"Atomic City" - U2


Track Listing:

Background Information

“Atomic City” is a digital single, due to be released by U2 ahead of their 25 performances at the new Sphere venue in Las Vegas. We are expecting the single to be released on September 29, 2023, but that date has yet to be confirmed. No physical single is expected at that time, due to the tight turnaround time between finishing the single, and release. The band have also missed the cut off for RSD’s Black Friday event, so if they are participating in that event, it will not be a release of “Atomic City”.

“Atomic City” is a one-off single similar to “Invisible”, released between albums, but not necessarily tied to any other project such as an album or a soundtrack. As such it may not reflect the direction of U2’s new album, expected sometime in 2024.

The single is celebrating the city of Las Vegas. “Atomic City” is a nickname given to the city by the Chamber of Commerce in the 1940s in order to present a forward-looking modern city. The name was chosen to make Las Vegas look like the city of the future, and to draw in tourist attention. In the 1950s, nearby atomic bomb testing drew in spectators, and calendars were printed advertising the best locations to watch the explosions as well as planned dates and times. In 1956 Elvis Presley appeared in a nightly residency at The New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, billed as “America’s only atomic-powered singer”. The Killers have recently given a nod to this part of Vegas’ past with their 2012 single “Miss Atomic Bomb”. It isn’t U2’s first mention of “atomic” in their lyrics either, with the word appearing in “The Wanderer” and “Fast Cars”, the latter line giving rise to the title of the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.

Bono introduced the song while performing, “This is the world premiere of ‘Atomic City’ a rock ‘n’ roll 45-inch tradition of late 70’s post punk if you are interested…Blondie, The Clash” and he jokes that the band will take it from everywhere. The version we heard live may still be a work in progress, as some of the lyrics still seem to be temporary. Bono did say that the song was still unfinished.

U2 fans first learned of the song title when U2 debuted the song in a video shoot in the streets of Las Vegas on September 16, 2023. Traveling along an area near Fremont Street, the band could see performing along to the song on the back of a flatbed truck. The truck came to stop in front of the Plaza Hotel, where the band stayed on the platform and performed the song an additional five times, as well as performing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Bono and The Edge were also spotted performing the song on moving dollies as the song played ahead of the time on the truck. A video crew was present to capture the whole performance, which was done in front of a mix of fans in the area as well as hired extras. U2 have also filmed footage for the video at the Sphere itself. More information about the filming and performance can be found in our news stories below.

The song was recorded in August and September 2023 with producer Steve Lillywhite. The band worked on the song initially in the South of France, before moving to studios in Los Angeles. The song features Larry Mullen on drums, which appears to be his first recorded work with the band since having surgery earlier in the year. Mullen was present with the band in Las Vegas for the video shoot for the song as well. Although recovered enough to perform in the video shoot and work in studio, Mullen will still be missing the upcoming shows at the Sphere as he continues to recover. The single is the band’s first single of new material since “Your Song Saved My Life“.

As release plans are announced we will update our information here with additional information on track listing, release configurations and more. The artwork to the right is our placeholder for the single artwork until such time that the artwork is revealed.

Liner Notes

Atomic City: Written and performed by U2. Produced by Steve Lillywhite.

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