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"Every Breaking Wave" is a song by Irish rock band U2. It is the second track from their thirteenth studio album, Songs of Innocence, and was released as its second single. It was produced by Danger Mouse and Ryan Tedder, with additional production from Declan Gaffney.

"Every Breaking Wave"
U2 Every Breaking Wave Single cover.jpg
Single by U2
from the album Songs of Innocence
Released9 December 2014 (2014-12-09)
Recorded2010–14 in California and New York[1]
  • 4:12 (album version)
  • 4:28 (acoustic sessions)
  • 4:36 (radio mix)
Producer(s)Danger Mouse and Ryan Tedder, with additional production from Declan Gaffney
U2 singles chronology
"The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)"
"Every Breaking Wave"
"Song for Someone"

Writing and recordingEdit

"Every Breaking Wave" was originally intended to be included on U2's 2009 studio album No Line on the Horizon. In an article previewing the album several weeks before release, Rolling Stone called the song a "swelling soul-pop song, with bright synth sounds influenced by OMD".[2] However, the track was ultimately left off the album,[3] much to the chagrin of some in the U2 camp; speaking of material the band were working on, lead singer Bono said the song was producer Jimmy Iovine's favorite.[4] Bono mentioned tentative plans for the group to release a follow-up record, Songs of Ascent, comprising songs from No Line's recording sessions,[3][5] and said that the first single was intended to be "Every Breaking Wave".[3] However, the project was continually delayed, as U2 struggled to complete an album to their satisfaction and were limited by other commitments.[6]

When the group resumed their U2 360° Tour in August 2010, they debuted "Every Breaking Wave" with a live performance, making it one of several unreleased tracks to be debuted.[7] As the band continued recording for their next studio album, the song was altered; after Ryan Tedder was brought on as a co-producer in 2013, the song was one of the tracks that he changed most, as he introduced a new chorus melody and moved the old one to the song's bridge.[8]

Bono described the song as being about the difficulty of "giv[ing] yourself completely to another person", with lyrical characters who are "addicted to sort of failure and rebirth".[8] He referred to the chorus lines "Every dog on the street / Knows we're in love with defeat / Are we ready to be swept off our feet / And stop chasing every breaking wave" as a chance for the characters of two lovers to "make a break for it". A previous version of the song included "After every peak, the trough / I can feel the energy drop / Will we ever know when to stop / With this chasing every breaking wave", which he said "has a certain despair that's powerful."[9]

An acoustic version of the song, recorded in Malibu, California, was included on the deluxe version of the album. This version features the Edge on piano and an orchestra accompaniment written by David Richard Campbell.[9]

Music videoEdit

The song's official music video is a truncated, four-and-a-half-minute version of the 13-minute short film Every Breaking Wave, which was directed by Irish director Aoife McArdle.[10][11] The film dramatizes the violence of The Troubles in Northern Ireland during the 1980s by depicting a teenage couple on opposing sides of the conflict. McArdle used the album and acoustic versions of "Every Breaking Wave" in the film, along with another track from Songs of Innocence, "The Troubles".[12] The film premiered on 12 February 2015 before the music video was released on 23 February.[12]


Ben Patashnik of NME said that "Every Breaking Wave" is "characterised by restraint rather than bombast and is another obvious highlight, concerned with relaxing into calmness rather than killing yourself trying to take every opportunity out there. It's subtle and sensitive, and it shows that U2 are still capable of true wonder".[13] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine cited the Edge's "whining guitar strains" on the song as one example of his "melodies and atmospheric licks" being "the real star of the album".[14] Kenneth Partridge of Billboard said the track is "strong enough to keep fans from messing with their iPhones" and suggested it could be paired with "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" for live performances.[15] Evan Sawdey of PopMatters said the track was "perhaps the album's most successful pop moment".[16] Jon Pareles of The New York Times said it was one of the album's "two most direct songs about romance, with sturdy melodies and straightforward buildups", describing it further as being "tinged with misgivings and ambivalences."[17]

Carl Wilson of Spin said he was "less moved" by the track than others on the album, saying it sounded like "someone turned the 'U2' dial up to 11".[18] Reviewing Songs of Innocence, Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said, "You might detect a certain whiff of desperation in the fact that parts of the album sound distinctly like Coldplay", citing the resemblance that the guitar line to "Every Breaking Wave" has to a melody from Coldplay's song "Paradise".[19] Kitty Empire of The Observer echoed this sentiment, saying that the song "creates a little fold in the time-space continuum, by sounding like Coldplay sounding like U2".[20] Dan Lucas of Under the Radar called the song one example of the band "self-plagiarising" themselves on the record, saying "the intro... is essentially a polished 'With or Without You'".[21]

Rolling Stone ranked "Every Breaking Wave" as the third-best song of 2014, calling it a "stark, shimmering ballad" that stands as the "emotional centerpiece of Songs of Innocence".[22]

Credits and personnelEdit


Chart (2014–15) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[24] 7
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[25] 18
France (SNEP)[26] 93
Slovenia (SloTop50)[27] 50
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[28] 7
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[29] 28
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[30] 34
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[31] 24
US Hot Rock Songs (Billboard)[32] 34
US Rock Airplay (Billboard)[33] 23



  1. ^ "'YOU GO YOUR WAY...'". Live Nation Entertainment. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  2. ^ Hiatt, Brian (22 January 2009). "Inside U2's Bold New Horizon". Rolling Stone (1071). Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Hiatt, Brian (4 March 2009). "U2 Talk "Horizon" Follow Up, Spider-Man Musical in Rolling Stone Cover Story". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  4. ^ Hiatt, Brian (1 October 2009). "U2 Beyond the "Horizon": Plans for Next Album Take Shape". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  5. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (15 February 2009). "The Wanderers". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Archived from the original on 23 October 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  6. ^ MacDonald (2014), pp. 232–235
  7. ^ Kreps, Daniel (23 August 2010). "U2 Debut Another New Song on European Tour". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  8. ^ a b Hiatt, Brian (6 November 2014). "Trying to Throw Their Arms Around the World". Rolling Stone (1221): 54–61.
  9. ^ a b U2 - Every Breaking Wave (Vignette). Vevo. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  10. ^ U2 - Every Breaking Wave. YouTube. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  11. ^ Grow, Kory (23 February 2015). "U2 Relive Northern Ireland's Violent Past in 'Every Breaking Wave' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  12. ^ a b Drohan, Freya (12 February 2015). "Irish filmmaker tipped for success releases new short movie for U2 song". Irish Independent. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  13. ^ Patashnik, Ben (10 September 2014). "NME Reviews - U2 - 'Songs Of Innocence'". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  14. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (10 September 2014). "U2: Songs of Innocence | Album Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  15. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (9 September 2014). "U2's Surprise 'Songs of Innocence': Album Review". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  16. ^ Sawdey, Evan (15 September 2014). "U2: Songs of Innocence". PopMatters. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  17. ^ Pareles, Jon (10 September 2014). "On New Album, Rock Veterans Revisit Youth". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  18. ^ Wilson, Carl (10 September 2014). "'Songs of Innocence' Review: U2 Talk to Ghosts and Avoid Becoming One". Spin. SpinMedia. Retrieved 10 September 2014.
  19. ^ Petridis, Alexis (11 September 2014). "U2: Songs of Innocence review – listenable, but not the grand return they clearly crave". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  20. ^ Empire, Kitty (14 September 2014). "U2: Songs of Innocence review – Blake must be spinning in his grave". The Observer. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  21. ^ Lucas, Dan (11 September 2014). "U2: Songs of Innocence (Island) Review". Under the Radar. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  22. ^ "50 Best Songs of 2014: U2, 'Every Breaking Wave'". Rolling Stone. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  23. ^ a b c Songs of Innocence (Compact disc liner notes). U2. Interscope Records. 2014. B0022124-02.CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ " – U2 – Every Breaking Wave" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  25. ^ " – U2 – Every Breaking Wave" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  26. ^ " – U2 – Every Breaking Wave" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  27. ^ "SloTop50 | Slovenian official singles weekly charts" (in Slovenian). Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  28. ^ "U2 Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  29. ^ "U2 Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  30. ^ "U2 Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  31. ^ "U2 Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  32. ^ "U2 Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  33. ^ "U2 Chart History (Rock Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 6 February 2015.


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