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U2’s Zooropa re-imagined as a zoological chart!

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u2zooropa U2s Zooropa re imagined as a zoological chart!

In 1993, U2 set out to make an EP which wound up becoming a full-blown album. This would be but a brief blip in music history had it not taken place so closely to the release of their seminal 1991 release, Achtung Baby. The EP-turned-LP in question, Zooropa, was quickly recorded during a break in their Zoo TV tour, and while it may not have achieved the instant classic acclaim Achtung garnered, it’s a record that stands on its own.

This week, you’ll likely discover new articles analyzing the record on its 20th anniversary, breaking it apart and putting it back together again. We here at CoS are no stranger to dissecting a discography or dusting off a beloved/forgotten classic. However, for Zooropa, we wanted to do something a little different. Okay. Very different.

Guys, we assigned an animal to every song.

– Justin Gerber
Senior Staff Writer

“Zooropa”

mudpuppy U2s Zooropa re imagined as a zoological chart!

Genus: Necturus maculosus (mudpuppy)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Proteidae

In the title track, Bono finds himself free from restriction. He begs his lady friend to join with him in his newfound freedom by going “to the overground/ Get your head out of the mud baby.” She’s reluctant, of course. Like mudpuppies, she never leaves the “water”, or in her case, the routine day-to-day of her existence. Bono can be a handful, but they escape together anyway. The U2 frontman can be quite convincing. – Justin Gerber

“Babyface”

Macaca mulatta

Genus: Macaca mulatta (Rhesus monkey)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae

The creepiest ode to voyeurism this side of Nick Cave’s “Watching Alice,” the xylophone-driven “Babyface” finds a sexily double-tracked Bono “Watching your bright blue eyes in the freeze-frame / I’ve seen them so many times I must be your best friends.” As it turns out, a seminal biology study revealed that male rhesus monkeys will give up privileges in order “to be allowed to see a female monkey’s hindquarters.” Humans, then — creepy as we are — are not the only species with voyeuristic tendencies. -Zach Schonfeld

“Numb”

Canis lupus familiaris

Genus: Canis lupus familiaris (Border Collie)
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Carnivora
Family:
Canidae

With a rare lead vocal, The Edge runs off a laundry list of “Don’ts” (ex. “Don’t whisper/ Don’t talk/ Don’t run if you can walk”). Following this list to the tee would make one immobile, and ultimately kill them (“Don’t breathe”). But what animal is best at taking direction; learning through repetition what to do and not to do? Dogs! Namely, the most obedient of dogs: the Border Collie (thanks for the info, neuropsychologist Stanley Coren!). And I think we just suggested Border Collies are easy to kill. –Justin Gerber

“Lemon”

Tamias alpinus

Genus: Tamias alpinus (Chipmunk)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae

To my knowledge there are no animals that naturally sing in a disco falsetto, but if Christmas music has taught me anything, it’s that chipmunks may come close. Plus, uh, some rodents apparently eat lemons. A minor hit, “Lemon” reveals that Bono’s own vocal style was as subject to experimentation as the music itself. -Zach Schonfeld

“Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”

Nathan-Fillion-Perfect-Man

Genus: Homo sapiens (human)
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Primates
Family:
Hominidae

The most depressing song on Zooropa. The imagery is black and white, tinged with the color of changing stoplights. It’s a heavy song of someone in a terrible relationship, and the affect it has on her. Pinning an animal on her plight is going too far, even for this old jokester. The only animal it can be classified as/compared to is a human. – Justin Gerber

“Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car”

Screen shot 2013-07-06 at 11.15.37 PM

Genus: Felis catus (cats)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Carnivora
Family:
Felidae

It’s about heroin! It’s about the fall of the Soviet Union! It’s a metaphor for consumerism! Whatever — it’s also about a child spoiled rotten by her rich daddy, and what animal do we spoil as consistently and intensely as our cats, letting them claw up our house and destroy possessions at will (even if they could, uh, crash our cars) and still returning our love? -Zach Schonfeld

“Some Days Are Better Than Others”

Chamaeleo calyptratus

Genus: Chamaeleo calyptratus (veiled chameleon)
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Reptilia
Order:
Squamata
Family:
Chamaeleonidae

Another list-based track, with this one covering dry days and leaky days, slippy days and sloppy days. It’s all about how nothing stays the same on a day-to-day basis. “Your skin is white, but you think you’re a brother” is an invitation to ridicule, but everyone reacts to their environment. What better example from our weird and wild kingdom than that of a veiled chameleon, which changes colors depending on its mood. – Justin Gerber

“The First Time”

robot U2s Zooropa re imagined as a zoological chart!

Genus: Robot (Robot)
Kingdom:
Robot
Phylum:
Robot
Class:
Robot
Order:
Robot
Family:
Robot

“For the first time, I feel love,” Bono repeats over and over in this obvious tribute to artificial intelligence and robots gaining the ability to feel love — a sort of precursor to Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” and the Flaming Lips’ whole Yoshimi album, if you will. I kid, I kid — it’s Bono’s interpretation of the Prodigal Son, duh. But take that chorus out of context and you’ve got robots. -Zach Schonfeld

“Dirty Day”

antique vintage drawing emperor penguin postcard r623ed99683514f93b22c918357ab2adb vgbaq 8byvr 512 U2s Zooropa re imagined as a zoological chart!

Genus: Aptenodytes forsteri (Emperor Penguin)
Kingdom:
Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Aves
Order:
Sphenisciformes
Family:
Spheniscidae

According to Bono, this is a song about a father trying to reconnect with a son he abandoned years ago (“From father to son, in one life has begun/ A work that’s never done, father to son”). It would be easy to find a male animal that abandons its young, for it’s the mothers that do most of the protecting. But what of the male Emperor Penguin, who incubate each of their eggs on top of their feet for 64 straight days before they hatch. That’s the kind of dedication this father wishes he had! – Justin Gerber

“The Wanderer”

costanza U2s Zooropa re imagined as a zoological chart!

Genus Homo sapiens (human)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Chordata
Class:
Mammalia
Order:
Primates
Family:
Hominidae

Like “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”, “The Wanderer” charts an inherently human process: a spiritual search, a quest for transcendence. Its narrator, fittingly, is Johnny Cash, voyaging “to feel as much as a man can/ Before he repents.” If you Google “What animal wanders,” the answer is pretty terse (although some animals do exhibit aspects of religion). The bleating feedback loop that closes the track, meanwhile, offers a fitting coda to U2’s most challenging release. -Zach Schonfeld

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