The U2 Pop Culture Database
This is an ever-expanding database of examples of the world's greatest band, U2, appearing in works of fiction. If you know of other examples, and I'm sure there are plenty out there, please e-mail them to me and I'll add them during the next update and give you a submission credit. Thank you.
As of July 14, 2006 the database contains 42 entries.
Love Monkey (TV, Episode 1-2)
Entourage (TV, Episode 2-9)
K Street (TV, Episode 1-2)
Scrubs (TV, Episode 2-19)
Curb Your Enthusiam (TV, Episode 3-9)
About A Boy (Film, 2002)
Absolutely Fabulous (Television, 2001)
American Psycho (Book, 1991)
Bhaji On The Beach (Film, 1993)
Blown Away (Film, 1994)
The Bone Collector (Film, 1999)
The Commitments (Film, 1991)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (Television, 2002)
Dream For An Insomniac (Film, 1998)
Ed (Television, Season 2, 2002)
Ed (Television, Season 3, 2002)
The Ellen Show (Television, 2001)
Entourage (Television, 2005)
Entropy (Film, 1999)
Family Matters (Television, 1989)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Film, 1986)
Four Weddings And A Funeral (Film, 1994)
Friends (Television, 1995)
Friends (Television, 1997)
Gilmore Girls (Television, 2001 Episode 2-3)
Gilmore Girls (Television, 2001 Episode 2-4)
Gilmore Girls (Television, 2001 Episode 2-9)
Gilmore Girls (Television, 2002 Episode 3-1)
Gilmore Girls (Television, 2002 Episode 3-4)
The Gospel According To Larry (Book, 2001)
High Fidelity (Book, 1995)
Insomnia (Film, 1997)
K Street (Television, 2003)
Love Monkey (Television, 2006)
The Million Dollar Hotel (Film, 2000)
Moulin Rouge (Film, 2001)
Northern Exposure (Television, 1990)
Nothing Sacred (Film, 1997)
The Pillow Book (Film, 1996)
Sandman (Comic Book, 1988)
Saved! (Film, 2004)
Saved By The Bell (Television, 1991)
Scrubs (Television, 2003)
Six Feet Under (Television, 2001)
The Sopranos (Television, 2001)
The Sopranos (Television, 2002)
State Of Grace (Film, 1990)
Witchblade (Television, 2000)
In order to be included, the work of fiction must have characters that can react to either the band U2 or a song. For example, probably the greatest use of a U2 song was ALL I WANT IS YOU in REALITY BITES when Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder have a fight and split up. Although the song was perfect for the moment, neither character was actually listening to the song with us. It wasn't on the radio or in a car, etc. Therefore, this example does not qualify. Neither does BATMAN FOREVER or any other movie that simply includes a song on the soundtrack. Under these guidelines, I'm not sure The Simpsons episode with the band qualifies as it is cartoon people reacting to a cartoon band.
Things That Don't Quite Qualify:
Alias (2002, Episode "Passage Part I") has Walk On playing at the end of the episode. [Thank you Rio]
Bandits (2001) has Beautiful Day playing twice. Once beginning at 75:30 when the bank robbers are taking their two weeks off before meeting up again. One guy sees a beautiful hitchhiker, one guy boxes in his hotel room, one guy gets a facial and his toes painted. The song ends at 77:37. The second time is during the credits from 117:34 to 119:28. Director Barry Levinson on using music in his films: "What I do is I try a lot of music against the film as we're actually shooting the film...sometimes it's actually played when I'm doing a scene and a lot of times I'll put in, like, this film here when U2's album came out..."It's a Beautiful Day" that song, I think it came out, I think about two days after it came out I said why don't we play it against this scene in here and we didn't even have all the elements in place yet but right away you could say ooh, this'll work, and now let's build to this."
Batman Forever (1995) has Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me playing during the credits (along with Seal's Kiss From A Rose). The video for the song is a cartoon semi-based on Batman and is pretty cool.
The Fox "reality" tv show Casino (2004) uses Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad as its theme song, which is performed by a young throwback lounge singer named Matt Dusk. We see him performing it live on the first episode.
Forces Of Nature (1999) has Everlasting Love after the final fade-out and into the credits. It lasts for 1:43
The Gangs Of New York (2002) has The Hands That Built America playing over the end credits. It is not U2's finest hour and their Oscar nomination speaks to U2's longevity, if not their actual songwriting skill in this case.
The Last American Virgin (1982) has I Will Follow at the 78 minute mark. During a three-minute montage, we see our hero try to find the $250 required for an abortion for the girl he "loves". His best friend is the father. He steals from his parents, hocks his stereo, borrows from him boss, all the while she's being literally strapped onto an operating table with tears in her eyes. Luckily for her, he arrives to pick her up with both the money, and a Christmas Tree and bag of oranges. Nothing says "I still respect you" like a bag of oranges. This movie is terrible. I don't even remember liking it when I snuck into it in the theaters as a teenager. Moral of the story: the hot girl will always go back to the hot guy no matter what he does.
Miami Vice (Season 1, Episode 22, "Lombard", May 10, 1985) includes most of the song Wire. [Thank you Anna D.]
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a tv show where characters watch an old, usually terrible movie and comment on it. In episode 904, they watched a film called WEREWOLF. The werewolf climbs on top of a building in town and stands with his arms outstretched. As he is doing this, one of the characters says 'where the streets have no name....ooohhhhh'. [Thank you to Kyle for this one]
OT: Our Town (2002) is a documentary about a struggling school mounting their first play in 20 years. They do a production of Our Town and use MLK in the play. It is sung by a girl in the cast. [Thank you to Joanne]
Par-Dela Les Nuages (or Beyond The Clouds or Al Di La Delle Nuvole, 1995) includes two Passengers songs. Beach Sequence is played at the 32:29 mark, after the Italian vignette has ended, while John Malkovich looks, ironically, at a beach. The song ends at 36:00. Your Blue Room is played at the end of the final Wim Wenders-helmed portion, which is the wrap-up of the four vignettes, and into the credits. It starts at the 102:47 mark and plays throughout the credits, even lasting longer than the credits do. The final ten seconds or so is just a black screen. (Two other extremely tangential U2 connections: Director Antonioni directed a film called THE PASSENGER in 1975 and he also wrote and directed a film called ZABRISKIE POINT in 1970.)
Reality Bites (1994) includes All I Want Is You at the 85:03 mark after Ethan Hawke plays the Violent Femmes song in the bar and Winona storms off. We see Ethan in an airport, Winona pining, Ethan in a hospital, Winona pining, Winona packing, then a cab pulls up. The song ends at 89:17.
Runaway Bride (1999) has I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For right after the Paramount/Touchstone logos as Julia Roberts rides a horse away from her third wedding. It lasts 1:15
Scrubs (Episode 3-1, 2003) had JD playing George Michael's FAITH on his Ipod and dancing until his co-worker scolds him. "What have we said about white guys and dancing?" "Only if they're gay." He presses a button and Beautiful Day comes on and the two of them walk into the hospital together strutting. Doesn't qualify because the other doctors can hear it even though it's only on JD's headset.
Three Kings (1999) includes In God's Country towards the end as the credits begin. Thank you Grantham for the reminder.
Threesome (1994) has Dancing Barefoot during a montage scene at about the 34 minute mark where the roommates run around having shaving cream fights and all manner of wacky college hijinks.
Vanilla Sky (2001) has about a minute and a half of Wild Honey in a scene where Cruise and Cruz and Lee have dinner in a restaurant.
Das Versprechen (or The Promise or La Promesse, 1994), has one of the characters is forcibly kicked out of East Berlin and we see him wander through the druggie homeless community of Berlin's Zoo Station subway stop. When he emerges, you can see an arrow sign saying ZOO in the font we've come to recognize.
For a more exhaustive listing of U2 song appearances on soundtracks, try my buddy Aaron's U2 Wanderer Soundtrack page
Stuff I already know about:
Bag Of Bones (Stephen King)
The Ben Stiller Show
The Book Of Rants (Dennis Miller)
City Of Angels
Desperation (Stephen King)
The End Of Violence
Faraway, So Close
Ferris Buehler's Day Off (poster)
Honeymoon In Vegas
In The Name Of The Father
Just One Of The Guys
Looking For Alibrandi
The Midnight Club (James Patterson)
A Night At The Roxybury
Pret A Porter
Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990)
They Call It An Accident
Until The End Of The World
Who's the Boss "Another Single Parent" (1988)
A Wrinkle In Time (2003) [Walk On Poster]
copyright © 2006 Michael Warner Cummins
Most recent update: Thursday, July 13, 2006
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