Coldplay’s “Atlas” (not to be confused with the classic Etta James song “At Last” which I foolishly keep typing by mistake) was released earlier this month, recorded for the soundtrack of the greatly anticipated second installment of the The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. Granted, it is no “Yellow” or “Fix You”, not even close, but it does hold a certain dreamy, mesmerising quality which we can only speculate will capture the dramatic, adventure-driven essence of the movie it is written for.
This is the first we have heard from Coldplay since last July, and I for one am slightly disappointed by the shocking lack of promotion or press the band have received in their return to the British music scene, perhaps overshadowed by the storm of excitement brewing around fellow Brit musicians Arctic Monkeys and their latest record AM.
Admittedly, Coldplay are and always have been regarded as the softer, weedier schoolchildren in the playground who nobody would ever like to admit being friends with – most demonstrate a level of acknowledgement and respect but the band has never upheld a reputation quite cool enough to hang out with the popular kids of Britpop, the likes of The Verve, Suede, Blur and Oasis. By no means are they disliked – devotees who display the utmost admiration and respect for Coldplay, myself included, stand proudly in their millions, and the band have performed and sold out all over the world.
And yet a smudge of animosity towards Coldplay still exists, with others utilising the label of “guilty pleasure” – all you need to do is type ‘I hate Coldplay’ into your search engine to discover vast collections of merchandise with such words printed on them in all their glory – badges, posters, t-shirts, the latter of which I should mention are also available for babies and small children, if you so wish for your hatred of Chris and the gang to spiral down the family tree from generation to generation. Let’s not even get started on Noel Fielding’s feelings.
But as a band I grew up listening to, not through a choice of my own, but of my Dad’s, I have always loved Coldplay and to be perfectly honest, the opinions of other people have never been an issue. So with no hidden agenda or plan to convert you in mind, I have written a list of reasons why Coldplay aren’t actually that bad really, and maybe (just maybe) they might start to gain a little of the respect they wholeheartedly deserve.
1. Coldplay write songs for the masses, appealing to a wide audience without turning their backs on their alternative fan base who have followed religiously since the band’s formation in 1996, unlike other artists who have shaped their sound to become more radio-friendly e.g. Eminem, Biffy Clyro, Muse, the list goes on.
2. Many consider their music to be depressing and melancholic, but by listening to the lyrics you might be surprised to discover the majority of their songs are rather uplifting and optimistic in the messages and stories they deliver to their audience. Mylo Xyloto is an album which holds the power to brighten my mood at any time of day in most circumstances.
3. They know how to put on a show. As a live band, they are visually and audibly breathtaking; I only wish that I could speak from personal experience. Unfortunately I have never been to a Coldplay gig and must rely on hearsay, but consider the fact that they have been Glastonbury headliners three times and it makes perfect sense.
4. They write their own music; music is an art to them. Lyrics hold far greater power when they are genuine and actually bare a certain level of significance to the person who is singing them, and this is something Coldplay capture impeccably.
5. They have grown as a band, but not to the extent that they no longer sound like themselves. Beginning with the rockier, edgier tone of Parachutes, Rush of Blood To The Head and X&Y, moving onto the darker yet somehow pop-pier sound of Viva La Vida, and contrasting with the lighter and brighter sound of Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay clearly demonstrate how they have matured and developed over the last decade and a half.
6. We might wince at the likes of Bono and Thom Yorke forcing feeding us about the plights of ending poverty and stopping war, but Chris Martin and co. enjoy getting involved with and raising the awareness of such charities as Oxfam and WaterAid without shoving it down the throats of their audience.
7. Coldplay are respectful towards the work of other people and their preferred musical genres, and very rarely do we hear of them speaking negatively about fellow musicians. As a band they are open-minded and understand that every artist has their own unique way of producing music, and their own unique idea of how music should sound and what it should say to its audience.
8. The band have managed to bag 7 Grammy Awards and 8 Brit Awards during their 17 years in the music industry. Rolling Stone even voted them 4th Best Band of the Decade, and Rush of Blood To The Head was also selected as favourite album of all time by the listeners of BBC Radio 2.
Not bad for a bunch of soft weedy school kids.