"The Fly" '91
Directed by Richie Smyth & Jon Klein
Music: The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr.; Lyrics: Bono
"The Fly" Single by U2 from the album Achtung Baby
Released: 12 October 1991
"The Fly" is a song by rock band U2. It is the seventh track from their 1991 album Achtung Baby and it was released as the album's first single on 12 October 1991. "The Fly" introduced a more abrasive sounding U2, as the song featured hip-hop and industrial beats, distorted vocals, and an elaborate guitar solo. Lead vocalist Bono described the single as "the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree," due to its departure from the traditional sound that had characterised the band in the 1980s.
Bono described the song's subject as that of a phone call from someone in Hell who enjoys being there and telling the person on the other end of the line what he has learned. The song and its video were also a showcase for "The Fly", a persona that Bono took on for the Zoo TV Tour, in which he played the part of a stereotypical leather-clad rock star known for wearing large wrap-around sunglasses and strutting around the stage. The song became the band's second number-one single in the UK and was successful among alternative rock radio audiences.
The writing of "The Fly" began during recording sessions for Achtung Baby at Berlin's Hansa Studios in 1990.
"The Fly" shows a heavier, more abrasive side of U2. The song features hip-hop beats, distorted vocals, an elaborate guitar solo, and hard industrial edge.
Lyrically, Bono described the song as "a crank call from Hell... but (the caller) likes it there." The caller is Bono's eponymous character, telling the listener what he learned in Hell. Bono sings part of the chorus in a falsetto, utilizing what he calls the "Fat Lady" voice, which he also uses on the songs "Lemon" and "Numb".
Parts of the song's video were shot in Dublin in mid-September 1991 by directors Jon Klein and Ritchie Smyth. The rest of the video was shot in London a few weeks later. The promotional video was the first appearance of The Fly character and displayed the band's "new look". Klein explained "The last three albums have been of a piece in some ways, what we want to do here is start a new chapter. 'The Fly' feels different to me."
The video appears on the DVD for The Best of 1990-2000, along with the directors' commentaries.
Bono – vocals, guitar.
The Edge – guitar, keyboards, vocals.
Adam Clayton – bass guitar.
Larry Mullen, Jr. – drums, percussion.
U2: Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr.http://www.u2.com
© 1991 Island Records UK.