What's your favourite song? Like, of all time? I know I know, it's hard to pin down. You’re finding it hard to choose between Justin Timberlake’s Rock your body or Beyonce’s Halo, aren’t you?

Well, don't worry, I can solve your dilemma. The best song in the world is…

U2’s Gloria.

Oh stop it with your howls of derision. You know it’s true. It’s just that somewhere between about 1989 and 2015 U2 became ‘uncool’, and you feel all embarrassed to admit it. Well, it’s not Bono’s fault people keep giving him money to express his opinion in music documentaries. It’s not The Edge’s fault that having a name that starts with ‘the’ is no longer de rigueur—that’s down to us, baby. It’s not Adam’s fault we all worry a bit if he is OK. (I hope he’s OK). It’s not Larry’s fault that because he is the most reliable drummer in the whole world there is never any U2 drummer scandal to talk about. [1]

Grow a spine and try to speak up!

Listen to it, man. This song kicks all other songs out of the water, hooks itself up to a couple of great white sharks and then water skis down the line of a massive wave, up a giant water funnel and into the sun. It’s got guts! It’s got feeling! It is unashamedly earnest!

You, with all your snark and cynicism and liking things ‘ironically’—secretly you know it: you are shallow, unhappy, unfulfilled; forever and frantically chasing the next thing nobody’s ever heard of. You YEARN for a thrilling guitar riff, a thumping beat and some god-damn PASSION.

You also know that if you put Bono in a kind of vocal Thunderdome he would pulverise the rest. He wouldn’t even need a bouncy harness and a chainsaw to do it. He’d just stand in the middle of the arena and… feel. Two voices in, one voice out! (Bono’s [2]). Bono’s voice would blast all others away like the ghostie people who came out of the Ark of the Covenant, straight into the hereafter. Straight to God (or his downstairs colleague), because U2 is God’s band ( te domine/ Gloria...exultate) and He’s on their side.

Now I’m not saying you’ll be turned into a pillar of salt if you don’t admit U2’s Gloria is the best song ever, because if the Christian God does exist I would prefer to believe He really does allow free will and would even let you play Supertramp’s Greatest Hits on repeat without divine punishment [3], but as I cannot know the unknowable I’ll just put it out there that it’s a possibility. [4]

Oh Lord, if I had anything… listen to it…feel it…splash some paint on your best jeans and cut the arms of your tshirt… open that door and let U2 back into your heart.


  1. I mean, would it kill him to blow up his kit live on stage or throw a television out a hotel window once in while?
  2. Tina Turner would naturally remain the mistress of vocal Thunderdome, so we will never know who would win that battle.
  3. Actually I am lying, you should suffer for eternity for that. 
  4. Yes yes I know that if you just pretend to think Gloria is the best song of all time He will know because he is omniscient—that just means you’re going to have to try really hard. NB: I don’t think U2 is as religious as they were at the start of their career so it is possible Gloria has moved down a bit in God’s ‘Current Favourites’ playlist.



You know how it goes. A huge meteor hits earth (thus becoming a meteorite), or perhaps a zombie plague brings us to the brink of extinction. Maybe an environmental catastrophe sees us the forlorn custodians of a desert planet, or a mysterious electromagnetic pulse wipes out nearly all our technology and forces us to loot supermarkets and sift through all our garbage dumps for useful implements.

What happens next? The surviving survivors fight each other for survival, racing around after each other in souped-up cars instead of saving all that petrol to light the BBQ on which to cook the non-survivors for dinner. Sometime we band together against adversity—in these situations, we often return to some kind of semi-agrarian-semi-hunter-gatherer-type lifestyle, often with a bit of new religion thrown in for good measure. Men grow beards (even in some movie versions); women apparently still don’t grow leg hair despite a general lack of razors and waxing establishments. People are dirtier, tougher, better with guns.

And also, often, our language devolves. We use fewer words, and string them together in less and less sophisticated ways. We sound more like children learning to talk (though frequently much less inventive). We say things like ‘tomorrow-morrow land’ (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) and ‘true truth’ (Cloud Atlas).

Now, why should this be? There is no particular evidence to suggest that the Vikings or the Romans or the Picts or any ancient nomads or hunters or farmers had childish language, despite their lack of choice in upholstery fabrics, fusion engines and mobile phones.

Sure, we may need fewer words to describe caffeinated beverages in the future (though I bet we hold onto that last bastion of civilization for as long as we can), but we will probably need more words to describe various types of pox, different kinds of blasted earth (glows in the dark, burns, sentient, stinks of death etc), and of course not forgetting the words we’ll need to describe those indescribable alien invaders who look like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Language changes, but there is no reason to suppose a “simpler” life results in a simpler language. Even the idea of what constitutes a “simple” life is suspect. Is a simple life one where your daily goal is not to die of starvation, cold, tetanus or mutant bear bite, or one where you aim to reach your daily Fitbit goal of 10,000 steps?

Our relationships will also remain complex and precarious—a failure to observe protocol and cultural norms may be less likely to cause us to be passed over for a promotion and more likely to result in death. What advantage would there be to reducing our ability to express our connections and relationships? Absolutely none. So unless we are being forced to reduce our vocabulary and grammatical complexity by fascist overlords (1984), I see no reason for it to occur. Using simple language to indicate “simpler” times is lazy. And also annoying. [1] Don’t do it.


  1. I mean seriously, those kids in Beyond Thunderdome were more annoying than Ewoks.
Try describing THIS post-apocalyptic scenario with only a handful of nouns and even fewer adjectives.  A monster Easter egg , halftone print, published by David Syme & Co, Melbourne, 1 May 1896. State Library of Victoria, IAN01/05/96/12.

Try describing THIS post-apocalyptic scenario with only a handful of nouns and even fewer adjectives. A monster Easter egg, halftone print, published by David Syme & Co, Melbourne, 1 May 1896. State Library of Victoria, IAN01/05/96/12.

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