Column: off the record..., vol. 14-601
January 12, 2014
What a night of surprises at the Golden Globes. First, all four members of U2 worked the red carpet to promote both "Ordinary Love" and "Invisible." Second, the band's acceptance speech was a very interesting one, with Adam's formal welcome of Guy Oseary to the U2 family, Larry's statement about "holy, Catholic Ireland," and Bono's lack of expletives. It was nice to have all four lend their voices to the speech. One of the band's nightcaps will be visiting Harvey Weinstein's Globes after-party.
While they'll never be bold enough to officially state this, you know they have winning an Oscar on their career bucket list. They’ve been allowing their music in films since 1982. Their only Oscar nomination was in 2003 for “The Hands That Built America,” which lost to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” If it’s any indication, this past week in Palm Springs and Hollywood they seemed to be lobbying hard for the consideration of Academy voters for “Ordinary Love.” Unfortunately for them, they have a very competitive field this year with “Let It Go” from Frozen. I’m not a betting gal, but my 4-year-old daughter is singing “Let It Go” more than she’s singing “Ordinary Love.” It’s going to be a tight race.
As if I weren’t already excited about the Super Bowl (Go Patriots!), we now have confirmation that U2 shot footage for their ad during the big game. Those on Twitter might have seen messages from actors and other crew members who were brought in for the shoot. While they all probably signed confidentiality agreements, it didn’t stop one individual from letting the world know that she got to smack Bono’s bum on multiple occasions throughout the shoot. This left me with a whole host of questions, which I hope get answered in the ad. This commercial is the first official announcement of the band’s new song, new album, new image and new direction under the new management of Guy Oseary. I’d expect some bum smacking from Madonna, but not from Bono. This is not what the older fans are envisioning from their megalomaniac, globe-saving rock star. But then again, is this what the younger fans are expecting?
Bono’s relevancy argument springs to mind, and I believe that the band is not willing to betray its values in favor of being relevant. It would appear that U2 is keen on reintroducing to their newer fans just what those values are. The importance the band has placed on North Side Story as the fan club subscribers’ special cannot be overlooked. A poster was even put up in Dublin with a young U2 welcoming people to the North Side. Those early years in U2’s career showed a determination to be heard and to build a meaningful relationship with their core audience. Perhaps they are looking to rebuild that with their core audience’s children or grandchildren now. This is why when Entertainment Weekly wrote in their Jan. 10, 2014 issue that U2’s “core audience is probably too old to fully embrace a surprise digital debut a la Beyonce,” it riled me because the band’s core audience is more techno-savvy than most would think. As a card-carrying member of U2’s core audience, I can assure Entertainment Weekly that we have been waiting for such a surprise digital release for years now.
I have a sense the North Side Story theme may be enveloped into a grander design and we might see elements of it morph into future projects. While it's yet to be seen if that theme will be woven into the next tour, the core audience knows U2 as a band that built its reputation as a live act that lived and died night after night based on performance, not on fancy technology and grand costumes. I believe this is how they want their new audience to understand them as well. We’ll have 274 glorious pages expressing it, and I’m sure we’ll have many more interviews with the band discussing it.
And finally … don’t you wish your parents were this cool?
Have a great week!