Who knew U2’s hit single Beautiful Day would make such a fitting accompaniment to DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) footage from the year 2000, but sure enough it does. And for several very good reasons. Notably and weirdly, there are also similarities in their respective trajectories.
The song is actually quite period-correct. Like DTM’s triumphant return in 2000 after a four-year hiatus, U2’s record All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a return to the top of the charts after a three-year hiatus. In the year 2000, too. Yes, I know we’ve all heard this song a million times while shopping for jeans in our local Kohl’s or Target, but in my opinion, it still holds up.
U2’s previous record Pop wasn’t really well received in 1997. I can confirm: it’s generally unlistenable, and way too far off from the stacked records they put out up until 1991. That’s when Achtung Baby hit record stores, which is definitely one of their top three.
On the motorsports side of this comparison, 1995 and 1996 were turbulent years for DTM (then called by its original name, Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft). Due to a massive increase in its schedule, including races around the globe far-outside of Germany, costs went up substantially. Development costs went up as well due to new technology that was integrated into the series. Combine those with decreasing fanfare, and other general grievances by manufacturers, and it led to a slow, painful death. A far cry from its golden age in the late-’80s.
But sure enough, like a lot of society in 2000, there was a renewed sense of optimism. U2 went back to the drawing board and came out with a solid record, and banger of a hit single.
DTM revised its rules, went back to a more simple approach, kept all the races in Germany, and introduced some truly badass cars. The only manufacturers were Audi, Opel, and Mercedes, but all three ran cars that are some of the best-looking race cars ever. Especially Mercedes; the W208-based (and distant-cousin to the CLK GTR) CLK-DTM-2000 is one of my favorite race cars, ever. The Abt Sportsline Audi TTs are up there, too; I’m not sure if there’s ever been a better use for a TT on track.
The lyrics of the song match all this pretty well. While it’s generally about being in a downtrodden situation and still finding beauty and joy in the world, perhaps one could also say it’s about a brand-new day. Kind of like how DTM experienced a fresh, brand-new day in 2000. It hasn’t stopped since, either, despite that Class One weirdness in 2019 and 2020, and big revisions this year.
The same can’t really be said for U2… All That You Can’t Leave Behind was great, but I can’t say the same for the records they’ve released since. Despite some of them being free on iTunes.