David seems to have a habit of egging me on to verbosity where Coldplay is concerned, so I guess I should wade into the fray again, though I’m pretty sure I’ve said most of this before. Also, since I appear to be the only person I know who actually likes Coldplay, perhaps I should advise the rest of you to skip this post. 🙂
Coldplay just can’t catch a break. Part of it is their fault, of course. Sure, their music lends itself to easy ridicule and scorn, but can you name a band that doesn’t? The only way to really be liked is to not take yourself too seriously, which is really hard for rock bands. Coldplay fails miserably at this, at least since about 2002. It’s far and away the worst thing about the band, and the most obnoxious.
The other part of it is that they’re not really that original. They’re the best band I know of which plays in that British alternative style. Think of all the bands that ape them and fail (e.g., Keane fails a lot). But the four gentlemen of Coldplay don’t actually come up with much of anything on their own. Listen to early Radiohead, and it sounds like Parachutes. Piano ballads? Been done. Coldplay is sometimes described as the next U2, which is not exactly a comment on their originality. Even the news articles hailing their single giveaway this week feel compelled to mention the ground-breaking giveaway of In Rainbows last fall.
But where’re they’re not original, they make up for it with song-writing talent. I remember listening to Pounding, a song off the Doves’ The Last Broadcast. There’s a fabulous guitar solo in the middle, that builds and builds that then … just … dies. It didn’t capitalize on the potential of that solo. Fix You, though, is a Coldplay song that does precisely with a solo what it ought to – it builds.
I was going to talk about how silly it is to dislike bands just because they’re popular, and then I realized that I already did.
So what about their new single? If it wasn’t Coldplay, I’d say Huh. And then I might try to listen to the album, if I remembered. Because it’s Coldplay, I trust them (just enough) to give them a chance at an album. If it wasn’t Coldplay, I’d probably not bother. Another thing: they’re trying pretty hard to be different, which is a high-wire act for most successive volumes (music, film, and TV). How can we give something new and not alienate our fans? I think Coldplay is trying a little too hard to do something different, and it may fall flat. They pulled off this single, barely. It’s pleasant to listen to and catches attention. But if this is the best song off the new album (historically not true for Coldplay), then we fans are in trouble.
Also, the album art is pretty scary, and I don’t just mean the topless lady. One of the things I appreciated (past tense) about Coldplay is their neat, clean fonts and simple album covers. I suppose that is gone now. The new cover is supposed to seem haphazard in a trendy way, but it comes across hollow and silly.
And for everyone else that doesn’t care about Coldplay at all, I’ll shut up now.