Beach Clips 2006: A History
First, a 16 second clip recorded on the beach outside of Bono's house in France surfaced last week on YouTube (first posted on Interference very early Wednesday morning). This was enough to cause excitement in the fandom. This was proof that U2 really were working on something new. The mere 16 seconds were analyzed and overanalyzed.
Then, at the beginning of this week, U2Exit posted a 9 minute (first posted on Interference Monday afternoon), pieced together clip featuring parts of three different songs, and a very short part of a fourth (which I think was eventually determined to be the song from the YouTube clip). Of course, the fandom exploded further. Every shred of it was scrutinized. The first song has a solo many compared to Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me. The second clip (and longest) was a slow piano ballad, that everyone raised an eyebrow at. The third was a shout-along, happy song, featuring a killer bluesy Edge solo, and was compared to everything from The Beatles to Christian pop. The final song, though only a few seconds long, caused the most stir, when people began saying it was quite similar to Coldplay's Clocks.
Even as the 9 minute clip was being scrutinized, rumours were beginning to fly that U2Achtung, a French fansite, had streamed the full 18 minute clip that the pieces used in the 9 minute clip were taken from. Fans waited, impatiently, and after a full 24 hours before the 18 minute clip made its way into the fans of the Interferencers. But oh boy, when it did, things got fun.
First, the filenames were taken directly from the device they'd been recorded using, and were unaltered: DSCN0400, DSCN0402, DSCN0403, DSCN0404, DSCN0409. The filenames themselves caused a bit of a stir (and not just the obvious "What happened to 401 and 405-408?", and the answer to that one seems to be that those filenames were taken by unrelated/uninteresting clips, and thus not included in the package). There were suggestions that the next U2 album be called "The 400s", and after many people decided that 409 was the best one, pictures of Formula 409 got posted. 404 was also a crowd favourite, and we all know what a 404 error is. So in conclusion, the filenames caused some fun.
Of the clips included, 400 was the song from the original 16 second clip, and 402, 403, and 404 were the three songs snippited in the 9 minute clip. 409 is the one that's so different though. First, the quality is the worst out of all five songs. Personally, I can barely hear it. It also seems to be the least finished of them all, almost more like a jam session. But, it caused a stir, because it seems to be more experimental, and the greater majority compared it to The Arcade Fire. The end of 409 also contains what may be part of another song.
Part Two: Conspiracy Theories
The question on everyone's lips seems to be: Are U2 going to pull a Zooropa?
The band is in a somewhat similar situation to the one they were in in the spring/summer of 1993. They're on an extended break between concert legs, they're out of singles from the initial album, and are working on new material.
I doubt they'll get an album out before the final leg of the tour hits, but they seem to definitely have something up their sleeve. The songs featured in the clips seem very far along. They're certainly not like the Axtung Beibi sessions.
And here's another conspiracy to chew on: While it would seem likely that U2 were physically playing these songs while they were being taped outside, there are a couple of things noticed that make it seem as though these songs have already been recorded (a rough cut anyway), and being played back. Clues such as the volume fluctuating (including a fadeout on 402) in the music, but not in the outside noises (the people talking, the ocean waves), and places where production effects already seem to be added into the music. Just how far along are they?
And if these songs are already recorded (in some form), is Bono simply putting stereo speakers in the windows and cranking up the volume for the benefit of the beachgoers (surely knowing that the music will get recorded and leaked). Is it all PR? Are they stalking fansites to find early opinions on the music?
There have been rumours of a possible single release in September, to help promote the new ZooTV tour, as well as the final leg of the tour. It would make sense if they released something to go with the last leg. The initial singles went with the first leg, COBL went with the summer leg, and OOTS went with the fall/winter leg. If the band does have a new album in the works, I'd hate to see it get rushed out in time for the last tour leg, and turn out subpar. I'd much rather see just a one-off single put out, and then a new album in the new year.
SendFile Zip of the Beach Clips:
In conclusion, Beach Clips have taken over my brain, and I will never sleep again.