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📡 HIGHER POWER MUSIC VIDEO OUT JUNE 8 📡
  • stephen
    stephen

    20 Years on From Alan McGee’s “bedwetters” Comment

    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!

     

    2002Coldplday_GettyImages-563534169_master150715.jpg

     

    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.

    Quote

    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.

    -Alan McGee

    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.

    Quote

    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!

     -Matt McGinn

     

    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.

    Quote

    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.

    -Alan McGee

    It was only in March 2020 that McGee backtracked on his infamous comment in an interview with the Sunday Express.

    Quote

    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.”

    -Alan McGee

    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!

    Edited by stephen

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    • I think both of your statements have some issues.  If Coldplay has become inauthentic, how do you explain Everyday Life? We can't really pretend it was a one-off thing or a passing phase. It was a full album that felt mildly reminiscent of the pre-mylo eras. On top of that, pop has become Coldplay's sound for the past seven or eight years. That's a long time to be inauthentic, imo. Don't get me wrong, I see where you're coming from, but I think EL throws a bit of a wrench into your statement  Have Coldplay truly lost touch with what their fans want? A decent amount of people (mostly new fans, I'll give you that) seem pleased with what they've put out in the past seven years. Despite Higher Power being a bit of a flop, it's not their worst song ever. Some people still like it.  But here's to hoping LP9 is different. 
    • It's interesting what you share, and I'm agree with the fact that Coldplay is losing some authenticity during the years, but before to be so critical on that (anyway, I love what they do), it's important to see how producers influences on their releases. And to be poppy isn't the same to don't be authentic.  For Parachutes, A Rush... and X&Y, the "hand" of Ken Nelson is there. I feel that "darkness" and "authenticity" what I love a lot in Coldplay. In live performances, small backings tracks there, but there were them. I remember a concert when Chris said: "Coldplay is better in darkness", from X&Y era.  But then, Brian Eno and Rik Simpson replace Ken Nelson, and we all eventually felt how his music changed, not necessarily for worse!. Viva was a great album in my opinion, but clearly the "darkness" factor was provided by Jon Hopkins (a genius). So, even when is more poppy, Viva still has a little darkness and authenticity there. Until here, if you see live performances, you see authenticity everywhere. Even when the "violins" in Viva La Vida are backing tracks, you feel the live authenticity. The "Coldplay Factor".  But then, Jon Hopkins was removed from the next production, MX, and the poppy started to be more present. Some exceptions are "UFO" eventually, but it's a fact that the boys found on this "colorful" way something completely cathartic. And Brian Eno and Rik Simpson in the production. However, even when MX is a poppy production, the boys made the effort to create live performances with authenticity. See, for instance, the same MX (the beginning) when Will plays the Xylophone or the guitar in "Every Teardrop..." (it could be just a tape, but they preferred to make it live. The authenticity remained there, behind the poppy style).  Now... let's see GS. Brian Eno is, now, who is not in the production line, but Hopkins returned, and now with the great Avicii. In some way, the darkness returns, and for my perspective, GS was the last of the darkness times. Eventually was the the message that "authenticity" was in decay, because it was the first time that some songs had piano sounds as backing tracking (A Sky Full Of Stars). GS was a great album, but I think something changed from there.  Because, next, A Head...   it was just a poppy explosion. Who was there... Rik Simpson, almost alone as Producer. Yes, live performances were quite spectacular, but this time plenty, plenty of backing tracks. Even with "Midnight" played just from tape. Eventually, "God Put A Smile.." was the great exception there because how they played live, reminded how Coldplay started. With no backing tracks. Just them. But again, authenticity in decay.  Let's talk now about EL. EL wasn't for me a darkness style album. It was almost an acoustic-based production. If you see the production line, are almost only new people, including for the first time Max Martin. Yes, Max entered for EL. And guess what was the only song produced by Martin there. Yes, Orphans. The most poppy song in EL. From authenticity perspective, EL was a moment. A "Bare Bones" moment, but for live performances, again, the boys didn't complicate things: Chris playbacks on Church, the piano play itself for Broken, etc. EL is a deep album, and I love it, but I think that Orphans, the last song to arrive (as Chris said), generated something from Max Martin for the future: The things are commercial, beyond any authenticity.  Chris Martin has mention that "Max is our producer right now for everything we do". Having said that, and if you see what Martin has produced (which is great from a commercial perspective), for LP9 I really expect only commercial-based things. Nothing with the nostalgic darkness. Nothing eventually hybrid. Is like if Max Martin said: "Show me what you left in MX and A Head.. and let's what can we do now. We need to sell it.".  Don't get me wrong, please, I love Coldplay, since the beginning. But people and time changes. I'm expecting to see next performances with real people there, in order to see what remains there. Eventually, there is still some authenticity.
    • Sharing links to officially released music is not allowed on Coldplaying - doesn't matter whether it's released in every time zone yet or not.
    • Curious to see what you guys think! Either Coldplay no longer cares about being authentic, and put commercial succes above creating original music. Or, they have lost touch with what their fans like (both old and new ones). Proof:   1. Higher power does poor on Spotify in streams given their total monthly listeners, despite a major commercial push.  2. Coldplay claims to perform live, but in fact vocals of two different 'live' performances are identical (Brits & Idols). 3. During the brits they posted a picture indicating they were about to get on stage outside the O2, despite the performance being recorded a few days before that.  4. The acoustic version of 'higher power' does not have authentic vocals, but the ones identical to the original.  5. The Higher Power CD single was promoted as "extremely limited" on Facebook, yet is even for sale in physical stores. Thoughts?                
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