Today's New York Times features the behind-the-scenes story of Bank of America's version of U2's "One" performed at a corporate conference celebrating their merger with MBNA. Watch it now, then read on...
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This clip could have come right out of an episode of The Office, but it is no fake - proving once again that The Office is closer to reality TV than any of those "reality" shows could ever hope to be. That really is the BoA brass, and the song is performed by Ethan Chandler, Manhattan bank manager by day, sensitive rocker by night (favorite band: Counting Crows).
The video is a hoot, and works on so many levels. It shows the crassness of corporate culture (especially those inspirational conferences) while simultaneously reminding us that artistic expression is such a hard-to-control beast. I'm no U2 fan (okay, maybe once, long long ago), but I'm pretty sure they had no intention of their song being co-opted to represent bank mergers, NASCAR, office teamwork, or dissing Capital One. The standing ovation by middle-aged BoA executives is almost like a slap in the face. Life can be such a bitch that way.
Not to say that we are all so clueless. Modest Mouse fans at this Saturday's show were treated to a surprise duet from David Cross and Johnny Marr, who ripped out a rather faithful version (YouTube link). And yes, it was understood by this crowd that comedy was happening. I am betting that whatever BoA employee leaked the video in the first place had the same idea.
Then we have the cease and desist orders sent by Universal music. Scroll down in the comments section on Stereogum to read the notice. If a viral video is circulated, no money has exchanged hands, and the version is clearly a parody (it is at least meant to be "clever" for the staff of BoA), is that really a violation of copyright? Did the Backstreet Boys try to sue the Two Asian Guys? Those of us who get how terrible/funny this version is just have more ammo in our hate-on for corporate culture. No harm, no foul. Universal and the BoA lawyers can circle-jerk this all they want, but leave the bloggers alone, already. We just report this crazy shit. We don't make it.
For a darker reading of the BoA song, I recommend reading the lyrics side-by-side with U2's, which helps bring out some of the subtext. Comparison after the jump.
BoA ..... Bono
It is even better ..... Is it getting better?
Now that we’re the same ..... Or do you feel the same?
Two great companies come together ..... Will it make it easier on you now?
Now, MBNA is B of A ..... You got someone to blame
And it’s one bank ..... You say, one love
One card ..... One life
One name that’s known all over the world ..... When it's one need in the night
One spirit ..... One love
We get to share it ..... We get to share it
Leading us all to higher standards ..... Leaves you baby if you don't care for it
Do you like the Cowboys? ..... Did I disappoint you?
Or your university? ..... Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?
Do you like the Yankees? ..... You act like you never had love
Or is NASCAR more your speed? ..... And you want me to go without
Well it’s your choice ..... Well it's too late
Your right ..... Tonight
To pick a card that shows ..... To drag the past
Your heart and your pride ..... Out into the light
We’re one with affinity ..... We're one, but we're not the same
And we’ll carry each other ..... We get to carry each other
Carry each other ..... Carry each other
One ..... One
Have you come to meet Bruce Hammonds ..... Have you come here for forgiveness?
Have you come to meet Leah McGee ..... Have you come to raise the dead?
Have you heard about Michelle Shepherd ..... Have you come here to play Jesus?
She’s leading the team in the Northeast ..... To the lepers in your head
And we’ve got Bank One ..... Did I ask to much?
On the run ..... More than a lot
What’s in your wallet? ..... You gave me nothing
It’s not Capital One ..... Now it's all I got
It’s us ..... We're one
So which card are you? ..... But we're not the same
Integration’s never ..... Well we hurt each other
Had us feeling so good ..... Then we do it again
And we’ll ..... You say
Make lots of money ..... Love is a temple
Forever I can sing ..... Love a higher law
About trusting in teamwork ..... Love is a temple
And doing the right thing ..... Love a higher law
We’ll live out our core values ..... You ask me to enter
While the competition crawls ..... But then you make me crawl
‘cause they want what we have got ..... And I can't be holding on
But it’s only here ..... To what you got
At Bank of America ..... When all you've got is hurt
One bank ..... One love
One card ..... One blood
One name ..... One life
That’s known all over the world ..... You got to do what you should
One heart ..... One life
Filled with spirit ..... With each other
We feel it ..... Sisters
We share it ..... Brothers
One bank ..... One life
Working everyday ..... But we're not the same
To bring ..... We get to
Higher standards ..... Carry each other
Higher standards ..... Carry each other
One ..... One…
We are one, yeah ..... One…
We are one ..... One…
We are one...bank ..... One…