In September, after Apple’s iPhone 6 event, CEO Tim Cook invited Irish rock band U2 to the stage for what would turn out to be a nightmarish announcement. Apple, lead singer Bono said, was releasing the band’s new album for free to all iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners. Apple was footing the bill, and not only would the album be free, but it would be automatically uploaded to every Apple device in 119 countries around the world, without device owners even having to ask.
"Wow!" U2 fans thought.
"Who cares!?" non-U2 fans said to themselves.
In immediate response to the “gift” they had just been given, Apple customers lit up social media with negative comments about the album, Songs of Innocence. They also lamented that the album had invaded their devices against their will and wondered how they could delete the songs from their devices. The process wasn’t as simple as pressing the Erase button, so I took the opportunity to write a service piece explaining how to remove the album for good.
Fast-forward five months: People still hate this album and its presence on their Apple devices. I say “still” because I am, to this day, getting frustrated email pleas from iPhone owners about Apple pushing these “stupid songs” into their lives.
"I feel haunted and tortured," one poor iPhone owner wrote to me.
"Hi sir how the fc*#k do i delete u2 on my phone?" started a message I received. "I tried everything on the Yahoo site."
Another one of the many emailers that reached out to me that week, with “Deleting that stupid u2 album” in the subject line, wrote, “i tried following your instrustions [sic] to delete this horrible album off my phone and it wont work. … Please help.”
These were desperate times. Once Apple realized that rather than humming along to Bono’s newest set of tunes, more of its customers were singing “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” the company caved and provided help of its own. It came in the form of a simple Web tool dedicated to removing the tracks from customers’ iTunes. Yahoo Tech tried to spread the word about the easier fix, but it seemed that news has yet to reach everyone affected.
"I have successfully removed all but one song from my playlist," a dismayed reader emailed me last month. "This song, The Miracle … simply will not delete, any time I try to swipe it left to show the delete option it just opens it and starts playing. I cannot figure out how to get it off. … Can you help me get this song off my playlist?"
It was an aberration, I had thought at first. No way were there people out there that had been fighting to remove these songs for months, right?
Having received several more emails since the one above, I’m now convinced that the problem persists. One from a couple of days ago reads, “I’m at my wit’s end. I’m still unable to delete any part of that U2 thing from my Music app. … Please help me. Please.”
Just before that, someone simply sent me a screenshot (below) of their iPhone with “You had a thread on how to remove the U2 songs Sent from my iPhone” as a note. The screenshot showed that they had only been successful in deleting some of the tracks from it.
I’ve answered a number of these cries for help with a direct link to Apple’s “Songs of Innocence” removal tool. Of course, I can’t very well respond to everyone that’s written me. (David Pogue and I both get a lot of fan mail. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day!)
So if you’re reading this now, and are still terribly upset that U2 is squatting on your iDevice, then click this link, follow the instructions, and I can guarantee you relief from your U2 Vertigo. Well, not that song, but you get the idea.
Wishing you a Beautiful Day,