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Pop, U2's ninth studio effort (which shot to No. 1 in 28 countries around the world), emerged in March 1997 more than three and a half years after its predecessor Zooropa. This, the then longest hiatus between albums, afforded the band the space to pursue outside projects in greater depth than ever before and only added to the wealth of ideas that illuminated the record. Produced by Flood, with Howie B and Steve Osborne, the album sessions led to perhaps the widest assortment of sounds, samples, riffs and beats yet heard on a U2 album: the lead single may have been called "Discotheque," but this was no conventional dance record. It was, instead, the next audacious leap by a band determined to remain at the sharp edge and to stay ahead of the pack, as evidenced by rugged, adrenaline-fueled productions like "Mofo" and the episodic "Last Night On Earth." The band was certainly assimilating more influences from club culture, but Pop was far from defined by beats per minute. It had too many dimensions for that: "Staring At The Sun," for example, has acoustic touches and almost psychedelic guitar textures; "Miami" is spacey and restrained, "The Playboy Mansion" is low-key funk, and "If You Wear That Velvet Dress" deliberately introverted.

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