(Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr.)
"Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"
There’s a lot riding on this for U2 and The Weinstein Co., which relishes awards season like no other company. It’s the second nomination for the band, which won a 2003 Golden Globe for “The Hands That Built America” from Martin Scorsese’s "Gangs of New York" but saw "8 Mile"’s “Lose Yourself” win the Oscar. A win for “Ordinary Love” this year would create momentum heading into the release of U2’s upcoming album, and their Globe win for best song in January could prove a good omen.
For insiders, the campaign’s most visible moment came at the 25th Palm Springs International Film Festival, where U2 received the Sonny Bono Visionary Award, usually given to a director, for their humanitarian work. On Jan. 6, the day after the presentation, a meet-and-greet for Bono, 53, and The Edge, 52, was arranged in Los Angeles at the Sunset Marquis. “It didn’t feel appropriate to write an anthem for this movie,” Bono told the crowd. “We found a theme of common decency that inspired us.”
For the public, U2’s acoustic performance of “Ordinary Love” on the first night of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" reached more than 11.3 million viewers.
|This Cover Story That First Appeared in Billboard Magazine -- Click to Buy This Issue|
U2 was in the midst of making their new album when they started writing “Ordinary Love,” which went through numerous revisions, some of which were driven by different edits of the film’s conclusion.
“On this particular track,” says 52-year-old drummer Mullen, “there was a drum performance and we kind of worked back and forth on [guitar parts]. When the lyric came in focus, that’s when everything. . . with the rhythm section completely changed. It was just this evolving process and everything we started with basically got abandoned.”
Adds The Edge: “There were a few different iterations, and it took a little bit of time to get the arrangement right. . . . Had it been any other project, we definitely would have turned it down. This was special for us, very special. It meant an awful lot to be asked in the first place.”
THE TIPPING POINT
The idea of U2 paying tribute to Nelson Mandela appears tailor-made for awards consideration. The leader’s Dec. 5 death notwithstanding, the band has treated the "Mandela" track with care, creating a limited-edition vinyl release for November’s Record Store Day, making a free download available to the band’s website subscribers and, after the Globe nom, celebrating with the release of a “Mandela version” of “Breathe” on SoundCloud.
The Weinstein Co.’s campaign continues. On Feb. 20, a YouTube video of the “Ordinary Love” performance on "Tonight Show" was posted, bookended with images of Mandela and the band. “There’s so much at stake,” says Mullen. “It’s not about an Irish band that writes a song for a movie and gets nominated. This belongs to Mandela and South Africa. It’s not really ours.”
FOR IT: U2 won the Globe; it’s the sole category in which voters can honor Mandela.
AGAINST IT: The Academy has shied away from end-title songs lately.