June 5, 2005


The Case Against Coldplay (JON PARELES, 6/05/05, NY Times)

THERE'S nothing wrong with self-pity. As a spur to songwriting, it's right up there with lust, anger and greed, and probably better than the remaining deadly sins. There's nothing wrong, either, with striving for musical grandeur, using every bit of skill and studio illusion to create a sound large enough to get lost in. Male sensitivity, a quality that's under siege in a pop culture full of unrepentant bullying and machismo, shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, no matter how risible it can be in practice. And building a sound on the lessons of past bands is virtually unavoidable.

But put them all together and they add up to Coldplay, the most insufferable band of the decade.

This week Coldplay releases its painstakingly recorded third album, "X&Y" (Capitol), a virtually surefire blockbuster that has corporate fortunes riding on it. (The stock price plunged for EMI Group, Capitol's parent company, when Coldplay announced that the album's release date would be moved from February to June, as it continued to rework the songs.)

"X&Y" is the work of a band that's acutely conscious of the worldwide popularity it cemented with its 2002 album, "A Rush of Blood to the Head," which has sold three million copies in the United States alone. Along with its 2000 debut album, "Parachutes," Coldplay claims sales of 20 million albums worldwide. "X&Y" makes no secret of grand ambition.

Clearly, Coldplay is beloved: by moony high school girls and their solace-seeking parents, by hip-hop producers who sample its rich instrumental sounds and by emo rockers who admire Chris Martin's heart-on-sleeve lyrics. The band emanates good intentions, from Mr. Martin's political statements to lyrics insisting on its own benevolence. Coldplay is admired by everyone - everyone except me.

No band can be great that appeals to teen girls, because all great rock tunes are misogynistic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 5, 2005 10:46 AM

This is how square I am: up until this moment I've never heard of Coldplay.

Posted by: Governor Breck at June 5, 2005 10:58 AM

the Dead Kennedys are dead, man.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2005 11:03 AM

"why don't you try and please me, with what you know it should be easy" Sir Mick Jagger

Posted by: at June 5, 2005 11:32 AM

cabana boy likes the dead kennedy's too; "Holiday In Cambodia" especially

Posted by: at June 5, 2005 11:34 AM

I know nothing about Coldplay and I have never heard their music. Furthermore I regard "Rock Critics" as guys who open walnuts with sledgehammers. Nonetheless, the best sentence of the article was terrific:

"I hear a passive-aggressive blowhard, immoderately proud as he flaunts humility. "I feel low," he announces in the chorus of "Low," belied by the peak of a crescendo that couldn't be more triumphant about it."

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 5, 2005 2:51 PM

OK, I'm listening to I Wanna Hold Your Hand in my head. Since all great rock songs are misogynistic, I know there has to be some woman-hatin' anguish in there somewhere. Maybe the way Lennon sings I can't hide as though his head was about to explode?

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 5, 2005 3:07 PM

the Beatles were bubble gum rockers. Their only highlight was Lennon's head exploding.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2005 4:04 PM

oj. Just letting you know that the comments section in the three previous posts won't open.

Posted by: erp at June 5, 2005 4:46 PM

Thanks! I'm cleaning up old drafts and they're so old comments were closed...

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2005 4:54 PM

Four words about "great rock=misogyny": Dickie Betts. Blue Sky.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 5, 2005 7:12 PM

Four more: Elvis. All Shook Up.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 5, 2005 7:27 PM

Elvis's great tune is Suspicious Minds.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2005 7:35 PM

And Dickie Betts' was "Ramblin Man".

Posted by: Patrick H at June 5, 2005 7:55 PM

Suspicious Minds is a ballad. Ah, I see, Great=Can't Dance to It. Brilliant strategy there oh whitest rock critic in the western hemisphere.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 5, 2005 7:57 PM

So we agree: all great misogynistic rock is misogynistic. Glad we settled that.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 5, 2005 8:00 PM

if you can dance to it it's not a rock tune--may as well strike up a waltz.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2005 8:23 PM

any zep fans in here ?

Posted by: at June 5, 2005 8:25 PM


misogynistic rock is, of course, redundant.

Posted by: oj at June 5, 2005 8:41 PM

anon: Lez Zeppelin?

oj: By definition, eh? Oscar Mayer on that.

Posted by: ghostcat at June 5, 2005 9:01 PM

If you can dance to it it's not a rock tune

Bar nothing that's the stupidest thing you've ever said. No, wait, that's the stupidest thing anyone's ever said.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 5, 2005 9:29 PM

Well, joe, at least we're beginning to understand oj's curious criteria for "great rock music".

Posted by: ghostcat at June 5, 2005 9:59 PM

I've only listened to about 1 minute of Clodplay.

You call that "Rock"?

Posted by: BB at June 6, 2005 12:17 AM

For misogyny, see "Paradise by the Dashboard light"

Posted by: BB at June 6, 2005 12:18 AM

A little less conversation, a little more action...

Posted by: Elvis Presley at June 6, 2005 1:07 AM

ghostcat: i hope that was a typo

Posted by: cjm at June 6, 2005 1:38 AM

cjm -

Ya mean "Lez" Zeppelin? No typo, that. They are a female Led Zeppelin tribute band. Have not heard them, but have read that they're a reasonable facsimile of the real thing. Of course, our host thinks the real thing was overrated. (They met all his criteria for a great band, save one ... chicks dug 'em.)

Posted by: ghostcat at June 6, 2005 2:02 AM

ghostcat: gotcha; now that does sound interesting, thanks for the tip. so oj no longer appreciates the mighty zepplin, shame about that.

Posted by: cjm at June 6, 2005 10:07 AM

You call that "Rock"?

Saw this on Fark:

"Cream reunites in concert. For those of you under 40: Cream was Eric Clapton's old band. Under 30: Clapton was once a big rock star. And for you under 20: Rock was a kind of music they used to play on the radio."

Posted by: Benjamin at June 6, 2005 10:30 AM

Clapton was a bluesman-wannabe

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2005 11:31 AM


Yeah, Clapton can't play. Hard to be authentic when you're a pasty faced British lad. 99.9 % of contemporary rock is boring crap.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at June 6, 2005 11:50 AM

nothing's changed

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2005 11:54 AM

Not all good rock is misogynistic OJ. Some great rock is misandrogynistic as well. David Bowie is one of the all time greats.

Posted by: Shelton at June 6, 2005 12:51 PM

Tim Thomerson's Bowie parody finished him.

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2005 1:13 PM