Sunday, June 05, 2005

the case against the case against coldplay pt ii

okay, so i'm a little more lucid now after last night coming home from the big trouble show and howwastheshow anniversary party. so here are the things that get me about this article: he pretty much says in the first paragraph that there's nothing wrong with what coldplay is about, but then goes on to say somehow, in spite of that, they still suck. as if there's something objective and unidentifiable about them that makes them bad when what he's really showing is his own personal view that they're bad. as if it's some kind of sherlock holmes mystery: "they have all the elements of a good band, yet somehow, they're bad; how could this be?" how it could be is that you just don't like them, and there's nothing wrong with that, but don't try to hide it behind a bunch of fancy mumbo-jumbo.

whenever i read music writing, i want a little blurb about the author that says what their first concert was, last concert was, last album bought and hated and last album bought and loved. because otherwise, how do you know where they're coming from? who does this guy like? in keeping with that wish: INXS, the mars volta, dungen: early recordings: 1999-2001, spoon: gimme fiction. there: context.

he also commits the cardinal sin of music writing, imo, which is to quote lyrics to prove how bad the lyrics are. lyrics exist in a symbiotic relationship with the music, and in coldplay's case, i think the lyrics are effective because they are evocative and because they complement the music. are they kind of vague and general? yeah. sometimes cliche? check. you know what else? the mars volta's lyrics don't make any sense, especially read off the page. but they're not supposed to. leonard cohen's lyrics are fantastic and nuanced, but frankly, i've never been able to get into his music because so little attention seems to go into the music itself. his stuff from the early 80's just sounds too cheesy for me to get lost in. and for this guy, martin's lyrics and singing style are that kind of barrier, but rather than just saying that, he has to make it a personal vendetta against martin. so his lyrics don't translate well to being written down and read off the page. so what? "all you need is love?" how banal is that?

looking at his other articles, it seems that mr. pareles enjoyed the boredoms, a japanese noise-punk band who've always been better than they sounded, imo. and that's the real thing here, i think. coldplay isn't a concept band; they're just a really good band, and that's something that critics (certain critics) hate. one reason they had so much success in england is that the isle is awash in hip, self-referential music and coldplay came as a breath of fresh air. they are, as he says, like radiohead without all the sharp angles, but is this such a bad thing, really? over here, we're awash in overly earnest claptrap like nickelback and mainstream country and so i think unfortunately a truly musical appreciation of them falls into the crack between this earnest mainstream hogwash and all the artsy stuff that's bubbling up under the surface. i think the mass of americans who watch mtv and vh1 and listen to "alternative" radio think that there's music (what they listen to) and then crap (all the other stuff). music critics think there's music (what they listen to) and crap (what the aforementioned demographic listens to).

the real secret is: it's all crap. music is just stuff we do to make money or hang our faith on. so is coldplay mostly focused on A or B? i don't know. i guess i'll have to wait for X & Y to find out for myself.


Blogger David said...

Nice job, Steve. Jon Pareles article was painful for me to read, but the "ouches" came not because I'm an earnest Coldplay fan -- I love them in spite of my un-official status as a music critic and was actually going to try and find a record shop to sell me the disk at midnight tonight when it comes out here in the USA -- but because of Pareles' leaps of illogic. It's the kind of music article that makes you wonder "what did Colplay do to Jon Pareles?" He's obviously got an axe to grind. Too bad he didn't give us the context so we could figure out why.

But it's funny just how wrong people can be sometimes, especially about music. A former radio program director gave me the first U2 single ("I Will Follow") because he said the band would never go anywhere. And even I myself told my girlfriend at the time that Coldplay (upon the release of Parachutes) would never make it in America because they sounded too British.

3:31 PM  
Blogger steve said...

just thinking about it again, i mean, the most insufferable band of the decade? there've got to be one hundred bands more insufferable. sum 41? limp bizkit? even bands that aren't terrible like the strokes are more insufferable, i think.

3:51 PM  

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