Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Short Ode to Coldplay

*This piece was originally written for an NYU class and turned in as part of my personal schoolwork.*

One of the most vivid memories I have as a child is of my dad playing various tapes ranging from Bach to Verdi as I played with my wooden toys and building blocks on the living room floor. Growing up, I would joke to my friends that my dad’s love for classical music transcended time, helping foster a similar interest in classical music that I still maintain. Some of my favorite classical composers include Tchaikovsky, Puccini and Rachmaninoff.

Although I still listen to classical music pretty obsessively, my music taste expanded drastically over the years. In middle school, I began listening to hip hop and pop, as those were the genres what everyone else in my grade enjoyed listening to. Sophomore year of high school, I moved from Akon, Little Wayne, Ne-Yo, Jesse McCartney, Britney Spears and Fergie to indie and alternative rock bands. My current Spotify playlists consist of Artic Monkeys, Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend, Lana Del Rey, The Temper Trap, Two Door Cinema Club, Alt-J and many, many more.

Over the course of my musical evolution, one particular band stole a place in my heart in 2009, and continues to hold that place even now. The first Coldplay song I ever heard was “Clocks” from their 2002 album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Ann Powers explains in her “Reflections of a Bowie Girl” article, “this music tackled big, universal emotions in language and musical hooks that were more inclusive than confrontational." That’s exactly how I felt when I listened to “Clocks," a sublime sort of feeling that overwhelmed and surprised me in ways that other bands and artists had not before. Coldplay stood by me all throughout my teenage years. When I think of my first love whom I met my senior year of high school, I still hear the opening chords of “Lovers in Japan” circa 2008. When my first love walked out of my life the summer after my freshman year of college, I fell asleep to the notes of “Fix You” on tear-stained pillows. When I landed my first internship, I rejoiced to “Viva La Vida”, and just last semester while I was abroad, “Yellow” and “Paradise” made various appearances on our road trip playlist while we drove a long and exhilarating 12 hours through the Swiss alps, from Florence, Italy to Vienna, Austria.

As I look back on Coldplay now, I can definitely say that their music has changed since the early 2000s, both emotionally and stylistically. Although I appreciate Coldplay just as much as I did back in 2009—if not more—I can hear differences in tone and style from album to album. Coldplay’s newest album—A Head Full of Dreams—which they just released in December 2015, offers optimistic sounds and lyrics starting with the first song’s ethereal chords, upbeat drumming and lead singer, Chris Martin, chanting: “Oh, I think I landed, in a world I hadn't seen…” Whereas the dark melodies and heartbreaking lyrics found in Coldplay’s previous album—Ghost Stories—were supposedly inspired by Martin’s separation with ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, their newest album is innovative and suggests an attitude of hope and wonder. I would not have been able to make observations like these without knowing Coldplay’s history and without having grown up listening to Coldplay’s earlier songs. I also wouldn’t have been able to make these observations had I not matured as a listener and person myself.

Just as our music tastes and interests change, a musician, composer or band’s sound constantly grows and evolves, and we can clearly hear those differences reflected in their work.

For more Coldplay, check out this comprehensive article from Main Events Special with concert schedules, studio albums, tours, facts and more!