“Becoming?” you say.
“Isn’t Chris Martin already the pretentious leader of a dull-edged band who writes ‘Free Trade’ on his hand like he’s 1992 Eddie Vedder? Isn’t that already insufferable?” you say.
I reply: fair point. Chris Martin has a touch of the douche. But Gwyneth Paltrow is history’s greatest monster. (Sidebar: in the latest insidious issue of GOOP, Gwynnie calls some parenting book “a must-have for any parent.” That is provably false. Parenting somehow survived for millenia without whatever stupid book Paltrow’s pal wrote. The only “must-have” for any parent is the ability to reproduce, or the ability to adopt, or the ability to find a baby in a dumpster. Gwynnie also writes: “I gave a friend of mine a copy of ‘Parenting..’ and she said, ‘This book is changing my life. I like my kids again.’” Huh. Awesome. Awesome friends you have, Gwyneth.)
Whoops, got sidetracked a little there. What was my point?
Oh yeah — Chris Martin sucks.
Well, he married Gwyneth Paltrow (history’s greatest monster), and allowed her to name his children Moses and Apple, so Martin certainly laid some clues that he might not be supercool. But Coldplay is a decent enough band, with some good songs (fuck you; you’re lying if you claim you don’t like “The Scientist”), so he was always at least a few levels above his villainous wife.
But reports surfaced last month that Coldplay’s next album would be a concept album. “Hmmm…” I thought. “That sounds like a terrible, career-killing mistake.” Then I didn’t think about it anymore. Until last week, when Martin said that the new record would not in fact be a concept album, but instead a collection of songs with a consistent set of themes.
What themes specifically, Chris?
“Love, addiction, OCD, escape and working for someone you don’t like.”
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Oh. Of course! What else would it about it? I mean, it’s obvious.
Two problems here. (Just two?) OK, fine, two that I’m willing to spend time writing about.
First — if you’re going to write a concept album, write a goddamn concept album. Go for it, man. If you fuck it up and fail miserably (and you probably will, because you’re Coldplay), then at least you’ll have shown some ambition and gained a modicum of respect. (Unless you’re Garth Brooks and your concept album involves you pretending to be a soul-patched, Michael Hutchence-esque alt-rock singer. Then there will be no respect gained.)
But pussing out like this is disgraceful. Martin is essentially admitting that he’s not a smart enough lyricist to write an actual concept album, so he’s going to do it half-assedly (or half-arsedly, as Gwyneth would say) and use some repeated lines and motifs in multiple songs. He’s admitting he’s not capable of writing a Separation Sunday or a Village Green Preservation Society.
You know what happens when a band takes the half-assed approach? When they try to have their concept album cake and eat it too? When a mediocre writer starts dealing in broad, sweeping themes? Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. That’s what happens.
Second problem — the specific concepts that Martin and his mates are tackling. Love? Sure, of course. It’s a pop album. Addiction? Go for it. Not sure what Martin has ever been addicted to, but it’s still a pretty common theme in rock songs. OCD? Ummm….OK. I can’t wait for that classic Coldplay anthem about washing your hands 350 times a day. Or flipping a light switch on and off exactly seven times so your brother doesn’t die. But best of all — working for someone you don’t like.
That’s fucking delightful. ROCK AND ROLL. God, I can’t wait for Martin to delve into office politics in his songs. Like how much it sucks when your boss won’t approve your vacation days just to be a dick. Or when you ask how your work has been lately, and he’s all like “Fine.” Just super passive aggressive.
Can I get in line now to buy the new Coldplay album?