John Harris

Journalist & Author

Coldplay: how can something so banal be so powerful? | John Harris

There is a context to the band’s huge success. The worse life gets, the more they seek to reassure us

One should always hesitate before quoting the words from pop songs. Obviously, lyrics are not written as poetry; in the absence of music, even Bob Dylan’s words can occasionally seem like the work of a chump. But sometimes the temptation becomes overwhelming.

Take, for example, Up & Up, the closing song on the latest Coldplay album, A Head Full Of Dreams, which came out on 4 December. Its second verse runs as follows: “Lying in the gutter, aiming for the moon / Trying to empty out the ocean with a spoon … How come people suffer, how come people part? / How come people struggle, how come people break your heart?” I don’t know what that riot of mixed metaphor and cheap sentiment means; its chief author, Chris Martin, probably doesn’t either. But whatever: as the song tumbles to its climax and massed voices assure us that “we’re gonna get it together”, you can hear the stuff of assured international success.

Related: Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams review – a failure to commit to pop

Related: How I came to terms with my Coldplay fandom

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