Just say BO-NO: Mark Hosler of Negativland on Apple’s ‘U2rusion’
01:44 pm

Pop Culture

Mark Hosler

A guest editorial from Mark Hosler of Negativland on Apple’s ‘U2rusion’

1) Of course it’s very entertaining and amusing to me to see the backlash that U2 is getting for doing this.

2) I actually like some of U2s music, and always have. Yet have no interest in paying to hear what they are up to now ( I think I’ve paid them enough! About $45,000, to be exact. That is how much their lawsuit against Negativland cost us), so getting it for free sounded fine to me.

3) The way they are “forcing” it on the users of Apple products is actually a very curious thing! Certainly *someone* was going to do this sooner or later, at least as an experiment, so I am not surprised. That a band this large is giving away its music to pretty much everyone who will want it and many who won’t (regardless of what Apple paid them to do so, which is a separate issue) is also curious as a “business” model. For Apple, perhaps it’s the largest “loss leader” in history. And curious that something that is digitally free is made to look like the test pressing of a real world vinyl LP. How many folks out there even know what a test pressing is or looks like?

4)  Given the endless ways we all often willingly grant these corporations and our government access into to our lives by how we use and sign up for these fucking devices and apps, I am unclear as to why so may folks are so shocked and angry about this. We all get SPAM and we delete it, so… .. is this any different? Maybe it is. Or maybe not.  I am still pondering that one.

5) I use iTunes as a music player and a way to store a bit of the music I listen to, but I have never signed up for their service and never purchased anything from their store. So…guess what?  When I opened iTunes and looked for the dreaded U2 intrusion ( a U2rusion) into my iTunes app, there was nothing there. So this felt to me more like I had unwittingly opted out of being on iTunes mailing list, whereas all of you have signed up for it have opted in.  (BTW, my understanding is that what gets dropped in to your player is a playlist of U2’s new album, but not files. You still have to click something in to download the files.  A nuance, possibly, but one that is being missed in all the hoo ha).

6) Regardless of what anyone thinks, I’ll be curious if the overall outcome is seen as good or bad, plus or minus, by Apple and U2. WIll Apple do this again as a way to push product, or will it seem like such a bad press headache resulting from such arrogant tone deafness that they never do it again?

Below, Mark Hosler discusses Negativland’s adventure with U2 and their lawyers:

Mark Hosler and Negativland were famously sued by U2 and their record company. The upcoming Negativland album, the two CD set It’s All in Your Head, comes packaged in a Holy Bible, with a limited edition Koran also available. (Reviewed here)

Here’s “Right Might” from the new album:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Negativland invites you to remix their notorious ‘U2’ single
11:12 am


Casey Kasem
Island Records

One of the most notorious, brilliant, and amusing copyright news stories surrounds Negativland’s appropriation of Casey Kasem and U2, when they provocatively released a single with “U2” emblazoned in huge letters on the cover with the silhouette of a Lockheed U-2 spy plane (cover image is below). The song featured a hilarious recording of Casey Kasem getting frustrated over the pointlessness of enthusiastically introducing U2 to an American audience, eventually to a tinny backbeat of U2’s 1987 track “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”—indeed, the track is listed simply as a cover of that song.

Island Records didn’t find the jape very funny. With Achtung Baby due to hit stores—readers will find this hard to remember, but U2’s status as a worldwide force was far more questionable before that album came out—Island sued Negativland with great alacrity and proved remarkably effective at gathering up as many of the extant copies as it could. Negativland soon countered with a book, Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2, that included a CD as well as documentation from all the legal wrangling. The whole thing was a masterful bit of culture-jamming, and for fans of out-there assholery before the widespread existence of the Internet, Negativland’s “U2” became a much-sought-after cultural artifact that proved devilishly difficult to find.
Now, with the Internet and everything, it’s not hard to find at all, and since nether Island Records nor U2 probably cares much whether iTunes sales of Achtung Baby are affected anymore, Negativland has chosen this, the week of Casey Kasem’s death, to release the masters for today’s generation of culture jammers to fuck with. On Negativland’s website, “Hal Stakke, legal counsel of Seeland Records” has issued a press release after the demise of Kasem under the following title: “In Memoriam, Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem (27 April 1932 – 15 June 2014): Negativland releases ‘U2’ tracks for remixing and reuse.” Here’s the content of the release:

One of the most beloved voices in music radio, Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem, died on Father’s Day 2014 after a long illness, and also a very public family squabble over his continuing care. Negativland pays tribute to this broadcasting legend by reaching into its vaults and presenting what is perhaps Kasem’s best-known work, on Negativland’s long-unavailable U2 maxi- single, offering up for public consumption (and now, for creative reuse) what has been hidden from view for 23 years.

In 1991, Negativland’s “U2” single had one of the shortest releases in music history, squashed like a bug after less than ten days on store shelves, under legal fire from the Irish rock band U2′s music publisher (Warner/Chappell) and then-record label (Island). The history of this fracas was detailed in their 1995 book and CD release, Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2 (Seeland 013).

Now, instead of merely reissuing the U2 record itself, Negativland presents, for free digital download, the original un-mixed studio multi-track tape for re-mixing, re-purposing and re-inventing in whichever way the listener may choose. Negativland encourages the re-contextualization of this seminal work for whatever reason, whatsoever. In keeping with the working methods and philosophy of Negativland, and the Fair Use provision in U.S. Copyright Law (Section 107,, the group offers up this raw material in the hopes that entirely new versions of the work are created and disseminated. Listeners/remixers are encouraged to post their creations in these locations: and

If you want the masters, all you have to do is download them here. It’s all pretty exciting, although of course, it’s always possible that, to paraphrase Kasem himself, “Nobody gives a shit.”

via Slicing Up Eyeballs

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Lord works in ‘Mysterious Ways’ (or the church that nearly destroyed U2)
02:50 pm



If a small, non-denominational, charismatic Christian church in Dublin had their way 31 years ago, U2 would now be a forgotten, long-defunct band.

During the very early years of U2 Bono (Paul Hewson), The Edge (David Evans), and Larry Mullen Jr. were members of the Shalom Fellowship. Adam Clayton remained a steadfast agnostic. One story goes that they met a member of Shalom in a Dublin McDonald’s where he was reading the Bible and being yelled at by a Hare Krishna devotee. The three musicians attended Bible study, fellowship meetings and revivals at the church, while working on their music.

There were many similar nondenominational groups in Ireland in the early ‘80s, and they were an attractive alternative to the Catholic-Protestant sectarian tension present in many communities and families (like Bono’s own). They strongly resembled the shepherding-discipleship groups like Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) that have evangelized on American college campuses for decades.

At some point during the recording of the band’s second album October a member of the Shalom Fellowship claimed to have had a prophetic vision from God about the band. God wanted the boys to give up the band as a sacrifice to Him and leave rock music altogether.

About half of the congregation, including, not surprisingly, pastor Chris Row, believed the vision and began pressuring the boys to submit to God’s supposed will. The other half didn’t believe that the vision was real and urged them to keep playing.

Although Bono, Mullen, and the Edge weren’t convinced about the prophecy, it still rattled them enough to make them doubt themselves. Bono and The Edge took a two week break from the band between tours to consider the matter.

The Edge later told journalist Bill Flanagan (quoted in One Step Closer: Why U2 Matters to Those Seeking God by Christian Scharen):

We were getting a lot of people in our ear saying: “This is impossible, you guys are Christians. You can’t be in a band. It’s a contradiction and you have to go one way or the other.’ Okay, it’s a contradiction for some, but it’s a contradiction I’m able to live with.

Bono was the first to return to the band. The Edge took more persuasion from the other band members and manager Paul McGuiness before he accepted that he could live a committed Christian life and still be in a band. Bono, the Edge and Mullen left the church in 1982, turned their backs on organized religion and carried on with U2. Despite hounding the three young men out of his congregation and accusing them of choosing rock and roll over the Bible, Reverent Row was nonetheless flown to Los Angeles to officiate at the wedding ceremony of Bono and his long-time girlfriend Alison Stewart in 1982

Bono told Beliefnet:

I often wonder if religion is the enemy of God. It’s almost like religion is what happens when the spirit has left the building.

Even today Christian leaders can’t figure out what to think of the band. They are torn between denouncing them as dangerous, liberal, fraudulent non-Christians (despite frankly spiritual lyrics and oh, thirty years of good deeds) or embracing Bono as a worship leader whose lyrics youth pastors should quote.

Christian blogger Cameron Hill said in his “Lauryn Hill Sings the Gospel” essay:

Imagine how much more impact [U2] would have had their church chosen to embrace them instead of reject them… They were forced to choose between the wishes of their sincere, yet misguided, congregation, and the passion that God put in their hearts to make music that would change the world. They chose the latter, and their church shunned them.

A young U2 playing “October” in West Berlin in 1981, below:


Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Boys: U2 performing on Irish TV when they were still in high school
08:46 am



U2 originally had a fifth member, Dik Evans (The Edge’s brother) and were called The Hype. In the group’s formative years, Bono was also playing guitar, but there wasn’t really a need for a third guitarist. When Dik left, later to form the infinitely better Virgin Prunes, the remaining members rechristened themselves as U2.

When this was shot, in March of 1978, they hadn’t really yet shed their old name (Dik would formally leave in two days time and was not a part of this shoot). Bono, The Edge and Adam Clayton were seventeen. Larry Mullen Jr. was just sixteen.

This short article [“Yep, It’s U2”] appeared in the Irish magazine Hot Press soon afterwards:

Another contender for the titles vacated by the Rats and the Radiators, U2 arrive on the scene with some highly influential supporters. With Steve Rapid acting as mentor, (though not manager) and interest from CBS, the north-side band have made early progress before even venturing into the better-known centre-city gigs. Their recent rise to newfound prominence is due to a victory in an Evening Press/Harp Lager talent contest.

Normally, such contests are ho-hum cabaret affairs but Jackie Hayden from CBS was one of the judges and was sufficiently impressed to pay for a short demo session in Keystone, which is where I caught up with them.

I must report that it wasn’t the happiness of sessions, the band’s inexperience showing up on what was a rush job. Their first numbers were their latest songs, which suffered as they were still getting the measure of themselves and the studio. It wasn’t till later on that their real potential came through.

U2 describe themselves as purveyors of New Wave pop although they’re wise enough to avoid the now deceased power-pop tag. However, they’ve also got hard-rock leanings, not surprisingly since they used to concentrate on that music when they went under their earlier name as the Hype. To their credit, they don’t disguise that background.

To their credit again, U2 are a young band in their last year at school. They impress as articulate, aware and hard-working individuals who are prepared to embark on their vocation. U2 talk like they intend to be professionals, a primary asset in the battle for recognition. All these qualities and their youth make U2 a band for the future and one with the attitude to grow and evolve fast.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
U2’s ‘lost’ early single: ‘A Celebration’

Below, U2 performing their original song “Street Mission” on RTÉ‘s Youngline in March of 1978:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bono and ‘The Hypocrisy of the Filthy Rich’

Bono ‘Twat’ t-shirt by publicgriefjunkie

I really dislike Bono. Not for the usual reasons - he’s not cool, he’s not sexy, he’s not funny, etc - no, it’s none of those. Well, it’s a little of those…  No, this excellent article from today’s Independent newspaper by James Bloodworth, should go some way towards explaining why I, and a fairly large chunk of the population of Ireland, hate this guy:

Another type among the super-rich, however – some would say the dominant type – is the wealthy individual who very publically gives generously with one hand while ruthlessly seeking to minimise what they pay in tax with the other. The moralising hypocrite, you might call this lot.

Perhaps the most well-known figure in this mould is Bono, the lead singer of U2. As well as being the frontman of one of the world’s biggest rock bands, Bono fancies himself as something of an anti-poverty activist, and can often be heard urging people to give generously to a number of causes. Bono has even been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times for his charity work.

In 2006, however, on the back of the massive Live 8 concert the year before – which U2 played a large part in organising and which was supposed to “make poverty history” – Bono’s band moved part of their tax liability from Ireland to the Netherlands. The move came after Ireland scrapped tax breaks that allowed musicians and artists to avoid paying taxes on royalties. When asked about the decision, U2’s lead guitarist David Evans, aka “The Edge”, said that of course the band were trying to be tax-efficient, because “who doesn’t want to be tax-efficient?”

The answer, at a guess, would be those who spend a great deal of time moralising about the world’s poor. Away from the self-congratulatory press conferences where Bono smugly demanded we send our money to the dispossessed, U2 were simultaneously cutting the feet from under their own government’s ability to help the world’s most desperate people– the same people Bono was proclaiming such grave concern for.

This makes for a great read - it’s not all about Bono, mind you, some of it’s about Princess Di - and you can read it all here.

Thanks to Helén Thomas!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
U Pay Your Tax 2’

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment

From last night at the Glastonbury festival, where U2 made their debut. The balloon reads “U PAY YOUR TAX 2?”, referring to the fact that U2 don’t pay taxes in their native Ireland, despite being one of the country’s biggest exports. Methinks Ireland, which is pretty fucking broke, could do with Bono and co’s extra dollar right now…

From BBC News (where you can also see footage of the balloon and the Glastonbury festival security’s over-the-top reaction to it):

[U2] played a greatest hits set that included Where The Streets Have No Name, One, With Or Without You and Beautiful Day. They also played on as protest group Art Uncut inflated a 20ft balloon emblazoned with “U Pay Your Tax 2”.

Scuffles broke out when the protest balloon was removed by festival security, although many of those in the 50,000 crowd were probably unaware of the minor incident. Security staff sought to stop the protest by about 30 people at the end of U2’s opening song Even Better Than the Real Thing.

So the next time you see or hear Bono patronisingly droning on about some sanctimonious twaddle, just think these three words: “Pay Your Taxes”!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Bono’s cock drives me nuts’
09:01 am



South Dublin residents are in an uproar over Bono’s cock wandering into thier Killiney and Dalkey housing estates. Local woman and eyewitness Susan McKeon describes Bono’s cock: “It had a tiny head and a huge body. It was actually quite ugly but I don’t think it’s fully grown.”

Read more about the story here.

(via Arbroath)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
U2’s ‘lost’ early single: ‘A Celebration’
11:51 am


"A Celebration"

I have a grudging respect for U2, although I am not really a fan of their music. I say “grudging respect” because A) they are one of the biggest rock bands in history and plenty of people love them. B) I can’t overlook the fact that of any “classic” rock act, they’ve probably been consistently better than almost any band you can name, for a longer period of time, too. (Compare U2 to the Rolling Stones. Their classic period begins in 1966 and is over by 1973 or 74 (arguably). Eight years out of what, 90 or something? Even the towering genius of David Bowie’s peak creative years have got nothing on U2 who have never really been “bad” in over 30 years.  You can’t say that about Paul McCartney, can you? U2 have had a remarkably good run of it. Put them next to any really longterm rock act, and they acquit themselves admirably.

Still they are just not my cup of tea. I think I feel guilty about putting them on DM, I guess, because, frankly, I’ve always found them a bit naff and Bono, although he’s undeniably done some good things in the world, strikes me as a man who absolutely loves himself, like Sting does.  For the record, I like Boy (but don’t own it) I like the Zooropa-era material (but don’t own it), and I thought “It’s a Beautiful Day” was… just beautiful. But there are only really two tracks by them that I am absolutely nuts over: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” from 1995 Batman Forever soundtrack, which just completely blew me away, and the least-known single of their career, 1982’s “A Celebration.”

“A Celebration” does not appear on any U2 album and was deleted six months after it came out. According to a 1983 interview with drummer Larry Mullen Jr.:

“We did a video of it. We went to this prison in Dublin, where the 1916 uprising took place, called Kilmainham Jail, and filmed it with the idea of breaking out. It was very much a look at ourselves. Like when we were in school and everyone was telling us ‘you’re crap’ and we couldn’t get a record dealit was the triumph of breaking through.”

The reason for the record’s cold shoulder from the group who recorded it—and were presumably proud enough of it to shoot a video for the song—have to do with the way Bono’s lyrics were misinterpreted. From a transcript of a 1983 radio interview

Interviewer: I wanna play the other side of that, which is ‘A Celebration’, since we have no hope in the world of hearing this tomorrow, since the band’s forgotten it we’re gonna play that. This is a terrific track, is it ever going to appear on an album?

Bono: No…(laughs) I don’t think so. It ah -

Interviewer: Do you not like it?!

Bono: No I do like it actually, I’m… sometimes I hate it, I mean it’s like with a lot of music, if I hear it in a club it really excites me, and I think it is a forerunner to War and a lot of the themes. It was great in Europe because… A song like ‘Seconds’ people thought was very serious - on the LP War ‘Seconds’ - it’s anti-nuclear, it’s a statement. They didn’t see the sense of humour to it, it’s sort of black humour, where we were using a lot of clichés; y’know It takes a second to say goodbye, blah blah, and some people took it very seriously. And it is black humour, and it is to be taken sort-of seriously, but this song had the lines in it, I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, I believe in the powers that be, but they won’t overpower me. And of course a lot of people they heard I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, and they thought it was some sort of, y’know, Hitler Part II. And Europeans especially were (puts on outraged French accent) Ah non! Vive le France! and it was all like, all sorts of chaos broke out, and they said, What do you mean, you believe in the atomic bomb? And I was trying to say in the song, I believe in the third world war, because people talk about the third world war but it’s already happened, I mean it’s happened in the third world, that’s obvious. But I was saying these are facts of life, I believe in them, I believe in the powers that be BUT, they won’t overpower me. And that’s the point, but a lot of people didn’t reach the fourth line.

It’s too bad, because this is a fucking corker of a song with an amazing guitar riff. I’d have probably never have heard it myself had it not been for the fact that a woman I lived with in the early 80s owned the 45rpm single. I used to play this record over and over and over again back then. MTV on occasion would play the video (and Vh1 Classic probably still does) but it’s still tragically the least known song in U2’s large catalog. Eventually it was released on CD in 2004 on The Complete U2.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment