18 September 2007

Torture by Coldplay

Some people actually don't like Coldplay. I liked them way before they became popular but now only listen to them sparingly.

From Chris Cook in The Age Blogs

Torture by Coldplay


While travelling in Morocco by car, a relative unknowingly subjected me to one of the most awful experiences I can imagine - a Coldplay album.

I tried, I really tried, to listen and appreciate. To understand why other people like Mr Gwyneth Paltrow and his irritatingly atmospheric pals. To get my head around why it's so popular.

And I couldn't. I hate it. It's just so bland, one-dimensional and insipid. And to hear Chris Martin bleating and whining in that awful falsetto was akin to fingernails on a blackboard. The last time I felt that was when Alanis Morissette released Jagged Little Pill.

But that's not what gets me riled up so much. I like a lot of music that most people can't stand, and I'm OK with that. Music, for the most part, is subjective. I hate your music, you hate mine. Whatever. We move on.

But what really gets to me the most about Coldplay is that a band so average and unchallenging can be so popular and the subject of much unwarranted praise. It simply doesn't make sense.

I find myself repeatedly returning to a piece that Michael Dwyer wrote for EG last year in which he concluded that Coldplay are obscenely popular because they're so safe and bland:

"The unsettling fact was and remains that Coldplay are the monster rock'n'roll sensation the 21st century wants. They're sober, sensitive, safe, soothing and benign in a world that's mad, cruel, menacing, alarming and horrific.They're also at the vanguard of the progressive reduction of music from art into digital information, a comforting development in a modern consumer paradise eager to trade quality for control and convenience."

And I find it frightening. Coldplay's popularity reflects a consumer majority that's more concerned with safety and security than artistic challenge or creativity; a society that would rather elect the guy who'll keep their mortgage safe than the one who wants to make serious change on social issues. It seems that most people don't want music, or often lives, that are creative or challenging.

It's a feeling emphasised by an excerpt from a review of X&Y by Pop Culture Press:

"While sweeping numbers like Speed of Sound reach the pinnacles of timeless pop, X&Y mostly washes by in a bland mid-tempo blur and some of its slower ballads plumb the murky depths of banal self-indulgence. Martin's wallowing presence often bogs things down, his lyrics frequently recalling weepy 'woe is me' diary entries by a 13-year-old girl, cluttered with awkward couplets: 'Tears come streaming down your face/When you lose something you cannot replace,' he bleats on Fix You. This is what it sounds like when millionaires cry. On Swallowed in the Sea, Martin brags 'I could write a song a hundred miles long.' Oh no. X&Y consolidates Coldplay's status as a famously anti-corporate band who make paradigmatic corporate rock music: slick,inoffensive and self-absorbed; flawlessly executed, meticulously produced and ready for global export."

And that's it really. It's music for mass consumption and maximum profit, not art for art's sake.

Happily, however, it seems that a large number of people out there are just as incensed by Coldplay. According to the UK's Telegraph, if you Google "Coldplay" and "insufferable" there are about 9633 pages of comment, much of it highly abusive of the whining Brits.

But how many people are going to bother taking my little rant about Coldplay as a symbol of an apathetic society seriously? Probably very few, but at least I feel better for putting it out there. I'm happy to say it. I can't stand Coldplay.

In the interests of balance, you can find a piece from the Telegraph here that canvasses the for and against Coldplay arguments equally.

But for those who just prefer to take the piss, there's an anti-Coldplay myspace site, with a wonderful little spoof of that most awful of songs, Yellow. Click here.

Too much success can be a bad thing. My tip for the next big group is The Feeling. Get on board now while they are still relatively unknown.

When I woke up this morning, I thought it was Wednesday. Not a good sign.

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