Bono says he’s often embarrassed listening to U2 and that his vocals make him cringe

(Image credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

There are plenty of people out there who will happily hate on U2, but you wouldn’t have thought that Bono, the band’s lead singer, would be one of them.

Not so, it turns out: in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg on the Awards Chatter podcast, the star confessed that he can’t listen to the band on the radio without feeling embarrassed, has reservations about many of their lyrics, and - with the exception of 2004 single Vertigo - finds the sound of his vocals cringe-worthy.

Oh, and he’s not particularly in love with the U2 name, either.

Discussing the experience of hearing a U2 song come on the radio while he’s in a car, Bono says that his face has a habit of turning scarlet:

"I'm just embarrassed. I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot.”

He doesn’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, though, explaining that “maybe the place to be as an artist is right at the edge of your level of pain for embarrassment, your level of embarrassment."

On his lyrics, Bono said: “I feel that on Boy and other albums it was sketched out, very unique and original material. But I don't think I filled in the details."

He was even more critical of his past vocal performances, revealing that, Vertigo aside, "Most of the other ones make me cringe a little bit." He believes that his earlier vocals sounded “weak” and “strained”, and that he “only became a singer recently”.

"A big discovery for me was listening to the Ramones and hearing the beautiful kind of sound of Joey Ramone and realising I didn't have to be that rock and roll singer,” Bono explained.

Finally, there’s that name, which Bono says the band thought sounded fresh at the time, but  “turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence.” This being the case, he’s never really liked it.

Bono was appearing on the podcast with The Edge in support of Sing 2, a film that Bono stars in alongside the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton and Tori Kelly.

U2 also wrote and performed Your Song Saved My Life, which comes from the movie, and the soundtrack features various cast members covering previous U2 hits such as Where The Streets Have No Name, Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

Whether Bono thinks these are an improvement on his own band’s versions remains to be seen.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.