I recently got into a bit of Twitter back and forth on why Coldplay haters exist. My fellow twatter couldn’t understand where the dislike of Coldplay comes from. He quite likes them, and really couldn’t grasp the reaction they cause in some people. People like me.
Coldplay hate has been a preoccupation of mine for many, many years. Whenever it the subject comes up I express strong opinions on the subject and am completely immovable in my response. My reasons, however, are deeply personal and are about more than the music of Coldplay and more about what they represent to me and an emotional memory from the past.
They do get it pretty hard, in fairness. There are actually a small number of Coldplay tracks snuck their way onto The Ultimate Playlist . If anyone’s interested I’ll list them at the end. I listened to Parachutes a lot when it first came out… which is key to the festering dislike beginning…
My love of music began to form as a teenager in the mid-nineties. This was an era commonly known as “Cool Brittannia”, and Indie Britpop, the music of Cool Brittannia dominated my life. I listened to music that was passionate, raucous, retro-cool and very, very, uniquely British in sound.
I loved it. I dressed like Oasis, I put Ocean Colour Scene & Kula Shaker on in every pub I drank in, and watched TFI Friday & Jools Holland religiously (Before pub and after pub!) to see my favourite bands play. I felt a real part of something special.
Around 1999 it was all over, the bubble had burst. Oasis had gone off the boil (Standing on the Shoulder of Giants *Raspberry*), Blur starting sounding American, Radiohead went weird, The Verve split up (again), and others just disappeared into obscurity. Guitar music was being taken over by the American sounds of Nu-Metal, Garage Rock, Pop Punk and Emo.
There was a void, a big black hole in music in the UK I, and many like me, we’re desperate to be filled. which brings me to Coldplay.
Coldplay were to be the new saviours of British guitar music for me – a shot of blood in a scene that needed life. They were at the head of a new vanguard (Travis, Keane, Badly Drawn Boy, Starsailor, Turin Breaks etc etc) that was going to stand up for British music and show this Colonial invasion what for. They shot to the top of the charts, won awards and were highly reviewed in the press.
What we didn’t notice, and I soon came to realise, was we had been duped. In a time when I was so desperate for the Britpop void to be filled I latched on to Coldplay and their peers because I needed something I could understand, something that meant more to me and my experiences than the American stuff, which was a good enough listen but I simply didn’t get (especially Nu-metal and Emo; that stuff flew right over my head). But what I’d latched onto was a bit wet, a bit bland, and mediocre. The desperation for some good British rock n’ roll I had been experiencing had led me into conning myself that this mediocrity was excellence, that this middle-English A-Level music about nothing at all was something more than it was. There was no evidence of the passion, the verve, the raw energy of bands from the Britpop years in Coldplay’s music or the music of their peers. It was so wishy-washy and actually pretty dull when I listened properly, without my rose-tinted headphones, without my impassioned desire for them to be something more.
The haters don’t really hate Coldplay; they don’t realise it but they’re still in stage three of their grief at the end of Britpop, experiencing anger at it’s end and fear it will never be replaced, and laying blame (perhaps unwarranted) at Coldplay’s doorstep. (Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering) Their only crime is being a mediocre, middle-of-the-road band that has somehow convinced the world they are greater than they are, and the only thing I can think of is that, asides from the Mums and Grannies (who like that nice boy Chris Martin on the radio) and tastelessly deluded Dad-Rockers who want to stay cool, most of my generation have been conned as I have explained above. It doesn’t help that Chris Martin can be a bit of a nob sometimes and they all dress a bit funny & pretentious too.
So there it is – I don’t really hate Coldplay. They’re taking the blame really. I think they’re boring, yes, but I don’t really hate them.
Of course, things have changed a great deal now. MySpace, iTunes and Spotify have significantly altered how we consume music nowadays and I don’t think there will ever be a universally unifying movement for a generation quite like Britpop again – it’s a singles culture powered by the lightening fast consumption power of the almighty Internet. That’s fine; there’s something for everyone now, we can all now feel like we belong to something like I did in the 90s, but on a smaller scale. There’s been some great bands over the years since then keeping the ‘Indie’ sound alive, but it will never be the same as 1995 and it will be hard to get to acceptance. Until then Coldplay will have to take its lumps…
Key Ultimate Playlist tracks of note – 90s Brit Indie & Britpop
1. “Round Are Way”, Oasis (The Masterplan)
2. “The Riverboat Song”, Ocean Colour Scene (Moseley Shoals)
3. “End of a Century”, Blur (Parklife)
4. “Neighbourhood”, Space (Spiders)
5. “Common People”, Pulp (Different Class)
6. “Hey Dude”, Kula Shaker (K)
7. “Richard III”, Supergrass (In It For The Money)
8. “Get Myself Arrested”, Gomez (Bring It On)
9. “Nobody Does It Better”, Radiohead (Live cover)
10. “Nothing Ever Lasts Forever”, Echo & The Bunnymen (Evergreen)
11. “Australia”, Manic Street Preachers (Everything Must Go)
12. “Bittersweet Symphony”, The Verve (Urban Hymns)
Key Ultimate Playlist tracks of note – Post-Britpop & Garage Rock
1. “Yellow”, Coldplay (Parachutes)
2. “Dreaming of You” The Coral (The Coral)
3. “Good Souls”, Starsailor (Love Is Here)
4. “New York City Cops”, The Strokes (Is This It)
5. “Painkiller”, Turn Brakes (Ether Song)
6. “Take the Long Road and Walk It”, The Music (The Music)
7. “New Born”, Muse (Origins of Symmetry)