With the February 9 opening of In the Name of Love: Two Decades of U2 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Irish quartet is finally getting a corner to claim as its very own within the coveted corridors. Not that Bono and the boys really need the Rock Hall -- which is gathering two decades of memorabilia, such as the Edge's studded jeans, the leather jacket last seen on Bono at Super Bowl XXXVI, and various promotional materials -- to present them with such an honor. We already know that U2 is one of the greatest bands in the world.
So while you contemplate the Stetson that Bono wore during The Joshua Tree tour and production notes by producer Daniel Lanois, consider what secured the group this artifact-packed exhibit in the first place: the music. Below, U2's greatest hits -- the perfect soundtrack to your Rock Hall gawk.
1. "Beautiful Day" -- When it was released in 2000, it sounded big, gorgeous, and anthemic. It's even more so today.
2. All That You Can't Leave Behind -- There's a resonance to this, U2's greatest album. It's simultaneously elated and weary. And aware of every note being played.
3. Achtung Baby -- They've reinvented themselves so many times since this 1991 outing that it's easy to forget just how un-U2-like it originally sounded. It's when they first proved they wanted to do more than just save the world.
4. The Joshua Tree -- The 1987 album that elevated the band from cult status to rock stars. The best of it -- "With or Without You," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" -- still matters.
5. Zooropa -- It's the most overlooked of the top albums, an experimental tour de force that makes room for everything from the Edge reciting a mantra to Johnny Cash chiming in.
6. War -- This 1983 opus sounds a little naive 20 years later. But everything U2 would become -- the ringing guitars, the fist-in-the-air sloganeering -- forms here.
7. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" -- A warm and angry tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., it's the boys' first great single (from the murky The Unforgettable Fire). Overly earnest, but they mean each and every word of it.
8. "One" -- It implies anything you want it to -- a death march for an AIDS victim, a spiritual call for solidarity, the gospel according to the prophet Bono. And that's the beauty of it.
9. "Walk On" -- Like "Beautiful Day," this moving song from All That You Can't Leave Behind takes on even more significance post-9-11.
10. "With or Without You" -- The Joshua Tree's finest song is among its most conventional. The slow build, the sweeping chorus, the redemption at the very center of its message -- classic U2, at the very moment they became classic.