Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Bono to take over On The Record blog for one day. Nation groans and wonders when Blogorrah will be back

The over-the-top promotion for the new U2 album continues at a pace to rival Usain Bolt. Not content with dominating last week with that Q interview (amazing how band members weren’t able to see that question about tax and Amsterdam …

Mon, Jan 12, 2009, 14:39

   

The over-the-top promotion for the new U2 album continues at a pace to rival Usain Bolt. Not content with dominating last week with that Q interview (amazing how band members weren’t able to see that question about tax and Amsterdam coming a mile away), the latest salvo in the campaign is Bono penning an opinion column for the New York Times. Trust me, Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich have nothing to worry about.

This will probably be followed in the weeks before the album release by The Edge’s blog, Adam Clayton’s Irishman’s Diary, Larry Mullen on Twitter (“picking up the kids from the swimming pool on my Honda 50″) and Bono presenting the Late Late Show. By the time the album arrives and the band have appeared three dozen times on Xpose, there will not be a person alive who won’t be screaming “enough, sweet Jesus, enough”.

Yes, the release of a new U2 album is a big-ish story, yet does it really warrant this level of interest? It’s hard to understand why no-one in U2 Inc’s kitchen cabinet hasn’t advised them that such frenzied frontloading does not work anymore. While it may well have been the norm during the 1980s and 1990s – and it worked back then for sure – the campaign to make everyone aware that there is a new U2 album called “Not The Same As The Last One” coming out seems intrusive, over-bearing and badly handled by today’s standards.

Just because a big band are releasing a new album doesn’t mean we want to have it rammed down out throats every time we turn on our computers. This is old-school record industry thinking, a relic of a time when a big mainstream act like U2 could dictate the pace and the pitch. In this age of niche, when Chris Brown can sell 50,000 tickets for a couple of Irish shows in a few minutes and still be largely unknown to a huge number of music fans, the big, over-arching, ubiquitous campaign annoys more people than it convinces. It also shows up a lack of confidence in the product and their fanbase.

But U2 and their team have been brought up to believe that media domination of this kind is the only way to go. Any new-school tools or ideas which are added to the arsenal just become another brick in the wall rather than signalling a new way to go or engage with their audience. This online and offline shock and awe is created to persuade fans to go into the shops (if there will be any record shops left by the time the album comes out) on day one to buy the bloody CD.

There are many ways to deal with this. We can ignore them. We can write about genuinely fantastic new music from the likes of Antony & The Johnsons and Animal Collective instead. We can concentrate on great new Irish bands like R.S.A.G. or Heathers or Adebisi Shank or Cashier No 9. Hell, we could even kick off a National No-U2 Day on the day of the album’s release to show that there’s a whole lot more to Irish music than U2.

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