While the world was celebrating the 30 year anniversary of U2's The Joshua Tree and how it propelled the rock band into superstardom, the 20 year anniversary of another one of their albums passed without much notice. 1997's Pop expanded on their developing 90's sound but took on a more electronic styling with different textures than what U2 is known for. The album was released on March 3 and was somewhat of an experiment gone wrong due to deadlines and an upcoming tour.
Pop used samples, loops and drum machines which were a concept U2 was not accustomed to. They also incorporated sequencing using Edge's guitar sounds and a techno heavy vibe as heard on single "Discothèque." The album became more of an expensive demo as the album was not ready to be released and up to U2 standards. The stadium tour PopMart was approaching and the album needed to be released for the road and in the end, fans and critics alike were stumped with the final product. The band compromised the product and pushed songs at the last minute including the final stages of mastering.
The project however would not be final in the long run. During the tour, songs were reworked for live performance and several songs were remixed and can be found on The Best of 1990-2000 released in 2002. Those songs reworked for tour were released as singles and in the end, a new project was completed but never released as one unit. Commercially, the lack of time took a hit on the album.
Though Pop debuted at No. 1 in 27 countries including the U.S. and the U.K., selling 349,000 copies in its first week in the former, it would only go on to be certified 1x Platinum in the U.S. It marked the lowest certification at that time since October. Aside from the 1988 Rattle and Hum soundtrack, it became one of U2's lowest performing albums of their career and set the stage for a return to the typical U2 sound on 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind.
The album, however, did have bright moments. Gems on the album include "Do You Feel Love," a song purposely left without a question mark as to not overemphasize what they tried to get across. "Staring at the Sun" was released as a single and reached the Top 40 then was re-recorded for the 2002 compilation."Wake Up Dead Man" contains a rare instance of profanity in U2's music even though Bono is not shy using such words during live performance.
Singles for the record include "Discothèque" which peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100 and became a Dance and Airplay hit, "Staring at the Sun," "Last Night on Earth" which peaked only at No. 57, "Please," "If God Will Send His Angels" and "Mofo."