At Apple's big event this week where it announced the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, the company also launched something else — U2's latest album Songs of Innocence. After Bono and the band closed out the event with a song, Apple infected, err gifted, U2's new release to all iTunes users.
Go ahead and check your iTunes. I'll wait. It's either in your list of purchased items or already automatically downloaded to your various Apple devices, depending on your settings.
What really has people pissed off — besides the obvious aging hipster response of "I stopped listening to U2 in the 90s" or young cool kid response of "Who the hell is U2?" — is that it's tough to get rid of the album. This being iTunes, you can attempt to delete each track, as Gigaom explains, but the album is still in your iCloud and you're only just hiding it.
Jay Z struck a similar deal with Samsung last year, but users had the option of downloading his new album for free as opposed to having it forced on them.
Naturally, people have taken their grievances/jokes to Twitter.
reminder every time you try to remove that U2 album from your iPhone two more U2 albums will show up tomorrow just warning you— darth™ (@darth) September 11, 2014
Wow. Apple really did just push a U2 album like a critical security update.— Dan Kaminsky (@dakami) September 11, 2014
i was naked and vulnerable in the shower listening to songs on shuffle and it started playing the new U2 album i feel so violated by apple— Dan Howell (@danisnotonfire) September 11, 2014
Which is worse? Amazon remotely deleting copies of “1984” off Kindles, or Apple pushing U2 album to every copy of iTunes?— Scott Murray (@alignedleft) September 11, 2014
Help I’m trapped in a mirror universe filled with white people pissed about getting a free U2 album!— Bill Stiteler (@bstiteler) September 11, 2014
Anyone want a U2 album I got for free?— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) September 11, 2014
plot twist: you actually like the U2 album apple gave you— lightskin keithsweat (@brianabitxch) September 12, 2014
So how is the album? The old, white dudes at Rolling Stone liked it, giving it five stars, but perhaps the best review so far comes from Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker, who does a scathing track-by-track analysis that is clearly influenced by the way the album was pushed on the masses.
Frere-Jones ends his review by saying: "Don’t shove your music into people’s homes. A U2 album that some would have taken seriously was instead turned into an album that seems as pointless as it probably is. Lack of consent is not the future."
With 800 million iTunes accounts worldwide, as Bloomberg estimates, Apple has spammed (or surprised, depending on how you look at it) a ton of people.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 6 Plus has already sold out via pre-sale, presumably all purchased by hard-core U2 fans.
Update: The publicity stunt seems to have worked out well for U2. Interscope Records issued a press release today saying that U2 "saw an unprecedented number of its previous releases enter the iTunes US album chart. As of Thursday afternoon, 24 of the bands titles had charted on the top 200 of the chart, and the U218 Singles Collection had reached top 10 in 46 countries."
Update 2: In response to the backlash, Apple has released a special tool to remove the U2 album, which you can find here. It deletes the album in one step.