U2’s ‘Songs of Experience’ Receives Mediocre Reviews, But Concert Ticket Album Bundle Disguises Poor Sales

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With the exception of great ticket sales for U2’s recent the Joshua Tree Tour 2017, the band has had a difficult time since the release of Songs of Innocence in 2014. The album, which was forced on all owners of iOS devices, received an extreme backlash and turned U2 from a worldwide phenomenon to the most maligned band on the planet.

Perhaps waiting for the Christmas season to release their latest album was a good idea, especially since that’s the time when album sales are the highest. After all, Billboard reports that the album will debut at No. 1.

“U2 is on track for its eighth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with the rock band’s latest release, Songs of Experience.”

The article adds that the album could earn over 170,000 equivalent album unit sales for the week ending December 7. But don’t celebrate for U2 just yet. As Headline Planet reports, U2 is benefiting from the album being bundled in with concert tickets for their upcoming tour. In a trick that Madonna, Janet Jackson, Katy Perry, and Bon Jovi have used to inflate actual sales, the albums redeemed through the bundle will count as sales for the charts. It has been speculated that up to 40,000 copies of Songs of Innocence have been redeemed. All of the artists who have done this before have seen a second week sales drop by 80 to 90 percent.

Perhaps U2’s sales won’t drop as much, especially since it’s Christmas season. But Songs of Experience has earned some brutal reviews for the band. The A.V. Club claims that U2’s latest is insufferable.

U2's New Album
U2's new album has been ripped apart by critics. Featured image credit: Dave J HoganGetty Images

“But for the most part, Experience is heavy on empty sentimentality, packaged around lifeless hooks and trite melodies that few U2 fans will remember, let alone sing along to, in 20 years.”

Pitchfork gave Songs of Experience a 5.3/10 rating.

“Years in the making, U2’s 14th studio album finds the band straining to reassert its relevance in a world where rock music has long since ceded its vanguard status,” says critic Calum Marsh, who adds that the band tries too hard to sound like the “cool” band of the 1980s and 1990s.

Not all the reviews have been bad. Jon Pareles of the New York Times claims that although the album isn’t one that tries to gain new fans by radically changing U2’s style, it does reaffirm the sound that has made the band popular in the past.

There are certainly some fans of U2’s new album on Twitter.

This past weekend, U2 thrilled fans on SNL by performing “American Soul,” and “Get Out of Your Own Way.” The band seemed to show that they aren’t affected much by their declining critical acclaim and sales.

As some of U2’s fans have noted, the band has been around for nearly 40 years. Perhaps people should be happy that U2 is still around making music, while other artists or bands have either quit, died, or started playing unknown venues in Las Vegas.