U2 recording Songs of Innocence

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The four members of the legendary Irish band tell TIME about another new album in the works--and its secret Apple project that might just save the music industry

Catherine Mayer/Cupertino and Malibu, Time Magazine

Many, many people really, really like U2. It hasn't always been easy to remember that fact amid the caustic--and often hilarious--responses to the band's Sept. 9 release of Songs of Innocence. U2's decision to team up with Apple to deliver the new album to every iTunes subscriber, unasked, raised valid questions about consumer choice and personal space in a world that routinely infringes on both. Moreover, while Apple paid U2 for the album, critics of the deal suggest this point may have been lost on iTunes customers who got it for free. If so, that messaging is certainly at odds with U2's intentions.

As an article in the new issue of TIME reveals, Bono, Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr believe so strongly that artists should be compensated for their work that they have embarked on a secret project with Apple to try to make that happen, no easy task when free-to-access music is everywhere (no) thanks to piracy and legitimate websites such as YouTube. Bono tells TIME he hopes that a new digital music format in the works will prove so irresistibly exciting to music fans that it will tempt them again into buying music--whole albums as well as individual tracks. The point isn't just to help U2 but less well known artists and others in the industry who can't make money, as U2 does, from live performance. "Songwriters aren't touring people," says Bono. "Cole Porter wouldn't have sold T-shirts. Cole Porter wasn't coming to a stadium near you."

The Church of U2

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Photograph by Clemens Rikken/Hollandse-Hoogte/Redux

by Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker

A few years ago, I was caught up in a big research project about contemporary hymns (or "hymnody," as they say in the trade). I listened to hundreds of hymns on Spotify; I interviewed a bunch of hymn experts. What, I asked them, was the most successful contemporary hymn--the modern successor to "Morning Has Broken" or "Amazing Grace"? Some cited recently written traditional church hymns; others mentioned songs by popular Christian musicians. But one scholar pointed in a different direction: "If you're willing to construe the term 'hymn' liberally, then the most heard, most successful hymn of the last few decades could be 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,' by U2."

Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they're a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious: a song on one recent album was called "Yahweh," and where else would the streets have no name? But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2's Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band's music, and to the U2 phenomenon. The result has been a divide that's unusual in pop culture. While secular listeners tend to think of U2's religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band's identity. To some people, Bono's lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they're thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith.

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U2 and Apple: The latest announcement has more to do with medium than music.

by Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Forbes Staff

If for some reason you've still got a collection of cassette tapes, you'll probably find it very difficult to sell, trade, or even give them away. Compact discs are rapidly approaching a similar status. And, if U2′s Apple (AAPL -0.73%) album launch is any indication, so are MP3s.

Last week the band distributed free copies of its latest album, Songs of Innocence, to over half a billion iTunes customers as part of a deal with Apple valued as high as $100 million. Judging by some reactions, however, you'd think Tim Cook's company was offloading bedbug-ridden mattresses instead of new music by one of the most successful bands of our age.

"It's a gift from Apple," said U2 manager Guy Oseary. "If someone doesn't like the gift, they should delete it."

It's fascinating that anybody had to make such an announcement-and, in this writer's opinion, it's much more a symptom of the demise of the digital download than it is an indicator of intense antipathy toward U2.

How to Create a U2 Bingo Card

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There's no doubt that with all of the mobile bingo sites and social bingo apps there has been more and more people glued to their phones - but there's nothing more fun than sitting around with friends and having a cheeky natter or gossip whilst playing some great bingo games. It's also a great money saver too and adds a great social element into things so you can have a catch up all at the same time. You can even have a cheeky glass of plonk if you fancy!

Latest U2 Live Performance

Opening Act(s): Carney, Arcade Fire

Setlist:

Even Better Than The Real Thing, The Fly, Mysterious Ways, Until The End Of The World - Anthem, I Will Follow, Get On Your Boots, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - Ballad Of Springhill, Beautiful Day - Space Oddity, Elevation, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Miss Sarajevo, Zooropa, City Of Blinding Lights, Vertigo, I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (Remix) - Discothèque - Life During Wartime - Psycho Killer, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Scarlet, Walk On. Encore(s): One, Hallelujah - Where The Streets Have No Name, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me, With Or Without You - Love Will Tear Us Apart, Moment Of Surrender, Out Of Control, 40.

Remarks:

It's the final concert of the U2 360 Tour as well as the first time U2 has ever played a show in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. "The Ballad Of Springhill" (aka: Springhill Mining Disaster) is performed for 30-40 seconds soon after "I Still Haven't Found..." and it is the first time U2 has played any portion of this song live since 1987. The band debuts "40" for the first time on the tour and it is the final song of the concert (in Pittsburgh only a snippet of "40" was performed at the end). It is the first time U2 has ever debuted an original song in the final show of a tour. Just prior to playing this song, U2 sprayed fans with a bottle of champagne, and at the end, each band member walked off the stage with Larry Mullen the last to leave. U2's most profitable tour (7.3 million tickets sold grossing over $736 million dollars) comes to a graceful conclusion.

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