Thursday, June 09, 2005

What's the Deal With Coldplay?

Love them or hate them?

Personally, I hate them. I hate them because they are the latest thing. I hate them because my mom might be listening to them right now. I hate them because they are hip and I feel threatened. U2 is hip, but in a here-to-stay kind of way. In a non-threatening Bruce Springsteen kind of "gee, maybe we should have appreciated them more in their prime" sort of way. In a "we're getting the band back together, man" kind of way. But Coldplay? They're crypto-album cover, edge of the envelope, super-model-wife, Euro kind of hip. I never could swing in those circles.


Anonymous said...

Coldplay has been enjoying considerable popularity since the release of AROBTTH almost three years ago, so a characterization of them as "the latest thing" doesn't seem accurate. Also, you justify your hatred (tongue-in-cheek, I'm sure) by pointing to their hipness, presumably some measure of popularity. That's not a sound basis for shunning a band. Eschewing the hip in general allows others--those whose admiration makes something hip--to make your decisions for you.

A friend of mine distinguishes between conformity, non-conformity, and what he calls "anti-conformity." He defines anti-conformity as the kind of stance evinced here, one that is intentionally contrary to the norm. Both conformity and anti-conformity, then, suffer from the fundamental problem of forfeiting one's free will to another. The fact that anti-conformity inverts the effect of others' decisions doesn't change this fact. Seen in this light, we should pursue non-conformity, making our own judgments in each instance.

In short, a discussion of Coldplay's merit should hinge on (at least include) an evaluation of its artistic abilities, not externalities such as the opinions of other people. The existence or lack of a huge fan base does not determine or even indicate genuine artistic merit (which is largely subjective, anyway). That much should be clear from the current state of the music industry.

Sasquatch said...

About Coldplay…
I think my criticism of Coldplay is that they are in every magazine, and on everyone's lips, for no other reason than that they seem to be "in" at this particular moment. Obviously this is choreographed media hype surrounding their new album, but it’s hard to cut through that and see if said album is any good or not. (btw, Rolling Stone gave it 3 out of 5 stars). But, does anyone really care one way or another?

I want them to be en-mass-media because their music is something special, not because they're just really, really, freakin’ cool! That was the area I was addressing. While they may have been popular on some level for a while, they are main-stream now and, as I'm sure you know, the music industry is much more about style than substance.

I’ll give Coldplay some credit: their name is catchy, their songs sound like their own, the front man is married to a fox, their album covers generate conversation, and they look like post-rock rock stars should look. All the ingredients are there for a world take-over, but I’m not ready to join the bandwagon.

About me…
I do, obviously, like popular things. I may be a deviant, but not anti-conformist. I mentioned U2, and Bruce Springsteen, and I've mentioned The Simpsons before, etc. I like things that work for me, and I tend to like them because what they're supposed to do they do. I’m suspicious about any entity surviving more by superficial hype (ie: current Simpsons episodes. Just end it!) than on it’s own merits.