that should be our prayer: that the eyes of U2 would be opened, and instead of looking to save themselves, they would proclaim Jesus as their Master.
- Jason Ewert
September 2001
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