Music Between The Lines (April 2014)

That awkward moment when you’re waiting for that epic chorus that never comes …

If you did a stocktake of the most glorious sing-a-longs since the turn of the century, you’ll find the name Coldplay pop up more than a few times, Viva La Vida, Yellow, Fix You, just to name a few.

But recently, Coldplay pulled a Beyonce and released a new song called Midnight on the back of a couple of random gifs on their Facebook page. The internet went into mass confusion. The general tone of the debate was “What is this? Is this a tribute to Imogen Heap? and what have they done with Bon Iver?” Midnight is a beautiful song, it’s a beautiful song that doesn’t have that signature Coldplay chorus. The video is also pretty bizarre, undercooked and looks a little like someone’s popped the night vision filter on iMovie. But it does sound dated. For a band that has spent most of its career mastering the art of creating timeless pop songs, Midnight does sound like a song from the year 2014 … correction 2007. Here we have problem number one.

Initially, I refused to believe that Midnight would be the lead single off the band’s next album and I was right. A few days later they released the actual lead single off the album called Magic to which I thought ‘This is mildly interesting but this is not going to work’ and then I got worried. The first 30 seconds of Magic shows so much promise, but the quartet end up resorting to the same tried and tested tricks, singing a bunch of ‘oooohs’ in falsetto. Problem number two.

Lead singer Chris Martin has admitted to having a crippling addiction to the sound of 60,000 people singing along the words he’s written, which is odd because neither of the first two songs to be released off their forthcoming album Ghost Stories is stadium worthy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to sound understated, but having spent the good part of the last decade attempting to sound progressively bigger has meant their fan base are accustomed to a certain listening experience. For a band of such commercial success to make a quiet and understated record is gonna mean trouble. When U2 did it in the 1990’s they were sent to the music wilderness before they came back with Beautiful Day.

Maybe the most worrying sign that things are turning for the worse came at a recent iTunes show. Having loved Coldplay for many years, I’ve become quite familiar with the format of these pre-album launch shows. Usually it’s a greatest hits set list injected with a few new songs. Now the normal practice is that these new songs are eventually released as singles off the new album. Coldplay fans, I have some news, it’s not looking good. They didn’t play too much that was new, but none of it was exciting and the worst part was that the band looked barely interested.

Releasing a lead single like Magic, two and a half months before the actual release of the album, is a pretty long lead up, so there’s a chance they’re holding off on showing all their cards.  To top it off, it recently came to light that Chris Martin is going to be some special executive coach on the U.S version of The Voice. Now I don’t have a problem with The Voice, but Chris … you don’t have to do this! Your last album sold close to 10 million copies. The Voice is for other people! Not you! You don’t have to do this!!

All the signs are pointing to either one of two things. Either Coldplay have really lost their way, or these guys are that far ahead of the curve we’re gonna be blindsided when it really arrives. Lets hope it’s the latter, because I love this band and my world is better when Coldplay are making great music.

Kog Ravindran is a writer, occasionally sings for Melbourne band, The Scarecrows and currently has his debut solo EP Barricades out in the world. Find out all about him at or check him out on Triple J Unearthed.