In my job here at the Bum Receptacle, I’ve taken on the duty of reporting to you what exactly it is that makes people horrible. Whether it be people judging others’ taste in music or movies, me judging your taste in music or movies or why exactly certain people are allowed to exist (I’m talking to you, Spencer, you flesh-bearded cockbag), I’ve joyously bitched and snarked and it’s been rewarding and lovely.
But now, I must turn to you, gentle reader. I have questions that require answers. I wonder and I need to no longer do that because it’s very time consuming and makes my eyes go all crossed and wonky. So I need you to tell me, once and for all, why exactly it is that I’m not supposed to like Coldplay.
There are things in this life that are hated. Believe me, I have hated and I’ve hated good and hard. And I’ve made a good solid case against everything I’ve presented. Twilight = cheese with a fucked up and damaging view of teenage relationships. Jon and Kate = terrible parents, one of whom possesses a heart as dark and cavernous as her terrifying womb. People who don’t appreciate Patrick Swayze = just so wrong … so, so wrong.
Then there are things that at least half of everyone hates. Like Nickelback or Dane Cook. It’s about equal, the hate-dom vs. the fandom. And the fans can’t understand why anyone would dislike such a vibrant and creative comedian, or such an innovative rock band, whereas the haters can’t understand why these entities have fans, but the explanation is not very nice and usually involves a dismissive “well, there’s a lot of dumb people in the world” type of answer, which I’m sparing you, because I’m being nice and on this particular day, when it comes to this particular item of discussion, I’m on Team Dumb People.
Coldplay is one of the biggest bands in the world. Huge. Bombastic swelling choruses that just feel important. Lyrics that can appeal to everyone. Chris Martin’s palsy’d dancing and movements (seriously, is that new? I really don’t think he was doing that before this latest album. Is it part of his weird French Revolutionary thing he’s doing now?). And while it seems everyone loves them, thus making them so huge and popular, people HATE them. Note the capitalized letters. That means I’m talking serious business here. Because people HATE them. And yet, I’ve never really heard it explained.
Chuck Klosterman once wrote that Coldplay is a shitty ripoff of Travis, and Travis a ripoff of Radiohead. Now, Travis is my favorite band ever of all time. I know their every song inside and out, and I don’t get the comparison. That said, I’m not really good with musical comparisons. After Ben Folds mentioned that he ripped himself off and that “Mess” and “Ascent of Stan” are basically the same song, I listened to them back to back like 20 times and never heard anything remotely similar. It’s just not how my ears or brain seem to work. So you’ve already lost me there.
Is it the Braff connection? My first ever HoboTrashcan article was about this very phenomenon (memories, like the corners of my mind, you guys). Garden State, like Juno later and like I fear will be the case with Away We Go, was the big indie hit that just took over everything. It was a smallish cool movie that everyone enjoyed, so naturally people started hating it, because when other people like it, it somehow stops being indie. That, and word came that Zach Braff was a bit of a Creepster Magoo. The Shins still suffer The Braff Effect. Is Coldplay a victim of the same fate?
Is it the popularity thing? Is this just yet another case of people attacking a band because they’re super rich and popular and married to the mistress of GOOP? To me, that’s the most logical explanation. I mean, Coldplay has often been called the U2 for our generation (because actual U2 just isn’t cutting it anymore). My theory is that most of the people who hate Coldplay so much were too young when U2 got huge, and if they’d been around circa 1982 (and been of actual listening to and getting music age), maybe they’d have said the same thing about them.
I’m not a music critic, which I’ve shown over and over in this very article. I love music. I listen to it a lot, often in large quantities. But I can’t really “talk music” like other people can. I tend to not know what the fuck I’m talking about. I can’t describe a sound. I don’t feel the need to bust out vinyl or wax philosophical on obscure bands from the late 60s and how they led to all music today. I just know what I like and what I don’t.
And that’s kind of where you come in. I mean, Klosterman knows what he’s talking about. The man knows his shit, knows how to articulate it and like most things that that he says, I would love to just trust him on this one. But in this one instance, I can’t. Because I think they’re good and I want to know why they aren’t.
I’ve spoken before about my confusion regarding the guilty pleasure concept. I still don’t understand why people say things like “I love Nada Surf and I don’t care who knows it” because I kind of thought we all like Nada Surf, or when I see Travis on guilty-pleasure-pussy-white-man band lists with Matchbox 20, or why I rarely talk about how much I love Jimmy Eat World. If they were movies or actors, I’d be able to articulate my feelings. But I can’t do it with music. And as confused as I am when it comes to the guilty pleasures, I’m way more confused by the outright hate.
Help me be helped by you. Teach me.
Courtney Enlow is a writer living in Chicago and working as a corporate shill to pay the bills. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.