Unholy unions: The strangest mergers of 2014

From U2 and Apple to Tim Hortons and Burger King, a roundup of the year's most unusual pairings

Justin Tang/CP

Justin Tang/CP


U2, the most popular band in the world, based on tour revenues, came to the harsh realization this year that they may not be the most popular band on iTunes. When the Irish rockers teamed up with Apple to distribute their new album for free to half a billion iTunes users in the fall, they discovered that not everyone wanted the gift of U2 automatically downloaded to their mobile music libraries. iTunes users, many of them too young to know who Bono is, took their confusion to social media. In the words of one perturbed Twitter user, “Pls get this U2 person off my iPod.” Both the band and Apple issued apologies.


Two titans of industry, one iconically Canadian, merged this summer to form the third-largest fast-food company in the world. Tim Hortons Inc. entered into a $12.5-billion merger with Burger King; combined, the companies estimate they will take in almost US $25 billion in sales in the future. Some Tim’s fans have expressed a fear the deal may taint their precious double-doubles and Timbits. Tim Hortons CEO, Marc Caira, tried to allay their anxiety. “Rest assured,” he said, “that Tim Hortons will still be Tim Hortons.”


Opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline created strange bedfellows this year: Left-leaning environmentalists opposed the pipeline because of potential harm to the environment, and Tea Partiers hate it because they believe it violates property rights. One side may be rubbing off on the other: The Republican party, usually a critic of conventional climate-change wisdom, seemed to change its tune on the issue after it won control of the Senate in November. “I think there will be a political problem for the party, going into 2016,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, “if we don’t define what we are for on the environment.”


In October, Postmedia, the news company that owns the National Post and many other newspapers across the country, purchased Sun Media, Quebecor’s chain of 175 English-language newspapers, for $316 million. In other words, the Post and the Sun newspapers, two right-leaning yet starkly different enterprises, now share the same employer. What this will mean for the Sun News Network, Canada’s little-watched but ever-controversial conservative TV station, remains to be seen.


This year, the music industry churned out one of its strangest (yet hugely successful) collaborations. Tony Bennett, the 88-year-old jazz crooner, teamed up with one of his biggest fans, meat-dress-wearing pop star Lady Gaga, to record Cheek to Cheek, a jazz album featuring Cole Porter and Duke Ellington covers. The record beat out country star Kenny Chesney’s album on the Billboard 200 chart in September, taking the No. 2 spot overall.

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