U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin formed in 1976. The group consists of Bono (lead vocals and guitar), the Edge (guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar), and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums and percussion). Initially rooted in post-punk, U2's sound grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music, yet has maintained an anthemic sound. Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal themes and sociopolitical concerns.
The band formed at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy (1980). Subsequent work such as their first UK number-one album War (1983), and the singles "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" helped establish U2's reputation as a politically and socially conscious group. By the mid-1980s, they had become renowned globally for their live act, highlighted by their performance at Live Aid in 1985. The group's fifth album, The Joshua Tree (1987), made them international superstars and was their greatest critical and commercial success. Topping music charts around the world, it produced their only number-one singles in the US, "With or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". Facing a backlash and creative stagnation, U2 reinvented themselves in the 1990s through a new musical direction and public image. Beginning with their acclaimed seventh album, Achtung Baby (1991), and the multimedia intensive Zoo TV Tour, the band integrated influences from alternative rock, electronic dance music, and industrial music into their sound, and embraced a more ironic, flippant image. This experimentation continued through their ninth album, Pop (1997), and the PopMart Tour, which were mixed successes. U2 regained critical and commercial favour with the records All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000) and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004), which established a more conventional, mainstream sound for the group. Their U2 360° Tour of 2009–2011 is the highest-attended and highest-grossing concert tour in history. In 2014, the group released its thirteenth album, Songs of Innocence, at no cost to iTunes Store customers, but received criticism for its automatic placement in users' music libraries.
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