U2 drops unexpected album “Songs of Innocence”

The Internet can take away a lot of enjoyment from different media platforms. Because of the Internet, fans know when to expect new singles and albums from their favorite artists sometimes a year in advance and the element of surprise is basically gone.

U2 broke that trend this Tuesday by releasing their newest album, “Songs of Innocence”, exclusively on iTunes for free. Much like the move Beyonce pulled back in December with the release of her surprise record, the band gave no warning of the drop of these new songs. There had been talk of a new album ever since the band released their single “Invisible (Red)” back in February, but an official date had never been set.

In addition to unveiling the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, Apple got exclusive first rights to U2’s surprise album, which sent fans rushing to download it.

The band performed during Tuesday’s live streamed Apple press conference with a new single, “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone),” as an ode to the Ramones frontman. U2 cites the Ramones as one of their greatest influences and one of the first concerts the bandmates ever saw together.

Within seconds of the song’s ending, Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage alongside U2 leader Bono as he shared the unique release strategy.

“The question is now how do we get it to as many people as possible” stated Bono, “because that is what our band is all about. I do believe you have over half a billion subscribers to iTunes, so could you get it to them?”

Within moments, the album went live on Apple’s digital music store.

“Songs of Innocence” now makes 13 full-length albums for the band, an impressive feat for any musical group. It consists of 11 songs that range from upbeat to slow and steady, the album clearly shows the influence of noted producer Danger Mouse. According to Bono, the album is far from subtle, “we wanted to have the discipline of the Beatles or the Stones in the Sixties, when you had real songs.” Even after one listen through, you can tell what the gifted musician is talking about.

From the acoustic melody “Songs for Someone,” to the fast-paced “Volcano,” the band has created a string of songs more reminiscent of previous albums of theirs, such as “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” and “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.”

While “Songs of Innocence” is only available in a digital format now, the physical album will be in stores on October 13 as a deluxe edition full of additional content not included on the iTunes version.

Critics are already weighing in on the band’s latest efforts, calling it a step up from 2009’s subpar “No Line on the Horizon.”

“It’s easy to split the album roughly into halves, with the first half-dozen or so songs feeling like Classic U2 in the give-the-people-what-they-want mold. The second half sounds like a looser, a little more expansive…and a lot more Danger Mouse,” wrote Yahoo music critic Chris Williams.

Bono and company clearly compiled a set of songs with the intention of reaching as “many people as possible.” Only time will tell the success of this strategy, but the accessibility of “Songs of Innocence” will no doubt result in wide listening by both lifelong fans of U2’s work and first-time listeners alike.