Coldplaying analyses the impact of Alan McGee's famous 'bedwetters' comment printed in 'The Guardian' in 2000
It's no secret that Coldplay, one of the biggest bands in the world, has a lot of haters. However, in July of 2000, the band just released their debut album 'Parachutes' and had nowhere near the amount of fans they had today. In fact, Coldplaying.com was not launched until December of that year and even then, it only had a handful of members.
Parachutes received high praise from major critics and universal love from the press. In a contemporary review of the album, Michael Hubbard of musicOMH called it "an album of remarkable depth, especially when one considers the youthful ages of the band members." Coldplay had just begun a tour to accompany the album and would go on to perform in the United States, Japan, Australia and more. Self-esteem was high and it seemed nothing could bring down the spirit of the band. That was of course until Alan McGee came along!
Who is Alan McGee?
I asked myself the exact same question! Alan McGee was the former head of Creation Records, home of Oasis and many "uber-cool 90's bands". He also wrote the infamous "bedwetters" article during his time as a music blogger for The Guardian.
McGee begins with his frustration towards the current state of the music scene and goes on to express his love and hate towards certain artists. Within the first paragraph, McGee tears into Coldplay with a mere two sentences.
Looking down the list of Mercury Music Prize nominees, my first thought is: where have all the characters gone in music?... Top of Mercury's list is Coldplay: bedwetters' music. They're Jeff Buckley-lite, the band that you're supposed to like if you're a student. This is what frustrates me about the current music scene.
Coldplay could have easily passed off this comment as a cynical bid for attention, but considering McGee was a man so highly regarded in the indie world, this hit them hard. As a band who had just released their debut album and were no doubt paying a lot of attention to the press to receive feedback, this was tough. The comment was not even about the music, it was about who they were as people and it questions their “authenticity” – which, in the indie world, was the absolute measurement of worth.
Chris Martin's struggle with the comment in the past versus his current view on 'haters' - from the 'A Head Full of Dreams Film' Dir. Mat Whitecross
Fast forward to 2002 and the world was eager to hear the second album from Coldplay, which is notorious for being extremely difficult. How was Coldplay going to live up to the standards of Parachutes while being under immense pressure?
This feeling of pressure had worsened when Coldplay announced their Friday headline slot at Glastonbury Festival. The performance would very likely set up how the new album would be received. The intention was for the album to be out before Glastonbury. Recording ran later and later until it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. If this show was a disaster, most discussion about the new record would be tainted by talk of their disappointing Glastonbury set.
The crowd, expecting Coldplay to kick off their set with the usual 'Don't Panic', were transfixed by the opening riff of the previously unheard 'Politik'! The set was defined by new music that had the crowd going bananas and also reworked live versions of previously recorded songs such as Yellow.
Their public persona at the time was defined by Yellow and Trouble and by Alan McGee's indie bedwetters comment which seemed to haunt them until they got on stage at Glastonbury and it was almost like them thumping Alan McGee over the head with a fucking riff, it was just huge!
The iconic set got people talking about Coldplay once again and defined the release of their second album 'A Rush of Blood to the Head' which received even better reviews than that of Parachutes. Coldplay went on to tour the world to accompany the chart-topping album and released their Live DVD in 2003 to conclude the era of A Rush of Blood to the Head.
While Coldplay continued to shock the world with their ever-changing music style, Alan McGee remains particularly venomous towards the band. In 2010, McGee called for the Brit Awards to be abolished – and branded the year’s nominees “an embarrassment” to music-lovers.
Coldplay are a dilution of a dilution of a dilution. Chris Martin makes me want to eat someone else’s earwax rather than listen to his records.
It was only in March 2020 that McGee backtracked on his infamous comment in an interview with the Sunday Express.
I do regret calling Coldplay bedwetters… a bit,” he admitted, “because compared to what came after them they were OK. I don’t like their music but I don’t think they’re that bad. I used to be a mouthy little fuck. So full of prescription drugs.”
It is also worth noting that Alan McGee insisted that rockers should retire at 40. Meanwhile, Chris Martin who turned 40 in 2017, announced the band's new endeavour 'Kaleidoscope EP' which has failed to disappoint fans and critics and arguably lives up to those aforementioned "standards of Parachutes". The band have gone on to release 'Everyday Life' which received 4-star ratings across the board!
Take that Alan McGee!