So it seems about a week ago, Apple and U2 decided to band together and release their new album "Songs of Innocence" to the masses. Far from being a traditional release, they instead decided to "give" the album away to the 500 million or so ITunes subscribers on the planet. Seems like a great promotional idea doesn't it? Well maybe 5 years ago it might have been, but now it just seems like a last ditch effort for a once iconic band to stay relevant, AND what has now become a complete PR disaster.
I was a huge U2 back in the day, when the band and their music stood for something a lot more important than making money. Songs like "Sunday, Bloody Sunday", "Pride (in the name of Love)" and "New Years Day" were all about our human struggle and crying out for a better world. But with U2 and the marketing company pocketing a reported $ 100 Million dollars to "give" their music away, it seems the Bono, The Edge and the boys have really lost their way. If U2 really wanted to actually GIVE their music away as a true gift, they wouldn't have felt the need to concoct such an enormous payday for themselves in the process.
I also wonder if Apple would have stooped so low if Steve Jobs were still with us. The other side of this is Apple should have known better than to force free music downloads on the world, at a time when people just don't want downloads anymore. Whether we like it or want it or not, we are in a music streaming world now - the masses have spoken, so now we music creators need to adapt to this new paradigm. Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, and surely would have seen that the U2 download push promotion was a bad idea, and crafted a more creative way to get the buzz Apple was seeking.
Here are just two of my favorite U2 songs from back in the day. First there is "Pride (In the name of Love)":
And then there's "New Years Day":
There was also "With or Without You" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" from the Joshua Tree album in 1987 and "Beautiful Day" from 1993 and "Desire" from 1997. These were all great songs, but I'm having trouble latching onto something that stands out in the last 10-15 years. Instead of a crazy publicity stunt to try and stay relevant, what U2 needs is to go back to their musical roots. Try writing about what really matters in the world, and then deliver that message with the same passion they started out with. I realize that for many artists this is an extremely difficult, if not impossible task. Because of their success, their lives and fortunes have changed so much and its hard to remember what it was really like in the beginning. All we can do is hope Bono and the boys find their way after this incident and manage to come back with a song that really inspires us once again.
NOTE: I tried to find the new U2 album "Songs of Innocence" in my ITunes player and it seems to be hidden very well (or maybe I just need to update to a newer ITunes :)) . Oh well, I'll just head online to stream a few songs and hope that maybe there's still a nugget of greatness among the new U2 tunes.
Music, Love & Laughter,
Vincent James @ LoveSongs.com