After 25 years of pooh-poohing commercial partnerships, U2 is promoting its upcoming How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (out Nov. 23) with enough synergy to make your head spin. Last month the band started rocking out in Apple ads to launch their first single, ''Vertigo.'' Meanwhile, Apple introduced a limited-edition black-and-red U2 iPod, and iTunes will offer The Complete U2, with more than 400 of the Irish rockers' songs, including 25 rare and unreleased cuts. The band is also reportedly considering sponsorship, possibly with Intel, for their tour, which kicks off March 1.
Why the about-face? While the Edge said in an Oct. 26 press conference, ''iPod and iTunes look like the future to me, and it's good for everybody involved in music,'' could there be just a whiff of...desperation?
''When your hipness factor fades a little bit, sometimes you need to make moves that are against the grain,'' says Bob Chiappardi, founder of Concrete Marketing, a music promotion firm. ''Necessity breeds invention.''
And in U2's case, defying convention. Going where lesser-known bands have typically gone before, U2 is also getting Atomic Bomb to the masses via airplay on top-rated TV shows such as CSI (Oct. 28) and indie-rock haven The O.C. The new CD's ''Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own'' will play during an emotionally charged montage on the Dec. 2 episode. ''It's an opportunity for them to reach a very large audience in a way that their song will forever be associated with a big moment in our show,'' says O.C. music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. Seems like the bigger issue is the indie-lovin' O.C. selling out.