U2 – Songs of Innocence: #541 of best 1,000 albums ever!

U2 - Songs of Innocence

So why is U2’s Songs of Innocence on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

Songs of Innocence is a notorious album, having nothing to do with the actual music on it. In partnership with Apple, when the album was released in the fall of 2014 it was automatically added to the music library of roughly half a billion iTunes accounts.

Even though this promotion essentially gave Songs of Innocence to anyone with an iTunes account for free, there was massive backlash that U2 and Apple were “forcing” the band’s music onto people.

I do wonder what this moment in U2’s career will look like in retrospect, particularly because we’re now in an age where music is so commonly accessed from massive libraries of some millions of songs via subscription products like Spotify and Amazon Music. My suspicion is that it’ll end up as a minor footnote.

For my part, I recall plugging whatever device I used to listen to music at the time into my car and playing Songs of Innocence for the first time, and thought then (and still do) that it’s U2’s most consistent album* since perhaps Achtung Baby, dating all the way back to 1991.

* All That You Can’t Leave Behind has four or five songs that are better than anything on Songs of Innocence, but its second half is more forgettable.

It’s an interesting choice that “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone),” a tribute to The Ramones’ front man, is decidedly not a punk rock song. Instead, it’s quintessentially U2: rousing and soothing and pleasing, rock n’ roll but that which works perfectly well at a moderate volume.

And the song, like Songs of Innocence as a whole, mixes in elements and influences from the band’s past, particularly the sound of The Joshua Tree updated with slightly fuzzed up elements from the Achtung Baby era and electronic influences that the band has experimented with over the years.

“Every Breaking Wave” is a soaring ballad with a nice rock beat that showcases Bono’s still strong vocals and the band’s ability to craft epic-sounding, uplifting choruses.

“Iris (Hold Me Close)” is a sweet and intimate tribute to Bono’s mother, with a bassline that digs back to U2’s early Sunday Bloody Sunday days for musical inspiration.

The rocking, danceable, and sly “Volcano” might be my favorite song on the album at the moment.

Some stats & info about U2 – Songs of Innocence

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Album Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 3 out of 5 stars
  • When was Songs of Innocence released? 2014
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #541 out of 1,000

U2’s Songs of Innocence on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from U2’s Songs of Innocence that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

I woke up at the moment when the miracle occurred, heard a song that made some sense out of the world.

What’s the most interesting thing about U2’s Songs of Innocence that most people don’t know?

Produced by Danger Mouse, Songs of Innocence pulls from growing up in Dublin during the 1970s and 1980s, and several tracks explore the idea of reclaiming innocence lost through various life experiences.

It’s incredible that the best 1,000 albums ever list has already produced five other albums that were produced by Danger Mouse, including albums by Viktor Vaughn, The Black Keys, Beck, The Shins, and Broken Bells.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.