I Listened to U2’s Songs of Innocence Cos It Was Free

So September 9th brought us the new iPhone 6 and the release of the album we didn’t know was coming straight to our iPhones.

In the grand tradition of surprise album releases, the lads launched their 13th studio album on iTunes and into the purchase folders of unsuspecting iTunes users. After checking my charges to make sure I hadn’t been bamboozled and struggling to understand how the hell I could even download it to my laptop (I live in understandable fear of The Cloud) I listened to the album.

You guys remember U2 right?


srsly tho, lol whut?

1) The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)

We’ve started with football chanting and fuzzy The Edge guitar far more nuanced than The Ramones.

I was young not dumb just wishing to be blinded

by you brand new we were pilgrims on our way.

Oh this is the song they’re using as part of the promo for new iTunes. Got it.

Bono is implying that they’re old enough to have witnessed the birth of Joey Ramone but I think they were about the same age.

Is it possible to outgrow a band that’s older than you are? Feels like that’s what happening.

2)Every Breaking Wave

Sounds a lot like With or Without You, which isn’t bad but makes me curious about what chords the guys remember playing after 30 years. If you go your way, and I go mine, are we so are we so helpless against the tide? 

 Did Ryan Tedder get involved in this album because it sounds a lot like One Republic.

Ironically enough, I’ve always thought they’ve done better with ballads with epic tracks buried between, sorta like Coldplay.

3) California (There Is No End To Love)

Bells tolling.

Echoy vocoder and we’re chanting Santa Barbara.

Definitely a radio friendly track that plays while your dentist drills mercilessly into your jaw because you let a cavity become a sinkhole.

As a native New Yorker, songs about California make me wonder what New York has done to people that they just don’t write jaunty melodies about how much fun it is to be here. Maybe it just makes people bitter or something.

4) Song for Someone

I take it back, this is the one that sounds more like With or Without You.

was told I would feel nothing the first time. 

This is that dramatic montage music for a romcom…or at the very least use in an upcoming episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

They still have the ability to write some damn anthemic tracks though.

5) Iris (Hold Me Close)

Here we have U2 in all their jangly guitar glory ala Streets Have No Name.

This actually sounds a lot like the early 2000s dance rock bands that were crawling out of the New York woodwork.

The universe is beautiful but cold

New Facebook status.

6) Volcano 

This is only an 11 song album and I’m struggling to care about it.

I’m more engaged with how violator Apple was by ‘gifting’ Apple users with this album. Turns out, they paid $100 million to unload the badboy on everyone. Talk about volcano.


you don’t wanna know

something in you about to blow

I can hear Danger Mouse’s production touches on this somehow. Also because Danger Mouse is wicked talented.

7) Raised by Wolves

Heavy breathing robot.

Bono sounds bored by his own lyrics and vocal delivery.

This actually sounds like the song that rolls at the end of a war documentary, so, you know, a typical U2 song that makes you feel bad for being a first worlder.

This is definitely the ‘war is terrible, politicians are terrible, we should do something about it but first lemme write this anthem’ song that pops up on a U2 album as of late.

it also ends hella abruptly.

8) Cedarwood Road 

Almost had me with a classic 90s BritWave drum loop but we’re actually rehashing Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me.

One of the things that’s interesting about this band is you’ve never really gotten to know them on a personal level, they’re just so big and this feels like one of those songs that’s supposed to sound personal but it’s just too big to be a simple story.

9) Sleep Like A Baby Tonight

Wake up synth loop anyone?

This is their Discotheque/Sweet Dreams tribute track.

Your eyes as red as Christmas (?)

Again, Bono just sounds like they’re playing around in the studio and he’s bored by the process.

I’m sleeping with this song though. Like, it’s building to something but I’m not sticking around to see what it looks like.

10) This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now

Electric tribal drums, harpsichord and seagulls.

We’re chanting now.

This is a revamped track from Joshua Tree, I can feel it.

Vocals are like, Tears for Fears Shout, which doesn’t sound bad. Guitar riff is She Moves In Mysterious Ways.

I may be annoyed with bands rehashing themselves though.

11) The Troubles


This may be the one sound that the band should’ve spent more time trying to cultivate a bit. Downtempo, reverb vocals and guitar.

I can live with denial but you’re not my trouble anymore

Facebook status #2.

On a whole, the album isn’t terrible, the band doesn’t seem to be showing their age and once they hit the road, the hits will start sticking. Maybe thematically they’re running into the same things that made them one of planet Earth’s biggest band, living with or without someone, visiting streets with no names, war is terrible themes always wrap around the band’s lyrics like the shades on Bono’s face. The album isn’t bad, it’s middle of the road music that feels grand because of the spectacle surrounding it’s release but to be honest, Bono and the guys have done much better work with less at stake. It was an interesting listen to say the least but the waves are being felt and time will tell if this is the next wave for music. There are points on the album where  I can see why so many people were like, why is this on my phone and how can I get rid of it? Especially when it comes to the obvious privacy violation on Apple’s part with immediately adding the album to users phones but is that really the issue?

Part of the problem  is that they aren’t the first band you think of when you think of. We’re conditioned to artists who gladly give you free stuff because we like them, they’re popular, it doesn’t feel out of character for them to do it. Whether it’s One Direction’s 24 first single download via their Vevo account, Katy Perry adding karaoke versions of her songs to her site or mix tapes, we like when our artists look out for us and reward us in kind for our patronage. Beyonce lovingly released her self titled via iTunes and with it a bunch of content that her fans eagerly paid for, even with the digital download available and the physical copy weeks away from release. She managed to tap into the consciousness of her fans in a way that made them feel like this was what they wanted; they needed Partition on their phones and computers immediately.

No one wants an album immediately added to their phones without their consent and that’s why everyone’s so mad.

That and the price tags for the new iPhone 6.


Many astute iPhone users noticed the album on their phones on September 9th and immediately took to social media to let Apple know they didn’t want this on their phones and sharing tips on how they could get rid of the album immediately. Insane when you think how the band, brand ambassadors since 2003, received an undisclosed blanket deal ($100 million US) to cover the cost of the promotion and free sale of the album to users. Apple tried giving people stuff they knew they weren’t going to really want and then said, nah that’s cool, that’s all you, keep that while closing the door in your face. Is the gamble going to pay off? Perhaps for diehard fans this was really the thing they’d been waiting for and maybe out of curiosity, people will check it out before grumbling and wanting it the hell of of their devices.

Here’s the thing, we’re always wanting free shit and new shit and here is free new shit but nobody wants it. Maybe it speaks to my freeloader, downloading nature but I don’t mind something free every so often. I don’t even use my phone for music, I have an iPod classic to do that because I like to have a phone I can use to call someone to complain about how my iPod classic locked up on me and I’ll be damned if someone forces me to use my phone as a music player. That’s just how I roll.

Remember: the reason why Apple was able to do this was because you didn’t read the Terms of Agreement.


Oh and while you were complaining about this, the iPod classic was quietly laid to rest today.


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