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AHFOD Reviews by Music Critics


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I've seen some good reviews for the album so far. Though, most of the big-name publications, such as NME, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and various newspapers of record, haven't published a review yet. My question is, will the reviews continue be generally positive, or will critics be polarized over this album?

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Altwire's review - very interesting and detailed

 

In what has become a rather predictable, but welcomed pattern in Coldplay’s lineage of studio albums, the band have yet again made a sharp veer to the left, this time onto the abstract, psychedelic highway with their seventh studio album,*A Head Full of Dreams. Some people, such as myself, had worried that the artistic endeavors of Coldplay would die down after the “emotional treadmill” that was the band’s last studio album, Ghost Stories. It seems we were wrong;*A Head Full of Dreams*not only carries the artistic legacy of Coldplay, it elevates them to an entirely different level. Here, in this 45-minute swim through a sea of bliss and color, lies some rather deep themes and motifs that make for a powerful piece about life and love.

 

While most people would compare*A Head Full of Dreams*to the band’s technicolour rock opera*Mylo Xyloto,*simply because the album is also electronic rock, it’s actually much different from that. For a start, there’s no over-the-top moments on*A Head Full of Dreams, and it’s a much calmer sound than what you’d be used to with*Mylo Xyloto. Comparisons aside,*A Head Full of Dreams*stands on its own as a very other-worldly piece that makes use of various non-traditional elements to the sound, such as a consistent ambience that soothes the listener through tracks such as “Birds”, “Army of One” and “Amazing Day”, three tracks that are very well representative of the album’s general sound: sweet, relaxing and colourful. In fact, the word “colourful” can be used to describe everything in this album, from the soaring sounds of the album’s title track and opener, to the deep, cherishable nature of “Everglow”.

 

Lyrically,*A Head Full of Dreams*is laden with many, many intertwining motifs and themes. A common interpretation of the album would be that the album is a celebration of life, speaking through abstract lenses. One such example of the way the album describes life from such an angle is the aforementioned “Everglow”, which attempts to describe the feeling of absent love through a concept known to songwriter Chris Martin as an*everglow. Also riddled through the album are motifs that pay homage to ancient eastern literature, such as Attar’s*The Conference of the Birds*or Rumi’s “The Guest House”, from which lines are read from in the track “Kaleidoscope”. Diamonds and space are also things that get mentioned a lot throughout, the former representative of people born out of enormous societal pressure and the latter as an ultimate goal. Constant references to eastern proverbs such as the Yiddish proverb “you can’t empty out the ocean with a spoon”, and callbacks to Rumi’s poem in places such as the opening lines of “Everglow” give a charasmatic weight to the album’s important life lessons and its uplifting messages of hope, which is something that Coldplay is definitely good at, if we remember back to albums such as*X&Y.

 

Lying in the gutter, aiming for the moon

Trying to empty out the ocean with a spoon

Up and up, Up and up

 

If you’re not interested in the lyrical artistry of the album, A Head Full of Dreams can deliver just as well, with its well-contained production and seemingly organized sound, that manages to conjure up some powerful moments and roaring anthems that will make a stadium full of people energized and singing along. Of course, that would be an appropriate, since Coldplay are usually good at making music that fits well with their stadium-filling tours. Alongside the familiar Rik Simpson, who had produced Coldplay’s music since the*Viva*days, the band had also hired the dynamic Norwegian duo StarGate, known for their often spacious and colourful sounds, to produce this album as well. The result is a beautiful piece that makes for a good album to pop on the speakers, when you need a soundtrack for your day. Chris’ vocals, Jonny’s guitar, Guy’s bass and Will’s drums sound better together here than on any other big-budget produced album that the band has done this far, which would definitely please the so-called “oldplayers” who prefer the older style production of albums such as*A Rush of Blood to the Head, where most of the band isn’t drowned out due to overproduction, which was the case on*Mylo Xyloto. On*A Head Full of Dreams, the band no longer takes the B-stage to the production; all four members of the band are at the center of the sound once more, and that’s definitely a good thing considering the many great moments that Guy, Jonny and Will have to offer, such as Jonny’s epic guitar riffs, Guy’s various smooth and funky bass lines, and Will’schampioning*beats throughout the entire album.

 

Overall, A Head Full of Dreams is a fantastically-crafted album that marks yet another daring, triumphant high point in the band’s creative work, which has come a long way since the*Parachutes*days. Coldplay have proven once again that they still can produce something even more different and awe-inspiring, even after six albums. The lyricism and artistry in the album not only has weight, but succeeds in presenting us to the world we know through a different lens, through many themes and motifs inspired by familiar eastern literature. Its sound is amazing, its production is amazing, and the way the band has handled their music, with style and grace, is amazing. I had mentioned earlier in this review that* “colourful” is the best way to describe most things in this album, and it’s definitely true. As silly as it might sound on paper, the complexity and optimism of colour shines through on this album, a beautiful collection of sonic brilliance that, in its own way, paints a brand new colour of its own.

 

A+

 

http://www.altwire.net/2015/11/29/coldplay-a-head-full-of-dreams/

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Altwire's review - very interesting and detailed

 

In what has become a rather predictable, but welcomed pattern in Coldplay’s lineage of studio albums, the band have yet again made a sharp veer to the left, this time onto the abstract, psychedelic highway with their seventh studio album,*A Head Full of Dreams. Some people, such as myself, had worried that the artistic endeavors of Coldplay would die down after the “emotional treadmill” that was the band’s last studio album, Ghost Stories. It seems we were wrong;*A Head Full of Dreams*not only carries the artistic legacy of Coldplay, it elevates them to an entirely different level. Here, in this 45-minute swim through a sea of bliss and color, lies some rather deep themes and motifs that make for a powerful piece about life and love.

 

While most people would compare*A Head Full of Dreams*to the band’s technicolour rock opera*Mylo Xyloto,*simply because the album is also electronic rock, it’s actually much different from that. For a start, there’s no over-the-top moments on*A Head Full of Dreams, and it’s a much calmer sound than what you’d be used to with*Mylo Xyloto. Comparisons aside,*A Head Full of Dreams*stands on its own as a very other-worldly piece that makes use of various non-traditional elements to the sound, such as a consistent ambience that soothes the listener through tracks such as “Birds”, “Army of One” and “Amazing Day”, three tracks that are very well representative of the album’s general sound: sweet, relaxing and colourful. In fact, the word “colourful” can be used to describe everything in this album, from the soaring sounds of the album’s title track and opener, to the deep, cherishable nature of “Everglow”.

 

Lyrically,*A Head Full of Dreams*is laden with many, many intertwining motifs and themes. A common interpretation of the album would be that the album is a celebration of life, speaking through abstract lenses. One such example of the way the album describes life from such an angle is the aforementioned “Everglow”, which attempts to describe the feeling of absent love through a concept known to songwriter Chris Martin as an*everglow. Also riddled through the album are motifs that pay homage to ancient eastern literature, such as Attar’s*The Conference of the Birds*or Rumi’s “The Guest House”, from which lines are read from in the track “Kaleidoscope”. Diamonds and space are also things that get mentioned a lot throughout, the former representative of people born out of enormous societal pressure and the latter as an ultimate goal. Constant references to eastern proverbs such as the Yiddish proverb “you can’t empty out the ocean with a spoon”, and callbacks to Rumi’s poem in places such as the opening lines of “Everglow” give a charasmatic weight to the album’s important life lessons and its uplifting messages of hope, which is something that Coldplay is definitely good at, if we remember back to albums such as*X&Y.

 

Lying in the gutter, aiming for the moon

Trying to empty out the ocean with a spoon

Up and up, Up and up

 

If you’re not interested in the lyrical artistry of the album, A Head Full of Dreams can deliver just as well, with its well-contained production and seemingly organized sound, that manages to conjure up some powerful moments and roaring anthems that will make a stadium full of people energized and singing along. Of course, that would be an appropriate, since Coldplay are usually good at making music that fits well with their stadium-filling tours. Alongside the familiar Rik Simpson, who had produced Coldplay’s music since the*Viva*days, the band had also hired the dynamic Norwegian duo StarGate, known for their often spacious and colourful sounds, to produce this album as well. The result is a beautiful piece that makes for a good album to pop on the speakers, when you need a soundtrack for your day. Chris’ vocals, Jonny’s guitar, Guy’s bass and Will’s drums sound better together here than on any other big-budget produced album that the band has done this far, which would definitely please the so-called “oldplayers” who prefer the older style production of albums such as*A Rush of Blood to the Head, where most of the band isn’t drowned out due to overproduction, which was the case on*Mylo Xyloto. On*A Head Full of Dreams, the band no longer takes the B-stage to the production; all four members of the band are at the center of the sound once more, and that’s definitely a good thing considering the many great moments that Guy, Jonny and Will have to offer, such as Jonny’s epic guitar riffs, Guy’s various smooth and funky bass lines, and Will’schampioning*beats throughout the entire album.

 

Overall, A Head Full of Dreams is a fantastically-crafted album that marks yet another daring, triumphant high point in the band’s creative work, which has come a long way since the*Parachutes*days. Coldplay have proven once again that they still can produce something even more different and awe-inspiring, even after six albums. The lyricism and artistry in the album not only has weight, but succeeds in presenting us to the world we know through a different lens, through many themes and motifs inspired by familiar eastern literature. Its sound is amazing, its production is amazing, and the way the band has handled their music, with style and grace, is amazing. I had mentioned earlier in this review that* “colourful” is the best way to describe most things in this album, and it’s definitely true. As silly as it might sound on paper, the complexity and optimism of colour shines through on this album, a beautiful collection of sonic brilliance that, in its own way, paints a brand new colour of its own.

 

A+

 

http://www.altwire.net/2015/11/29/coldplay-a-head-full-of-dreams/

Lol the review came from someone is a member of Coldplaying. I'm pretty sure it's the poster above your post.

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One moment NME pisses on Coldplay, the next moment they praise them. I don't trust them =__=

 

No kidding. I had to read their review of Up&Up like three times before I figured out how they felt about the track. Though, admittedly, I do think the critics are going to love this album.

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BRENTWOOD, Calif. – Chris Martin wears an impish grin, a cross between a kid just let out of school for the summer and a dog newly liberated from his kennel.

 

At first glance, the reason could be the french fries he’s scarfing down at an outdoor chicken eatery or perhaps his 9-year-old son Moses’s fresh flag-football team victory. But ask a few questions about Coldplay’s seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams, out Dec. 4, and the answer blossoms like a rose.

 

“That this is our job after 16 years of being together is simply a miracle, I’m so grateful for it and I don’t take it for granted,” says frontman and pianist Martin, 38, who recently sat down with USA TODAY along with guitarist Jonny Buckland, 38, bassist Guy Berryman, 37, and drummer Will Champion, 37.

 

“Sometimes we weren’t sure where we fit in (musically). But with this album, we’re embracing the fact that we don’t have to fit in anywhere,” Martin says. “We’re allowed to listen to (Beyoncé’s) Single Ladies, we’re allowed to listen to Champagne Supernova (by Oasis) or Good for You by Selena Gomez or the Pogues. It’s all OK.”

 

It may be more than just OK. A Head Full of Dreams crackles with a dance energy that stands in contrast to the band’s last effort, the brooding and tour-less Ghost Stories. Dreams song titles telegraph the mood: Fun, Amazing Day, Up&Up.

 

There’s no better example of this new Coldplay vibe than this album's first single, Adventure of a Lifetime, a joyful guitar-driven shot of summer in winter that recalls Daft Punk’s 2013 disco-tribute triumph, Get Lucky. The new video for Adventure features the band as computer-generated apes. A recent The Voice taping ended with ape-clad dancers grooving on stage with the British foursome, pure infectious jungle boogie.

 

Coldplay hits the stage for the Global Citizen Festival,

Coldplay hits the stage for the Global Citizen Festival, an effort to end extreme poverty by 2030. (Photo: Theo Wargo for Global Citizen)

For Martin, Adventure encapsulates the band’s newfound respect for each other. “I’m so happy it’s the first song out there, because it’s a real band piece,” he says, switching from fries to a bar of chocolate. “As a listener, the singing is the last thing you’re think about.”

 

While Martin’s distinctive and often soaring voice remains unmistakable throughout Dreams, there was a deliberate group effort on this project to slightly mute his contribution. “If I may speak for the band, sometimes you need a break from the singer,” he says with a laugh.

 

Conversations with all four Coldplay members sketch out the band’s patchwork approach on Dreams. While Martin did offer up some nearly complete musical ideas, most songs came out of jam sessions in London or Los Angeles, whose results were then worked on separately by each musician. Berryman says the band wound up with "six versions of the title track, each one musically unrecognizable from the other. Which means come time for a concert, we have to go learn the version we opted for."

 

Once the tracks for this new release took shape, the band presented them to Stargate, the successful Norwegian pop producers Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen. The duo, who've crafted hits for the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna, overlaid their unique sonic palette on Coldplay's songs, adding staccato vocals, symphonic interludes and simple silence.

 

“Stargate’s biggest skill is finding space for things,” Champion says. “As a band, we tend towards thick and dense sounding things. Their skill was boiling things to a bare minimum.” Adds Berryman: “They work in a genre that isn’t quite ours. And we were trying to go somewhere different.”

 

Contributing to this Rik Simpson-mixed effort were special guests such as Noel Gallagher (ex-Oasis and now High Flying Birds), who provides guitar work on Up&Up; Swedish singer Tove Lo, vocals on Fun; and even ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow and current flame, model Annabelle Wallis, vocals on Everglow and Up&Up, respectively.

 

Arguably the biggest name lending an assist is Beyoncé. What did she contribute?

 

“You mean apart from her godlike talent?” Martin says of the singer, who lent her silken pipes to Hymn for the Weekend and Up&Up. “She made our album 90% better. And we were already 20% good. So now we’re like 110% the band we used to be. You do the math.”

 

Berryman adds that none of this high-powered help would have made a difference if the band members had not been welcoming of outside input. “We’re not fighting to prove anything to ourselves or to each other or to the wider masses,” he says.

 

After a long career peppered with a few monster successes – notably 2008’s Brian Eno-produced Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, that year’s best-selling album and winner of three 2009 Grammy Awards – Coldplay has earned the right to call the musical shots, says Anthony DeCurtis, author and longtime Rolling Stone contributor.

 

“There are only a handful of bands that can really command an audience, and they can and they sound ready to play,” he says. He adds that he’s puzzled by critics who downplay the band as U2-lite.

 

“I’ve never understood that sort of attack. Are they U2? No. But have they evolved their own style that’s as recognizable as any of the biggest bands? Yes,” DeCurtis says. “Few artists truly alter the course of music. Bands like Coldplay make music for fans. And they’re nothing wrong with that.”

 

Zane Lowe, DJ for Apple Music’s Beats 1 radio, says Coldplay’s new effort “hits you with wide eyes and open arms. It’s the sound of a band that’s happy to be alive.”

 

For Lowe, Ghost Stories had the feel of a closed session dedicated to intimate ideas (which Martin at the time described as a journey toward unconditional love, and was recorded as he and Paltrow’s 11-year marriage was headed for a split). In contrast, “Dreams is them saying, ‘We want to be around people again.’”

 

Coldplay didn’t tour around Ghost Stories, but is indeed planning a global jaunt for Dreams. Guitarist Buckland can’t wait.

 

“For us, being a band has never been easy, but I will say it’s now more fun than it’s ever been,” he says as Martin nods while he sips on a water. “As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten nicer and more tolerant of each other. In your early 20s, you’re quite abrasive, more egotistical. But we’ve gotten nicer, all of us.”

 

The four do seem like old college friends, which they were in the Oasis-meets-rave-culture stew of mid-1990s London. Sometimes they finish one anothers' sentences, and other times they lapse into impromptu comedy.

 

When asked what they think of EDM, electronic dance music, Martin puts on a serious face and says: “Michael Stipe (of R.E.M.) is one of the great frontmen of all time …oh, wait.”

 

Buckland laughs, then answers: "It’s like any genre. There’s good polka, and there’s bad polka.”

 

Martin: “I don’t know much about polka. I just know you have to get five good cards, right?”

 

Buckland: “Be careful of online polka.”

 

Martin, hanging his head: “I’ve lost so much money on online polka.”

 

And so it goes, into the brisk L.A. night. One gets the feeling that this latest iteration of Coldplay could put on a concert and have a ball even if the hall was empty.

 

“It feels amazing right now,” Martin says. “It’s also humbling. We’ve learned that we wouldn’t be anything without the others. So when you hear us, you’re hearing four guys who are happy to be with each other, more than ever.”

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So first things first: Coldplay are not as horrible as people make them out to be. Sure, Chris Martin's lyrics have a tendency to sound like they were written down in the very first diary owned by a 12-year-old ("I'd rather be a comma than a full stop" makes me cringe every single time). Yet somehow, Martin and his motley crew--bassist Guy Berryman, drummer Will Champion and criminally underrated guitarist Jonny Buckland--have made some of the most memorable songs of the past 15 years through some form of aural alchemy. But it is the sheer absence of this magic that makes A Head Full Of Dreams, their seventh LP, such a resounding disappointment.

 

Before diving into the new record, it never hurts to go through this contentious band's history to remember why they are so popular in the first place, as well as where they peaked.

 

2000's Parachutes spawned the massively popular 'Yellow' and got the band nominated for the Mercury Prize. 2002's A Rush Of Blood To The Head propelled the group to superstardom on the back of singles like 'Clocks' and 'The Scientist'. 2005's X&Y was the year's best selling album worldwide, despite being their weakest critical effort to date. 2008 and 2011 brought Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends and Mylo Xyloto, respectively (more on these records in a moment). Then the group released their subdued, heartbreak-tinged Ghost Stories in the aftermath of Martin's divorce, which found a mixed response from fans and critics though it appears to have warmed with time.

 

Despite have received solid reviews and sales almost entirely across the board, Mylo Xyloto and Viva La Vida, in particular, are the proof that Coldplay are capable of much more than most give them credit for. Working together closely with Arcade Fire collaborator Markus Dravs and the otherworldly Brian Eno, these two records represent the highest points in Coldplay's discography.

 

While its overzealous attempt at being a concept record and occasional moments of overproduction could be a bit of a hiccup for some, Mylo Xyloto was an impressive attempt at creating arena rock with an electronic tinge. The hauntingly beautiful sped-up vocal intro of 'Charlie Brown'; the Big Brother paranoia of 'Major Minus'; the dreamy bombast of 'Paradise.' The album was filled with winners, even if it had some flaws.

 

Viva La Vida, on the other hand, makes a case for the best mainstream rock album of the 2000s. As Martin decided to try his hand at broad thematic strokes--love and war, life and death--the band embarked on their most ambitious adventure. From the ascending beauty of hammered dulcimer-laden opener, 'Life In Technicolor,' it becomes clear that this not your typical Coldplay record. The church organ bounce of 'Lost!'; the tack piano glide of 'Lovers In Japan'; the shoegaze of 'Chinese Sleep Chant'; the anthemic peak of 'Viva La Vida'; the jagged anti-war slant of 'Violet Hill'; the swirling majesty of 'Strawberry Swing.' The album's ten tracks are easily the most compelling Coldplay creations, with the revolutionary image pitched along with the music seeming to symbolize the band's bold attempt at overthrowing their own sound.

 

But how far we have come since then. It has been four years since Mylo Xyloto and seven since Viva La Vida. After the rather restrained nine-track outing on last year's Ghost Stories, it would make sense that the band would want to regain their creative edge with a colorful blare on A Head Full Of Dreams.

 

Lead single 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' seemed to be an assurance than Coldplay was heading in the right direction. The twinkling riff by Buckland recalls the highs of 'Strawberry Swing' while Martin's wordless coo is particularly reminiscent of the hypnotic intro to 'Charlie Brown.' These two key elements swirl beautifully atop Berryman's funky bass line and Champion's driving drums. The best of Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto recast under a disco ball? Sign me up.

 

Alas, 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' is but a flash in the pan. Like Ghost Stories before it, A Head Full Of Dreams is mostly comprised of forgettable songs that can play in the background no problem, but fail to standout or stand-up among more intense scrutiny. But unlike its predecessor, which had the ever-interesting element of heartbreak and pain buoying its soft melodies, the relentlessly life-affirming drivel that fills A Head Full Of Dreams is far from compelling.

 

The album does have a few high points. While 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' takes the crown, the shimmer of 'Bird' and the spoken word splendor of 'Kaleidoscope' (better than it sounds, I promise) both leave their mark. The trouble is that those are just three tracks across the album's 12 and 'Kaleidoscope' runs less than two minutes.

 

Instead, the majority of the track list is made up of songs that run far too long, have beyond cringe worthy concepts and lyrics (see: the attempt at love struck club banger, complete with Beyoncé, on 'Hymn For The Weekend') or simply sound too unoriginal to stand out from the others. Even the intro to 'Bird' just sounds like a pepped-up rip-off of Mylo Xyloto's 'Us Against The World.'

 

The initial promise of 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' was based on the band's ability to press onward with a new sound, even if certain small elements seemed borrowed from their past. But just as Ghost Stories attempted to visit the ghosts of laidback Coldplay past with middling results, A Head Full Of Dreams is unable to tread any exciting new ground beyond the lead single. The exciting and somewhat bold reinventions of Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto were a peak that appears to be unrepeatable with their current set of players.

 

While folks like Stargate and Rik Simpson produced this record, and individuals such as Avicii got involved with Ghost Stories, the absences of producers Markus Dravs and Brian Eno have become more pronounced.

 

The former has shaped some of the world's biggest groups into festival and arena-ready superstars with complementing music that is fit for both critical and commercial acclaim (i.e. Arcade Fire and Florence + The Machine). The latter simply remains one of the most influential musicians, composers and producers working in music today. Their combined touch was mighty on Coldplay's peak records and their absence is palpable on their disappointing follow-ups.

 

Coldplay records do have a tendency to grow on me, so perhaps I will revisit this one in a few months and find that I enjoy it more than I do at the moment. But for now, I cannot help but feel like Coldplay have exercised their entire book of tricks. Unless they can get Dravs and Eno back behind the boards to cast one last spell, it might be time to pack this one up for good.

 

Rating: 5.5/10

 

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So first things first: Coldplay are not as horrible as people make them out to be. Sure, Chris Martin's lyrics have a tendency to sound like they were written down in the very first diary owned by a 12-year-old ("I'd rather be a comma than a full stop" makes me cringe every single time). Yet somehow, Martin and his motley crew--bassist Guy Berryman, drummer Will Champion and criminally underrated guitarist Jonny Buckland--have made some of the most memorable songs of the past 15 years through some form of aural alchemy. But it is the sheer absence of this magic that makes A Head Full Of Dreams, their seventh LP, such a resounding disappointment.

 

Before diving into the new record, it never hurts to go through this contentious band's history to remember why they are so popular in the first place, as well as where they peaked.

 

2000's Parachutes spawned the massively popular 'Yellow' and got the band nominated for the Mercury Prize. 2002's A Rush Of Blood To The Head propelled the group to superstardom on the back of singles like 'Clocks' and 'The Scientist'. 2005's X&Y was the year's best selling album worldwide, despite being their weakest critical effort to date. 2008 and 2011 brought Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends and Mylo Xyloto, respectively (more on these records in a moment). Then the group released their subdued, heartbreak-tinged Ghost Stories in the aftermath of Martin's divorce, which found a mixed response from fans and critics though it appears to have warmed with time.

 

Despite have received solid reviews and sales almost entirely across the board, Mylo Xyloto and Viva La Vida, in particular, are the proof that Coldplay are capable of much more than most give them credit for. Working together closely with Arcade Fire collaborator Markus Dravs and the otherworldly Brian Eno, these two records represent the highest points in Coldplay's discography.

 

While its overzealous attempt at being a concept record and occasional moments of overproduction could be a bit of a hiccup for some, Mylo Xyloto was an impressive attempt at creating arena rock with an electronic tinge. The hauntingly beautiful sped-up vocal intro of 'Charlie Brown'; the Big Brother paranoia of 'Major Minus'; the dreamy bombast of 'Paradise.' The album was filled with winners, even if it had some flaws.

 

Viva La Vida, on the other hand, makes a case for the best mainstream rock album of the 2000s. As Martin decided to try his hand at broad thematic strokes--love and war, life and death--the band embarked on their most ambitious adventure. From the ascending beauty of hammered dulcimer-laden opener, 'Life In Technicolor,' it becomes clear that this not your typical Coldplay record. The church organ bounce of 'Lost!'; the tack piano glide of 'Lovers In Japan'; the shoegaze of 'Chinese Sleep Chant'; the anthemic peak of 'Viva La Vida'; the jagged anti-war slant of 'Violet Hill'; the swirling majesty of 'Strawberry Swing.' The album's ten tracks are easily the most compelling Coldplay creations, with the revolutionary image pitched along with the music seeming to symbolize the band's bold attempt at overthrowing their own sound.

 

But how far we have come since then. It has been four years since Mylo Xyloto and seven since Viva La Vida. After the rather restrained nine-track outing on last year's Ghost Stories, it would make sense that the band would want to regain their creative edge with a colorful blare on A Head Full Of Dreams.

 

Lead single 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' seemed to be an assurance than Coldplay was heading in the right direction. The twinkling riff by Buckland recalls the highs of 'Strawberry Swing' while Martin's wordless coo is particularly reminiscent of the hypnotic intro to 'Charlie Brown.' These two key elements swirl beautifully atop Berryman's funky bass line and Champion's driving drums. The best of Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto recast under a disco ball? Sign me up.

 

Alas, 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' is but a flash in the pan. Like Ghost Stories before it, A Head Full Of Dreams is mostly comprised of forgettable songs that can play in the background no problem, but fail to standout or stand-up among more intense scrutiny. But unlike its predecessor, which had the ever-interesting element of heartbreak and pain buoying its soft melodies, the relentlessly life-affirming drivel that fills A Head Full Of Dreams is far from compelling.

 

The album does have a few high points. While 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' takes the crown, the shimmer of 'Bird' and the spoken word splendor of 'Kaleidoscope' (better than it sounds, I promise) both leave their mark. The trouble is that those are just three tracks across the album's 12 and 'Kaleidoscope' runs less than two minutes.

 

Instead, the majority of the track list is made up of songs that run far too long, have beyond cringe worthy concepts and lyrics (see: the attempt at love struck club banger, complete with Beyoncé, on 'Hymn For The Weekend') or simply sound too unoriginal to stand out from the others. Even the intro to 'Bird' just sounds like a pepped-up rip-off of Mylo Xyloto's 'Us Against The World.'

 

The initial promise of 'Adventure Of A Lifetime' was based on the band's ability to press onward with a new sound, even if certain small elements seemed borrowed from their past. But just as Ghost Stories attempted to visit the ghosts of laidback Coldplay past with middling results, A Head Full Of Dreams is unable to tread any exciting new ground beyond the lead single. The exciting and somewhat bold reinventions of Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto were a peak that appears to be unrepeatable with their current set of players.

 

While folks like Stargate and Rik Simpson produced this record, and individuals such as Avicii got involved with Ghost Stories, the absences of producers Markus Dravs and Brian Eno have become more pronounced.

 

The former has shaped some of the world's biggest groups into festival and arena-ready superstars with complementing music that is fit for both critical and commercial acclaim (i.e. Arcade Fire and Florence + The Machine). The latter simply remains one of the most influential musicians, composers and producers working in music today. Their combined touch was mighty on Coldplay's peak records and their absence is palpable on their disappointing follow-ups.

 

Coldplay records do have a tendency to grow on me, so perhaps I will revisit this one in a few months and find that I enjoy it more than I do at the moment. But for now, I cannot help but feel like Coldplay have exercised their entire book of tricks. Unless they can get Dravs and Eno back behind the boards to cast one last spell, it might be time to pack this one up for good.

 

Rating: 5.5/10

 

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Review: Coldplay - 'A Head Full Of Dreams'

 

The band continue to explore new horizons on their latest album...

 

Samson Pharaoh

UNITED KINGDOM

 

Like Coldplay’s other recent records, ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ showcases the group’s divisive musical evolution.

 

Compared to its nocturnal predecessor ‘Ghost Stories’ and 2011’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’ this album, Coldplay’s seventh, does so in a way that feels freer and more fluid.

 

The British band spends most of ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ gliding unreservedly from music genre to music genre.

 

The quartet manage to painlessly punch their creative stamp across the tracklisting thanks to a soaring, uplifted, ‘to the moon and back’ aura which soaks the whole record.

 

Frontman Chris Martin is eagerly committed on ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’, and the tunes themselves range from lightly anthemic to untroubled - they rarely, if ever, completely flop.

 

The title track isn’t the LP’s standout tryst with disco – lead single ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime’ is – still the album opener is a suitably strong indication of the album’s general direction. And despite being a grander-scale affair, the boys manage to blend easiness into it.

 

Standout ‘Birds’ makes the most of a charging, hotfooted instrumental and gets more enticing as it expands on its feverish momentum.

 

The hook feels like a jump of a cliff – in a good way. It’s a memorable combination of sun-kissed guitar hits and pleading falsetto contributions from Martin.

 

Without abandoning his artistic traits, Chris Martin sounds fresh exploring the funkier vibes of the disco-singed ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime’.

 

Enhanced by delicious bass notes and lively guitar licks during the chorus, a Nineties feel slowly works its way into the tune.

 

Proudly affectionate and containing pretty, dedicated lyrics, ballad ‘Everglow’ comes the closest to treading ‘traditional’Coldplay territory. So it’s unchallenging in a sense, but on the other hand it’s incredibly warm.

 

There’s space for reflection and the lyrics are relatable enough for listeners to adopt and apply to their own situations.

 

Martin’s vocals impact sincerely and elevate above the track’s sugary shortcomings.

 

It’s hard to miss an uncredited Mrs Beyoncé Knowles singing on ‘Hymn For The Weekend’. While ‘Everglow’ shines with simplicity, ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ celebrates the joys of being drunk in love – but often feels busy, uneasy and a little throwaway as a result.

 

Featuring Swedish songstress Tove Lo, ‘Fun’ is illuminated brightly by the carefree vocals of both Chris Martin and his guest.

 

A few steps ahead of over-sentimentality, ‘Fun’ bursts with forever young, ‘sky’s the limit’ spirit.

 

Admittedly, on a side note, ‘Fun’ sounds as though any accompanying music video should be set on a beach or at a fairground, and include montages of the two play fighting, candy floss eating and blowing butterfly kisses at each other.

 

Sprinkled with appealing vocal loops and synths, ‘Army Of One’ wins because it doesn’t overextend itself, its refrains are concrete, though completely relaxed.

 

Plus, it’s always worth hearing Chris Martin pledge support to his loved one in his career-defining, day dreamy Chris Martin-y way.

 

Coldplay flirt with trap on ‘Amazing Day’, the tune could’ve featured a rapper – maybe even Martin’s buddy Jay Z – thankfully though, Coldplay don’t tick that box and carry the tune as a four-piece.

 

‘Amazing Day’ flickers with glimpses of lyrical laziness, however, with Martin seemingly undaunted by its bumping beatwork, the cut’s ominous melodies flow effortlessly over the edgier production.

 

The combination of lower vocals and background falsetto singing on the chorus gives ‘Amazing Day’ a whole other dimension.

 

The romantic, old-timey blues sway of ‘Colour Spectrum’ is irresistible; it’s not hard to envision two lovebirds pledging their commitment to each other with it playing softly in the background.

 

There’s a silver-screen simplicity surrounding this special track and in that sense, ‘Colour Spectrum’ is completely successful.

 

In addition to some sweet guitar touches towards the front end of the song, Martin uses the intimate effort to show off his vocal versatility.

 

Highlight ‘Up&Up’ is an ambitious and fitting finale for the standard edition of ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’.

 

Kicking off with non-invasive beatwork and a carefree atmosphere, at first, no big statement is made.

 

Peppered with inviting melodic passages, a community feel maneuvers the track’s sing-along chorus.

 

Gradually though, with the help of some bouncy gospel elements, a number of old skool dance touches and a ‘let’s all come together’ flavour, the track morphs into a stadium-ready, six-minute spectacle.

 

Verdict: ********8/10

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Admittedly, on a side note, ‘Fun’ sounds as though any accompanying music video should be set on a beach or at a fairground, and include montages of the two play fighting, candy floss eating and blowing butterfly kisses at each other.

 

Oh gosh, I've just had a cringeworthy thought: what if Gwyneth appears in the music video for Fun?

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It's really hard to judge music. Everyone that has ever written a song knows what feelings run through you and that you often can't actually so much influence on what your doing until you have a certain pattern.

 

Anyways: I can totally understand Chris situation. As I said in another thread, he is not 20 something anymore. Hence he doesnt write about the same things. His life is pretty much settled, he has kids, has been married. I mean you probably get the thought. Noel Gallagher said "I can't write about being unemployed and poor, because I am not". It's much the same for Chris. And I think that reflects in his music. There are a lot of musicians that randomly do a fun track like "Hymn for the weekend" just to have done something cool with their friend who sings in the song. The difference is that Coldplay are a super known (ex) Rockband :D

 

But from a personal POV: I didn't REALLY like a single track till now. Their harmonies got flatter, Chris voice gets "older" and he constatnly tries to push his chestvoice to new heights. I just do not like that, it sounds like a bad scream sometimes.

As much as I hate saying it, I like the "old" Coldplay. I like the classical band concept with those spherical synths in the background. I liked the use of Davide Rossis strings on Viva etc.

 

But that's just my opinion

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Review: Coldplay - 'A Head Full Of Dreams'

 

The band continue to explore new horizons on their latest album...

 

Samson Pharaoh

UNITED KINGDOM

 

Like Coldplay’s other recent records, ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ showcases the group’s divisive musical evolution.

 

Compared to its nocturnal predecessor ‘Ghost Stories’ and 2011’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’ this album, Coldplay’s seventh, does so in a way that feels freer and more fluid.

 

The British band spends most of ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ gliding unreservedly from music genre to music genre.

 

The quartet manage to painlessly punch their creative stamp across the tracklisting thanks to a soaring, uplifted, ‘to the moon and back’ aura which soaks the whole record.

 

Frontman Chris Martin is eagerly committed on ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’, and the tunes themselves range from lightly anthemic to untroubled - they rarely, if ever, completely flop.

 

The title track isn’t the LP’s standout tryst with disco – lead single ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime’ is – still the album opener is a suitably strong indication of the album’s general direction. And despite being a grander-scale affair, the boys manage to blend easiness into it.

 

Standout ‘Birds’ makes the most of a charging, hotfooted instrumental and gets more enticing as it expands on its feverish momentum.

 

The hook feels like a jump of a cliff – in a good way. It’s a memorable combination of sun-kissed guitar hits and pleading falsetto contributions from Martin.

 

Without abandoning his artistic traits, Chris Martin sounds fresh exploring the funkier vibes of the disco-singed ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime’.

 

Enhanced by delicious bass notes and lively guitar licks during the chorus, a Nineties feel slowly works its way into the tune.

 

Proudly affectionate and containing pretty, dedicated lyrics, ballad ‘Everglow’ comes the closest to treading ‘traditional’Coldplay territory. So it’s unchallenging in a sense, but on the other hand it’s incredibly warm.

 

There’s space for reflection and the lyrics are relatable enough for listeners to adopt and apply to their own situations.

 

Martin’s vocals impact sincerely and elevate above the track’s sugary shortcomings.

 

It’s hard to miss an uncredited Mrs Beyoncé Knowles singing on ‘Hymn For The Weekend’. While ‘Everglow’ shines with simplicity, ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ celebrates the joys of being drunk in love – but often feels busy, uneasy and a little throwaway as a result.

 

Featuring Swedish songstress Tove Lo, ‘Fun’ is illuminated brightly by the carefree vocals of both Chris Martin and his guest.

 

A few steps ahead of over-sentimentality, ‘Fun’ bursts with forever young, ‘sky’s the limit’ spirit.

 

Admittedly, on a side note, ‘Fun’ sounds as though any accompanying music video should be set on a beach or at a fairground, and include montages of the two play fighting, candy floss eating and blowing butterfly kisses at each other.

 

Sprinkled with appealing vocal loops and synths, ‘Army Of One’ wins because it doesn’t overextend itself, its refrains are concrete, though completely relaxed.

 

Plus, it’s always worth hearing Chris Martin pledge support to his loved one in his career-defining, day dreamy Chris Martin-y way.

 

Coldplay flirt with trap on ‘Amazing Day’, the tune could’ve featured a rapper – maybe even Martin’s buddy Jay Z – thankfully though, Coldplay don’t tick that box and carry the tune as a four-piece.

 

‘Amazing Day’ flickers with glimpses of lyrical laziness, however, with Martin seemingly undaunted by its bumping beatwork, the cut’s ominous melodies flow effortlessly over the edgier production.

 

The combination of lower vocals and background falsetto singing on the chorus gives ‘Amazing Day’ a whole other dimension.

 

The romantic, old-timey blues sway of ‘Colour Spectrum’ is irresistible; it’s not hard to envision two lovebirds pledging their commitment to each other with it playing softly in the background.

 

There’s a silver-screen simplicity surrounding this special track and in that sense, ‘Colour Spectrum’ is completely successful.

 

In addition to some sweet guitar touches towards the front end of the song, Martin uses the intimate effort to show off his vocal versatility.

 

Highlight ‘Up&Up’ is an ambitious and fitting finale for the standard edition of ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’.

 

Kicking off with non-invasive beatwork and a carefree atmosphere, at first, no big statement is made.

 

Peppered with inviting melodic passages, a community feel maneuvers the track’s sing-along chorus.

 

Gradually though, with the help of some bouncy gospel elements, a number of old skool dance touches and a ‘let’s all come together’ flavour, the track morphs into a stadium-ready, six-minute spectacle.

 

Verdict: ********8/10

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This review is basically me.

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I would say yes but I don't want to steal this nice man's intellegence.

 

 

Coldplay flirt with trap on ‘Amazing Day’, the tune could’ve featured a rapper – maybe even Martin’s buddy Jay Z – thankfully though, Coldplay don’t tick that box and carry the tune as a four-piece.

 

‘Amazing Day’ flickers with glimpses of lyrical laziness, however, with Martin seemingly undaunted by its bumping beatwork, the cut’s ominous melodies flow effortlessly over the edgier production.

 

The combination of lower vocals and background falsetto singing on the chorus gives ‘Amazing Day’ a whole other dimension.

 

The romantic, old-timey blues sway of ‘Colour Spectrum’ is irresistible; it’s not hard to envision two lovebirds pledging their commitment to each other with it playing softly in the background.

 

You can totally tell that this reviewer used the leaked version of AHFOD. She called Amazing Day Coldplay's "flirt with trap" music... when she was really talking about X Marks the Spot. And she mistakedly referred to the actual Amazing Day track as Colour Spectrum.

 

This is most likely because on the leaked version of the album, XMTS was placed under the Amazing Day title, and Amazing Day was joined together with Colour Spectrum.

 

So moral of the story is.... take in reviews with a grain of salt. Music critics tend say stuff that has little to no meaning. It's up to you to decide the quality of this album.

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You can totally tell that this reviewer used the leaked version of AHFOD. She called Amazing Day Coldplay's "flirt with trap" music... when she was really talking about X Marks the Spot. And she mistakedly referred to the actual Amazing Day track as Colour Spectrum.

 

This is most likely because on the leaked version of the album, XMTS was placed under the Amazing Day title, and Amazing Day was joined together with Colour Spectrum.

 

So moral of the story is.... take in reviews with a grain of salt. Music critics tend say stuff that has little to no meaning. It's up to you to decide the quality of this album.

 

Lol the review had my name on it for some reason when you quoted oops I hope I didn't do anything. And yeah ARTV Reviews reviewed the album too but he got a cd from walmart.

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Review: Coldplay’s New Album, ‘A Head Full of Dreams,’ Is Blissful and Bittersweet03COLDPLAY1-master675-v2.jpg

After darkness, light: Coldplay has wallowed and Coldplay has wept, but there comes a season for renewal. “A Head Full of Dreams,” the band’s seventh studio album, courts the communion of the dance floor, along with the good will of its allies and fans. Blissful even at its most bittersweet, it’s an album on which three songs make lyrical references to diamonds — as in, “We are diamonds” — and every surface contentedly gleams.

 

The subtext is no secret here. Coldplay’s frontman, Chris Martin, has been closely watched since the end of his marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow last year, which gave us both the indelible euphemism “conscious uncoupling” and a muted, mournful album, “Ghost Stories.

 

“A Head Full of Dreams” flings back those heavy curtains while mindfully saving a space at the table for Ms. Paltrow: That’s her voice buried in the mix on “Everglow,” a Bruce Hornsby-esque piano ballad about the spark that endures between the uncoupled. (“This particular diamond,” the ever-gallant Mr. Martin sings, “is extra special.”) A less inert song called “Fun” recalls the good times in a tone more reflective than raw; the Swedish pop singer Tove Lo joins Mr. Martin on the song’s chorus and in a hopeful upturn at the end.

 

Coldplay long ago diversified its sound, moving on from the ashes of Britpop toward a more global and electronic style — and now, on the title track and on “Adventure of a Lifetime,” a chiming iteration of disco. Rik Simpson, a longtime band associate, produced the album with Stargate, the prolific Norwegian duo, and there are also flickers of hip-hop in its sound.

 

So “Army of One” pairs a patently Martinesque melody with a booming, processional beat. A not-so-hidden track called “X Marks the Spot” was produced by Daniel Green, who has obviously heard “Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar. And “Hymn for the Weekend” features both a love-as-intoxicant metaphor and, in a leveraging of strategic interests, Mr. Martin’s friend and fellow Tidal co-owner, Beyoncé.

 

Mr. Martin, who has rediscovered the radiant properties of his voice, gilds a lot of lyrical treacle and borderline nonsense here. But on “Amazing Day,” he articulates a philosophical worldview: “Life has a beautiful crazy design.” In a similar vein, “Kaleidoscope,” which has earned some attention for its interpolation of Barack Obama singing a hymn of resilience, more prominently features a voice-over by Coleman Barks, reading his translation of a Rumi poem.

 

That poem, “The Guest House,” presents joy, depression and other emotions as visiting guests: “Welcome and entertain them all!” Mr. Barks intones. (He leaves out the next part: “Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,/who violently sweep your house/empty of its furniture.”) It’s not hard to picture Mr. Martin seizing Rumi’s insight like a lifeline.

 

And it’s easy to trust the optimism he exudes on the album’s anthemic closer, “Up&Up,” even if that title seems suspiciously ripe for commercial tie-in with the in-house Target brand. “See a pearl form, a diamond in the rough,” Mr. Martin sings. “See a bird soaring high above the flood.”

 

The additional vocalists on the song include Beyoncé; the veteran backup singer Merry Clayton; and Mr. Martin’s current girlfriend, Annabelle Wallis. Noel Gallagher shows up to play a guitar solo. But in the end, everything falls away, leaving Mr. Martin alone with a simple bit of advice: “Don’t ever give up.”

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Admit it: Coldplay is really fun on 'A Head Full of Dreams'

 

Saying you’re a huge Coldplay fan has historically been like saying ketchup is spicy and vanilla ice cream really gets a bum rap. The band has never been cool—in 2008 Rolling Stone deemed frontman Chris Martin "The Jesus of Uncool,” and Aaron Sorkin’s saccharine use of “Fix You” (is there another use?) in “The Newsroom” simultaneously helped ruin the song and the show. The British pop-rockers’ fans, of which there are boatloads, know this: You're more likely to hear "I'm a huge Coldplay fan except for 'X&Y’" or "I'm a huge Coldplay fan but I think Chris Martin is kind of a dork" than total, unabashed fandom.

 

That's both understandable and a shame, as underneath the "wuss-rock" tag meaner critics have assigned Coldplay over the years is a surprisingly solid band. From its stellar 2000 debut "Parachutes" (songs like "Don't Panic" and "Yellow" still particularly hold up) to 2014's understated "Ghost Stories," Coldplay has consistently churned out totally sincere and effective stadium rock. Even the band's critically-panned albums like "X&Y" (about which even Martin admitted, "We were bigger than we were good") have some worthy moments like "Low" and "White Shadows" There's also a lot to love on Coldplay's seventh and probably final album "A Head Full of Dreams" (out Friday). Where its predecessor “Ghost Stories” was a dour and moody autopsy of a divorce, the new album happily takes a more uplifting, resilient tone.

 

There's lead single “Adventure of a Lifetime,” whose Chic-esque guitars and fittingly adventurous electronic atmospheres make it one of the most sonically interesting things the band's ever produced. Beyonce joins anthem “Hymn for the Weekend,” which continues Coldplay’s fondness for having a pop star guest on a rousing single--Rihanna assisted "Mylo Xyloto" cut "Princess of China," and Avicii appeared on "Ghost Stories" lowlight "A Sky Full of Stars"--and is the best of the bunch. Tove Lo guests on the middling “Fun,” which is just that and nothing more. Where Coldplay's previous attempts at crossing over to dance-pop seemed contrived and pandering (Worth repeating: "A Sky Full of Stars remains so cringe-worthy), much of this effort feels organic and legitimately fun. The propulsive space-rock on the opening title track and the thumping drum machine rhythm of "Birds" best showcase this progress.

 

Of course, Martin’s lyrics always have the subtlety of a lovelorn teen's diary, but matched with the band’s bombastic, grandiose compositions, there's enough affecting heartstring-tugging to yank away some if not all of your cynicism. When Martin sings, "Oh, I can feel my heart beating/’Cause you make me feel/Like I'm alive again” on “Adventure of a Lifetime," you can feel it too. (Well, I can.) You’d know lines like "Sat on a roof, your hand in mine, singing/'Life has a beautiful, crazy design” (from “Amazing Day”) were from Martin without ever hearing the song. Other times, though, like the overwrought reading of Rumi’s poem “The Guest House” and a sample of President Obama’s “Amazing Grace” speech on interlude “Kaleidoscope,” it ventures into irredeemable self-parody.

 

While Coldplay earnestly wearing its heart on its sleeve can make the band seem corny, that’s also its most powerful weapon. The band’s most successful songs ("Clocks," "Yellow") are big enough to capture grand yet simple and broadly relatable emotions. When you hear a melody as potent and cathartic as closer “Up&Up,” which is something only a band as massive as Coldplay could pull off, the first thing that comes to mind probably isn't, “I wish this was less on-the-nose and obviously resonant!” At least, it shouldn’t be.

 

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How the world's biggest rock band became culture's biggest mirror

 

Even for the biggest rock band in the world, sampling the sitting President of the United States is a shift toward the mainstream. In the run-up to Coldplay’s seventh (and possibly final) LP, A Head Full of Dreams, news broke that the band would use a clip of Obama singing “Amazing Grace” on one of the record’s songs. The sample unites the most recognizable person on the planet with one of our culture’s most recognizable melodies, a moment shot through a pop culture supercollider by the world’s most widely known rock band. What we have here can only be called a singularity of ubiquity.

 

The lead singer of Art Brut, Eddie Argos,

, “I’m gonna write a song as universal as ‘Happy Birthday’.” All art speaks to someone, but only some art strives to speak to all. Chris Martin and Coldplay have been trying to write a song as universal as “Happy Birthday” for most of their career. More than writing music, they are trying to write us.

 

Mass culture, whatever our comfort and discomfort with it, represents a relatively new phenomenon of the last 75 years. Even to be able to type the words “biggest rock band in the world” reflects a common understanding of industrial, technology, and economic development stitching us together with invisible tendrils. The same apparatus allowing you to read these words, a product of extractive resource management and 20th century capital and nation-state formation, has allowed Coldplay to exist in the collective consciousness as a cultural icon. Whether you love or hate Coldplay, no one needs to explain their existence to you.

 

Like wireless internet, mass culture surrounds us whether we see it or not. Hannah Arendt worried in her 1961 essay “The Crisis in Culture” that “market-driven media would lead to the displacement of culture by the dictates of entertainment.” More than any rock band since U2, Coldplay harness the overlap of mass culture and mass media. Like an overly focus-grouped movie, each Coldplay album since 2003’s A Rush of Blood to the Head has distilled prevailing media trends into a codified, entertaining, and sometimes cynical package of songs.

 

The litany of Coldplay’s digestion and regurgitation of cultural trends is long: the post-Arcade Fire impulses of “Viva La Vida”; the wide-screen global pop of “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”, “Paradise”, and the Rihanna-driven “Princess of China”; the electronic R&B of “Magic”; and the cut-rate EDM of “A Sky Full of Stars”. Each moment revealed Coldplay to be a few years behind the leading edge of new cultural developments. It is perhaps no surprise that Chris Martin is so often walking toward the viewer in the band’s videos. He is quite literally behind the receding camera, never reaching the viewer moving away from him at every moment. He is always slightly removed from us, always chasing us. And yet Arcade Fire never sent a song to no. 1; the “Viva La Vida” video has been viewed 220 million times.

 

When Chris Martin and his band performed their latest single, “Adventure of a Lifetime”, at the American Music Awards, four dancers in gorilla suits arrived near the end. Maybe it was supposed to feel edgy and fun; instead, it felt like Wayne Coyne and Miley Cyrus reprocessed for PG audiences. The performance was only a few degrees from the Kia commercial with dancing hamsters. The song itself, while hard to pinpoint as outright plagiarism, reflects Coldplay’s desire to ride the last moments of a guitar sound that rocketed songs like “Uptown Funk” and “Moves Like Jagger” into the mainstream. Not unlike sampling the President, Coldplay now aren’t cribbing their moves from the edges; they’re repackaging aesthetics from dead center.

 

The band has become broader in its appeal and scope, producing a reflexive backlash. Describing new song “Everglow”, on which his ex-wife and celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow sings, Martin gushed: “I was in the ocean one day with this surfer guy, who spoke just like you’d imagine a surfer guy to speak … He was like, ‘Yo, dude, I was doing this thing the other day man, it gave me this total everglow!’ I was like, ‘What an amazing word!’ Then the song came completely out.” It could mean – and is – anything to anyone.

 

While some of the cynical marketing and generic songcraft explains Coldplay’s fantastic popularity, it only hints at their unique position of being loved and hated with passion. In 2005, reviewing the band’s tipping point X&Y for Pitchfork, Joe Tangari called the band “carefully measured” and “nervously self-conscious.” So too are Coldplay’s fans and detractors. Listening to Coldplay has always been a look in the mirror, hearing a familiar sound or seeing an aesthetic retreaded for mass consumption – producing, alternatively, allure and disgust. Loving and hating Coldplay come from the same moment of recognized reflection, of self-consciousness. We glance at a version of ourselves.

 

Coldplay, because of their incredible visibility, hold the unique power to throw trends back at us. Look at yourself long enough in the mirror and you will feel equal parts beauty and disgust. Look longer and you become unrecognizable, just a bag of flesh holding your soul. Look long into Coldplay and you may see nothing but a version of yourself; look longer still, and you see nothing at all. Their popularity is undeniable, as is their ability to divorce signifiers from meaning.

 

Perhaps they are so beloved because of their ability to render cultural trends meaningless. Our comfort and disgust with the band lies in their emptiness. They’re the final word in cultural discourse; once Coldplay does it, it isn’t a thing anymore. We are, likewise, constrained and freed by their meaninglessness.

 

Did our cultural climate demand a band like Coldplay, or did the band merely fill a need we never knew we had? Did we make Coldplay, or did they make us? Are they us, or are we them? Coldplay represents a simulacrum, a copy of a copy. Only Chris Martin could put a painting from the 1830 French revolution on the cover of a pop record, firmly divorcing the radical Delacroix work “Liberty Leading the People” from any meaning. In the video for the title track, “Viva La Vida”, the band becomes artwork through the power of a camera filter meant to approximate the finish of a cracked oil painting – the simulacrum in action. The album’s title, maybe their most apt, reflects its own meaningless linguistic ouroboros:Viva La Vida. Live life. This blithe tautology could mean anything to anyone, and it does.

 

At the conclusion of the videos for both “Fix You” and “A Sky Full of Stars”, the audio of the band’s performance becomes a chorus of voices from the recorded crowd. While this sing-along is a fairly common trick in pop and rock music – the pointing of the mic to your many vociferous fans – it is less often done in the confines of a music video. But the part where they become us and we become them is critical to grappling with Coldplay in 2015. In the video for “Adventure of a Lifetime”, the band is played by poorly animated apes. Martin’s digital primate walks towards the camera again, close but never quite reaching us.

 

It is the space between viewer and band that Martin and his band try to collapse. That space is the “Happy Birthday” aspiration, the song and the band that everyone knows. Coldplay are as close as any band to closing it, and yet the space remains.

 

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