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Monday, May 2, 2011

U2 "Two Hearts Beat As One" Song Analysis

Reader David Pigman had a number of requests for song analysis, but one was particularly interesting and that's U2's "Two Hearts Beat As One." This was the 2nd single from the bands massive breakthrough album War that became an international hit and pushed the band to stardom. As with all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Two Hearts Beat As One" has an unconventional form, as do a lot of U2's songs, and looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, B Section, Chorus, Interlude, Verse, Chorus, Interlude, B section

What's interesting is that most songs use the B section as sort of a bridge between the verse and chorus, but this one has the B section coming after the chorus, and then uses it as an out-chorus as well. Interesting.

The Arrangement
U2 normally has some interesting arrangements, but this one is pretty straight ahead. For the most part they stay within the power trio format of guitar, bass and drums, but add just enough extra elements to keep it interesting. In this case it's the use of Edge's harmonics in the chorus against his quarter note chunks. Both compliment each other well.

  * The Foundation - Bass and drums, although Adam Clayton's bass pushes the song.

  * The Pad - Edge's guitar harmonics during the chorus, but they're not played like a traditional pad.

  * The Rhythm - Larry Mullen's disco high-hat during the verse.

  * The Lead - Bono's lead vocal.

  * The Fills - The background vocals against the lead in the chorus.

The Sound
A number of things jump out about the sound. The first thing is how little low end there is on this record. Second is the short room sound on the drums, especially the snare. It almost sounds like a double. Third is the amount of reverb on the lead vocal, which is a lot. The top end is rolled off so it doesn't get in the way, and it's slightly delayed, but there's a lot of it and it's pretty long.

The Production
Steve Lillywhite does a good job here just capturing the feel of the band yet not getting too heavy handed with sweetening and layers. There are a few, but not many. Plus the energy of a live U2 show is captured, which is the ultimate goal of every producer in the first place.

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