U2: Never Stop Never Stopping

In talking about classic rock revival and continuation, I often find myself drawn back to the amusing film title from 2016, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. This was basically a pop star mockumentary featuring the spoof band The Lonely Island, and while it looked like slapstick nonsense that could easily be dismissed, it was actually quite funny. It was reviewed rather positively, and while comparisons to This Is Spinal Tap probably went a little bit too far, I’d actually recommend watching it, particularly if you can already see the funny side of the modern pop industry.

But, I digress. The point here is the title. “Never stop never stopping” is a nonsensical phrase, but one that somehow perfectly encapsulates the idea of bands that refuse to quit – that keep coming back, time and time again, with new material that will invariably be called either “disappointing,” or “interesting but not quite as good as the old stuff.” We’re seeing it lately with some classic and heavy metal bands.

What bands are good examples?

Guns N’ Roses is probably the primary example. Back in 2016, the band sort of came back out of nowhere, first appearing via licensed material in an online game. Designed by NetEnt, it was a fairly traditional slot arcade, but one featuring some of their greatest hits and generally paying tribute to their style and history. The game probably should have set off alarm bells that a comeback was in the works – but many were still shocked when GNR took the stage at Coachella later that year, and subsequently launched a massive tour and started promising new material. Hey guys, never stop never stopping!

Metallica, too, has made a comeback that will thrill some of the same sorts of fans who have enjoyed the GNR resurgence. In 2016, the group came out with its first album in eight years (the ridiculously titled “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct”), and perhaps its most noteworthy one since 2003’s “St. Anger.” As hinted at above, the reception was basically mediocre, with the prevailing suggestion being that it was fine, but not as good as the old stuff. But, hey guys, never stop never stopping!

What 90’s bands have also made a comeback?

We’ve even seen a number of ‘90s rock bands never stopping to never stop of late. The Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind have been on tour in the U.S., and Foo Fighers just put out a new album called “Concrete and Gold” (and somewhat mysteriously opened a pub in London to celebrate the release).

If it sounds a little bit like I’m mocking these bands, I certainly don’t mean to. There’s of course something a little bit amusing about the phrase I’m turning to, as well as the idea of an aging rock band hanging on long after its prime. But there’s also something courageous about it, and it’s undoubtedly a lot of fun for millions of devoted fans. And this brings us to U2 – perhaps the most widely popular group of any discussed here, and assuredly the ultimate band that will never stop never stopping.

Throughout 2017, U2 has been on a Joshua Tree Tour, celebrating its iconic 1987 album of the same name and presumably playing through most of it during live shows. The tour has reached venues in North America, Europe, and Latin America, and has been one of the band’s more publicized tours in recent memory. It’s also served to keep U2 in music fans’ minds ahead of what’s looking increasingly like a December album release.

Yes, if you haven’t heard yet, U2 will be releasing a new album titled “Songs of Expereince,” possibly on December 1st. This would coincide with World AIDE Day, and would allow the band to partner with Bono’s famous AIDS-related charity RED for the release. For my money, the new single from the coming album, “You’re The Best Thing About Me,” may be the best track U2 has released in 5 years, so here’s hoping this is a noteworthy album from the Irish rockers.

Guys – never stop never stopping.