U2's Bono Says He Still 'Really' Doesn't Like the Band's Name — and Is Often 'Embarrassed' by Its Songs

Bono said he finds it difficult to listen to his "strained" voice on early U2 tracks

U2 Bono The edge
Bono and the Edge. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Images/Getty Images

U2 may be one of the most successful bands of all time, but lead singer Bono still has a bone to pick with its name — and with his own singing.

Bono and bandmate the Edge appeared on the Awards Chatter podcast on Monday and revealed they're not exactly fond of the moniker U2, even after 40-plus years.

The Edge, 60, explained that the Irish rockers started playing music under the name The Hype, but they were "unhappy" with that name due to its unoriginality and turned to former classmate and fellow musician Steve Averill for help.

"He came to us with a few suggestions, one of which was U2," he recalled. "And of the suggestions, it wasn't that it jumped out to us as the name we were really looking for, but it was the one that we hated the least. And what we loved about it was that it was not obvious from the name what this band wound sound like or be about."

After the Edge said the group "didn't really love it at first," Bono, 61, chimed in to say that his feelings on it haven't warmed over time.

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"I still don't," he said. "I mean, I really don't. But I was late into some kind of dyslexia, I didn't realize that the Beatles was a bad pun either. We'd thought the implications of the letter and the number, in our head, it was like, the spy plane, it was a U-boat, it was futuristic. But then as it turned out to imply this kind of acquiescence, no, I don't like that name. I still don't really like the name."

That's not all Bono isn't crazy about — the musician also revealed that he finds it difficult to listen to some of his band's early music because of his own voice.

"The band sound incredible. I just found the voice very strained and kind of not macho and my Irish macho was kind of strained by that," he explained. "A big discovery for me was listening to the Ramones and hearing the beautiful kind of sound of Joey Ramone and realizing I didn't have to be that rock and roll singer. But I only became a singer recently. Maybe it hasn't happened yet for some people's ears, and I understand that."

Bono also shared a funny anecdote involving the late singer Robert Palmer, who once met bandmate Adam Clayton in the 1980s and told him, "Would you ever tell your singer to just take down the keys a little bit? He'd do himself a favor, he'd do his voice a favor, and he'd do us all a favor who have to listen to it.'"

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Though U2 has received much critical acclaim over the years, including 22 Grammy wins, Bono said on the podcast that there have been times he's felt embarrassed by the band's output.

"I've been in a car when one of our songs has come on the radio, and I've been the color of — as we say in Dublin — scarlet," he said. "I'm just embarrassed. And yeah, I mean, I do think U2 pushes out the boat on embarrassment quite a lot. And maybe that's the place to be as an artist is, you know, right at the edge of your level of pain for embarrassment, your level of embarrassment. And the lyrics as well. 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."

U2 is currently generating Oscar buzz for "Your Song Saved My Life," an original song that appeared on the soundtrack to Sing 2 late last year.

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