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Just to beat W to it, I thought I would comment on the new Coldplay single.

I said it this way earlier today, “If it came on the radio, I’d change the station”.

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The other day, just out of curiousity, I bought Scott Stapp’s solo album, The Great Divide. You know, Scott Stapp. Yes, the former lead singer of Creed. Creed, that post-grunge band that sold a bazillion albums but doesn’t seem to have an actual fans. Seriously, have you ever talked to anyone who admitted to being a real fan of Creed? Not a “they’re fun to listen to sometimes” person, but a fan? Even if they are, they won’t admit it.

First, full disclosure. I enjoy listening to Creed. I can’t really defend it, though I think that part of it at this point is now tinged with nostalgia for listening to it eight (wow – eight!) years ago. So there’s that.

In passing, I should note that the album cover is worthy of a look. It makes almost every other album cover in the world look good. Inside, the album art is even better, as Stapp has no shirt in half of his pictures. I kid you not.

But I also listened to the album. Yes, all of it. Each song. It is amazingly bad. None of the songs are catchy or have a good melody. You keep expecting something interesting to happen, and then the four minute mark hits and the music just goes away. It’s boring to listen to, and it it’s not even as good as Creed’s worst songs. I don’t think this is because the band isn’t as talented this time around, though that’s true. It’s also because the songs are just plain terrible.

Was it worth the buy? Yes, for the entertainment value. And because I got it for a $1, so I won’t feel bad about throwing it away. But I don’t think I’ll be curious again.

Coldplay has just announced its latest album title, which is going to be called Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. I have no idea why. It’s one of the worst album titles I’ve heard. People are probably going to buy a bazillion copies of it. Huh.

If you mention Coldplay to people, you get a reaction. It’s usually either violent or rapturous. Their fans are rapidly fan-atic, and their detractors really detract. For example, some people won’t listen to Coldplay at all because they’re “overplayed.” Okay, fair enough – it makes sense to avoid a band if you’ve heard them too much. But that doesn’t necessarily make the music terrible. Many beautiful pieces of classical music are overplayed precisely because they are wonderful. I don’t mean to say that frequency of play only happens to good music – just that the two things aren’t related by necessity.

I think there’s an underlying issue here, and it’s the issue of popularity in music. Some people, when they listen to music, refuse to listen to anything that is considered too popular. The old joke is that if anyone else has heard of your favorite band, then you need to find a new one. If you like obscure indie rock, fine – there’s some good stuff out there. But I think it’s a mistake to discount a band because they happen to be on a record label (or, heaven forbid, actually make money in their career). Popularity doesn’t indicate quality, right? Everybody knows that. But not everybody knows that unpopularity doesn’t indicate quality either.

I like Coldplay. They’re one of three or four bands whose albums I would buy on the day they come out, regardless of the singles. I trust them to give me a good slice of music. But I wasn’t a huge fan of X&Y. The band was too conscious of its own success, many of the songs weren’t heartfelt, and (I hesitate to say this about any album) it was too long. There were wonderful parts – Fix You is one of their greatest tracks. But after the delightful surprise that was A Rush of Blood to the Head, it was disappointing to find Coldplay getting so full of itself.

So. The new album. I have no idea if it will be good. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the greatest thing they’ve ever done, as their own hype will try to sell the album. After X&Y didn’t quite live up to the hope, they need to impress me this time around for me to stick around. They might. We’ll see.

Michael Jackson1. Stephen Colbert is running for president in both parties but is running into trouble with the Federal Election Commission due to his corporate sponsorship and free publicity sponsored by Comedy Central.

2. Michael Jackson is re-releasing Thriller in hopes of breathing new life into his career. It’ll be mostly the same album, but will feature a few remixes including one with Kanye West.

3. The Verve is hopping on the bandwagon and getting back together. They recently released the fruits of their first recording session for download online.

4. And speaking of more musical news. Led Zeppelin is finally going to be releasing their catalog online.

5. Billboard is going to start tracking the Top 40 via Facebook. Weird.

A friend of mine introduced me to Slacker Internet Radio the other day. If you’re familiar with Pandora or Last.fm you will likely appreciate Slacker and –I dare say– prefer it to the others. Customize stations or discover new music and artists similar to your current interests. Pretty handy if you ask me.

I’d like to run an experiment. I have a theory that the less a band/musician focuses on themselves and the more they focus on a story that echoes the sentiments of their song , the better video it will make. Included are three music videos. What is your reaction? Which do you think is best?


Imogen Heap: Hide & Seek

Radiohead: Karma Police

Feist: Mushaboom

I began wondering the other day why various artists (e.g. painters, writers, and especially musicians) so often resort to taking drugs and why this would and should be unacceptable for the Christian artist. The simple answer that I came to is that they are starving for inspiration. The longer answer, I think, explains how successful they will ultimately be.

First of all, society values uniqueness. Any artist that is full of cliché after cliché will generally not last long. That is, unless their cliché is not yet cliché enough for a specific strata of the populace to notice. (e.g. much pop music and literature). Because the artist needs unique inspiration and needs to avoid cliché’s, many artists end up needing to have one of three things in order to survive. The first is extensive experience in life in order to be familiar with many or all such cliché’s; the second, they ought to be well or better educated that the general populace, or possibly three, they ought to have some other means of generating new experience or mining it from within themselves. The third, I believe, is what accounts for the popularity of drugs for the artist. In a Christian world, Christ is king and we have all of creation and revelation to act as our inspiration for art. In a pagan world, the artist or the individual is king, and the deeper that the artist can delve into himself, the more he can plumb the depths of his uniqueness. Enter drugs. Drugs to not give the artist new experiences in the material world, but instead give the artist new experiences within his own psyche. They allow him to plumb those depths. In short, drugs are a poor substitute for inspiration compared to God, who is the ultimate source of inspiration.

What sort of application does this hold for a Christian artist? It tells us, primarily, that the Christian artist should have no reason at all to turn to drugs. He has access to a far superior form of inspiration that is much larger than himself. Searching within yourself, exploring the limits of your own finitude produces results much more inferior than searching outside yourself and exploring the infinite Creator and His creation.

  • So the word on the street is that the Beatles catalog may soon become available on iTunes, with a slow release into other markets. This would mark the possible end to a decades long feud between The Beatles and Apple, Inc.

  • The Icelandic band Sigur Ros has been on my mind lately. I’ve been enjoying their most recent effort Takk… and revisiting some of their former stuff from ( ). These guys are a must have this time of year. There’s nothing that can paint a winter soundscape quite like these guys. Some key tracks include ‘Hoppipolla’ and ‘Glosoli’. You may have heard them most recently on the Children of Men trailer.
  • I reccomend checking out Rhapsody‘s subscription service. For about $9.95 a month, you can listen to as much music as you want from anywhere you have an internet connection. Yes, you may not be able to download huge amounts of music, but it’s perfect for acquainting yourself with all that music you just couldn’t justify purchasing just to sample. And well, if you find something you really want to keep, then you can buy it.

In your opinion, what are the five albums out there with the best album art?

I present to you the ‘God’s Gonna Cut You Down’ Music Video…

Featuring: Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Chris Martin, Kris Kristofferson, Patti Smith, ,Terrence Howard, Flea, Q-Tip, Adam Levine, Chris Rock, Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss, Sir Peter Blake, Sheryl Crow, Dennis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Amy Lee, Tommy Lee, Dixie Chicks, Mick Jones, Sharon Stone, Bono, Shelby Lynne, Anthony Kiedis, Travis Barker, Lisa Marie Presley, Kid Rock, Jay Z, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Corinne Bailey Rae, Johnny Depp, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin, Owen Wilson