First off, I will start by saying that I am not a huge U2 fan boy. I enjoy their singles, as well as a few select songs off their albums, but I never saw them live, and I don’t know the words to all of their songs. On the flipside, I am not one of those un-justified U2 haters; relentlessly bashing U2, Bono especially, for being self-righteous or for turning into the “New Nickleback.” Recently, Bono issued an apology for doing something that most musicians would never think of doing: releasing their album for free.
By now, everyone has heard of the controversial decision for Apple to partner with U2 and release the album, Songs of Innocence, making it available exclusive for iTunes, iTunes Radio and Beats Music for free. How dare they?!?! Forcing their album on us iTunes listeners like that!! This is blasphemy!!! If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m being entirely sarcastic. This just further proves that no matter what you do, how well you do it, or how pure your intentions are, there are still going be people who are pissed off.
Here’s what I don’t understand, if you don’t want the album, don’t download it. Yes, it was automatically added into your iTunes library, but you still needed to physically click download to get the album. If you didn’t want it, then just ignore it. People are saying that U2 is the “New Nickleback” because they are being forced down everyone’s throats. Well, here are some counterpoints; Songs of Innocence is U2’s first studio album in almost 6 years, so it’s not like they’re oversaturating the market. Their song was featured in a commercial to promote the album release; last time I checked, that’s pretty common. Bono is constantly in the media; yes, for his constant charity work and being a spokesperson for multiple world organizations.
The real problem with all of the negativity is that it dampens the fact that Songs of Innocence was a pretty good album. Their first single, “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” features the band playing tribute to their musical inspirations Ramones and The Clash. With a catchy hook and a heavy distorted guitar riff (think Revolution by The Beatles), “The Miracle” revisits sounds similar past hits “Vertigo” or “Elevation.” Mixed with the upbeat songs like “The Miracle” and “Raised By Wolves” are more personal, intimate songs like “The Troubles” and “Song for Someone.”
Over the span of their 38 year career, U2 has evolved their sound with each album. Some people have a preference to which “U2 Sound” they prefer. For the fans that prefer the sound of early U2, like on The Joshua Tree or War, there are some tracks on this album that share a similar smooth, melodic feel that compliment “With or Without You” or “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
Overall, this is a very solid album for U2; with a mixture of old and new sounds to pay homage to the past. It is unfortunate that it was surrounded in such a negative light due to the Apple release, but on the flip side, it did reach a lot of people (26 million people downloaded the full album). So to all of the music fans out there, don’t be hater and scoff at U2 because it’s the new cool thing to do. Give the album a listen; you may just have your mind changed.