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U2's 'Bad' gets a NASCAR makeover

January 18, 2010 | 11:31 am

Heroin and NASCAR, who knew? U2 fans watching the NFL playoffs on Fox this weekend surely heard what would seem to be an oddly placed song scoring the network's preview of the upcoming Daytona 500: U2's mid-'80s hit "Bad." The commercial features little more than a snippet of one of the Edge's most recognizable guitar riffs -- the few slow, glistening notes that set the table for the song's explosive rock 'n' roll release. 

U2 hasn't exactly shied away from commercial endorsements of late, or massive sporting events. Also, anyone who has attended any NFL, NBA or MLB game in recent years has likely heard "Beautiful Day" piped throughout the arena or stadium, further linking U2 with the sporting world. Yet judging by some previous NASCAR-branded music releases, U2 seems to be a bit out of place with the barroom hits and country rock more closely tied to the sport.

Granted, it's more a story these days when rock 'n' roll doesn't appear in a commercial, but are U2 fans ready to have one of the band's most iconic songs forever associated with auto racing? If the quick responses on Twitter are any gauge, then no.

Though Bono's lyrics in "Bad" are vague and open to interpretation, it's a song long believed to be about heroin addiction, making it feel a bit out of place in hyping the Feb. 14 race. It should be noted, of course, that it's not the first time a rock 'n' roll tune about drug use has appeared in a commercial, as Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" more famously promoted a cruise line.

Pop & Hiss has reached out to the U2 camp for more info, and for clarification as to what clearances and permissions may have been needed. It's possible the band was just as surprised as some of its fans were at hearing the tune in the network promo. Some may recall that Fox once used the Arcade Fire's "No Cars Go" in a promo for the NFL, and it was widely reported that the network did not seek -- or need -- the band's permission. The clip is embedded above.

Pop & Hiss did, however, waste more time this weekend than is worth admitting comparing the few seconds above with the actual album track, as well as the various live versions to gauge where it came from. The edition used by Fox seems to most closely resemble the take on U2's "Wide Awake in America" EP, but fans are invited to set us straight. 

Of course, there may not be any real reason to be surprised. After all, U2's name has indeed been seen  on the race track of late, appearing on Elliott Sadler's vehicle to promote the film "U2:3D." 

Still, we would have voted for "Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car" instead. 

-- Todd Martens

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