POP POV: Pulling a Beyoncé (Part ‘U’2)

The following are thoughts continuing from a previous article, Pulling a Beyoncé: Why are artists releasing ‘surprise’ albums?” I recommend reading that post before viewing part two, but who the hell am I tell you what to do? Enjoy.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have been invaded. On September 9, a 54-year-old man who refers to himself as Bono sneaked into computer and left something. Bono, along with his cohorts (a 53-year-old man who answers to the name The Edge, a bass player named Adam, and a drummer named Larry), left a steaming pile of Innocence, stamped with a familiar Apple, on every Itunes user’s doorstep. The practical joke in question revolves around the intrusion of U2’s Songs of Innocence in the library of anyone with an Itunes account. U2 released the “surprise” album in conjunction with Apple’s unveiling of the Iphone 6 and Apple Watch. If you’d like to, you can read more up on partnership here.

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Writer’s Note: I understand there are endless blog posts and Internet comments bashing U2. Personally, I have never shared that hateful sentiment; there are many U2 songs I enjoy, and I think they’ve made some very important albums. Go listen to Pop, a commercial failure largely due to the addition of electronica and dance elements, but an album that by today’s standards was completely ahead of its time. This is just one often overlooked landmark in the band’s catalog.

Okay, back to reality. Now, I haven’t listened to Songs of Innocence, so I can’t accurately judge whether or not the music is comparable to dog excrement. But many of the reactions I’ve seen to album’s unexpected, or should I say “surprise,” presence has been less then welcoming, a reception completely opposite from Beyoncé’s “surprise” release. Here are my two possible explanations as to why.

The first is a bit obvious. U2’s “surprise” album was not offered as a gift; it was placed without our notice on our phones and in our computers. Additionally, you may not delete the album. This unwanted placement makes Songs of Innocence another Apple IOS update that everyone hates. It’s like if someone were to come over to your house, and just left something in your bathroom for you to see every time you shit. It’s what I imagine anyone in a popular band feels when someone hands them a demo, “Here’s some free music.” *wink*. It’s obtrusive because you weren’t given a choice.

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Point two. As I mentioned in the former article, music fans adore surprise releases because they feel special. You imagine that the artist had just finished the album and couldn’t wait share it with you. Logic would say the artist stands to lose money with no prior campaign, but money seems like a lesser thought. It feels genuine.

But Songs of Innocence is the complete opposite of that. Apple paid U2 an ungodly, but disclosed, amount of money for the right to releaseThe marketing budget alone was over $100 million! For decades, U2 have been the epitome of corporate rock, and now they’ve chosen to team with the poster child for big business. Therefore, the release of Songs of Innocence comes across as nothing but pandering. From this point on, any semi-popular artist who releases a surprise album will appear a little more calculated, a little phonier. And that’s all I have to say about that.

“I can’t live with or without you.” 

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1/20/14 Bag of Tracks: The Dead Weather, Chris Topher, U2

Good day all. I trust everyone’s MLK Day is going swell. I had a great weekend, even though I worked most of it. I saw the movie Her on Friday, and it was incredible. Now that we’re getting closer to Oscar night, I’ve been watching more and more movies. But, Her is by far my favorite of this award season. Everyone should go see it. I also made a trip over to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg for the opening of their Andy Warhol exhibit. I was absolutely floored. If you live in Florida try to make it over there before it closes in April. Two of the greatest artists of the 20th century are brought together to showcase some breathtaking art.

On to today’s blog! It’s been a while sense we’ve had “A Bag of Tracks,” and we’ve got some good ones for you. Enjoy.

The Dead Weather – “Open Up (That’s Enough)”

The Dead Weather come screaming back with “Open Up (That’s Enough),” their first new material since 2010’s Sea of Cowards. This track is the most furious Dead Weather song since “Treat Me Like Your Mother”. Allison Mosshart takes the reins on vocal duties, with Jack, Little Jack, and Dean singing backup. During the chorus the three men struggle to contain Mosshart, warning her, “That’s enough, that’s enough.” But, she keeps pushing forward into a flurry of rock. The group have plans to release a full-length in 2015, and will be putting out several singles from the album this year. You can listen to “Rough Detective,” the second song released, on Spotify.

Chris Topher – “Creators & Innovators”

For those who don’t remember, I reviewed Chris’ EP Introspective a few months back and was blown away by the sonic bliss. Shortly after I reviewed the EP, I talked to Chris about how much I loved his music and what he planned to do with it in the future. He initially said that Introspective was going to be his last release, but after how well it was received, he was inspired to continue creating. That brings us to “Creators & Innovators”. The microphone crackles as Chris begins with a warped synth line. Like the rest of his music, I’m instantly transported to another world. I get lost in the continuous drum beat that is both big and beautiful. The whole song is intergalactic in size and feel. As the music closes, an old radio sample, which has become a staple for Chris, follows us out with a thought provoking monologue. Goosebumps.

U2 – “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”

Obviously, this song was written back in the 80’s, but today it has extra meaning. For those who are unaware, this song is about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I think “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” captures the humble preacher’s character perfectly. His struggle. His persistence. His message. As Bono so beautifully puts it, “Free at last, they took your life. They could not take your pride.” Even if you hate U2, I hope today you can feel something marvelous. Have a wonderful day.