Coldplay’s New Song “Midnight”

            The new song begins to play. We hear the review we’re going to write before the song is even over. That’s the instant world we live in. And you know something? It’s sorta sad.
            I remember when a song would come on the radio and the strange sounds would speak to me. Sometimes I wouldn’t know a thing about the band or the singer. All I could do was judge the song itself. I couldn’t look it up on the web or Google info on my phone. I had to simply listen to the song and let it . . . linger.
            Oh, how times have changed.
            Today, Coldplay released a new song called “Midnight.” Is it a new single? From a new album? These days does it even matter?
            For Coldplay, the answer I believe is yes. Those things do matter.
            For anybody who knows me, they realize I’m a diehard Coldplay fan. One of my books was as much a love letter to our firstborn daughter, Kylie, as it was an unabashed celebration of Coldplay’s music (Every Breath You Take). I stood ten people away from them in the center of the vast Lollapalooza crowd. They played right behind the seats my wife and I
had during the Viva La Vida tour (the C-stage—check out my blog about it). I even attempted a whole Hunger Games series of YA books around their last album (calling the heroine Paradise of course).
            So yeah, I’m a diehard.
            But it’s easy to hate Coldplay. I guess when you get that big, you get that much hatred. One of my best buddies always texts me how much he can’t stand them. It’s too easy. I tell him to be more creative.
            The thing I love about “Midnight” is the chance it’s taking. I’ve read today that it sounds like this and it’s a bad version of that. Come on. Don’t pop songs all emulate something? And can’t you take the things that move you the most and make them yours?
            That’s what I feel Coldplay does.
            Anyone who’s followed them carefully knows of their involvement with Brian Eno. But another important person who is equally important is Jon Hopkins. He makes beautiful, artful electronic music. Remember the song that opened Viva La Vida? Those warm bubbling synths that morph
into the Coldplay signature sound? That was Jon Hopkins.
            I saw on his Twitter today that yes, indeed, he was involved with some of the production of the new song.
            So yeah. So what?
            So this is why this fascinates me.
            Coldplay took a lot of heat from their last record (when do they not take heat I guess?). It was too bombastic, some said. Too produced and manipulated. And, oh dear Heavens, there was a collaboration with pop star Rhianna!
            Many people, including fans, seemed to say “Let’s get back to A Rush of Blood To The Head, guys.” And it could have been so easy, too.
            Hey—for the Catching Fire album, they did do a very traditional Coldplay song.
            But this single. They really are doing something different. Whether it sounds like whoever, it’s a remarkable departure for Coldplay.
            It continues, I believe, the exploration they really started with Viva La Vida. And despite how amazing AROBTTH happens to be, or how much I loved Mylo Xyloto, after all this time, Viva La Vida still happens to be my favorite.
            I love artists who take chances. I know what it’s like working for the big brother cooperation who sells art. When something’s working, the publisher DOES NOT WANT TO ROCK THE BOAT. Don’t change what works. That’s why you have a lot of artists get big and then seemingly coast. I know there are pressures they face that have to be incredible. Keep the dollars flowing. Keep the fans satisfied. Keep sailing. In the words of Pink Floyd, “And did we tell you the name of the game, boy? We call it Riding the Gravy Train.”
            Well, “Midnight” definitely doesn’t ride the gravy train, boy.
            Artists don’t begin to create in order to build brands and keep the crowds coming and ride the almighty gravy train. I think we all start because it’s a part of our being. We want to play with words, with colors, with sounds and shapes. We find ourselves moved by stories and songs. We feel their escape. We find their majesty.
            We try to build to emulate those passions and those practices our childhoods brought. Yet so often, life trumps our innocence and wonder. It’s too impractical to be a musician playing on the road. It’s too improbable to
support a family by writing. It’s always too much, so too often many fall by
the wayside.
            Yet for bands like Coldplay—the success stories we love to find—they surely are still growing. They’re still learning and loving and living and breathing.
            By the sounds of “Midnight”, they not coasting either. They’re not riding the gravy train.
            Whatever the new sound and the new year brings for my favorite band from London, I’m leaving a light on.
            Can’t wait to see what the night will bring.