Desire (U2 song)

Single by U2
from the album Rattle and Hum
Released 26 September 1988
Format CD, cassette, 12"
Recorded STS Studios in Dublin, Ireland
Genre Rock and roll, rhythm and blues
Length 2:59
Label Island
Producer(s) Jimmy Iovine
U2 singles chronology
"One Tree Hill" (New Zealand only)
"Angel of Harlem"
Rattle and Hum track listing
"Van Diemen's Land"
"Hawkmoon 269"
Music sample

"Desire" is a song by U2 and the third track on their 1988 album, Rattle and Hum. Released as the album's lead single, "Desire" was the band's first number-one single in the UK and Australia. It reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., and topped both the Modern and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts, the first song to reach the top of both of these charts simultaneously. It reached number two on the Dutch Top 40. In 1989, "Desire" won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.


The band cite the Stooges' song "1969" as the primary influence on "Desire,"[1][2][3][4] which is an interpolation of the Bo Diddley Beat.[5]

"Desire" debuted live on the first night of the Lovetown Tour on 21 September 1989, and appeared at almost every concert on that tour.[6] It segued into a cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," and the Lovetown performances of this song are considered by fans to be far superior to the one found on Rattle and Hum.

On the Zoo TV Tour, "Desire" was re-invented with different effects on the Edge's guitar, and it opened most encores. Bono would use the song to accentuate characteristics of his onstage alteregos Mirrorball Man and MacPhisto.[7] On the PopMart Tour, Bono and the Edge would play the song acoustically.[8] For the Elevation Tour, it was a stripped-down electric version played at the tip of a heart-shaped walkway that extended into the audience. Adam Clayton would join in with bass just before the bridge, and Larry Mullen, Jr. played along on a single drum.

On 15 October 2004, at an appearance on British television promoting the How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb album, Bono and Edge performed a rough electric version.[9] On the Vertigo Tour, "Desire" was not played at all on the tour's first three legs, and appeared just once in an acoustic form on the fourth leg in response to a fan's request in São Paulo.[10] It made a full electric debut at the beginning of the fifth leg at the second show in Sydney;[11] this performance was ramshackle and it was refined before appearing at four subsequent concerts. "Desire" was played sporadically during the U2 360° Tour tour, usually played in a semi-acoustic form. On one occasion,[12] it was combined with Bruce Springsteen's "She's the One." It has been played semi-regularly on the Innocence + Experience Tour during their b-stage set, often with Bono bringing someone from the crowd to play guitar with the band.

"Desire"'s B-side "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)" has never been played in full live by U2 but was debatably snippeted once during "Bullet the Blue Sky."[13]

"Desire" has appeared on two U2 compilation albums, The Best of 1980-1990 and U218 Singles.

An early version of the song appears in the form of a studio performance in the Rattle and Hum film. "Desire" has furthermore appeared on Zoo TV: Live from Sydney (as a bonus track from a different concert), PopMart: Live from Mexico City, Elevation 2001: Live from Boston, and U2 Go Home: Live from Slane Castle, Ireland.

Music video

The music video for "Desire" was filmed in Hollywood, California. It is the Hollywood remix version of the song, with band members and local people in assorted places in the city, supplemented by random images pertaining to references in the song.

Track listings

MC: Island / CISX400 (promotional cassette)
No. Title Length
1. "Desire" (Hollywood remix) 9:23

MC: Island / 99250-4
No. Title Length
1. "Desire"   2:59
2. "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)"   4:12

12": Island / 12ISX400 (promotional 12")
No. Title Length
1. "Desire" (Hollywood remix) 9:23

7": Island / IS400 and ISG400
No. Title Length
1. "Desire"   2:59
2. "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)"   4:12

12": Island / 12IS400 and 12ISG400
No. Title Length
1. "Desire"   2:59
2. "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)"   4:12
3. "Desire" (Hollywood remix) 5:23

CD: Island / CIDP400
No. Title Length
1. "Desire"   2:59
2. "Hallelujah (Here She Comes)"   4:12
3. "Desire" (Hollywood remix) 5:23


Chart positions

Chart (1988) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[14] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[15] 19
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[16] 7
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[17] 19
France (SNEP)[18] 37
Germany (Official German Charts)[19] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[20] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[21] 2
Italy (FIMI)[22] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[23] 1
Norway (VG-lista)[24] 5
Spain (AFYVE)[25] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 5
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 9
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[28] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[29] 3
US Modern Rock Tracks[29] 1
US Album Rock Tracks[29] 1
US Hot Dance Music/Club Play[29] 37

See also


  1. U2 by U2, p. 217
  2. Graham, Bill; Van Oosten De Boer, Caroline (2004). U2: The Complete Guide to Their Music. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0711998868.
  3. Stokes, Niall (2005). U2: Into The Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song. Da Capo Press. p. 81. ISBN 1560257652.
  4. Kootnikoff, David (2009-12-30). "U2: A Musical Biography". ISBN 9780313365232.
  5. New York Times
  6., Lovetown Tour, accessed 22 May 2007
  7., 1992-02-29, Lakeland Arena, accessed 22 May 2007
  8., 1997-09-11, Estadio Jose Alvalade, accessed 22 May 2007
  9., 2004-10-15, BBC carpark, accessed 22 May 2007
  10., 2006-02-21, Morumbi, accessed 22 May 2007
  11., 2006-11-11, Telstra Stadium, accessed 22 May 2007
  12. "U2 East Rutherford, 2009-09-23, Giants Stadium, 360° Tour - U2 on tour". Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  13., Setlist Of The Week #7: B-Sides Live, accessed 22 May 2007
  14. " – U2 – Desire". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  15. " – U2 – Desire" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  16. " – U2 – Desire" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  17. "Search Results: Desire U2". RPM. 1 October 1988. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  18. " – U2 – Desire" (in French). Les classement single.
  19. " – U2 Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  20. "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 23 November 2009. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  21. "Nederlandse Top 40 – U2 search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  22. " – U2 – Desire". Top Digital Download.
  23. " – U2 – Desire". Top 40 Singles.
  24. " – U2 – Desire". VG-lista.
  25. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  26. " – U2 – Desire". Singles Top 100.
  27. " – U2 – Desire". Swiss Singles Chart.
  28. " search results: U2". Retrieved 22 November 2009. Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  29. 1 2 3 4 "U2: Charts & Awards: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 14 December 2009.

External links

Preceded by
"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by the Hollies
UK Singles Chart number-one single
8 October 1988
(one week)
Succeeded by
"One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston
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