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U2 'I Will Follow' by Shan Phearon

David Knight - 5th Apr 2023

As part of a series of 'micro music videos' created for U2's new album Songs Of Surrender - where the band have revisited some of their biggest songs, interpreting them afresh - Shan Phearon has given I Will Follow a visual that subverts expectations, and offers its timeless theme contemporary relevance: a powerful snapshot of inner-city drill culture.   

U2 frontman Bono's lyrics for the song - from their debut album Boy, and their first ever hit - were written from the perspective of his mother Iris, who died when he was 14. Bono's slightly revised lyrics ("A boy tries hard to be a man, His mother lets go of his hand, A gift of grief will bring a voice to life.") form the basis of his new performance of the song, more than 40 years since the original.

Meanwhile Phearon's fiercely energetic 60 second visual stands as a counterpoint to Bono's reflective delivery, showcasing boys performing the Drill dance style known as Sturdy. The seeming clash of styles and cultures quickly recedes as the lyrics start to chime with the lives of the young males of today - and their dancing fits smoothly into the rhythm of the track.

It stands within the whole Songs Of Surrender one minute video series, by over 40 Creators - in portrait mode only. It appears on YouTube like this, but you can enjoy the 'full-frame' version here. 

"UK drill has been one of the most influential youth music movements in the world," says Phearon. "It’s born from teen nihilism, disenfranchisement, low income areas, violence, trauma, alienation. Like rebellious punk and grime before, UK Drill is a response to broken British politics. UK Drill culture has codes: mythos, uniform, language, hand gestures, environment, dance. The Drill dance style - like Hip-Hop adjacent 'conflict styles' Breakdancing or Krump battling in eras past - is known as Sturdy.

"I was thinking about themes behind U2’s debut Boy LP... adolescence, teen angst, coming of age, etc. I thought: let’s reframe these through a modern European inner-city youth lens. I saw natural connections between U2's early themes and alienation, parenting, childhood trauma, teen behavioural issues, other deeper ideas around UK Drill and modern street culture youth.

"It felt visually unexpected from U2 and uncommon in rock/alternative. UK Drill, integrated into the thematic universe of one of the great universal bands of all time, in an organic crossover moment - we hadn’t seen this cross-pollination done yet.

"More than anything though, I think it’s cool to see modern Rap and Rock n’ Roll ideas find common ground."

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David Knight - 5th Apr 2023


  • Director's notes
  • Special projects
  • Rock
  • Micro Music Video
  • Sturdy

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Jordan Rowley
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Simon Oxley


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Kevin Kloecker
Interscope Records

David Knight - 5th Apr 2023

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