The actual content of U2’s most recent album, 2014’s Songs Of Innocence, was overshadowed by its release strategy, which included forcing the album onto everybody’s iPhone, whether they really wanted it or not. As a longtime U2 fan with an intimate familiarity of the band’s storied discography, I can say that the album has some solid songs, but it’s nowhere near the band’s best, and it certainly should not considered among 2014’s top albums by any discerning music fan or critic.
So it makes sense that any people were surprised at the end of that year, when Song Of Innocence claimed the top spot on Rolling Stone‘s albums of the year list. In Joe Hagan’s new book Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine, he writes that the reason U2’s record topped the list is because of the magazine’s founder Jann Wenner and his friendship with Bono.
In the book, which was released a couple days ago, Hagan reports that when the decision was made, Wenner said, “My dictate. By fiat, buddy. That’s that.” It’s worth mentioning that Wenner and Hagan are no longer on speaking terms because the Rolling Stone founder doesn’t like the book.
Rolling Stone has been accused of being critically out of touch in recent years, and when Wenner announced in September that he is ready to sell the magazine, he said, “I think it’s time for young people to run it.”
That sounds about right.