By Randy Lewis
U2’s invasion of iTunes libraries with the group’s new album “Songs of Innocence” may not have put the Irish band back on top of the sales chart, but that doesn’t mean the impact of last week’s stunt can’t be seen.
In the wake of the free – and uninvited – distribution of the album to 500 million iTunes shoppers and iPhone users on Sept. 9, music fans have been hungrily revisiting the group’s catalog, and as of Monday, 11 of its albums were back in the iTunes’ top albums rankings.
And that’s almost a week later. Within two days, 17 albums had returned to the digital store’s Top 100. At the peak, 26 U2 collections were on the chart. None of the group’s albums were in the Top 100 one day before Apple’s latest product and content unveiling in Cupertino, Calif.
The favorite? “Joshua Tree (Remastered),” which as of Monday was still in the Top 20, at No. 19, followed by “U218 Singles” at No. 32, “Achtung Baby (Remastered)” (No. 41), “U218 Singles (Deluxe)” (No. 42) and “War (Remastered)” (No. 50).
The remainder inside the Top 100: “Rattle and Hum” (No. 57), “The Unforgettable Fire (Remastered)” (No. 62), “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” (No. 72), “Under a Blood Red Sky (Live)” (No. 85), “Boy (Remastered)” (No. 87) and “The Best of 1980-1990” (No. 89).
Bono & Co. just missed reaching an even dozen with “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb,” which was No. 101 on Monday.
It’s the latest in the longstanding collaboration between the band and Apple, which gave the world the first signature model iPod with the U2 edition in 2004, numerous TV, print and billboard ads and the PRODUCT(RED) campaign from which a portion of sales are donated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa.
As previously reported, Billboard quickly announced that “Songs of Innocence” will not qualify to be listed on its Top 200 albums ranking, despite being the most massive distribution of an album ever, because copies were given away, and therefore are not tracked by the Nielsen SoundScan retail sales monitoring service on which the Billboard chart is based.
It will become eligible for the Billboard chart once the album goes on sale for physical purchase on Oct. 14.