The e-mail response was strong to my brilliant and well informed tirade about Radiohead last week. Strong, in fact, to the tune of about five hundred e-mails. I certainly didn’t do anything more than skim over most of it, but let me say this: Radiohead fans are certainly prolific writers. If I edited together every half-baked defense of Radiohead that I received, and these accounted for a few hundred of those e-mails, I would come up with a document roughly the same length as the Bible, but with nearly twice as many instances of the word “cunt” (And, lo, the cunt sayeth, "Thou art a cunt, Joshua."). These e-mails ranged from thoughtful and well-written counterpoints to what I had written, which I certainly didn’t appreciate, to hilarious moron-stew like this:
yes well i think your a tone deaf simpleton who probably gets off on the homo erotic likes of korn or bands like it you probably are a music envyist and cant play a single note and is jealous of bands with talent of obvious proportion your brain most likely cant handle anything remotely off the wall i feel sorry for your kind ya know the ones who cant handle more than three chords the bands that are to illiterate to work electronics and cant even write more than one song because they only know three chords so they have to play the songs backwards to write another song you suck WHO EVER YOU ARE RADIOHEAD FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER FOREVER
I find it staggering and ridiculous that so many people could be so amazingly lame that they’d be willing to spend hundreds of combined man-hours writing letters to a guy that they disagreed with on the Internet. What’s even more amazing is that so many of them also believed that they could change my mind with their long-winded ranting, or even make me feel bad by calling me a pretentious, possibly homosexual, loser. Just to throw a little bone to those people, who apparently believe every word that they read: it worked you guys, I now love Radiohead and I’m going into therapy for my crippling neuroses.
You will notice that if we replace the microphone with a ribbon being broken, Thom Yorke appears to be winning the special olympics.
Next to abusive Radiohead apologists, the second most frequent e-mails I received were those requesting that I reveal my favorite band. Well, I told you that you’d never heard of them, but I’ll tell you anyway. My favorite band is Egyptian Head, who cut four LPs on Argyle Records between 1979 and 1985. I strongly encourage the philistines who read this column to stay far, far away from that band, because they could never hope to understand them. Go find their third record, Pure Sophistication, at a used record store. And don’t come whining to me for mp3s, because you’re not getting them.
Quite a number of pathetic, jealous, small-minded people also e-mailed me to call into question my qualifications as a doctor and a scientist. Some of them even made the ridiculous argument that the fact that I’m a NASA scientist doesn’t automatically make me an expert on music. First of all, I have doctorates in both music and physics from a very prestigious semi-accredited university. Secondly, NASA was built on Rock and Roll; from the first time Neil Armstrong did the Chuck Berry duck-walk on the moon to this very day when Cheap Trick can be heard blasting from Houston’s intercom systems, music has always been the driving force behind our ambition. You’d better believe that every time I climb into my forklift to tote some super-important piece of space shuttle crap across the NASA warehouse, the first thing I do is turn up the tape deck full blast.
But enough about me, let’s get to the real reason you came to this page. You want me to continue educating you on exactly what not to like. I’d like to thank you all for your suggestions about which bands I should angrily lampoon, except for all the contemptible nerds who asked me to talk about hideous dork-rock like Dream Theater. Honestly, who listens to that shit? The band I picked this week shares one thing in common with Radiohead: they suck. Well, two things in common I suppose: they suck and they’re amazingly over-hyped. Actually, technically, I guess they have a lot of things in common, because both bands are made up of pale, white, morose British people with obvious social problems. Without further ado:
Last week I made fun of Radiohead and now I’m making fun of Coldplay. Isn’t that like making fun of Dick Van Dyke and then making fun of Jerry Van Dyke the next week? It seems like a significant step down, so I hope I’m not wasting my considerable talents. Anyway, the first time I saw Coldplay I honestly wasn’t sure if they were a joke. Allow me to explain. A few years ago, before they hit it big, they were featured as performers on NME’s Carling Awards show, which is known for such feats of critical genius as giving out awards nobody cares about and always giving Primal Scream awards, even if they haven’t released anything in three years.
Between the segments featuring the greasy, simian drunks of NME’s staff giving awards to the greasy, simian drunks of the British music world, they brought a new band called Coldplay on the stage to perform. The instant they started, I was convinced that it was some sort of joke set up by NME to make fun of indie music. The singer was a laughably lugubrious donkey-faced 15-year-old and the music was a watered-down pastiche of Ride or early Radiohead; even the name of the band could be easily mistaken for a jab at the gloomy fog-rock that had dominated British music in the past years. If it wasn’t some sort of a clever joke, I thought, then Rock and Roll music was doomed. To save my sanity, I chose to believe it was a parody.
A face that even a mother could punch.
Imagine my surprise and dismay when I heard the very same song on the radio here in the States a few months later. I learned that it was called Yellow, and the singer was not, in fact, 15 years old. He really was just a nerdy, earnest man with a piano who wanted to tell me of his pain through the medium of tedious, leaden, derivative ballads. I was rather confused as to why American audiences largely rejected the comparatively lively British music of the 90s but were so taken with such mediocre, joyless, and uninspired pap. Then I remembered that the last British guitar band to hit it really huge over here was Oasis. Not just any Oasis, but Oasis in whiny balladeer mode, a la Wonderwall. Could it be that the ridiculously fickle American pop audience was subconsciously looking for, of all things, a surrogate Oasis? I honestly wouldn’t put it past them, since they were stupid enough to fall for Oasis the first time.
Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes, didn’t quite catapult them into the realm of true stardom. It did, however, produce the aforementioned Yellow, a single which was bland and uncontroversial enough to appear comfortably beside Creed and 98 Degrees on Now! Volume 6. Parachutes also featured the modern rock radio downer Trouble, which was more of the same sad-bastardism and unnecessary falsetto, but this time with graceless, repetitive piano playing to add some variety.
Their first album may have been mildly troublesome, but the year 2002 is when Coldplay really began to get ridiculously irritating. They released an album entitled “A Rush of Blood to the Head,” which describes the all-too-frequent physical sensation of shame that lead singer Chris Martin gets when he wakes up in a pool of his own urine. The first single from the record was In My Place, a slightly peppier number in which Martin goes into full-blown poet mode to make such bold pronouncements as “Yeah” and “Oh Yeah.” It should also be noted that this song seemingly samples the first twenty seconds of Ride’s Dreams Burn Down and runs them through some sort of studio “weak-sauce pussy-filter.”
The second single, the one which makes most of us click off our radios like they were playing a tape of our parents having sex, was The Scientist. You might argue that so far I’ve been expressing my own highly subjective opinions on music and nothing I say can be regarded as concrete, but I think I can state this as fact: The Scientist is a terrible song. It is empirically terrible. I’d go get the special NASA Super-Objective Terrible-Meter we invented to prove it, but you’re probably not smart enough to understand the readouts anyway.
The instrumentation of the song is not just weak, it’s frustratingly awful. The piano slowly shits out chords without any style or feeling. It’s not like we expect Elton John to hop out in a Donald Duck costume and boogie down, but perhaps he could have injected some sort of melody in the piano line. An acoustic guitar jumps in after the first chorus to remind us that we’re listening to a ballad, and it too just bangs out the chords. After the second chorus an electric guitar is added to remind us that we’re listening to a “modern rock band” and not our mother’s Joan Baez records. Guess what this electric guitar does? Nothing, of course! Neither of them adds any sort of tune, or any counterpoint to the vocals. They're just there, as if by force of habit.
And the vocals themselves, which carry the song, are totally devoid of any emotion other than some sort of lethargic wistful melancholy. The lyrics are typical, clichéd, inarticulate sad-parting-song bullshit, and he sings them with such incredible, unmusical lameness that I can't help wonder why he didn't just write them down and hand them out to us instead. The man should not trust himself as an interpreter of his own songs. He is clearly without the slightest idea of how to sing a song, so he just plops out his lyrics with as much gusto as a suicidal salesman making his final vacuum cleaner pitch.
Keep that mouth of yours closed, you shit.
The worst part of this whole terrible fiasco is that it’s made Coldplay famous. Famous as in dating-Gwynneth-Paltrow-and-getting-namedropped-by-Kelly-Osbourne famous. Famous enough that I know the lead singer’s name, and I have to see his stubbly horse-face on television and in magazines. The terrible side-effect of this is that they apparently want to use this newfound fame to kill rock and roll entirely and permanently, as evidenced by this news story from futureforests.com:
You loved the album 'A Rush of Blood to the Head' - Now help make it Carbon Neutral!
Coldplay are not only one of the best bands in the world, they are also committed to saving the world! Coldplay has joined with Future Forests in the fight to prevent climate changes by planting 10,000 Mango trees in Karnataka, India.
The trees provide fruit for trade and local consumption and over their lifetime will soak up the carbon dioxide emitted by the production and distribution of Coldplay's best selling album 'A Rush of Blood to the Head' .
Well, that’s just fine and dandy if you’re Al Goddamned Gore, but come on, these pathetic bastards are supposed to be a rock band! Even those shitheads Oasis knew enough about their responsibilities to at least feel up a few stewardesses and throw some televisions out of hotel windows. But instead of doing this, Coldplay is performing CHARMING GESTURES OF ECOLOGICAL COMPASSION! In turn, this will make the desperate-to-be-hip 35-year-olds with goatees and flat-front Gap khakis even queerer for Coldplay, which will make Coldplay more famous, which will make them richer and more able to continue to put out utterly worthless albums and make us more likely to turn on the radio and hear the brain-numbing dance remix of “Clocks.” God help us all.
As usual, if you have any dumbshit opinions about my column, you can keep them to your dumbshit self. If you have any suggestions regarding more bands for me to verbally abuse, you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to tell me that I’m a genius, keep in mind that I already know.