1993 – U2 started a two-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with ‘Zooropa’ the Irish bands fourth US No.1. Zooropa won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1994.
“Subtle” has rarely been a word used to describe U2. But on July 5th, 1993, the band released Zooropa, a surprise EP-turned-LP that traded bombastic declarations and stadium-ready riffs for introspective lyrics and moody electric grooves. Zooropa went to Number One and was initially a critical success, but these days, it’s often overlooked. Neither an obvious highlight nor a clear misstep in the band’s discography, Zooropa is something weirder – a very good, occasionally great and unusually consistent U2 record with no top-tier singles. Maybe because of that last fact, along with the awkward Pop years that followed, the band seems to view the album as a strange detour. Bono would later refer to Zooropa as part of their “art rock phase”; in the band’s autobiography, U2 by U2, Adam Clayton calls it “an odd record” but also one of his favorites.
Yet the music has aged well. The band took genuine leaps in songwriting by embracing more of the electronic music playing in clubs and entering the mainstream. If Achtung Baby was Bono’s biblical vision of a discotheque at the end of the world, Zooropa is just a solid collection of songs to play alongside tracks by the Prodigy, Aphex Twin and the Orb. “It has captured the moment, for me at any rate,” the Edge told Pulse! a few months after the album came out. “Of all our records it probably is the most vital and current. It’s like a Polaroid of what was happening to us and what was happening around Europe at that time.”