U2 and the Rock & Roll Proletariat

U2 - Rock Ninjas, or Corporate Pawns?

I’m seeing outrage all over my Facebook feed – not because of actually outrageous things, mostly because of this illicit U2 album that allegedly every Apple customer received on their apple device. The story goes like this: upon announcement of various new Apple products to finally answer the call of “Hey, Samsung is doing it, why isn’t Apple,” Apple CEO Tim “Not Steve Jobs” Cook also declared that Apple had suavely pushed U2’s new album, “Songs of Innocence,” to all our devices. (I think that’s how it goes. I didn’t watch the Keynote, and I sure as fuck didn’t read anybody’s tweets about it.)

Here’s the thing, though, I didn’t get mine. I saw the news that this happened and went and checked my iPhone, my iPad and my MacBook and NOWHERE did I see any U2. What gives? I thought. Why am I alone here?

So like a fucking peasant, I had to open up the iTunes store and OH MY GOD GO OUT OF MY WAY to download it. It took nearly 45 goddamn seconds, too. Surely, now, here was my outrage manifesting. I will not be left out of the pool of ruggedly outraged individuals who cherish a self-curated music collection of independent rarities.

Interestingly, much of the outrage on social media is now being hailed as a good thing – a sign of life for those who demand a great divorce between corporate global capitalism and good old-fashioned rock & roll. You wouldn’t break into someone’s house and slip a vinyl record onto their shelf, so why is it okay to do the digital equivalent?

A corporate mindset didn’t see a problem with that, but the rock and rollers of the world rejected that notion outright. And maybe, in dramatic denouement fashion, maybe we’re seeing the people rock band together and fight the big white capitol.

But here is the question no one’s asking: how is the new album, anyway? Is U2 still cool? Well, I mean, obviously NOT, but if, hypothetically, this whole download debacle hadn’t happened, would we appreciate the album?

My answer: maybe. The album is good. It’s actually good. Not the best, but not the worst. I’m no U2 scholar. They’ve never really played a huge role in my life, and I don’t over-sentimentalize Joshua Tree. For a long time, I thought all their songs sounded the same. Of course, I know better now, and I like quite a few U2 songs, but still, they’re not my most favorite band and I just don’t know if this lives up to the standards of long-time U2 fans. But it’s a good CD to keep in the car (yes, I burned it to a CD) and it’s nice to see an aging band still throw some hot energy into studio recording.

I guess I’m the luckiest in all of this. It’s a decent album that I downloaded myself, without the stigma of having it forced upon me, and without any loss of money for purchasing an album I wouldn’t have otherwise bought. And all around me, I see the spirit of rock and roll exploding all over corporate America.

I am alone. I am Patrick Bateman.

One Reply to “U2 and the Rock & Roll Proletariat”

  1. I think this concluding paragraph of a recent article from ReadWrite pretty much nails it:

    “That was ill-conceived. The public may have forgotten about the Jennifer Lawrence-iPhone photo leaks in the face of huge iPhones and wearable Apple gadgets. But shenanigans like this—no matter how well-intended—only remind people that they’re not in full control over their own accounts. For a company about to launch a massive mobile payments campaign, dubbed Apple Pay, this may not have been the best time to call attention to its casual approach to user autonomy.”

    http://readwrite.com/2014/09/15/apple-u2-album-itunes-wtf

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