Monday, October 24, 2011

Grown Cold

I've got a hell of a lot on my plate at the moment, but before I dive into all the work I have to do this morning I figured I'd throw out a pretty random question I'd like an answer to: Am I the only one who doesn't care one bit about Coldplay anymore?

Now before anybody mouths off and says, "I always thought they were awful," please just cut it out. Parachutes was a damn good record and A Rush of Blood to the Head remains one of the best and unexpected pop releases of the last decade or so. The latter is the often dark, lovely and powerful work of a band really finding its footing and improving upon its debut by giant strides; it cemented Coldplay as the kind of band that wasn't merely going to be a flash in the pan. And to be fair, of course, they haven't been at all. They're huge. Massive. The new U2, if you believe a lot of network morning show hyperbole.

But here's the thing: They really kind of suck now.

The band's been on a downward trajectory since Rush, first with X & Y, which was a decent record but one that felt like a pale copy of its immediate predecessor. Then of course came Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, an album whose name pretty much summed up what you were getting yourself into by listening to it and spelled out in no uncertain terms the kind of band Coldplay wanted to be: wildly pretentious and completely in love with their own bombastic art-rock self-importance. Yes, Viva La Vida was actually a damn good pop song, but the rest of the record was just -- meh.

And now we get Mylo Xyloto, released today. Again there's more soaring, more hollow grandiloquence, apparently more of the band in matching clothing (dear God) -- only this time around, if you can imagine it, the proceedings have been taken to a whole new stratospheric level because the record isn't simply sporting an obnoxious mouthful of a title, it's a 100% concept album. And what is the concept, you ask? Well, let's let Chris Martin (aka Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow, and the seeds of the problem could very well lie there) explain it to you. From Wikipedia:

"The album is 'based on a love story with a happy ending', in which two protagonists: Mylo and Xyloto, who are living in an oppressive, dystopian urban environment, meet one another through a gang called 'The Lost Boys', and fall in love."

Oh for Christ's sake.

Again, though, here's the thing: I'll bet that if I listened to it a few times I'd really grow to like it -- but I'm not willing to. And that's what I'm kind of trying to figure out -- how a band I once enjoyed so much now barely even summons a passing interest from me. I'm not the least bit excited about a new Coldplay record, and I'm not sure I ever will be again.

I mean, I like Rihanna -- I really do -- but could you ever have imagined Coldplay doing a duet with her?

Update: Interestingly, I hadn't seen this in today's Salon: "Why I Can't Hate Coldplay Anymore."


Leigh C. said...

Cold who? Never gave a crap about 'em and never will.

Ethan said...

They are coasting. I think they could become relevant and "cool" (as in pushing the musical boundaries of whatever sort of music they are trying to play) again, but as long as the paycheck keeps rolling in they will continue to be a slightly more varied version of Nickleback.

Anonymous said...

coldplay is the adult alt/rock version of nickelback -- empty and formulaic. radiohead throws away better ideas than they have for songs and arcade fire takes the same shitty ideas that coldplay pretends to make songs out of and MAKES SONGS out of them. cripes, why has anybody EVER liked coldplay?!

medic8r said...

I’m right there with you, Chez. I saw that Coldplay had a new album out and did not consider buying it. I can’t even say for sure if I bought Viva La Vida. Like you, I really enjoyed Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head. My wife and I saw them on the X&Y tour, and that was the beginning of the end of for me and Coldplay. X&Y had a few good songs but was clearly not up to the standard of the previous two albums.

For me, their act has grown stale. I can’t see them offering anything any better than what they’ve already done. Anything they do is going to pale in comparison to what has come before. For them to maintain relevance, they’re going to have to evolve significantly, and I don’t see it happening – not in a good way, at least. I’d love to be proven wrong, mind you.

In music, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Sure, you might burn brightly for a while, but it’s only a matter of time. The good acts, the ones who persist as legends, are the ones who go big and can stay big by evolving their sound and/or vision. The Beatles did it best. Queen had a good run. There’s countless others, of course. More recently, Green Day put out a couple of masterpieces.

You know who Coldplay remind me of? Oasis. Biggest band in the world in 1995. Their first two albums were awesome. Even the B-sides collection, The Masterplan, was impressive. Then they released the coke-addled BE HERE NOW, and it’s been downhill ever since. Does anyone care anything about what they’ve released since 1997? It’s a pity, because they were so good. Once. Past tense.

You know who else Coldplay remind me of? M. Night Shyamalan.

L. said...

My sister and I had a conversation to this end the other day.

I don't care if it makes me seem uncool, the first two albums (particularly the second) were quite excellent for tame and accessable pop albums.

Then, it seems, Chris Martin happened. The having the band dress alike thing got out of hand. First, they wore all black - whatever, fine. Then they started dressing like gay pirates and it was like Martin was going out of his way to make it hard for me to admit liking a single Coldplay song. (I blame Martin because if you look at the band at any given moment, he's the only one who's gone full technicolor Adam Ant. The rest of them are basically wearing jackets with a patch sewn on.)

When it comes to the music, I think they just aren't really going to grow that much. Taking the last three albums as proof, they had two good ones in them and then plateaued. They're not terrible albums, but they don't have anything on them you didn't hear done better on the first two. I bought X&Y and haven't purchased one since for that reason.

That said, their bassist is one hot piece of Scottish man-ass and if he wants to get married, we totally can.

Steve said...

Yeah, but new Tom Waits this week too. And he's actually doing press, which means there are obligatory profiles in yesterday's NYT and LAT which are actually fun to read.

medic8r said...

@L., I'm still laughing at "gay pirates."

FabMax said...

Of course they suck. They are the new U2, after all.

Nick said...

My dial is cemented to The Loft on XMRadio and they play everything, so I’m sure I’ve heard Cold Play.

That said I quit following bands shortly after the first Rolling Stones farewell concert (1981 - Folsom, Field, CO), so I wouldn’t necessarily have recognized them. Yet I understand your angst - when Fleetwood Mac transmigrated from a solid rock/blues group to the Stevie Nicks Promo Backup Band I questioned my own taste. How could I have ever loved this band?

IMO what happens is a new band hits you right between the eyes at the exact right moment in your life and it’s love, baby. Fairly quickly one becomes critical of the group; it’s all downhill afterward. Later on their music seems less somehow or, worse, jejune.

That’s true for the first (and sometimes second and/or third) of everything.

Hell, that’s life.

Scott said...

Coldplay has lousy since they stopped ripping off Joe Satriani.

J. Dack said...

I honestly wasn't aware they were still big at all, let alone "the biggest band in the world." I've not heard a track of theirs on any modern rock station in years. I only seem to hear their name mentioned as an insult.

Always did like "Yellow" and uh.. "Times of trouble" or was it just "trouble"? Seems like a hundred years ago.

em said...

Parachutes was an amazing album, and a lot of songs from Rush were awesome too. But then I got sick of Chris Martin sucking live and his whole prima donna "let's not take a photo with the woman who's popped out my kids" attitude (and trust me, I really, really don't like Gwyneth Paltrow, but c'mon, I didn't fucking marry her). I always thought Travis was so, so much better than them.

pea said...

I'm with Leigh. I have always hated Coldplay. All their songs sound like they should be played during the last 5 minutes of House.

IrishGirl said...

My question is....the concept for Mylo Xyloto album sounds so bad that it has to be fake. Right? I mean, it's just so damn stupid. Are we sure that Chris Martin wasn't just being a smartass and joking around?

Chez said...

I really am hoping he was fucking around -- but one of the big problems I guess is that I completely believe that to be serious.

robpo said...

I can't say they've always been awful, but I can say I've never cared about them.

Can't name one song or album. I do play video games, so maybe I could pick out one of their tunes from a tune-line-up.

I think you pegged it: hollow.