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"Even Better Than The Real Thing"
Single by U2
from the album Achtung Baby
B-side "Salomé"
Released 7 June 1992
Format CD single, Cassette
7" single, 12" maxi
Genre Alternative rock, alternative dance
Length 3:41
Label Island
Writer(s) U2
Producer Steve Lillywhite with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois
U2 singles chronology
"Even Better Than the Real Thing"
"Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"
Achtung Baby track listing
"Zoo Station"
"Even Better Than the Real Thing"
Alternate cover
Remixes single

"Even Better Than the Real Thing" is the second song on U2's 1991 album Achtung Baby. It was released as the album's fourth single on 7 June 1992.


Writing and recording

"Even Better Than the Real Thing" originated from a chorus guitar riff that The Edge composed in Los Angeles during the Rattle and Hum sessions.[1][2] A demo of the song, called "The Real Thing", was recorded at STS Studios during the same session in which "Desire" was recorded.[3] The band remarked that the song's guitar riff reminded them of The Rolling Stones, but that it sounded "deeply traditional".[1] Consequently, it was shelved until the Achtung Baby recording sessions, when the band took the multitrack recording of the demo to Hansa Studios in Berlin in late 1990.[3] The band made little progress on the demo there, as the Berlin sessions were plagued by conflict and difficulty in completing songs.[3]

The recording sessions, as well as the general mood, improved after the band returned to Dublin in 1991 to record at the "Elsinore" mansion on the Dalkey coastline.[1] The song turned around after The Edge purchased a Digitech Whammy effects pedal, which created a "double octave sweep" on the guitar riff.[1] The band had rediscovered their sense of fun and incorporated that into the writing of the song.[3] Achtung Baby producer, Brian Eno, argued against the song when the original lyric said "There ain’t nothing like the real thing", saying the song had to be "more ironic". But he later said it was a good choice to include it in the album with the "Even better than the real thing".[4] Lead vocalist Bono explained the song's lyrics, as well as why the title was lengthened to "Even Better Than the Real Thing": "It was reflective of the times [the band] were living in, when people were no longer looking for the truth, [they] were all looking for instant gratification".[1] Richard Branson requested the song be used to "Virgin Cola" to compete with Coca-Cola (who had been using the tagline "the real thing" for years) but the band declined.[3]


The song peaked at #12 becoming one of the few U2 singles that failed to reach the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart. It made #8 on the Dutch Top 40. A few months after its initial release DJ Paul Oakenfold remix charted better than the original, reaching No. 8. In the United States, the single was a hit on rock radio. It reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and #5 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. It also reached #27 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and #35 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart.

The song's music video won an MTV Video Music Award in 1992 for Best Special Effects for its unique 360-degree camera rollover rig, designed and built by Simon Tayler of Artem in London specifically for the video.

Track listings

7": Island (IS525) and cassette: Island (CIS515)
# Title Length
1. "Even Better Than the Real Thing"   3:41
2. "Salomé"   4:32
12" maxi: Island (12IS515) and CD maxi: Island (CID525)
# Title Length
1. "Even Better Than the Real Thing"   3:41
2. "Salomé"   4:32
3. "Where Did It All Go Wrong?"   3:57
4. "Lady With the Spinning Head" (Extended Dance remix) 6:08
CD maxi: Island C REAL 2 and cassette: Island (422-862 281-4)
# Title Length
1. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (the Perfecto mix) 6:41
2. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Sexy Dub mix) 7:18
3. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Apollo 440 Stealth Sonic remix) 6:42
4. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (V16 Exit Wound remix) 3:19
5. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Apollo 440 vs U2 Instrumental) 6:27
12" maxi: Island REAL U2
# Title Length
1. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (the Perfecto mix) 6:37
2. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Trance mix) 6:47
3. "Even Better Than the Real Thing" (Sexy Dub mix) 7:14


Standard version

Chart (1992) Peak
Australian ARIA Chart[5] 11
Austrian Singles Chart[5] 8
Canada RPM Top 100[6] 3
Dutch MegaCharts[5] 11
French Singles Chart[5] 18
German Singles Chart 28
Irish Singles Chart[7] 3
New Zealand Singles Chart[5] 8
Swedish Singles Chart[5] 10
Swiss Singles Chart[5] 18
UK Singles Chart[8] 12
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[9] 32
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[9] 27
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[9] 35
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[9] 1
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[9] 5

Remix version

Chart (1992) Peak
Irish Singles Chart[7] 10
UK Singles Chart[8] 8


  • Production – Steve Lillywhite with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois
  • Engineering – Paul Barrett and Robbie Adams
  • Mixing – Steve Lillywhite and Robbie Adams
  • Mixing assistance – Sean Leonard

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e McCormick, Neil (ed), (2006). U2 by U2. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-719668-7. p. 225.
  2. ^ Graham, Bill; van Oosten de Boer (2004). U2: The Complete Guide to their Music. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-9886-8.  
  3. ^ a b c d e Stokes, Niall (2005). [U2: Into the Heart: The Stories Behind Every Song]. Thunder Mouth's Press. ISBN 1560257652.
  4. ^ Gill, Andy (June), Brian Eno  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "U2 – Even Better Than the Real Thing". Hung Median. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  
  6. ^ "Search Results: Even Better Than the Real Thing". RPM. 1992-09-19. Retrieved 2009-11-24.  
  7. ^ a b "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Charts. Retrieved 2009-11-23.   Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  8. ^ a b " search results: U2". Retrieved 2009-11-22.   Note: U2 must be searched manually.
  9. ^ a b c d e Billboard (Retrieved January 16, 2009)

External links



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