Thursday, June 19, 2008

Angst Rock

This post began as a discussion of the new album Viva La Vida by Colplay and of the band itself. I saw an online photo of the famous painting used as the backdrop and (without googling) my internal monologue told me the painting was Liberty Leading the Way by Eugene DelaCroix (1832) in praise of the 1830 Paris riots. The image having been implanted in my middlebrow brain when I visited the Louvre in 2000. Anyway I was ready to slam Coldplay for the cheesy use of such an iconic painting because their graffiti style title name covered the exposed bare bosom of Liberty. Whether the it does or not is now irrelavant to this post.

Of course, Gwyneth Paltrow, wife of Coldplay's lead singer, describes the album as "brillant".


In Jan 2003, I deployed to England, JAC Molesworth. Besides the fact England has some town names, which to an American ear, just have an odd ring to them (Catworth, Stow Longa, Thrapston, Alconbury, GODMANCHESTER) Coldplay was entering the bigtime with their second album release. I heard it and I liked it and I bought it. Due to a confluence of personal events, the intellectually stultifying and mentally depressing atmosphere of the Corpse itself I was not very happy during 2003 so I found myself listening to "Sad Rock" quite often.

As an aside I still wonder if mankind listens to sad and emotionally depressing music because they are already unhappy or if the music itself pushes one into a depressed mood. I think it's a combination and it varies from individual to individual. However, I think one can create and nourish "negative" brain pathways forming a happy or sad personality through repeated exposure.

Back to Coldplay. I liked the album but while I was in Danelaw I realized I've heard this music before back in the 90's! Radiohead. The Bends and OK Computer capitalized on the Angst ridden music scene of the 90's. Of course, it wasn't that Radiohead capitalized on the 90's genre by being cliche but due to their complex and impressive musical talents.

So, the question is why is Coldplay such a huge group today? I think it has something to due with Susan Jacoby's thesis from The Age of American Unreason. People have allowed themselves to become intellectually lazy and Coldplay resonates because they have the patina of a highly impressive band which the musically elite and those with a cultured ear would listen to.

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