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U2 - Sunday Bloody Sunday (1983)

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  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.25
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the opening track from their 1983 album War and was released as ...

"Sunday Bloody Sunday" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the opening track from their 1983 album War and was released as the album's third single on 21 March 1983 in the Netherlands and West Germany. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is noted for its militaristic drumbeat, harsh guitar, and melodic harmonies. One of U2's most overtly political songs, its lyrics describe the horror felt by an observer of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, mainly focusing on the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters. Along with "New Year's Day," the song helped U2 reach a wider listening audience. It was generally well received by critics on the album's release.

The song has remained a staple of U2's live concerts. During its earliest performances, the song created controversy. Lead singer Bono reasserted the song's anti-sectarian-violence message to his audience for many years. Today, it is considered one of U2's signature songs, and is one of the band's most performed tracks. Critics rate it among the best political protest songs, and it has been covered by over a dozen artists. It was named the 272nd-greatest song by Rolling Stone on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

Music video

This performance in June 1983 from the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks was later released as the song's music video.

Although a promotional music video had not been produced for the original release, the band used footage from a 5 June 1983 live performance filmed for the concert film U2 Live at Red Rocks: Under a Blood Red Sky to promote the song. Directed by Gavin Taylor, the video displays Bono's use of a white flag during performances of the song. The video highlights the intensity and emotion felt by many audience members during U2's concerts, while the rainy, torch-lit setting in Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre further adds to the atmosphere. In 2004, Rolling Stone cited the performance as one "50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock and Roll" and noted that "the sight of Bono singing the anti-violence anthem 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' while waving a white flag through crimson mist (created by a combination of wet weather, hot lights and the illumination of those crags) became the defining image of U2's warrior-rock spirit and—shown in heavy rotation on MTV—broke the band nationwide."

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