How does the rock band Coldplay contribute to a conversation regarding their community? What is Coldplay's community?
When Coldplay lead vocalist and songwriter Chris Martin referred to his band’s music as “limestone rock” to contrast it with the more conventional category of “hard rock,” he may have been suggesting that Coldplay’s lyrics and music were more complex and multidimensional than is the case with most other musical groups. If so, one could legitimately challenge his claim. Coldplay has been commercially enormously popular, and relatively successful from a critical perspective. The question was unclear regarding the “community” to which it refers, as categorizations of a musical group like Coldplay could involve musical categories, or it could refer to the group’s self-defined role as a charitable and socially active organization. Coldplay could logically be considered a pop group, and its lyrics, including those of its most popular songs, do not seem to strive for great intellectual or emotional depth – or, if they do, they rarely achieve it. One possible exception could be “Paradise,” which tells of an unnamed “girl” whose maturation has, inevitably, removed the rose-colored glasses from her eyes, but who continues to dream of a better existence:
“When she was just a girl/She expected the world/But it flew away from her reach/So she ran away in her sleep/Dreamed of paradise . . .”
And, a case could be made for the message implicit “The Scientist,” which describes an unrequited encounter:
“Nobody said it was easy/Its such a shame for us to part/Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be this hard/Oh, take me back to the start . . .”
In a 2011 interview, Martin described the lyrics to “Paradise” as having originated with his understanding of life in New York during the 1970s and about the importance of giving voice to the “voiceless.” As he put it,
“. . . you have a boy and a girl and a group of like-minded people in a sort of George Orwell-type or Kafkasque world. But it’s hopeful, because it’s about people trying to transcend troubles.”
Martin’s efforts at placing Coldplay’s music in the community of poets and songwriters who decry the dehumanizing and repressive nature of Western societies may or may not miss the mark, depending upon one’s personal perspective.
The “community” to which Coldplay could be said to belong, then, is one of conventional soft-rock or pop. It has contributed to this particular community through its commercial and occasionally positive critical success.
The other “community” to which Coldplay could be said to belong is that of politically-active entertainers who use their commercial success to advance their political agenda. Coldplay has been an active supporter of such eminently worthy organizations as Amnesty International and Oxfam, as well as contributing both time and money to the Special Olympics and earthquake relief in Haiti. In that sense, its contribution to the community, both in terms of its charitable activities and its political activism, can be seen as substantial and meaningful.
Coldplay's community could be described, in a litteral sense, the entire musical landscape of Britian. Some of their songs (such as Viva la Vida, and Yellow) posses a sureal element that likens to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper era. Though, the deep imagery and metaphors of Coldplay are a lot less drug induced than that of the Beatles, they speak of the life and times of today's pop culture. The fact that they exist in the memory of previous British bands such as The Beatles and The Who while still paving the way for a new wave of talented British artists (like Mumford and Sons and Bastille) opens up an interesting dialog about the predicaments of being an artist of the Millenium generation. Their music reflects a search for identity that goes far beyond the scope of a single continent or generation.