U2 invades smartphones with lackluster new album

Sep 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm

There are few things more awkward than opening a gift that you really don't want. Such was the case when many iPhone users discovered U2's Songs of Innocence in their music libraries.

What is most disappointing about the new U2 record is not the coup to invade your smartphone. It’s simpler than that; the album is just not good. There was a time when a new effort by U2 would come on the radio, or you would voluntarily put on an album, and you knew without a doubt that it was U2. Well, those days have apparently been left far behind. Songs of Innocence doesn't sound like U2. If anything, it sounds like the soundtrack to a credit card commercial, in which a lovely young millennial enjoys an entire day of shopping.

It’s doubtful they've run out of money and need to license some songs to American Express.

Of course, the songs are well produced and well executed. However, the music fails to stir any excitement or evoke any emotional response. Lyrically, it’s one cliché after another without any real conviction shining through. For someone with so many extracurricular activities –which are indeed noble- it would be expected that Bono would sing with passion and vigor about something he gives a shit about.

Obviously, the intrusion into iTunes libraries across the globe has caused quite an uproar, even Sharon Osbourne is pissed about it. Google searches for the album turn up results of how to get rid of it, as well as reviews ripping the spineless album to shreds.

This isn’t U2’s first partnership with Apple. The corporation campaigned with a special U2 edition of the iPod that came stocked with the band’s catalog. Now, offering up music exclusive to the platform has worked for other artists. Take Beyoncé for example. The difference between the two albums is Beyoncé’s actually has substance. The only track on Songs of Innocence that is mildly interesting from beginning to end is “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight,” a track with dark synths, lush strings, a guitar solo so fuzzy it sounds like The Edge’s pedal board is shorting out and an expressive performance from Bono.

Perhaps it's a good thing U2 gave Songs of Innocence away to iTunes users. In the long run, it will probably save a lot of fans ten bucks.

This whole debacle raises the question: is there an artist who could gift iTunes users a free album and get away without being called names by post-menopausal British women? It would have to be someone who is generally well-liked without any well-known, strong opinions on touchy subjects.