Did this upset U2?
While on my way in to Addictive Tracks HQ in Shoreditch one mid-September morning, I found myself browsing my iTunes music library and wondering how a U2 album I did not know existed had ended up in my playlist. It appeared that I had been violated overnight. Had I downloaded it in my sleep? Tripped and landed on an iTunes ‘purchase button’? Not so much…
With a little probing, I discovered the intruder was actually a surprise 13th album from the Irish stadium rockers, delivered automatically to every single iTunes customer’s music library free of charge on Tuesday to coincide with the launch of Apple’s latest iPhone 6 and “Apple Watch”.
To put this in startling perspective, this means the album was instantly owned by over 500million users, almost 10% of the World’s population! With Michael Jackson’s Thriller selling an estimated 60 million copies, it’s clear to see that the scale of such an album release is unprecedented.
Whose iPhone is it anyway?
We’re already living in a world sponsored by the Californian giants; sitting here in the Espresso Bar in the fashionable centre of Stockholm I’m surrounded by all things Apple. As I type on my (coffee shop favourite) MacBook Air and check the time on my iPhone I wonder how I was inducted into this cult.
When did I become so reliant on these contraptions that now decide what type of music I listen to? Who even asked me if I was a U2 fan? Certainly not Siri. Have we all become such pawns of the late Steve Jobs’ brainchild brand that we lap up anything they impose on us?
Apparently yes, since I was compelled to give the album a listen. It’s immediately clear that this record is a real close-to-home and personal release for the Dubliners; Iris (Hold me Close) is a quintessential U2 stadium filler in which Bono cries out for the mother he tragically lost as a teenager, while Raised by Wolves refers to the ongoing religious conflict in the band’s homeland.
Still, I feel like Songs of Innocence is going to be remembered more for its use as an Apple power-demo rather than as the band’s next Joshua Tree. Impressive though the campaign is it has not been met with all-embracing love, with Mercury Prize nominees Bombay Bicycle Club even accusing Apple of being “invasive” in their ploy.
However, it has to be said that Apple have yet-again pulled off another notable stunt and it will be intriguing to observe how such a campaign affects the charting of the album once it goes on general sale on October 14th.