Which band sang the song Beautiful Day

Song dictionary

The song BEAUTIFUL DAY is one of the biggest hits of the Irish superstars U2 and marks a stylistic turning point in the band's work.

I. History of origin

BEAUTIFUL DAY is the seventh track on All that you can't leave behind, the tenth studio album by U2 (released on October 30, 2000). The song was released as the first single on October 9th, 2000 (with the B-Sides "Summer Rain" and "Always"). The entire band was responsible for the music and lyrics. The creation process of the song was marked by different twists. Originally U2 wanted to join All that you can't leave behind to distance from the borrowings from electronic dance music, which had significantly influenced the work on the previous albums. The first compositional sketches for BEAUTIFUL DAY accordingly envisaged a straight rock song, which over time, however, seemed to the band members all too straightforward and conventional. Ultimately, the idea of ​​producer Brian Eno to use a drum machine and synthesizer-generated string sounds at the beginning of the song turned out to be trend-setting. The arrangement, until then mainly characterized by the "classic" band concept of vocals - guitar - bass - drums, was subsequently enhanced in terms of sound without having to give up the original idea of ​​producing an energetic up-tempo song. Drum machine and string sound were used in a moderate way, so that the recording, as initially intended, was not too close to electronic dance music.

II. Context

With the transition to the decade of the 2000s, U2 largely said goodbye to the conceptual-experimental style of the 1990s. This development step can already be traced using the artwork. The cover photo of All that you can't leave behind shows the four members of the band waiting in an airport terminal (the photo was taken at the Paris airport Charles de Gaulle). There are consequently no stylizations (pop), no disappearance of the band members (Zooropa) and not a fragmented view of the band (Watch out baby) aimed at. The depiction as real people in an everyday setting is perceptual. Individual features are identified in a spectrum of haircuts, sunglasses, headgear, postures, clothing (dark colors are worn in a casual, classic style). The middle age stage of the band members emerges unveiled, which can be seen specifically in the distinctive facial features and gray hair. With regard to the album title, the preference for a conventional language construction, consisting of several words, is striking - in contrast to the short, concise titles of the 1990s. Also in semantic, i.e. (song) textual terms, no topic area can be identified that would have been accentuated in more than one song, i.e. that would indicate a conceptual way of working.

III. analysis

The song has a duration of 4:06 minutes in both the album and the single version. The materiality of the recording is determined on a fundamental level by the line-up of main vocals (Bono), background vocals (The Edge and Daniel Lanois), guitar (I, II), bass, drums, keyboard and beat programming. In this regard, it must be specified that for the duration of the entire song, it is primarily voice, electric guitar, bass and drums, i.e. the line-up of the classic rock band, which represent U2 in terms of appearance, that dominate the sound. The shape is determined by the basic structure A | B | A | B | C | B embossed - there are also the short form parts intro, outro and interlude. The molded parts in which people sing predominate by far. Of the total of 130 bars, 108 are supported by the vocal performance. In the following, the configuration logic of BEAUTIFUL DAY is to be reconstructed on the basis of three aspects. The first aspect relates to the bass drum programming and the keyboard arrangement in the intro section. The introduction to the song on the basis of the nested rhythmic network of programming and keyboard with an eighth-delay effect creates a feeling of ambiguity as far as the metric organization of the composition is concerned. As a result, the intro has a (sound) experimental moment, which - in contrast to the experimental arrangements of the 1990s - is exclusively in the service of the concrete sense (s) of the song. This is noticeable in the fact that the pattern, consisting of keyboard attack, delay repetition and bass drum, anticipates the chord progression of the verse and chorus, is heard throughout the first verse and, above all, shapes it in terms of rhythmic structure. In the chorus, the rhythmic accents are mainly taken up by the drums, specifically the snare drum and crash cymbal, as well as the barre chords of the electric guitar. In addition, the said pattern is neither noisy nor shrill or extravagant in any form. From a sound-aesthetic point of view, it tends to be more towards the "typical" delay / reverb-saturated sound of the band. The second aspect focuses on that (meaning) dimension of the typical. Then attributes such as classic or typical also apply to the guitar part. This can be seen in the flageolet tones in the intro section - a similar flageolet section can be found in "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (1983) - the half-open arpeggio / delay riff in the verse - this form of guitar playing is found in the second Verse of the hit "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (1984) - as well as the eighth note riff played in the two- and three-stroke octave in the chorus - show a similar riff structure, especially in the songs of the first three U2s - albums before. The commitment to one's own musical past, to the typical, can also be determined in the areas of harmony and diastematics, which is specifically reflected in the affirmation of clear harmonic processes and melodic-vocal lines to the disadvantage of loop arrangements, sound collages and noisy sound carpets. The bass playing also appears less groove-oriented (than on pop), i.e., even eighth note chains dominate on the root note. Obviously, with "All That You Can’t Leave Behind" in general and BEAUTIFUL DAY in particular, U2 are pursuing a return to their musical roots of the early 1980s. The vocal spectrum is also characterized by a return to established stylistic features. The decisive factor for this stylistic self-reference is the evocative, melodic-powerful gesture, because it is primarily presented in the two-stroke octave with a chest voice (here: "Touch me. Take me to that other place"). This gesture shaped the style of hits like "Where the Streets Have No Name" ("I want to run. I want to hide. I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside") and "With or Without You" ("I can't live. With or without you "). It runs like a red thread through the work of the band, never ebbed away, so it was also manifest in the experimental-conceptual albums of the 1990s. The decisive difference to the same experimental phase, however, is that no further vocal-expressive facets are now added. The typical thing about Bono's singing style stands alone, so to speak. All in all, it turns out that U2 propagated playful experimentation with non-rock-specific elements for a relatively long time (a decade) as their own. The sound experimental enrichments of the songs on All that you can't leave behind (and the two following albums) can therefore be perceived as authentic. By resorting to the style elements of the early creative phase, a retro sound is marked, through which the image of a band is conveyed that looks back on a long, eventful past. U2 - the members have visibly aged in the meantime - present themselves as a band that works with the times and also shows off its very own qualities.

IV. Reception

BEAUTIFUL DAY can be rated as an extremely successful single from U2, both artistically and commercially. The song rose to number one in several charts around the world and received positive reviews from the music press. In 2001 the song won three Grammys (in the categories "Record of the Year", "Song of the Year" and "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal"). Its popularity in pop culture also manifests itself in the form of placements in list-like pop canonizations such as the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" (Rolling Stone Magazine, Place 345). The recognition for that is no less great Album All That You Can’t Leave Behind (280th place among the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time", published by the Rolling Stone Magazine). Since its release, the song has been part of the standard repertoire of U2 concerts. Official concert recordings are on the live DVDs Elevation 2001: Live from Boston (2001), U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle (2003), Vertigo2005: Live From Chicago (2005) and U2 360 ° at the Rose Bowl (2010) included.





Main vocals: Bono Vox
Electric guitar, backing vocals: The Edge
Electric bass: Adam Clayton
Drums: Larry Mullen Jr.
Author: U2
Producers: Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite
Release: October 9, 2000
Label: Island Records, Interscope
Playing time: 4:06



  • U2. "Beautiful Day",All that you can't leave behind, 2000, Island Records / Universal U212, 524 653-1, Europa (CD / album).
  • U2. "Beautiful Day",All that you can't leave behind, 2000, Interscope Records 314-548 328-2, USA (CD / album).
  • U2. "Beautiful Day",Beautiful day, 2000, Island Records, CID 776, 562 945-2, Europa (CD / single).
  • U2. "Beautiful Day",Beautiful day, 2000, Island Records / Interscope Records, BEAUTCD1, INTR-10173-2, USA (CD / single).


  • U2. "Beautiful Day",Elevation 2001: Live from Boston, 2001, Island Records, 586 543-9, Europa (DVD).
  • U2. "Beautiful Day",U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, 2003, Island Records, 9813513, Europa (DVD).
  • U2. "Beautiful Day",Vertigo 2005: Live From Chicago, 2005, Island Records, 9874637, Europa (DVD).
  • U2. "Beautiful Day",U2 360 ° at the Rose Bowl, 2010, Island Records, 2735525, Europe (DVD).



  • Chatterton, Mark: U2. The Ultimate Encyclopedia. London: Firefly 2004.
  • Harris, Paul: U2’s Compositional Process: Sketching Attention Baby in Sound. In: Music theory. Musicology journal 24/2 (2009), pp. 137-162.
  • Flanagan, Bill: U2 at the End of the World. New York: Random House Publishing Group 1996.
  • Jost, Christofer: Music, media and embodiment. Transdisciplinary analysis of popular music. Row: Short Cuts | Cross Media 5. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2012.
  • Levy, Joe / Van Zandt, Steven (eds.): Rolling Stone - 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. London: turnaround 32006.
  • The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In: Rolling Stone Magazine, 963 (2004).



  • Band homepage: http://www.u2.com/ [05.08.2012].
  • Lyrics: http://www.u2.com/discography/lyrics/ [08/05/2012].


About the author

PD Dr. Christofer Jost teaches media science at the University of Basel and is research associate at the Center for Popular Culture and Music, University of Freiburg.



Christofer Jost: "Beautiful Day (U2)". In: Song dictionary. Encyclopedia of Songs. Ed. by Michael Fischer, Fernand Hörner and Christofer Jost, http://www.songlexikon.de/songs/beautifulday, 08/2012 [revised 10/2013].

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