Coldplay scour German catalogs of 70s in their epic quest to make bland pop

Matt Boyd

Coldplay, as has been demonstrated, is a band academically committed to their craft. It seems like they put in a lot of time at their desks finding new material they can transform into their trademark fair-to-middling low-tempo crap. In addtion to the example cited in the link above, one might recall their use of the infectious riff from Kraftwerk's “Computer Love” in the 2005 XY song “Talk” as another, for the purposes of this article, more applicable example of their commitment to research.

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I imagine these ordinary boys in a drafty old music library presided over by a shadowy Shadow Stevens or the leathern shade of Kasey Kasem, pulling a dusty and mildewed record off the shelf in the Kraut section of the music library of Babel in search of ideas for their new record. And I imagine them glancing at it for maybe a second before declaring yep, that's it, this is the one that guy was talking about, before departing again to their posh flats to lavish their interest and attention on their expensive millions.

What the hell am I talking about? Please observe.

This is the cover of influential German percussionist Klaus Dinger's band La Düsseldorf's second album, Viva!, beside the cover of culturally stabilizing (and hopefully actually breaking up next year) pop band Coldplay's most recent record, Viva la Vida:

It is very cool that someone (XY collaborator Brian Eno, perhaps?) turned the members of Coldplay on to all the music that Brian Eno indirectly taught people like me (and many of his collaborators in addition to Coldplay) to appreciate. The members of Coldplay obviously have very good taste in music, and can recognize when someone is giving them a hot tip. They began as a low-calorie alternative to Radiohead, after all, one of the most innovative and influential bands to emerge in my lifetime. I can appreciate that they would be similarly wowed by the completely awesome sound and aesthetic that emerged in Germany in the 70s. But, can you hear that? Yes, it's quite distinct: I don't want to give the band too much credit, but pasting the Coldplay brand over the trappings of a past innovation (like putting a pillow over the airholes of a venerable loved one?) sounds a lot like music history screeching to a disinterested halt.

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