By Hans Ebert
Maybe “Fix You” was considered too sappy by some, maybe Chris Martin’s marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow was “too Hollywood” for “Rock and Roll”, whereas all the space given by the media to what they named their kids, and all that “unconscious uncoupling” Goop talk when their marriage fell apart, was probably too much for many to stomach.
But let’s not let all this other “stuff” get in the way of Coldplay being an excellent POP band that has recorded some very good POP music. Plus, I wish I could have written “Fix You” for someone who was numb being crippled inside at the time. We all need “fixing” from time to time, and “Fix You” said something about Chris Martin, the person and husband, to write the song for his wife at a time when she was having a hard time dealing with the death of her father.
Cool, uncool, it’s all relative, and how much Cool can one take before it all collapses into a heap of pretentiousness, anyway? Just go back and try watching the entire Billboard Awards smorgasbord that was aired yesterday without questioning so many aspects of that particular corporate circus and the havoc Lady Madonna wreaked on the senses with her Old Mother Hubbard “tribute” to so-called “close friend” Prince. Time to call time, Madge. Just because you’re invited to the party doesn’t mean you have to show up. Thank gawd, Stevie Wonder was there to prop up your maudlin and insipid “tribute” to a true original who would have wanted us to go crazy and party like it was 1999.
At the Billboard Awards was when doves really cried and where there were raspberries with no berries. It was also where Kesha showed Madonna up with a wonderful low key version of Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe”. That really was cool.
As for Coldplay, since first hearing “Yellow”, since first seeing the band perform ‘live’ in Bangkok, and chatting to Chris Martin about the Beatles, and his favourite track by the group-”Tomorrow Never Knows”- I’ve always felt that Coldplay has not received their rightful dues. “A Rush Of Blood To The Head” remains a brilliant album. The collaboration between Chris Martin/Coldplay and Rihanna- a brave collaboration- seemed to get lost in the shuffle and clutter and flew under the radar. Same with the band’s last few recordings.
It’s got to a point now where, even as a fan, I’ve lost track of their musical output. “Viva la Vida” created some interest, 2011′s “Mylo Xyloto” pulled off a disappearing act, 2014′s “Ghost Stories” came and went with barely a mention, and their seventh and last album as a band- “Head Full Of Stars”- despite more “critical acclaim”, disappeared under the weight behind the collapse of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s marriage. Sure, there was “critical acclaim” and several nominations for awards, but what do these mean today? This body of work deserved more than people wondering if any of the songs were about Jennifer Lawrence who the Coldplay frontman had started dating. Gwyneth Paltrow?Jennifer Lawrence? What’s this guy’s secret?
Somewhere along their journey, it seems like Coldplay, the band, Chris Martin, the singer-songwriter, the Hollywood marriage and its fallout crossed paths. At the end of the road was painted a rather pallid picture of a band with nothing new to say and which had somehow become a young version of the old U2.
Having Chris Martin and his ex-wife’s good friend Beyoncé basically hijack their halftime performance at the last Super Bowl didn’t help. They just seemed to be nice guys, but too bland to be taken seriously.
Adele and Gwen Stefani, even Justin Bieber, get into a car with James Corden and sing songs and the videos go viral. Chris Martin does the same thing, but few even take the time to notice.
And while I really didn’t understand the thinking behind their video for “Adventure Of A Lifetime”, where the band were portrayed as apes- don’t laugh- it still showed a band trying new things- and also a band wanting desperately to be seen and heard again and receiving some dues for one piece of creativity as opposed to flooding the market with too much product.
While Thom Yorke and Radiohead take years to produce a new record, and then have it promoted as if it’s The Second Coming, whether true or not, the impression is that Coldplay has given us too much music- and too much music that sounds the same as, by now, one knows a Chris Martin song after the intro. Still, that’s his style, and the guy is a perennial romantic. There’s nothing wrong with writing and silly love songs.
Unlike the musical chameleon that is McCartney and was Bowie and Prince, Chris Martin is Chris Martin. And if his songs are considered “sappy” by some, and his voice being discarded as “whiny”, that’s fine. At least, Coldplay has its own sound at a time when when way too much music has become formulaic crap needing to be propped up by gooey back stories and, yes, shtick.
The new track and brilliant video for “Up&Up” by Coldplay might not bring the band new fans. But here’s hoping it brings back some of their old fans, and gives the band the respect they deserve. This new creative product by Coldplay might be the second phase of their journey as a band, or the first step in Chris Martin’s solo career. Whatever it might be, watch it. It’s brilliant. It gives music- and art- a brave and creative new face.
Follow Hans Ebert on Twitter @HansEbertHK