When the U2 album appeared, last week or the week before, I burned it on a CD and stuck it in the car stereo. Whenever the radio was annoying me or failing to enthrall me, I put it on.
I’m coming around to it now.
I never really like anything first time out, unless it’s some super-catchy riff with an instant hook.
At the moment, I like that ‘All About the Bass’ song but I will probably be completely fed up with it in a week or two. That’s the trouble with the catchy stuff, it wears off pretty quick.
Back to U2 though.
I’m not a defender of U2 or anything. There’s lot of their songs that I like and a lot that I don’t like. I also know how that front man fella has the capacity to annoy people, myself included, from time to time. When I heard some songs off this new album for the first time, they didn’t impact with me. They didn’t cause me offence or outrage or anything, they just didn’t click.
But that’s nothing new. As I was saying, songs generally take a few plays to get into my brain and settle there. It’s only then that I get a feel for whether I like them or not.
So, yeah, the CD has been played a few times now and I’m coming around to the songs. They sound similar to ones that have gone before but, still, some of them are pretty good.
What I’m saying here is completely true but I’m also trying to be a little bit provocative.
I was interested in what happened when the U2 album appeared last week, or the week before. I think it was a good example of something that occurs quite regularly now, something that we perhaps should be a little bit concerned about.
Basically, people hated the U2 album.
But why be concerned about that, Ken? People are allowed to like or dislike things as they see fit. They are also allowed to express their opinions openly and without fear of reprisal. This is a situation to be celebrated and staunchly defended.
Of course it is.
The thing I’m talking about is not the hating of the album. It is the speed of the hating of the album.
People hated the album in the very moment it appeared.
There was no time to listen to it a few times. Hell, there was no time to listen to it even once. It appeared and it was hated. The end.
Of course there were mitigating factors in this particular instance. The album was perceived as having been forced onto people’s entertainment devices by a corporate entity. That fuelled the hate a bit. Also it’s ‘U2’, with the stacks of baggage that they and their front man have hauled along through the last few decades.
These are reasons which made this a grander and more visible ‘blind hating’ that most of the ‘blind hatings’ we have previously seen. Still, though, it’s an interesting and, to me at least, a rather scary example of the phenomenon.
What phenomenon, Ken, what are you on about?
I told you. People, en masse, hating a package of songs without having taken a moment to listen to them. Doesn’t that scare you even a little bit? I mean it’s not about the songs, fuck the songs. People coming together and hating a thing and the only knowledge they have of it is the propaganda and their own prejudices. Doesn’t that ring a bell at all?
People do well if they are part of a group. This is true in life and doubly-true on Facebook and Twitter and such. It’s can be a cold isolating place, that Social Media, and people long for common ground and shared experience on which to rest and warm themselves a while. If you don’t believe me, look at any statement made on Facebook and then look at the comments beneath. The vast majority of those comments will be in concurrence with the original statement. A few argumentative types, sure, but, generally, people with be supporting the original statement, making themselves part of a little cohort. Belonging.
It’s only natural, I suppose.
It’s a shame, though, that the easiest gangs to belong to are the ones which dislike things. It’s easier and safer and warmer and more comfortable to dislike things. You don’t have to defend a dislike. You just have to run with the pack and feel their hot breath on your neck.
I’m getting carried away now and I know I am. And, before you start, it’s not about bloody U2. Hate them all you want, I couldn’t care less. It’s a free country. Go for it. Knock yourself out.
Just consider one thing for me.
Before you decide you really, really hate something, why not try it?
Of course, if you have a strong instinct that you’re going to hate it (Semolina, Cauliflower) you don’t have to try it but, if you don’t ever give it a go, then don’t run around publicly hating on it. Just disregard it.
There is warmth and companionship to be found in being among the people who like things and even, perhaps most wonderful of all, the people who disagree with you about things.
I’ve completely gone off U2 now.
Anybody got any Coldplay?