From Horizon To Innocence
September 12, 2014 8:34 PM   Subscribe

U2's thirteenth studio album Songs Of Innocence was released for free download via iTunes this week (with surprisingly good reviews and some naysayers). And of course, some controversy about how it was distributed... But it's been 5 1/2 years since the release of their last album. What on earth have they been up in the meantime?

U2 had been talking about releasing a new album as early as 2009. Supposedly a more meditative companion piece to NLOTH, titled Songs Of Ascent, this album was hinted at for years. @U2 has a deliriously complete and lengthy roundup of all the reporting about "the new album", which includes several abandoned projects and diversions (including Bono and Edge's involvement with Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark on Broadway).

The creation of No Line On The Horizon was no mean feat itself. The fairly massive success of 2004's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb and the 18 month long Vertigo Tour which followed (which involved two entirely different productions, one indoor and one outdoor) had the band a bit on edge about how to proceed. After 4 1/2 years of false starts and producer changes, they finally release the album in early 2009 and it basically falls over and dies. None of the singles hit the Top 10 in the important UK and US charts and while the album debuts at #1 all around the world, sales fall off immediately.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of NLOTH was Anton Corbijn's accompanying film Linear, starring Said Taghmaoui as an African immigrant disillusioned with life in Europe who decides to travel on his own back to Tripoli. The song order in the film represents the album track order as of mid-2008. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Playlist

But the most interesting thing to come out of the NLOTH era has to be the U2 360º Tour [35m documentary about creating the tour]. Easily the most (choose your adjective or combination thereof) ambitious, hubristic, awe-inspiring, ridiculous, stunning, logistics-nightmare-inducing world-wide event ever undertaken, the production could only be mounted in open-air stadiums, due to the mammoth proportions of its stage. This 4m30s timelapse shows one single event of the tour, requiring 120 trucks, 3.5 days of construction, and a small army of people all working toward one night out of 110 worldwide. The first half of the tour in 2009 featured heavily songs from NLOTH, as well as the expected lineup of old favorites, as was well documented in their world-wide livestreamed (and later released on DVD) U2 360º Live From The Rose Bowl [YouTube Playlist]. But even the most carefully-planned ludicrously gigantic sensory onslaught of a tour cannot overcome the frailty of the human body, and while preparing for the second year of the tour, Bono injured his back.

The schedule shifting required for Bono's healing and rehabilitation caused the tour to extend into mid-2011. By which time, the band's focus had shifted from trying to promote their obviously failing album toward the 20th Anniversary of their seminal Achtung Baby. The setlist of the new, extended tour shifted dramatically toward revisiting this older material, as evidenced in this shockingly good fan-created concert document from one of their shows in Europe. This drive toward nostalgia (and some might say marketing) culminated with their triumphant set at Glastonbury. In the end, over 7 million tickets were sold for 360º Tour shows, making it the biggest tour ever on record.

However, it's not like the band had ONLY been touring and recording and abandoning projects all this time.

Edge appeared with Jimmy Page and Jack White in the documentary It Might Get Loud [trailer], filmed during the recording of NLOTH and released in late 2009. The band played at the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin to mark the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in November 2009. Bono and Edge appeared on Elvis Costello's excellent music talk show Spectacle to close out 2009 [~50m, with commercials (sorry)].

2010 found Bono continuing his focus on the unfortunate in life, collaborating with Edge, Jay-Z and Rihanna on the charity single Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour) as part of the Hope For Haiti telethon. Bono also spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos about the One and RED campaigns in 2011.

The band also endured the release of Killing Bono [1h51m], a 2011 feature-length film about rivalry in the Dublin music scene during their emergence.

2011 also saw the release of the Spiderman soundtrack, which include Rise Above 1, featuring Reeve Carney plus Bono and Edge.

Also in 2011 came From The Sky Down (1, 2) , a documentary about the recording of Achtung Baby.

Bono and Edge were not the only ones busy during this time. Larry Mullin, Jr had his acting debut in The Man On The Train [trailer].

Bono did a guest op-ed for the New York Times about the struggle against HIV for World AIDS Day at the end of 2011.

Even Adam "The Quiet One" Clayton was busy during this time, with his former PA making news being convicted of embezzlement in July 2012.

And then things get quiet. Bono makes his typical one-off appearances here and there, but aside from an interview with Charlie Rose in May 2013, the band basically falls off the map.

That is, until they contribute Ordinary Love to the biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom in late 2013. Alternate Video, Paul Epworth Remix, Pretty Pink Remix, which of course goes on to be nominated for and win several awards.

Then in early 2014, they released Invisible during the Super Bowl. Everyone thought it was an advance single from the new album, but of course it wasn't.

And with this new album out, there is, of course, talk of a new album coming out soon, Songs Of Experience. And, of course, talk of a new tour starting in Summer 2015. And then a whole new cycle of U2 will begin, for better or worse. And given their track record of late, this one will last for 6 1/2 years.
posted by hippybear (125 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
 
And of course, some controversy about how it was distributed...

May I present whoisu2.com for all your the-canon-is-not-canonical needs.
posted by psoas at 8:45 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


Where have they been? Not on my phone. Until recently. People bitch a lot about "Steve would never allow this!" but making their new album obligatory is seriously tone deaf.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:03 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


You left out my most/least-favorite moment during the 2012 Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali, when Dear Leader showed up out of nowhere to "jam" onstage with Touareg crossover stars Tinariwen, and was introduced by the bemused MC as "Bono from YouTube."
posted by mykescipark at 9:08 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


This post is not a rebel post! This post is From Horizon To Innocence!
posted by mr_roboto at 9:14 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was overjoyed when I heard that U2 was releasing their new album for free on iTunes. But mainly because I knew it meant we were getting a new episode of U Talkin' U2 To Me.

And it was wonderful. Great ep.
posted by whitecedar at 9:16 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I've been using the recent U2 talk to studiously ignore the new album and instead reassess my favorite album of theirs, 1993's Zooropa, which is also vigorously hated by many U2 fans. I think it holds up extremely well. It's one of the most underrated album's of the 90's, and a misunderstood masterpiece. It's paradoxically really dated and yet very much ahead of its time. And no album strikes its very specific atmosphere and intentions in quite the same way.

Numb

Lemon

Zooropa

U2's 'Zooropa' Almost Killed Their Career 20 Years Ago Today

In a decade where U2 got weird, Zooropa was the band's weirdest effort

20 Years On: U2's Zooropa Revisited
posted by naju at 9:18 PM on September 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


Where are you finding U2 fans that hate Zooropa?! It's lesser known to the public at large but along with Pop it's generally considered an underrated gem in fan circles.
posted by kmz at 9:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


naju: I'll be honest. I HATED Zooropa when it first came out, totally could not connect with it. But it has grown on me across the decades, a lot of live performances of songs helped, and it's one of those albums where the tracks from it come suddenly into my mind with only the slightest poetic provocation.

Stay (Faraway So Close), in particular, has turned into a complete classic.
posted by hippybear at 9:24 PM on September 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Don't forget about Achtung Baby, which was far more of a departure from any U2 before it than Zooropa was from Achtung Baby.
posted by blucevalo at 9:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think they could make it up to everybody by just giving out copies of The Joshua Tree.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:31 PM on September 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


Quality of the music aside... it's a free album that, as I understand it, doesn't really count against your storage limits, isn't automatically downloaded, and can be safely ignored.

...so what's the problem again?

(Also, at least the post explains where U2 has been for the past few years. Still not as excited about them coming back as I am for Outkast.)
posted by qcubed at 9:34 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have an opinion about the new U2 album.* My opinion is as irrelevant though. ...as is the album itself. Because - as whitecedar alluded to - it is impossible in 2014 (...or the near future) for U2 to produce an album that is better than the corresponding UTU2TM episode.

*disappointing, embarrassingly derivative, $$$$, meh.
posted by Anoplura at 9:43 PM on September 12, 2014


...so what's the problem again?

It's invasive, obnoxious, and a reminder that you, the user, have no actual control over your own music collection. If Apple can giveth, then it can also taketh away.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:47 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, getting all pissy about being GIVEN an album (that can be quickly deleted), just about defines a first-world problem.
posted by TDavis at 9:47 PM on September 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


Of all companies, why would Apple fail to recognize that people construct their identity via what they own and consume, that they consider their music choices to be profound, an insight into their soul, and thus people would be offended to be given music that they can't easily decline or delete by some entity they have no personal relationship with?
posted by idiopath at 9:49 PM on September 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm actually very impressed by how personal the album is, if a little messy and overproduced.

Iris really hits you in the gut when you understand what it's about, especially if you've lost a parent or someone close to you like that.
posted by Old Man McKay at 9:49 PM on September 12, 2014


Of all companies, why would Apple fail to recognize that people construct their identity via what they own and consume, that they consider their music choices to be profound, an insight into their soul, and thus people would be offended to be given music that they can't easily decline or delete by some entity they have no personal relationship with?

I agree that it's all pretty dumb. For Apple, for U2, and especially for the people who construct their identities based on what is listed in their iTunes library.
posted by naju at 9:54 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


I should get to put an album on Bono's iPhone. Then we're even.
posted by mazola at 9:59 PM on September 12, 2014 [32 favorites]


It's invasive, obnoxious, and a reminder that you, the user, have no actual control over your own music collection. If Apple can giveth, then it can also taketh away.

Sure, maybe, in the cloud. But does nobody still have their own mp3s on their own machines anymore?

And on top of that, the Apple iTunes iCloud iLibrary doesn't exactly erase your old music from your hard disk unless you do it yourself, correct? So... it's not like all control has been taken away.
posted by qcubed at 10:01 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have been done with U2 ever since my freshman college roommate decided to stop showering and instead listen to Rattle and Hum nonstop for three months.

But I did appreciate the chance to run across this tweet by Dan Wineman:
Evolution of music sales:
1. Pay a lot
2. Pay a little
3. Pay anything
4. OK fine, just pay once a month
5. Fuck you, now you own a U2 album
posted by bibliowench at 10:03 PM on September 12, 2014 [79 favorites]


Actually, the way the apple music app works on the phone, even stuff not on your phone, but originally from iTunes, is listed with a little "download from cloud" icon. That is, I did not have anything listed for the artist U2 before this nonsense. So, no, I can't delete it. It will always show up.
posted by R343L at 10:08 PM on September 12, 2014


Yeah, the way they did this distribution didn't work out well.

They should have done some sort of opt-in process. Instead, they did a blanket distribution which has no opt-out. That's a problem and is earning both Apple and U2 a lot of ill will.

I hope lessons are being learned.
posted by hippybear at 10:10 PM on September 12, 2014


Well, I feel for you guys with this whole U2 bit. When I got my Nexus 7 (2012), it came with a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I can't delete that. Or unsee it.

I'm not sure which of us has it worse, Android side or Apple side.
posted by qcubed at 10:10 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


...so what's the problem again?

If you still have to download a program to download the music then that's the problem.
posted by juiceCake at 10:12 PM on September 12, 2014


We assemble ourselves through the choice of curation. This was a violation of that curation. One I don't happen to mind personally, but if they Biebered my phone, I'd be pissed.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:12 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


If you still have to download a program to download the music then that's the problem.

But if you don't want the music then you don't have to download the program...
posted by qcubed at 10:12 PM on September 12, 2014


When I got my Nexus 7 (2012), it came with a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I can't delete that. Or unsee it.

Wow. Didn't know that. Glad I waited for Mark II.
posted by juiceCake at 10:13 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, I feel for you guys with this whole U2 bit. When I got my Nexus 7 (2012), it came with a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

My Nexus 10 came with one of the Ice Age movies. I think I win because saber-toothed squirrels. I'm not sure how I feel about Denis Leary these days though...
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:14 PM on September 12, 2014


If you still have to download a program to download the music then that's the problem.

The album itself, in physical and digital forms, will be available for purchase in mid-October. I assume all the "spam" of the new U2 album will disappear at that time, too, for those who never wanted it in the first place.
posted by hippybear at 10:14 PM on September 12, 2014


But if you don't want the music then you don't have to download the program...

Obviously. But you might want the music without downloading and installing a horrible program. It's like getting a nice desert in a shit bowl.
posted by juiceCake at 10:15 PM on September 12, 2014


They should have done some sort of opt-in process.

They already do. There's a checkbox in iTunes preferences that enables automatic downloads. If you don't check the box, they won't automatically download things to your device.
posted by dhammond at 10:15 PM on September 12, 2014


I have been done with U2 ever since my freshman college roommate decided to stop showering and instead listen to Rattle and Hum nonstop for three months.

I loved them pretty much unconditionally until Joshua Tree, which just got way too ubiquitous. But I didn't really consciously start distancing myself from U2 until Rattle + Hum, and that dubious stuff right off the top about stealing Helter Skelter back from Charles Manson (!?!?!), and then not even playing that shit hot a version of it. Also, I hate to say it, Bono's hair crimes were getting impossible to ignore. Even then, I could see the mullet wasn't going to set anybody free, feed any starving children, topple any fascist dictators, save any endangered species.
posted by philip-random at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's invasive, obnoxious, and a reminder that you, the user, have no actual control over your own music collection. If Apple can giveth, then it can also taketh away.

It reminds me of a former, creepy landlady of mine, who would come into our apartment when we were out to leave baked goods and flowers (Which went smashingly with our decor of Morrissey posters and half-filled diet coke can ashtrays). A nice idea, but a strong reminder that we didn't actually own our space.
posted by bibliowench at 10:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Naju: I have a Lemon tattoo, I don't love U2 but Zooropa.... man!
posted by Cosine at 10:36 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hair crimes? Nah, man, it's the shades that are the real crimes.
posted by symbioid at 10:36 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Even then, I could see the mullet wasn't going to set anybody free, feed any starving children, topple any fascist dictators, save any endangered species.

Perhaps not, but it's plausible that his conversations with George W Bush led to the biggest and longest lasting funded effort toward fighting HIV in Africa, an effort which continues to this day and is widely recognized as having a giant effect.
posted by hippybear at 10:40 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Man, I hate getting stuff for free.

Unless I download it illegally; that I'll defend to the death.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:43 PM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Are you kidding, this was awesome having a whole album delivered to my iTunes.

Since then, I've burned it onto several CDs and have been selling them to fogeys who say stuff like "I think they sold out after 'war'".
posted by hal_c_on at 10:46 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's wrong that a band can just put their album into your computer thing without you asking first; there's a moral vacuum in them doi... what, nudie pictures of Jennifer Lawrence? Who cares if she didn't give her permission; it's the Internet {click} {click} {click}.
posted by Wordshore at 10:48 PM on September 12, 2014


“We’re the blood in your machines, oh Zen master of hard- and software Tim Cook."

Least awkward product positioning event ever.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:54 PM on September 12, 2014


I should get to put an album on Bono's iPhone. Then we're even.

Suggestions:

* It's A Sunshine Day: Best Of The Brady Bunch
* Dead Milkmen, Big Lizard In My Backyard
* John Denver And The Muppets
* Superman The Movie Soundtrack, Alternative Previously Unreleased Disco Version
* Kenny Rogers (anything made before 1970)
* Leonard Nimoy, all
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:01 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been very disappointed with U2's output since Pop, but I always give each new album a listen or three in the hope that I'll find at least a few tracks I like, and will do so with this one. Their material from the early '80s through the late '90s was so strong, but it seems like they've just hit a really long songwriting rut. Pearl Jam sort of scuffled a bit throughout the last decade, but even on their weakest albums there were still at least a few tracks that stacked up well against their best from the '90s, and they've come back in a big way. Hopefully U2 can do the same.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:02 PM on September 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Man, I hate getting stuff for free.

Unless I download it illegally; that I'll defend to the death.


Har har, but what makes this different than the shovelware that is ubiquitous on Android and Windows and that Apple has shunned over the years?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:04 PM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it's wrong that a band can just put their album into your computer thing without you asking first; there's a moral vacuum in them doi... what, nudie pictures of Jennifer Lawrence? Who cares if she didn't give her permission; it's the Internet {click} {click} {click}.

What is this even. Complete non-sequitur.

They already do. There's a checkbox in iTunes preferences that enables automatic downloads. If you don't check the box, they won't automatically download things to your device.

That checkbox is about auto-downloading things I've bought. Or it was until this week! Does not in any way count as opt-in.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:05 PM on September 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Man, I hate getting stuff for free.

Unless I download it illegally; that I'll defend to the death.


cool. Because that's your autonomy at work. The other option (the issue in question here) is too dystopic for words when I really think about it. Massively powerful corporations force feeding me their definition of culture. Forever.

fuck that shit
posted by philip-random at 11:07 PM on September 12, 2014 [10 favorites]


I'm vehemently against this U2 insertion. I consider it a UX fiasco -- as said above, what is on my phone and in my library matters -- I know what I have, I know what's available and why. Forcing this on people ruins that sense of ownership and identity.

For people dismissing this: what if it was a band you really disliked? What if it was 10 artists instead of one? What if it was a playlist of songs by 50 artists that Apple thinks are great -- suddenly your artist list is overwhelmed by a bunch of shit you don't want and don't care about.

Yeah that's a slippery slope argument and I stand by it. This was a line they should not have crossed and should never cross again.

The similarity to pre-installed shit mentioned above is apt. It's shitty when carriers do it and it's shitty when Apple does it.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:12 PM on September 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well, I feel for you guys with this whole U2 bit. When I got my Nexus 7 (2012), it came with a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I can't delete that. Or unsee it.

Mine came with that movie and a Jeffrey Archer novel.

What are the comparative environmental impacts of forcing everyone to download an album versus driving 120 trucks some the world? You would think Bono had never heard of climate change or the global poor, the two faced gobsite. If only we could increase his awareness perhaps he could start another campaign to spend more of the taxes he doesn't pay to address it
posted by biffa at 11:14 PM on September 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will be honest about this: if it was Beyoncé I woulda been stoked and somewhat less vehement. Part of my revulsion is in how out of step this feels: do they know that U2 isn't the biggest band in the works anymore, that not everyone knows or cares? It's like your dad showing up at your birthday party with free Allman Brothers CDs for everyone.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:17 PM on September 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


I was telling a friend today: it should've been the new Aphex Twin album instead. If we want to get the right kind of people losing their shit.
posted by naju at 11:23 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Really, they should have partnered with Amazon. The Unforgettable Kindle Fire? Yeah? Yeah?

(great album, but can't pass up a joke)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:26 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Don't forget about Achtung Baby, which was far more of a departure from any U2 before it than Zooropa was from Achtung Baby.

Also the first single from Achtung Baby, the Fly, was at the time the sonically filthiest thing to have been on top 40 radio. I think it opened people's ears to a wider palate of sound.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:27 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was telling a friend today: it should've been the new Aphex Twin album instead. If we want to get the right kind of people losing their shit.

It should be the Ventolin single.
posted by aubilenon at 11:29 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also the first single from Achtung Baby, the Fly, was at the time the sonically filthiest thing to have been on top 40 radio

true. in the Americas at least.

Any number of acts beat them to it Great Britain. The Cure among others.
posted by philip-random at 11:31 PM on September 12, 2014


"This is bullshit! Nobody cares! These guys are from England and who gives a shit! Just a lot of wasted names that don’t mean diddly shit."
- Casey Kasem
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:38 PM on September 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


U2: The Insertioning
posted by mannequito at 11:56 PM on September 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


You know what is it about this? It's totally something Microsoft would have done.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:07 AM on September 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


has anyone taken a look at the Ford Motor Company after Henry Sr died? I wonder if it's similar to this post-SteveJobs era we're currently enduring with Apple.
posted by philip-random at 12:13 AM on September 13, 2014


U2 Event Scores:
Piece 1

1. Obtain Access to Bono's computer
2. Place your favorite album on it
3. Wait

Piece 2

1. Join a hacker collective
2. Obtain a large amount of iCloud credentials
3. Start a band
4. Write an album
5. Place your new album in the iCloud Drive of all the people you hacked.
6. Wait.
posted by azarbayejani at 12:16 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


U2 album placings in the current iTunes Top Album chart.

16.
29.
31.
36.
40.
46.
50.
55.
57.
61.
64.
75.
85.
88.
95.
97.
98.
posted by Wordshore at 12:23 AM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Apple seems to have some sort of requirement to do something totally stupid every few years.

Anyone remember iTunes Ping?
posted by emptythought at 12:24 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Really think they should have given away a new Merzbow album.
posted by Jimbob at 12:28 AM on September 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I was excited when Apple released U2 but many of my complaints were not fixed in U2.01.

I hope Apple gets it right in U3.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:40 AM on September 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


they did a blanket distribution which has no opt-out. That's a problem and is earning both Apple and U2 a lot of ill will.

It's rumoured to have also earned U2 $100 million upfront.
posted by colie at 12:46 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


U2 had a deal with Google first, but it broke down because "Where the Streets Have No Name" totally messes with Google Maps.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:00 AM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


R343L: Actually, the way the apple music app works on the phone, even stuff not on your phone, but originally from iTunes, is listed with a little "download from cloud" icon. That is, I did not have anything listed for the artist U2 before this nonsense. So, no, I can't delete it. It will always show up.

Well, actually you can hide it.
posted by JiBB at 1:02 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Has anyone actually listened to it? Is it any good?
posted by fshgrl at 1:33 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


qcubed: "...so what's the problem again?"

The problem is that I don't want it. I don't like U2. I have disliked their music for decades. I have no reason to ever purchase their music. And yet, today I open up iTunes and there, sitting among all the music that I really did purchase is this thing that I didn't buy, don't want and don't like. It's not in any meaningful sense part of my music collection, yet Apple have added it to my account anyway, without even so much as asking. It's irritating.

The fact that I can hide it is a slight consolation, but not a very big one. Apple has forced me to opt out, rather than showing some common courtesy and asking me if I want to opt in. I'd have the same feeling of annoyance if I'd lent Tim Cook my CD collection and he returned it with Hotel California silently slipped in the middle of my Birthday Party albums. Easy enough to throw in the bin, but I'm certainly not going to say thanks. Pushing a U2 album into my account just because Apple thinks U2 is cool is not a nice thing to do. It breaks the carefully cultivated illusion that my account actually stores my music collection.

And yes, of course it's a pretty trivial "first world problem", but I don't see how that's relevant. Life is filled with problems, big and small. I'm not under the illusion that this is one of the big ones, but neither am I going to pretend it didn't annoy me. So next time I think about who I'm going to buy music from, I'll try to remember which company disrespected my preferences, and buy my music from someone else.
posted by langtonsant at 1:33 AM on September 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


So what I'm gathering here is that this is a problem for people using iTunes.

Huh. You get what you pay for.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 2:05 AM on September 13, 2014


Boo Bono! No boob.

Palindrome aside, there's not enough nudity in U2 songs.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:23 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


What do people who hate iTunes - and who also have a library of mp3s on their computer - use instead to play music, manage their library, sync portable devices, etc.? Serious question. If iTunes is bad, what's good?
posted by eugenen at 3:13 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


We'll, everyone thinks Achtung Baby is a great album, even if it's not their favorite U2 album. Pop and Zooropa aren't universally acknowledged as great (though they both are).
posted by persona au gratin at 3:16 AM on September 13, 2014


It doesn't automatically download, right?
posted by persona au gratin at 3:19 AM on September 13, 2014


What do people who hate iTunes - and who also have a library of mp3s on their computer - use instead to play music, manage their library, sync portable devices, etc.? Serious question. If iTunes is bad, what's good?

When I was looking around for an iTunes alternative, I kept seeing MediaMonkey recommended from trustworthy quarters.

I've been very satisfied with it for a couple of years now. It has more (and more nuanced) features than iTunes. I was quite happy to pay for the full version after spending a fair amount of time with the trial version.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 3:37 AM on September 13, 2014


Media Monkey is out there, and it does more. But the effect it has for me, as so many alternatives to Apple sw/hw is to remind me just how much more shit the shitty Apple thing I'm trying not to use could be.
posted by wotsac at 3:41 AM on September 13, 2014


In an alternate universe, Steve Jobs is still alive, R.E.M. is still a band, Apple auto-gifted Automatic for the People, and everyone guffawed
posted by oulipian at 4:06 AM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


eugenen: "What do people who hate iTunes - and who also have a library of mp3s on their computer - use instead to play music, manage their library, sync portable devices, etc.? Serious question. If iTunes is bad, what's good?"

The trouble is that you're talking about a program that shouldn't technically have to exist. iPhones and iPads are not "portable devices" - they are not little carrying cases to bring a little of the stuff you keep on your real computer. iPhones and iPads are real computers themselves. Having to plug them into a box and "sync" them seems inane, and even Apple would do away with this model if they could.

Personally, I use CloudBeats + Google Drive. I keep the mp3s on my computer in folders, the way that files were meant to be stored. And that way, even if I'm on a friend's computer or a terminal at the library or even my iPhone or iPad itself, I can just download an mp3 and stick it on my Google Drive and it'll be available on both my iPhone and my iPad.
posted by koeselitz at 4:09 AM on September 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


(Oh, and I use mp3tag when editing metadata.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:10 AM on September 13, 2014


I was annoyed that I have no way to get the new U2 album since I don't have iTunes but then I remembered how little I care about U2 these days. For some reason I bought their last album and I don't think that I remember a single track from it. Something about boots?
posted by octothorpe at 4:34 AM on September 13, 2014


Needing iTunes to sync devices and play music is an Apple only problem.

My phone connects to my computer as a drive. My music is files in folders. Use whatever program you want to play it. Done.
posted by deadwax at 4:52 AM on September 13, 2014


It doesn't automatically download, right?

It did. That's the whole point. I was mildly surprised to see it in my own "Recently Added" folder the other day, but caring about things like this is not my wheelhouse.
posted by psoas at 5:14 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Having to plug them into a box and "sync" them seems inane

I don't know about that. I organise my tunes in MediaMonkey (as I once did in iTunes) so that I can create smart playlists, which I then sync to my iPod. Even though all my music's on my iPod, it doesn't have much capability when it comes to toying with file attributes.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:21 AM on September 13, 2014


I haven't bothered to plug a phone into my computer for years. All my music is up on Google Play and my photos are on G+, email and contacts are on Gmail.
posted by octothorpe at 5:31 AM on September 13, 2014


What do people who hate iTunes - and who also have a library of mp3s on their computer - use instead to play music, manage their library, sync portable devices, etc.?

I use Winamp for everything except for downloading podcasts and buying music. (I'm not ecstatic with iTunes's handling of podcasts, but it beats Winamp on that front.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:33 AM on September 13, 2014


I was getting worried about not having heard from Bono ever since Robin Williams died.
posted by Renoroc at 6:13 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I listened to the album. It's okay. But I wish that Apple had done this with an up-and-coming artist who could really use the exposure.
posted by tommasz at 6:15 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was getting worried about not having heard from Bono ever since Robin Williams died.
That's funny, because I have the same feeling about Harrison Ford/Steve Martin.
posted by valkane at 6:18 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here are some Apple feedback links
Product and software feedback
iTunes store feedback
posted by dmo at 6:25 AM on September 13, 2014


Has anyone actually listened to it? Is it any good?

It's good. It's very autobiographical, it has some interesting sonic textures going on, it has some really brilliant moments in the lyrics. It's not groundbreaking, and in a lot of ways it's very safe, as have been all U2 albums since POP. I don't know if it's going to yield any hit singles, but it's certainly targeted toward the same market that has bands like One Republic and Imagine Dragons popular.
posted by hippybear at 6:27 AM on September 13, 2014


I've been sorely disappointed with U2 for longer now than I was a devoted fan. Their alignment with Apple is just so distasteful to my palate.

I wish they'd stop trying to be relevant and transition to an interesting renaissance a la Dylan. They can do whatever they want; why do they continue to pander to the lowest common denominator?

My favourite band from my crucial late-teen/early twenties period sucks.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:28 AM on September 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm vehemently against this U2 insertion. I consider it a UX fiasco -- as said above, what is on my phone and in my library matters -- I know what I have, I know what's available and why. Forcing this on people ruins that sense of ownership and identity.

...and this is why I don't use iTunes. Because, ew. Creepy.

I love U2, but I'd have been pretty pissed to find that my very carefully curated libraries suddenly had ANYTHING other than what I put there. For instance, I don't want U2 to pop up in the middle of bellydance practice. Just...no. Apple, you dipshits, knock that off.
posted by MissySedai at 6:51 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


JiBB- So you can. This "feature" has been driving me a bit batty for a while and I could have sworn I'd looked for a setting before and couldn't find it. Still doesn't change the fact that this action was intrusive and arrogant.
posted by R343L at 6:57 AM on September 13, 2014


For instance, I don't want U2 to pop up in the middle of bellydance practice.

"Mysterious Ways" would work, though, right?
posted by bibliowench at 6:59 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


hey i have a copy of that new album i'm not using if anyone wants it, hit me up
posted by Legomancer at 7:02 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Mysterious Ways" would work, though, right?

It does indeed. As does "Elevation", oddly enough. But neither are appropriate for traditional Egyptian. Modern Fusion, sure. ATS, maybe. But Golden Age style (a la Tahia Carioca), no way.

My gears would be similarly ground if Electric Arab Orchestra suddenly popped up in the middle of George Abdo. You can bellydance to anything - I proved this to the Monsters some years back by busting a move to the extended "Rock Me, Amadeus" - but when you're looking to set a particular mood, the music needs to be consistent with the style of dance you're using.

Surprise musical interference is not cool!
posted by MissySedai at 7:10 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The trouble is that you're talking about a program that shouldn't technically have to exist. iPhones and iPads are not "portable devices" - they are not little carrying cases to bring a little of the stuff you keep on your real computer. iPhones and iPads are real computers themselves. Having to plug them into a box and "sync" them seems inane, and even Apple would do away with this model if they could.

Personally, I use CloudBeats + Google Drive. I keep the mp3s on my computer in folders, the way that files were meant to be stored.


I don't share this view. If one owns multiple computers of various sizes and capabilities, it seems to me to be perfectly sensible to manage a library on one of them and sync (or whatever word you prefer) that library in various permutations onto the others. I also don't see why folders -- a metaphor left over from the early days of personal computing -- is the way "files were meant to be stored."

I'll give MediaMonkey a spin, thanks.
posted by eugenen at 7:10 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I keep the mp3s on my computer in folders, the way that files were meant to be stored.

What are you even going on about here? iTunes, at least the version I have (which is the most current version, which doesn't do it differently from each and every version I've had since 1.0) stores the mp3s in hierarchical folders. Artist Name > Album Name > mp3 files. All of them. You can browse them in the Finder logically like you would any other set of files, and find exactly what you want without ever opening iTunes. It's a fully logical system. It's exactly what you claim to want.

What sort of system are you using where the mp3s might NOT be stored this way?
posted by hippybear at 7:22 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wish they'd stop trying to be relevant and transition to an interesting renaissance a la Dylan. They can do whatever they want; why do they continue to pander to the lowest common denominator?

Indeed, Dylan has set the bar. Here's another album released this week by an aging dad-rock god that continues his interesting transition to old age.
posted by Ber at 7:48 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am disappointed. This album has not shown up on ANY of my three iThings or my Mac. And yes, I have "download purchased stuff" on.

Because damn, after watching that presentation, drowning out the U2 with some Wolfgun, then having them play the same song AGAIN when they ran the HEY NEW U2 ALBUM ON ITUNES ad, I was seriously ready to delete some U2 with extreme prejudice.

I even snarked on Twitter about hoping this U2 wouldn't auto-download. Which it did for most people. But not for me.

As to people bitching about iTunes... I only ever plug my iThings into my computer when I'm doing jailbreaking shenanigans, or when I'm putting big piles of CBRs on it. Everything else happens over the net, I haven't had to plug it in to sync contacts/notes/photos in years. And iTunes mostly stays in the background, being controlled with hotkeys. It's just not a program I THINK about any more like I did when I used Audion and cared about making my own skins for its player UI. That said apparently it is all elbows on Windows.
posted by egypturnash at 8:13 AM on September 13, 2014


Zooropa is the Ur OK Computer.
posted by HeroZero at 8:28 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Same problem here: it isn't there for me, which is disappointing, because I did want to give it a listen before exploding into outrage. Oh well, I can probably buy it later at an extortionate price.
posted by YAMWAK at 8:31 AM on September 13, 2014


You might have to go into your iTunes options and check the box where you display your cloud purchases.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:36 AM on September 13, 2014


Ah - found it now, thanks. It's not listed on 'purchases', but it is listed on my song lists. Cool, let the rage commence!
posted by YAMWAK at 8:50 AM on September 13, 2014


It's free and getting good reviews? So it's pro bono?
posted by hal9k at 9:49 AM on September 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


In the expanded scope of "what has Bono's family doing lately", I was kind of surprised and delighted last night to discover that the Eve Hewson who plays Nurse Elkins on "The Knick" with Clive Owen is Bono's daughter.
posted by hwestiii at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Plus I believe that if you're a US resident you have to pay the tax for the retail value of the album.
posted by Flashman at 10:36 AM on September 13, 2014


I found it on my Mac because it on none of my devices in the songs or albums section. It is shown in the iTunes Store a purchase which I can download. I can also hide it from this list. On this MacBook Air I don't keep any music since the tiny SSD so it isn't in my songs/albums or other places. And in the iTunes Store I can "hide" the album so it doesn't show up on the lists or be available for download.

I don't want to sound like a fanboy apologist but you can get rid of it if you download it, or if you don't want it to be something to download. It would have been great had they had a big splash for it on the iTunes Store and let you download it on your own, but I suspect that it ended up in the purchases section was part of the deal to try skew sales figures. If 100% of iTunes customers have it in downloads does this mean the 500,000,000 people "bought" it for billboard/world records/etc?

Plus I believe that if you're a US resident you have to pay the tax for the retail value of the album.


That is not true. The purchase price is FREE and so the tax is $0.00 * your tax rate = $0.00. Apple and others give away music for free all the time and it is never taxed. I not longer live in a state that taxes downloads (TX) but when I did all free songs were not taxed. Back in the day Apple would give you a bunch of songs for free when you registered a new iPod. And every week there are free songs for download in the iTunes Store (and Starbucks).
posted by birdherder at 10:45 AM on September 13, 2014


Hilariously, I already have nine purchased U2 albums, I'm logged into iTunes, I've tried various fixes, and I can't make this album appear for download in any of the places it's supposed to appear. I guess I have enough U2 albums. (Of course after fooling around for 20 minutes right after I posted this it appeared.)
posted by lagomorphius at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I always thought it was just a silly joke. You know...

iMac
iPad
iPod
iTunes
U2
posted by chavenet at 11:50 AM on September 13, 2014


What do people who hate iTunes - and who also have a library of mp3s on their computer - use instead to play music, manage their library, sync portable devices, etc.?

- Foobar2000 to play stuff on the computer.

- Windows Explorer to organize files into folders, etc. and also for sync since my portable device shows up as an MTP device when I plug it into my computer. Foobar also has shell integration so I can right-click, play from Explorer.

- MP3 Tag & Rename to edit tags since at the time I was looking for something to edit tags, it was the only one that supported Unicode.
posted by Gev at 2:17 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


9 out of 10 people who hate iTunes with such veracity are using the Windows version which is a steaming pile of shit. In some it breaks their thinking of how to organize files and seem uncomfortable with letting the app do it,

As a user of iTunes since my first iPod, the way it works made sense. When I bought my first iPod I had to get a FireWire card for my PC and the software solution was to use Music Match. I ended up buying a used iMac specifically because I could use iTunes. I never looked back. When the iPod gained crazy things like color screens and the ability to play video, it still seemed natural. When the iPhone came along it seemed the logical extension. I just drag stuff into iTunes and it organizes it. If I want to change the name and metadata of a song/video/whatever I do it in iTunes. Wherever the actual files are stored is inconsequential. When I want to share a file I'll just "show in finder" and put it on Dropbox for my friend. There's no need to scour my system's hard drive for the file.

I used iTunes on my Windows PC at work and even though it looked kind of the same, seemed bloated, slow and shitty.

I think a lot of people that had MP3 players or phones before they got iPhones became acclimated to how it was done in windows uses Explorer and dragging stuff into folders and using that metaphor to manage the iPhone/iPod/iWhatever. So when the iPhone came along requiring using iTunes and losing transparency to where all the stuff is stored on the PC and the phone, they didn't feel comfortable with iTunes just managing all that. Add in the clunky performance and you have a large group of people that hate iTunes.

It is sort of a cultural thing between Mac and PC people. There are people like me who have to work in both environments and see the strengths and weaknesses of both. You can then look at the Android vs iOS people and see the same type of thing.
posted by birdherder at 2:53 PM on September 13, 2014


birdherder: It is sort of a cultural thing between Mac and PC people. There are people like me who have to work in both environments and see the strengths and weaknesses of both. You can then look at the Android vs iOS people and see the same type of thing.

I'm a "Mac person", and I think iTunes is hot garbage. Many fellow OS X users I know feel the same way, including some who prefer iOS devices. (I'm an Android partisan myself when it comes to mobile/tablet devices.)
posted by tonycpsu at 3:26 PM on September 13, 2014


It's rumoured to have also earned U2 $100 million upfront.

Corporate welfare for the well-to-do.
posted by furtive at 4:31 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's not welfare if it's one corporation giving to another corporation. Stop conflating business deals with government programs.
posted by hippybear at 4:54 PM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was surprised and perplexed as to why I had that album. At first I thought my son might have done but then I realized he doesn't have my iTunes password. I had to Google "Why is there a U2 album on my iPod?". Turns out a lot of people entered that same search query. Oh, and iTunes for Windows sucks. As bad as it may sound to some I much prefer WMP.
posted by MikeMc at 6:59 PM on September 13, 2014


Ignoring the delivery method: I'm pretty impressed with this album. It's almost certainly their best since Achtung. There's not really a weak song on it.
posted by painquale at 7:17 PM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


What sort of system are you using where the mp3s might NOT be stored this way?

Presumably an iOS device, given the contrast to the Android and desktop OS standard directory system based approach. iOS requires a custom and obsucated database to be able to play songs.
posted by jaduncan at 12:35 AM on September 14, 2014


U2 album placings in the current iTunes Top Album chart.


Yes, but see that nebulous concept of "relevance" doesn't work as a measure of number of people affected by a thing so much as which percentage of them are bloggers for snobby indie music sites.
Thus 20 million people liking a thing isn't as important as 2500 people being passionate about a thing in Brooklyn that they will forget all about in 6 months.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:23 AM on September 14, 2014


I'm a "Mac person", and I think iTunes is hot garbage. Many fellow OS X users I know feel the same way, including some who prefer iOS devices. (I'm an Android partisan myself when it comes to mobile/tablet devices.)

Seriously, it's the worst thing apple makes besides the magic mouse(whoever thought a mouse that flat/thin was ok and not some kind of RSI/strain problem should be sent to the gulag. it's literally only for looking really cool in photos. i'll sort of forgive them though because the magic trackpad rules. To tie into the current thread, it feels like a band releasing two albums simultaneously. One with a slightly weird first track that's really awesome after that, and the other with an awesome seeming lead-in track that's just terrible immediately after that).

While i think all syncing should be handled wirelessly the same way icloud backups are(and possibly at the same time), i also disagree with the sync=bad idea. Manually dragging tracks on and off of a microsd/over USB mass storage or whatever is dumb. Some of my favorite PMPs worked that way and i don't miss it at all. I like being able to curate a huge list of music and have it automagically pop up on my device(s).

The thing is, i think the way it works right now is sub-optimal. It needs to work more like some sort of dropbox/rsync sort of thing. Because yes, i agree, iOS devices are straight up computers. End of story.

I should be able to have itunes scan music libraries on any computer i own, not just one, and sync from any/all of them. I should be able to sync wirelessly from anywhere, and edit what's locally stored on the device from the mobile device(like itunes match, but a lot better). I should be able to edit what devices that list, or any list of songs is synced to from any logged in device be it a mac, pc, ios device.

The concept of "syncing" isn't bad. People seem to love it when it's say, dropbox. The way it works just needs to be drug kicking and screaming into the 21st century. And yes, they need to trash itunes and start from scratch. Leave the current version as "this is the last one that will support anything that takes a 30 pin cable and doesn't run ios 8" and just start the fuck over from 0.

Seriously, dropbox pretty much figured this out. It annoys me that you can't "star" entire folders to be locally stored and the interface can be clunky/app can be crashy, but polishing things up is exactly what apple does right generally.

I've relied almost entirely on soundcloud/spotify/grooveshark/etc for probably a year because i was so tired of dealing with the grind of syncing stuff from itunes. I should be able to get a new album, drop it in my music folder, and then remember i got it at work and remotely pull it down. Or download it on my work computer and sync it later from home. Why does this only exist for the itunes store itself, and not local files?

And this isn't even getting in to how much of a piece of shit itunes itself is, as an app. I mean i sort of got into that above... but it's a crashy, glitchy, shitty, resource hog that barely works. I can't even describe the number of problems i've had with it. And it only has to work with a short list of apple devices.(although, as i said above, stop supporting the 1st gen ipod and shit with the latest version what the fuck?)
posted by emptythought at 1:26 PM on September 14, 2014


Leave the current version as "this is the last one that will support anything that takes a 30 pin cable and doesn't run ios 8" and just start the fuck over from 0.

My 160GB iPod Classic and I challenge you to a duel to the death at dawn.
posted by hippybear at 1:31 PM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


After using almost only Windows OSes for decades, I received a hand-me-down MacBook a couple of years ago. On of my greatest disappointments was that iTunes on a Mac sucks just as bad as it does on windows. In other words, iTunes is probably the shittiest piece of software in widespread use.
posted by exogenous at 6:40 PM on September 14, 2014


iTunes is a steaming pile of confusing shit. I spent way too long trying to curate my music for the holiday we're on because I couldn't understand how all these bands kept appearing in my music list when I hadn't chosen them in my 'sync these artists' option. Until I noticed I'd checked the 'recently added' playlist which superceded my choices it seems. Bored with this story? Good- because putting music on my phone should be easy!

And no there is a fucking U2 album
I didn't ask for sitting there without my permission and I can't get rid of it until I get home. I'm not listening to it ever just out of spite.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 8:26 PM on September 14, 2014


Your wailing and gnashing of teeth has been rewarded.
(Finally, he said with a heavy dose of sarcasm.)
posted by entropicamericana at 11:15 AM on September 15, 2014




U2's on my computer,
I didn't put them there.
They slipped in unannounced,
and uninvited, but from where?
Will I wake up tomorrow
with some more unwanted files?
More corporate rock shoved down my throat?
In my least favorite styles?
I don't like this kind of Apple!
This ain' how we should be treated!
Next time, dear Apple, please install my U2 "pre-deleted".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:18 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Spam is not more welcome just because it's in music libraries.
posted by jaduncan at 5:21 AM on September 16, 2014


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