Released November 18, 1991.

U2 has formally announced their big Las Vegas residency at the new MSG Sphere this fall, and the show will focus on their seminal 1991 album Achtung Baby. 

A few years back U2 hit the road to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their landmark album The Joshua Tree, and it’s only appropriate that they give a special look back on an album and subsequent tour that I would argue was more important in the band’s career than The Joshua Tree.

While The Joshua Tree cemented U2 as the biggest band in the world, it also set them up for disappointment with the eventual follow up album. U2 was painfully aware of this, and after two-plus years of touring they made the decision to set up shop at the legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin, where David Bowie famously recorded his Berlin Trilogy of albums that saw him at a creative zenith.

Working again with long-time collaborators Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite, U2 embraced the shifting musical landscape of the early ’90s and reinvented their sound for a new era. Following the creative and commercial success of The Joshua Tree was always going to be a challenge, and the band came through in flying colors with a collection of songs that defied expectations, explored new sounds, and set the band on a journey that would become the Zoo TV Tour – blazing a concert trail across the globe.

Here we rank the dozen songs on Achtung Baby. Enjoy!

  • 12. Love is Blindness

    The closing track on the album is sonically a sparse, longing song that actually is a bit of a come-down after the overall jolt of the eleven preceding tracks.

  • 11. So Cruel

    Another mid-tempo song, I really dig the Edge’s piano but it’s a lack of tempo that keeps it low on the list for me.

  • 10. Acrobat

    The ever-increasing intensity and sonic blanket from the Edge wraps me up nicely. It’s almost a little reminiscent of “Drowning Man” off of War. Don’t let the bastards drag you down, indeed.

  • 9. Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around the World

    I love the lo-fi sound that kicks off this one. There’s something understated and hypnotic about this song.

  • 8. Ultraviolet (Light My Way)

    The intro, the Edge’s pulsing guitar, the soaring melody, the “baby baby baby’s” make this a top song and frankly should probably be ranked hire!

  • 7. Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses

    This song I put on par with Ultraviolet, in fact these two songs could probably swap places and I’d be fine with that. The album version, incidentally, is definitely better than the single as it better captures the haunting vibe of the tune.

     

  • 6. Mysterious Ways

    A stellar riff from the Edge kicks things into gear on Mysterious Ways, one of the poppier tunes on the album.

  • 5. The Fly

    The Fly was the first official single from Achtung Baby, and it was a total shock to everyone. The guitar, the compressed vocals, the soaring chorus, The Edge’s next level solo – all so damn good!

  • 4. One

    A wedding standard now since 1991, this is pretty much a perfect ballad from U2 which captures the differences that can make a couple whole. The boys in the band look great in drag too!

     

  • 3. Until the End of the World

    “In my dreams I was drowning in sorrows, but my sorrows they learned to swim.” Lyrically one of my favorite U2 songs.

  • 2. Even Better Than the Real Thing

    I love the energy in this song, simply more peak U2.

  • 1. Zoo Station

    This was the opening track on Achtung Baby, and like “The Fly”, it immediately announced that U2’s return was going to challenge and defy expectations. This was a sound, a vibe that embraced the time and was a drastic departure for a band that was looking to reinvent themselves for a new decade.

     

    U2: Their 50 Best Songs, Ranked

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