It was also a move that revealed just how little relevance U2 had to the new generation, as the predominant reaction by millions of young people was “What the hell is a U2 and why is it on my phone all of a sudden?”
U2’s latest album, Songs of Experience, debuted at #1, giving the band #1 hits in every decade since the 80s (they are the first band to achieve that milestone). Many of those sales were the result of a deal that packaged a copy of the album with tickets to their current tour, a gimmick many acts are adopting to boost album sales.
As gimmicks go, it’s not as audacious as the one they tried with their previous album, 2014’s Songs on Innocence, when they automatically uploaded copies of the album to every iTunes customer in the world. That didn’t go over so well.
‘Every Breaking Wave’ – U2
I owe U2 an apology. When Songs of Innocence was creepily uploaded onto my phone, along with that of every Apple customer in the country, I initially panned it.
I don’t know if, like millions of others, I was turned off by the marketing ploy and held that against the record. Or maybe it’s just a grower. But I’ve come around to viewing it as a great late-career addition to their already impressive discography.
The publicity stunt, coordinated with Apple to accompany the announcement of their new iPhone models, netted the band a reported $100 million but simultaneously revealed that they are no longer the “greatest rock band in the world.”
In fact, the massive gifting of their new album, Songs of Innocence, prompted enough bafflement to inspire a hilarious ‘Who is U2?’ Tumblr.