Now that I’ve counted down my woefully incomplete list of favorite 1980 albums, I’ll turn my attention to the records from that year I haven’t heard. I’ll highlight songs from the most critically-acclaimed 1980 albums over the next several weeks.
U2’s debut album, Boy, came out that year, kicking off one of the most storied careers in rock history. It would be three years and two more albums before they earned their first gold record (with War) but this album was praised as a promising start for a brash Irish band led by a charismatic 20-year-old.
U2 is indisputably one of the most successful and respected rock bands in music history. But they were knocked from their lofty perch two years ago after giving a free copy of their album to 500 million iTunes customers simultaneously.
Funny how a generous gesture can backfire. Apple users who either didn’t know or didn’t like the band ridiculed the unwanted intruder that popped up in their music library. Even some U2 fans thought it was kind of creepy that a company could just download music for you (and make it rather difficult to remove).
Best Songs of 2014 – #14
‘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.
Tens of millions of people were given U2’s new album for free a couple of weeks ago, and nobody really cared.
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.
A few days ago I described U2’s last studio album, No Line On the Horizon, as “underwhelming.” Apparently the Random iTunes Fairy took offense to that and served up today’s song as a rebuttal.
Indeed, ‘Breathe’ is one of the best songs on No Line On the Horizon, bursting with an energy and spirit the album otherwise lacks.
Another new album promised this year — though the date has been a moving target — is the latest from U2.
It’s been five years since their last effort, the underwhelming No Line on the Horizon, and 10 years since their last major success, How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb. That qualifies this upcoming album as a bona fide comeback record, even for the what’s still considered the best rock-n-roll band working today.