Suck it haters, I really like Coldplay’s new song, “Magic,” the first single from its new album, Ghost Stories. The song is so good, in fact, that it recently inspired an impassioned defense of the often-ridiculed-by-the-cool-kids band by Stereogum’s Chris Deville.
When your debut album sounds less like a spongy facsimile of Bends-era Radiohead than a facsimile of Travis, themselves a spongy facsimile of Bends-era Radiohead, you invite ridicule. When you and your movie-star wife name your child Apple, you invite ridicule. When your band dresses up like French revolutionaries and/or the Beatles, not just for promo photos but interviews too, you invite ridicule. And when you release a concept album about “the story of a war against sound and color by a supremacist government” and call it Mylo Xyloto, you have come to embody the very essence of ridiculousness.
But as Chuck Klosterman explained in his 2002 essay collection Sex, Drugs, And Cocoa Puffs, it’s one thing to be cool and another thing entirely to be great. Klosterman presented Billy Joel as the evidence for his theory: Joel “has no intrinsic coolness, and he has no extrinsic coolness,” but as a songwriter he’s responsible for a baffling number of modern classics. Thus, Klosterman concluded, “there is absolutely no relationship between Joel’s greatness and Joel’s coolness (or lack thereof), just as there’s no relationship between the ’greatness’ of serving in World War II and the ’coolness’ of serving in World War II.” Ironically, in the first chapter of the same book, Klosterman goes on a rant about how much Coldplay sucks, a position he recanted in 2013′s I Wear The Black Hat. This wasn’t his rationale, but logically, he had every reason to revise his anti-Coldplay stance because Coldplay is exactly the same as Billy Joel. The fact that they are perilously uncool has no bearing on their greatness. And it’s time we all agreed that Coldplay is great.
That said, Coldplay may not be cool, but this video — which features Chris Martin as a silent-film era magician’s assistant — is quite cool. Sadly, however, at no point does Gwyneth Paltrow’s head appear in a box or a clear purse. Enjoy!