For an album released just a few months ago, U2’s Songs Of Innocence has built quite a complicated legacy. Innocence is pretty good, especially for a band not far from its 40th anniversary. But its quality wasn’t easy to reconcile with its botched release via U2’s partnership with Apple, who saw fit to foist it onto around 500 million iOS users, free of charge, without allowing them to opt out.
Enter Rolling Stone to further muddle the album’s narrative by placing Innocence atop its “50 Best Albums of 2014,” ahead of St. Vincent and Run The Jewels. RS calls Innocence a “brilliant surprise,” a description bearing a fleeting resemblance to that of Tyler The Creator, who said the experience of discovering the album on his device was “like waking up with a pimple or like a herpes.” The magazine’s coronation represents a partial acquittal of the album following a backlash that prompted quasi-apologies from Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook while the tech giant released a patch to allow the album’s removal.
To be fair, the RS list aligns with the magazine’s fuddy-duddy reputation, which skews toward dad-rock (Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes took second place), so U2’s first place finish is less than surprising. It’s a win-win nonetheless. Bono gets to say U2 made the best album of the year, but the non-consensual consumer strategy was debunked, so if Hickory Farms was thinking of having its workers shove pretzel crackers topped with smoked gouda into customers’ mouths while they’re texting, well…now they know better.