Even though U2 is one of the biggest bands in the world and has been since the 1980s, Bono is surprisingly polarizing. His fans point to the charitable work he’s done, while his detractors say that just makes him smug. But over the recent Bono girly comment he made to Rolling Stone, people are pretty much coming together in unison to ask, “WTF, Bono?”
To promote the new U2 album, Songs of Experience, Bono sat down with the openly gay Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. The two talked about U2’s career, political action and an unnamed health issue Bono says almost killed him. But Bono got into trouble when the conversation turned to modern music.
Wenner asked how Bono discovers new music (through his children was his response). His daughter Eve is into hip-hop, while his son Elijah is more into rock. Bono says:
Elijah is in a band, and he has got very strong feelings about music, but he doesn’t make any distinction between, let’s say, the Who and the Killers. Or, you know, Nirvana and Royal Blood. It is not generational for him. It is the sound and what he is experiencing. He believes that a rock & roll revolution is around the corner.
The Bono girly comment
When Wenner asks if Bono agrees with his son, he says:
I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment — and that’s not good. When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me. You need to find a place for it and for guitars, whether it is with a drum machine — I don’t care. The moment something becomes preserved, it is fucking over. You might as well put it in formaldehyde. In the end, what is rock & roll? Rage is at the heart of it. Some great rock & roll tends to have that, which is why the Who were such a great band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that rage.
In the original interview, this comment comes a little past halfway in an article that’s over 9,000 words long. Neither really come back to it — and it would have been easy to miss. But in 2017 — almost 2018 — his words come off as tone deaf.
It sounds as if Bono is denigrating women’s contributions to rock music. It’s like he thinks rock is primarily by and for men — and with guitars, preferably. And is Bono seriously implying that women don’t have rage?! Has he been paying attention? At all?
Besides, if women like St. Vincent are making rock that’s “very girly,” then let us go on record as saying rock needs to be more girly.
You’d think Glamour Magazine’s first male Woman of the Year would realize that.
Featured image by Niall Carson/PA Wire