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Songs of Innocence (U2 album)

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Songs of Innocence
File:U2 Songs of Innocence Physical Cover.jpg
Cover of the commercially-released version
Studio album by U2
Released 9 September 2014 (2014-09-09)
Recorded 2009–2014
Studio
Genre Rock[1]
Length 48:11
Label Island, Interscope
Producer Danger Mouse, with additional production from Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney and Flood
U2 chronology

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Alternate cover
Original iTunes Store release
Original iTunes Store release
Singles from Songs of Innocence
  1. "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)"
    Released: 15 September 2014
  2. "Every Breaking Wave"
    Released: 9 December 2014
  3. "Song for Someone[2]"
    Released: 11 May 2015

Songs of Innocence is the thirteenth studio album by Irish rock band U2. Released on 9 September 2014, it was produced by Danger Mouse, with additional production from Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder, Declan Gaffney and Flood. The album was announced at an Apple Inc. product launch event and released the same day to all iTunes Store customers at no cost. It was exclusive to iTunes, iTunes Radio, and Beats Music until 13 October 2014, when it received a physical release by Island and Interscope Records.[3][4] The digital release made the record available to over 500 million iTunes customers, for what Apple CEO Tim Cook marketed as "the largest album release of all time".

Songs of Innocence was U2's first album since No Line on the Horizon (2009), marking the longest gap between studio albums of their career. After the latter's relatively lukewarm commercial performance, lead singer Bono expressed uncertainty over how the band could remain musically relevant. During the five-and-a-half-year gestation period for Songs of Innocence, they reportedly worked on three separate projects with multiple producers, including an aborted companion to their previous record called Songs of Ascent. However, they struggled to complete an album to their satisfaction and continually delayed a release. After working with Danger Mouse for two years, the group collaborated with Flood, Epworth, and Tedder to complete the record. Thematically, it revisits the group members' youth in Ireland, touching on childhood memories, loves and regrets, while paying tribute to musical inspirations Ramones and the Clash. Bono described it as "the most personal album we've written".

The album's lead single, "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)", was featured in an Apple television commercial as part of a promotional campaign for the band on which the company reportedly spent $100 million. According to Apple, approximately 81 million iTunes users listened to the album in its first month of release, 26 million of whom downloaded the entire record. Songs of Innocence received mixed reviews, and some critics and consumers were critical of the digital release strategy; the album was automatically added to users' iTunes accounts without their consent, which for many, triggered an unprompted download to their mobile devices. The giveaway, in addition to delaying the album's eligibility for charting until its commercial release, affected its commercial performance; it has sold 101,000 copies in North America and charted for just six and eight weeks in the UK and US, respectively. The record received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Album. U2 will support the album with the Innocence + Experience Tour in 2015.

Background

In February 2009, U2 released their 12th studio album, No Line on the Horizon. The album received generally favourable reviews and debuted at number one in over 30 countries,[5] but its sales of 5 million units were comparatively low by U2 standards and it did not contain a hit single.[6] Having spent time in Fez, Morocco, recording and absorbing exotic musical influences, the group intended the record to be a more experimental than their previous two.[7] However, critics found it to be more conventional than expected. During the five-and-a-half year gestation period for Songs of Innocence, lead singer Bono expressed uncertainty on several occasions over how U2 could remain relevant musically after the relatively lukewarm commercial performance of No Line on the Horizon.[8]

Writing and recording

Around the release date of No Line on the Horizon, Bono mentioned tentative plans for the group to release a follow-up record, Songs of Ascent, comprising songs from the album's recording sessions.[9][10] Planned as a sister release to No Line on the Horizon (similar to Zooropa‍ '​s relationship to Achtung Baby), the project was described by Bono as "a meditative, reflective piece of work" with the theme of pilgrimage.[9][10] The band said that the first single was intended to be "Every Breaking Wave".[9][11] However, the project was continually delayed, as U2 struggled to complete an album to their satisfaction and were limited by other commitments; these included the group's U2 360° Tour from 2009–2011, as well as Bono's and guitarist The Edge's commitment to writing the music and lyrics to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, which itself experienced numerous delays and creative changes before its debut in June 2011.

In June 2009, Bono said that although nine tracks had been completed for Songs of Ascent, the album would only be released if its quality surpassed that of No Line on the Horizon.[12] A December 2009 report indicated that U2 had been working in the studio with the goal of a mid-2010 release,[13] but by April 2010, U2's manager Paul McGuinness confirmed the group would not be finished by June, saying that a release "before the end of [2010 was] increasingly likely."[14] In May, Bono was forced to undergo emergency back surgery after suffering a compressed sciatic nerve. The group rescheduled their North American tour dates and an appearance at Glastonbury Festival 2010, but were able to spend their downtime writing and recording new songs.[15]

In August 2010, reports indicated that U2 were working on three separate album projects:[16] these were purported to be a traditional rock album produced by Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton;[17] a dance-centric album produced by David Guetta, RedOne, and will.i.am;[17] and the meditative material comprising Songs of Ascent.[18][19] When the U2 360° Tour resumed that month, the group debuted several unreleased tracks live,[20] including "Every Breaking Wave".[21] In October 2010, Bono said that U2's new album would be produced by Burton, and that 12 songs had been completed,[22] while McGuinness said it was slated for an early 2011 release.[23][24] The band continued to make "great progress" on the record in January 2011 working with Burton in New York.[17] The following month, McGuinness said that the album was almost complete and had a tentative release date of May 2011, although he noted that Songs of Ascent was no longer the likely title.[25] The Songs of Ascent project ultimately did not come to fruition and has not been released; its evolution and apparent abandonment are examined in the book The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear.[26] Bassist Adam Clayton said, "We thought there was more material left over from No Line... we now feel a long way from that material."[27] The dance-centric album was ultimately aborted as well; Clayton said, "The work we did with RedOne was very, very exciting. But again, I'm not sure it was the essence of what U2 is good at... we have to do what we do best and we have to focus on that, and the work we did with Danger Mouse came closest to that."[18] Guetta clarified that he was not involved in the dance project and had only discussed a possible collaboration with Bono.[28]

U2 spent three months in the studio in late 2011, taking a break only for Bono to recuperate from the flu.[29] In June 2012, Bono appeared on The Late Late Show and said that the group had just concluded its "best three weeks in the studio since 1979".[30] In January 2013, the band members said their new album would be released by September and that its working title was 10 Reasons to Exist.[18] U2 spent time in May at New York's Electric Lady Studios with Burton, who was completing his mixing duties for the record. After working with the band for two years,[31] Burton was forced to return to his side project Broken Bells.[32] At that point, U2 had a collection of songs that could have been released, but the group were still not satisfied;[32] The Edge said that during mixing, "we found the songs falling apart. They hadn't full arrived. We'd allowed ourselves to think that 'interesting' was enough."[33] The songs, described by Rolling Stone as "guitar-light, electronics heavy, with uncharacteristically subtle choruses", were missing what the Edge called "the hallmarks of [their] work—the big music."[32]

The band also took to heart advice that producer Rick Rubin had given them during recording sessions in 2006;[33] Rubin pointed out that the group use unique sounds and arrangements to "disguise the fact that you don't have a song", and stressed the importance of songcraft and writing music that could play well even when stripped down to vocals and piano.[32] The group subsequently enlisted Ryan Tedder, Paul Epworth, long-time collaborator Flood, and Declan Gaffney to help them complete the album, hoping their opposing perspectives from Burton would benefit the songs. Tedder alternated between working remotely and joining the band in the studio.[32] One of the songs that he changed most was "Every Breaking Wave", as he introduced a new chorus melody and moved the old one to the song's bridge.[32]

As U2 wrote and recorded during mid-2013 with a target release of December, they were asked by Harvey Weinstein to contribute a song to the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.[34][35] The band suspended work on their album to write the track "Ordinary Love" in honor of Nelson Mandela;[34] it won the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song,[34][36] and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Progress on their album was further limited by a period of mourning after Mandela's death, the group's promotional commitments for the film, and the awards ceremonies.[34] In February 2014, another new U2 song, the single "Invisible", was unveiled in a Super Bowl XLVIII television commercial and made available for free in the iTunes Store to launch a partnership with Product Red and Bank of America to fight AIDS.[37][38]

Swedish singer Lykke Li provided additional vocals for the album's closing song, "The Troubles". At Burton's invitation, Li travelled to Los Angeles a year-and-a-half prior to the album's release to record her contribution without U2 present. After the group decided to change the key of the song in mid-2014, Li had to re-record her part and met up with the band in London to do so. After trying a few different approaches to her vocals, Li said, "We turned off all the music and sang only to the drums, so it was really getting to what the core of the song meant."[39]

U2's partnership with Apple Inc. for the album release ultimately imposed a much-needed deadline by which to complete the record.[32] Burton returned to help the group during the final sessions.[32] The Edge said, "the bulk of it was done pretty quickly at the end. So much was achieved in the last couple of weeks."[40] He described the last four days in particular as "full-on".[40] Over the course of the recording sessions, the band worked on approximately 50 songs. According to Bono, "Some would come and go in favor, and some you could get them halfway up the hill, three-quarters of the way up the hill. A lot of times, we just couldn't get them up to the top of the hill. And that was the humbling element. And there's some humiliation in realizing that your talent is just not up to the task."[41] The record was completed on 2 September 2014, one week prior to its release.[40] Speaking about its long gestation period, Bono said, "Rumour has it we haven't made a U2 album in the last five years. We have. We've made several. We just didn't release them because we were waiting for something that would be as good as the best we've ever done."[40]

Composition

Thematically, Songs of Innocence revisits the group members' youth in Ireland in the 1970s, paying tribute to musical inspirations, while touching on childhood experiences, loves, and regrets. Bono described it as "the most personal album we've written".[42] In an interview with Gus Wenner of Rolling Stone, he said, "We wanted to make a very personal album... Let's try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys—first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that's hard. But we went there."[43] He said that he felt challenged to write about more personal themes and why he wanted to be in a rock band after producer Jimmy Iovine told him, "The person you need to be to make the album that you wanna make is a long way from where you live."[40] Rolling Stone deemed it as having the feeling of a concept album, a notion that Bono rejected, although he did opine it was lyrically cohesive in a way the group's other records were not.[43]

"The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)" pays tribute to Joey Ramone, the lead singer of punk rock band Ramones who had a strong influence on Bono.[44] During their teenage years, U2 snuck into a Ramones concert,[45] and the experience of watching Joey perform made Bono feel less self-conscious about his own singing.[43] "Every Breaking Wave" is about the difficulty of "giv[ing] yourself completely to another person", with lyrical characters who are "addicted to sort of failure and rebirth".[32] "California (There Is No End to Love)" recalls the group's first visit to Los Angeles and how the city contrasted with their native Dublin.[44] "Song for Someone" is a love song written for Bono's wife Ali Hewson. "Iris (Hold Me Close)" is written about Bono's mother, Iris, who died when he was 14 years old after suffering a cerebral aneurysm at her father's funeral. The lyrics liken her and her influence over her son to a star that died long ago but whose light is still reaching earth.[46] Bono rewrote the song's lyrics after reading a letter that journalist James Foley wrote in captivity to his family prior to being killed by ISIS, and upon realizing that "we will all be remembered by the least-profound moments. The simplest moments."[32]

"Volcano" features lyrics in which Bono's younger self addresses his current self; he said, "It's this young guy going, 'The fuck happened to you?'"[41] The Edge composed the song's bass intro.[32] "Raised by Wolves" is about the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, which killed 33 people but were narrowly avoided by Bono that day.[33] The song is written from the perspective of Andy Rowen (brother of Bono's childhood friend Guggi), whose presence at the bombings would later drive him into heroin addiction, a subject also addressed in U2's 1984 song "Bad".[46] "Cedarwood Road" reminisces about the street in Dublin on which Bono lived during his youth.[44] The cherry blossom tree referenced in the lyrics was from the Rowen family garden.[47] "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight", written about a pedophile priest,[48] was described by Q‍ '​s Tom Doyle as featuring "deceptively lullaby-like... synth pulses" reminiscent of Kraftwerk,[46] an electronic music group influential to Bono.[49] Their album The Man-Machine was gifted by Bono to Ali when they were dating as teenagers and is name-checked in "Iris (Hold Me Close)" in the line, "But it was you who made me your man/Machine".[50] "This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now" takes musical cues from one of the group's childhood inspirations, the Clash;[43] according to the liner notes, the song is dedicated to the Clash's guitarist/vocalist, Joe Strummer.[51] The closing track, "The Troubles", was described by Bono as "an uncomfortable song about domestic violence".[52]

The deluxe editions of the album feature two additional songs. "Lucifer's Hands" is based on an instrumental piece titled "Return of the Stingray Guitar" that U2 debuted live in 2010 and performed as the opening song at each of their 32 concerts that year.[53][54][55] "The Crystal Ballroom" is written about the former Dublin nightclub of the same name (later known as McGonagle's) that the band frequently performed at in their early years. Lyrically, Bono imagines himself on-stage at the venue witnessing his parents dancing in the audience.[56]

Packaging and title

The album art for iTunes copies of the album was created by MAD Agency London to resemble white label packaging commonly used for promotional LP record pressings. The artwork, an "anti-cover design", is a homage to the vinyl promo release format that was popular during the late 1970s and early 1980s, a period that U2 referenced in the album.[57]

Physical copies of the album feature different packaging with a cover image of drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. protectively embracing his 18-year-old son, Elvis, while both are shirtless.[33][58] The image was taken by photographer Glen Luchford initially as an experiment,[58][59] but the group thought it worked as a visual metaphor for the album and its theme of "how holding on to your own innocence is a lot harder than holding on to someone else's."[58] Bono said, "With this record we were looking for the raw, naked and personal, to strip everything back." The cover parallels those of the band's earlier albums Boy (1980) and War (1983), which featured the face of a young boy, Peter Rowen, the younger brother of Guggi.[60]

Release

File:U2 at Apple keynote event 9-9-14.jpg
U2 performing at the Apple Inc. product launch at which the album was announced

In the days leading up to an Apple product launch event on 9 September 2014 in Cupertino, California, rumours began to circulate that U2 were involved.[61] A spokesperson for the band denied reports that they would perform at the event or that a new album would come preloaded on the anticipated new iPhone 6 smartphone.[62][63] During the event, after the unveiling of the new iPhone and Apple Watch,[64] U2 appeared on-stage to perform a new song entitled "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)".[65] Afterwards, they and Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise announcement that the band had completed their 13th studio album, Songs of Innocence, and that it would be released digitally the same day to all iTunes Store customers at no cost.[63] The record, which was added automatically to users' iTunes music libraries,[65] was exclusive to iTunes and the streaming services iTunes Radio and Beats Music until 13 October 2014, when it received a physical release.[66] Bono called the album "a gift [from Apple]... to all their music customers",[66] and said that the group wanted to "get [the album] to as many people as possible, because that's what our band is all about".[43] Songs of Innocence was made available to over 500 million iTunes customers, for what Cook marketed as "the largest album release of all time".[65]

Apple reportedly paid a lump sum to U2 and Universal Music Group for a five-week exclusivity window in which to distribute the album.[67] In addition, the company agreed to a marketing campaign for the album reportedly worth around $100 million, which kicked off with a television advertisement featuring "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)".[65] Apple's partnership with U2 dates back to 2004; in promotion of the band's album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, their first single, "Vertigo", was featured in an internationally aired iPod television advertisement, while a U2 iPod and an iTunes-exclusive U2 box set were also released.[68] The release of Songs of Innocence drew comparisons to that of two 2013 records: Jay-Z's Magna Carta... Holy Grail, which was sponsored by Samsung;[64][69] and Beyoncé's self-titled album, which also was released without any prior promotion or notice.[64][70]

To placate retailers affected by the digital exclusivity period, Universal offered them a deluxe version of Songs of Innocence that contains four additional songs, along with several acoustic versions of the record's songs.[71] The bonus tracks were exclusive to brick-and-mortar stores and music streaming services for five weeks before becoming available to the iTunes Store;[71] it released the ten deluxe edition tracks under the title Songs of Innocence + on 18 November 2014.[72] Retailers will also receive catalog deals that will discount U2's albums in stores by US$3 for a period of time.[71] A Grammy Awards spokesperson initially said the album would not be eligible for consideration at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards because it would not have been available for purchase prior to the 30 September eligibility deadline; however, this ruling was reversed after Universal released a limited-edition vinyl pressing of the album to retailers on the cutoff date.[31]

The same day as Songs of Innocence‍ '​s digital release, Irish public service broadcaster RTÉ played the record in its entirety on RTÉ 2fm; following a long-standing tradition, U2 gave the station's DJ Dave Fanning the exclusive to play their new album before any other broadcaster.[73]

Effectiveness and reaction

According to Apple, 33 million people accessed the album in its first week of release, either through iTunes downloads or streaming.[74] Within its first month of release, 81 million users listened to it and 26 million downloaded the entire record, according to Apple executive Eddy Cue.[75]

U2's decision to allow free downloads of Songs of Innocence was questioned by musicians, including The Black Keys' Patrick Carney and Pink Floyd's Nick Mason.[76][77] Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson believed it devalued music, saying U2 had "sent a message to everyone that music is free, and that's disturbing. It's easy to do that when you're a multi-millionaire-billionaire and money isn't really something that you worry about, but when you're a working rock 'n' roll band and you count on every dollar, it's disappointing to see someone do that."[78] The Entertainment Retailers Association reported that UK sales of the band's back catalogue were minimal in the week following the album's release; the organisation's chairman Paul Quirk said: "This vindicates our view that giving away hundreds of millions of albums simply devalues music and runs the risk of alienating the 60% of the population who are not customers of iTunes ... Giving away music like this is as damaging to the value of music as piracy."[79]

Many iTunes customers were unhappy that the album was added to their music libraries without their consent;[80][81][82] for users with automatic music downloads enabled in iTunes, Songs of Innocence downloaded automatically to their devices.[83][84] Chris Richards of The Washington Post called the release "rock-and-roll as dystopian junk mail".[85] Slate said that it was "extremely unsettling" that "consent and interest are no longer a requisite for owning an album, only corporate prerogative".[86] Vijith Assar of Wired said: "The delivery mechanism amounts to nothing more than spam with forced downloads."[87] In response to the criticism, Apple created a dedicated page on their website to allow users to delete the album from their iTunes accounts.[88] Bono said he was unaware of the automatic download option; describing U2's and Apple's intentions, he said, "We wanted to deliver a pint of milk to people’s front porches, but in a few cases it ended up in their fridge, on their cereal. People were like, 'I’m dairy-free.'"[89] Although he apologized to a fan during a Facebook Q&A session for the album's addition to their music library,[90] he refused to offer a public apology, saying, "It's one of the proudest moments in U2's history."[33]

Despite the poor press surrounding the release, an independent study of select iOS users by Kantar Group found that in January 2015, 23% of music listeners played at least one song by U2, more than any other artist for that month. The study also found that of those who listened to U2 music, 95% of them accessed at least one track from Songs of Innocence.[91]

Other projects

In a note on the group's website announcing Songs of Innocence, Bono hinted at a forthcoming follow-up album, Songs of Experience, that "should be ready soon enough".[92] U2's manager Guy Oseary also indicated that the group had future collaborations with Apple planned dealing with "how music is heard and innovation". He said the band wants to support albums as an "art form of artwork and lyrics and video content" that will engage listeners more so than digital audio.[93] In a 29 September 2014 cover story for Time, U2 revealed they are working with Apple to develop a new digital music format they hope will sway consumers' interest in purchasing music again.[94] Bono described it as "an audiovisual interactive format for music that can't be pirated and will bring back album artwork in the most powerful way, where you can play with the lyrics and get behind the songs". He said the format was 18 months from completion and that the group hopes it will financially benefit lesser-known music artists.[95]

On 8 December 2014, a visual companion to the album, Films of Innocence, was unveiled. Inspired by political murals of Northern Ireland, U2 enlisted 11 urban artists to create their own art films, each interpreting a different song from the album. The artists involved in the collaboration were Robin Rhode, D*Face, Mode 2, Chloe Early, Ganzeer, Vhils, Maser, ROA, DALeast, Todd James, and Oliver Jeffers. The collection of films was made available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.com.[96]

Promotion

To promote the album, the band made appearances on several television and radio programs, including RAI TV's Che tempo che fa in Milan,[97] Canal+'s Le Grand Journal in Paris,[98] BBC One's The Graham Norton Show[99] and BBC Radio 2 in London,[100] BBC Two's Later... with Jools Holland,[101] and RTÉ One's The Late Late Show in Dublin.[102] The group also performed "Every Breaking Wave" at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards.[103] The promotional tour was interrupted when Bono was injured in a "high energy bicycle accident" in Central Park on 16 November 2014. After undergoing "multiple X-rays and CAT scans" and five hours of surgery at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center's Emergency Department, it was determined that Bono suffered fractures of the shoulder blade, humerus, orbit and pinky finger.[104] Bono said he was uncertain that he would ever be able to play guitar again.[105] The injury forced the band to cancel a headlining appearance at KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas,[106] as well as a week-long residency as the musical guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[107] The other three members of U2 kept a commitment to perform in Times Square on World AIDS Day on 1 December 2014; Chris Martin of Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen filled in as lead vocalists.[108] U2 returned to The Tonight Show on 8 May 2015, and participated in sketches in which they mocked Bono's bicycle injury and busked in a New York City subway station in disguise. The group also unveiled a video previewing their upcoming Innocence + Experience Tour.[109]

Critical reception

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Source Rating

Songs of Innocence received mixed reviews from critics.[119] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 64 out of 100, based on 32 reviews, 13 of which were positive.[110] Rob Mitchum of Pitchfork Media criticised Songs of Innocence for "aim[ing] for a one-size-fits-all, vaguely inspirational tone, with a lean approach to details despite the press kit assertion that it's all 'very, very personal'".[116] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said U2 "sounded as impersonal as ever" and that the album was "flat and strangely complacent". Kot was one of several critics to find the album derivative of artists previously derivative of U2.[112] In a review for The Guardian, Caspar Llewellyn Smith wrote that U2 was "treading old ground without much of a sense of how to move forward."[114] Ben Patashnik of NME criticised the release strategy, writing that "the fact it's free makes it seem cheap."[115] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine deemed the album a thematic success but argued the unconventional release should have been the "case for a bolder, more experimental album, one that would better reflect its ballsy, innovative rollout."[117]

In a positive review, Neil McCormick of The Telegraph called the album "fresh and cohesive... an album of big, colourful, attacking rock with fluid melodies, bright anthemic choruses and bold lyrical ideas."[113] David Fricke called the record a "triumph of dynamic, focused renaissance" in his five-star review for Rolling Stone. Fricke said the record was "the first time U2 have told their own tales so directly, with the strengths and expression they have accumulated as songwriters and record-makers."[50] Carl Wilson of Spin said the album's songs were "more compact and direct, and eschew the global-overmind scale" of U2's previous material "for intimate and personal perspectives." Wilson praised U2 for hiring contemporary producers to help them "join rather than beat the 2014 mainstream".[118] Tom Doyle of Mojo called Songs of Innocence "the most startlingly fresh, energetic and cohesive U2 album in years," praising the personal themes. He found that the album "reconnects U2 with the strident, searching, wide awake band of their nascency, reminding not only us, but themselves, of their against-the-odds beginnings".[46]

Accolades

Songs of Innocence appeared on critics' end-of-year rankings of the best albums of 2014. Rolling Stone ranked it as the best album of 2014, calling it "the emotionally raw rock album of the year, at any price", while suggesting that "In its range of sounds, there may be no more complete U2 album."[120] Mojo placed the record 33rd on its list of the "50 Best Albums of 2014".[121]The Telegraph ranked the record the 14th-best of the year,[122] while Q placed it at number 44 on its list.[123] In contrast, Randall Roberts of Los Angeles Times named it the worst release of 2014.[124] For the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, Songs of Innocence was nominated for Best Rock Album.[125]

Commercial performance

The album's no-cost availability on iTunes delayed its eligibility for placement on music charts until its commercial release, which was widely expected to reduce its sales. Songs of Innocence debuted at number six on the UK Albums Chart, U2's lowest debut in the country in 33 years;[126] it spent only six weeks on the chart.[127] In the US, the album charted for just eight weeks on the Billboard 200,[128][129] debuting at number nine and selling 28,000 copies in its first week.[130] According to Nielsen Soundscan, 101,000 copies of the record have been sold in North America.[131] In Canada, the album debuted at number five on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 4,600 copies in its first week before dropping off the chart.[132][133] The album reached number one in Croatia,[134] Czech Republic,[135] France,[136] Italy,[137] the Netherlands,[138] Poland,[139] and Spain.[140]

Innocence + Experience Tour

In May 2015, U2 embarked on a worldwide concert tour called the Innocence + Experience Tour. It is U2's first time playing arenas since 2005–2006 on their Vertigo Tour.[141] Currently, 70 shows are scheduled,[142] the first of which took place on 14 May 2015 in Vancouver.[143] The tour will comprise two legs, one featuring concerts in North America from May through July, and a second in Europe from September through November.[141] Shows were predominantly booked in pairs for each market, with the original intention for the setlist to alternate between "innocence" and "experience" motifs night-to-night.[144] However, the band decided to alter their plans out of fear of disappointing concertgoers with the differences between setlists. Instead, the group is structuring their concerts around a loose narrative of "innocence" passing into "experience", with a fixed set of songs for the first half of each show and a varying second half, separated by an intermission–a first for U2 concerts.[131] The stage spans the length of the venue floor and is divided into three sections: a rectangular segment that can illuminate as an "I" to represent "innocence"; a smaller circular stage that can illuminate as an "e" to represent "experience"; and a walkway between them to represent the transition between the two themes.[131] A long, rectangular "video cage" is suspended above and parallel to the walkway; the structure features video screens on the two largest faces and a catwalk inside between them, allowing the band members to perform amidst the video projections.[145][146] U2's sound system has been moved to the venue ceilings and arranged in an oval array, in hopes of improving acoustics by evenly distributing sound throughout the arena.[131]

Track listing

All lyrics written by Bono and The Edge, all music composed by U2.
No. TitleProducer(s) Length
1. "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)"  Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, Ryan Tedder 4:16
2. "Every Breaking Wave"  Danger Mouse, Tedder, Declan Gaffney[a] 4:13
3. "California (There Is No End to Love)"  Gaffney, Epworth, Danger Mouse 4:00
4. "Song for Someone"  Tedder, Flood 3:47
5. "Iris (Hold Me Close)"  Epworth, Tedder, Danger Mouse[a] 5:20
6. "Volcano"  Gaffney, Epworth[a] 3:15
7. "Raised by Wolves"  Gaffney, Danger Mouse 4:06
8. "Cedarwood Road"  Danger Mouse, Epworth 4:26
9. "Sleep Like a Baby Tonight"  Danger Mouse 5:02
10. "This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now"  Danger Mouse 5:06
11. "The Troubles"  Danger Mouse, Gaffney[a] 4:46
Total length:
48:11
Notes
  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer

Personnel

U2[150]
Additional musicians[150]
  • Brian Burton – keyboards (tracks 1–2, 7–11), programming (track 7), additional percussion (track 10), choral arrangement (track 6)
  • Ryan Tedder – keyboards (tracks 1–2, 4–5), programming (track 1), acoustic guitar (track 1)
  • Paul Epworth – keyboards (tracks 1, 3, 8), programming (track 1), additional percussion (track 1), claps (track 6), slide guitar (track 8)
  • Flood – keyboards (track 4)
  • Declan Gaffney – acoustic guitar (tracks 1, 6), keyboards (tracks 2–8, 10–11), programming (tracks 3, 7, 9), backing vocals (tracks 3, 10), claps (track 6), additional percussion (track 7), vocal effects (track 7)
  • Lykke Li – vocals (track 11)
  • "Classy" Joe Visciano – claps (track 6), backing vocals (track 10)
  • Leo Pearson – keyboards (track 9)
  • Caroline Dale – cello (track 11), string arrangement (track 11)
  • Natalia Bonner – violin (track 11)
  • Greg Clark – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Carlos Ricketts – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Tabitha Fair – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Kim Hill – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Quiona McCollum – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Nicki Richards – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Everett Bradley – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Bobby Harden – choir (tracks 1, 6)
  • Ada Dyer – choir (tracks 1, 6)
Technical personnel[150]
  • Danger Mouse – production (tracks 1–3, 7–11), additional production (track 5)
  • Paul Epworth – production (tracks 1, 3, 5, 8), additional production (track 6)
  • Flood – production (track 4)
  • Declan Gaffney – production (tracks 3, 6–7), additional production (tracks 2, 11)
  • Ryan Tedder – production (tracks 1–2, 4–5)

Charts and certifications

Certifications

Region Certification scope="col" data-sort-type="number" #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Sales/shipments
Austria (IFPI Austria)[156]

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Gold #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 7,500x #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

Italy (FIMI)[157]

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Platinum #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 50,000* #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

Poland (ZPAV)[158]

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 2× Platinum #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 40,000* #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

Spain (PROMUSICAE)[159]

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Gold #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 20,000^ #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.- class="sortbottom" style="text-align: center;" #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. colspan=3 #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. *sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history

Region Date Label Format Version
Worldwide[4] 9 September 2014 Digital download Standard
13 October 2014 CD
  • Standard
  • deluxe
Poland[160] 14 October 2014 Universal Music Polska
United States[161] Interscope

References

Footnotes
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Bibliography

External links