Thursday, February 05, 2009

Top 20 Of 2008: #7

7. Coldplay - Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends

I'm sick of everyone hating on Coldplay.

They've been described as an indicator of homosexuality, as music that couldn't hurt a fly. I get that they're easy to dislike. They're wildly successful at creating anthems that are loved by people who don't think about music very much. And that's very accurate. But they also do a really great job of making music that does not collapse under the weight of its own pretensions.

Indie music fans tend to like music that you really need to think about to appreciate. I've been guilty of that many times (see Marnie Stern). And if you can accuse Colplay of anything, it's of appealing to the lowest common denominator and making music that is deliberately populist and unoffensive. But somebody's gotta make that kind of music, and if it has to be somebody, I want it to be Coldplay.

The reason is that they have gotten really good at experimenting within those narrow confines. I thought X and Y was a really big step forward for them, an expansion of their sound that took the good stuff and left the bad stuff. Viva La Vida does that again, and while it's not as much of a step forward, it's a damn fine album. There are several tracks on the record that stretch into several movements, shifting on a dime into new thematic territories. For a band that gets accused of not taking any risks, they sure are experimenting with what a pop song can be.

Give 'em a break.


Anonymous Brad said...

I totally agree. I had forgotten them in my personal review of the year, but they really did something different for them, got out of their comfort level, and grew some as artists. Glad to hear they're continuing their evolution on the next one, letting the rest of the band strut their stuff even more.

4:03 PM  

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