Rolling Stone Names U2’s Songs of Innocence “Album of the Year.” Um…

Don’t get me wrong. I like Songs of Innocence. If you look beyond all the detritus surrounding the way it was released through iTunes, it’s a very good album. But for Rolling Stone to pick it as the best album of the year? Seriously?

Maybe I’m too cynical about how the business works, but I can’t help wonder if there was any back-and-forth dealmaking involved. “If you give us an interview, we’ll put you on the cover. Then we’ll give serious consideration to ranking SOI highly on our year-end list.” Quid pro quo, you know?

Could it be that Rolling Stone has a bias towards heritage acts, the sort with fans who still buy Rolling Stone? I mean, looked what finished at number two:  Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes.

Or maybe the editors of Rolling Stone really do think it’s the best record to come out anywhere in the world in 2014. They rank it higher than the Black Keys’ Turn Blue (#3), St. Vincent’s self-titled album (#4), Run the Jewels second album (#8) and Canadian Mac DMarco’s Salad Days (#9).  My pick, War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream, finished at #23.

The blowback on this choice has been interesting so far. Any thoughts?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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7 thoughts on “Rolling Stone Names U2’s Songs of Innocence “Album of the Year.” Um…

  • Most of the time, love your comments…but here, you are well off. I am a huge fan, so biased alert, but this is without a doubt their best LP since AB. As for the other LP’s of 2014…there is ABSOLUTELY none better than SOI.

  • That all said…you are bloody right about RS!

  • I read somewhere that Bruce Springsteen’s manager used to write for Rolling Stone so he gets an automatic pass. That and because, well, you know, he’s Bruce Springsteen.

  • I agree that this is kind of a strange pick for album of the year. I mean, I like U2. I have enjoyed their music from the beginning. But this does seem to be a rather strange pick when there is so much more music that could have been chosen. Heritage acts? I like that term. I think that a publication like Rolling Stone is sort of out of touch with new music that is relevant. I read that list and was disappointed at their choice of number one. Specifically since the way U2 went about getting to the people. It went deep into controversy though it was a great marketing campaign. I just don’t think the album was worth a number one spot on any list really.

  • I found this album boring, lifeless, and absolutely instantly forgettable. These songs make “Stuck in a Moment” sound like “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

  • RS always does this. Wait until the next Stones album: it’ll be a return to form, best since Tattoo You, 4 or 5 stars, blah blah blah

  • I agree with your pick of Lost in the Dream, Alan. Very excited to see them this week here in Australia. I also think you were on the money in speculating it was achieved through some quid pro quo deal. RS know their demographic has changed, and have given up on shaping opinion about popular music as a whole in order to focus on the much narrower brand of MOR favoured by their increasingly conservative readership.


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