Posts Tagged ‘Coldplay’

*SPOILERS AHEAD FOR TV SHOWS FROM THE EARLY 2000s*

TV series have a way of getting you emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, and music plays a huge role in this connection. I’m not talking about the theme song, or the score. I’m talking about those tracks that perfectly capture that monumental scene, such that they are forever associated. You can’t think of one without thinking of the other. Here are my top picks. (Note: these were the ones that most resonated with me, based only on TV shows I’ve watched over the years.)

Alias – S02E14, 2003

“God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” – by Coldplay

The premise: a thriller-drama about a female super spy turned double agent, Sydney Bristow (aka Jennifer Garner.) The story lines, characters, plot twists, and all the lies, were all so well woven together in this show.

The scene: Sydney and her CIA-handler beau Vaughn (played by the dashingly handsome Michael Vartan) are hanging out at her place, making dinner. But the food never makes it to the table, because they decide to get distracted by their physical attraction to each other.

Why it makes the list: a seemingly innocuous scene where nothing actually happens. Except they’ve had such a will-they-won’t-they relationship thus far, and in this scene, it seems everything is finally perfect. They’re so into each other, they can’t contain it; you can see it in their eyes, their body language, their faces. You can feel the heat between them. This track is a fantastic choice for this scene, because it has just the right amount of sexy and excitement, mirroring exactly what’s happening on screen.

 

Grey’s Anatomy – S02E17, 2006

“Breathe (2AM)” by Anna Nalick 

The premise: a medical drama. I have no idea how/why it’s still on the air 14 (!) seasons later. I cut ties after season 2, because I just couldn’t anymore. Meredith’s face never stopped pouting, George’s hair got obnoxiously curly, and don’t even get me started on the Izzie/Denny story line.

The scene: somehow, Meredith (aka Ellen Pompeo) got herself in a predicament where she was holding on to a bomb inside a patient’s chest cavity. If she let go, it would go off, so she had to slowly remove it, and hand it over to hunky, green-eyed bomb squad leader (ie Kyle Chandler, ie Coach Taylor.)

Why it makes this list: in spite of the show’s shortcomings, its earlier seasons were actually pretty good. Anything went. People died, bad stuff happened. This scene is incredibly intense. That bomb could go off any second. Yet this airy, light pop track is playing in the background, for a supposed calming effect. It’s a perfect distraction, making what happens next completely unexpected. I haven’t been able to trust this song since.

 

Scrubs – S08E19, 2009

“The Book of Love” – by Peter Gabriel 

The premise: a medical comedy that follows 4 friends, JD (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison),  Elliott (Sarah Chalke) and Carla (Judy Espinosa) as they navigate through life, evolving from lost puppies, to strong women/men in charge, all while maintaining their friendships.

The scene: JD finishes his last day at the hospital, walks out and in front of him he sees glimpses of his possible future projected on a movie screen. A montage of yet-to-come events, to the backdrop of this beautiful song.

Why it makes this list: “Scrubs” was one those shows that was kind of like having a best friend around at all times. The characters felt real, their friendships felt real, the love felt real. JD is the sappy, cheesy type, so this finale fit him perfectly. I’d never heard this song prior to watching this episode; now whenever I hear it, this scene is all I see.

 

Six Feet Under – S05E12, 2005

“Breathe Me” by Sia 

The premise: the story of the Fisher family, who owned, lived and worked in their funeral home. Warning: this is a heavy show. It’s dark, raw, emotional, slow and also very well done (just don’t try and binge watch all 5 seasons – it’s too tough.)

The scene: the series finale. The series ended with youngest child Claire Fisher finally getting her life together and leaving her family’s (funeral) home to take on the world. As she drives away, flashes of how all the characters eventually die come through, soundtracked by this equally dark, raw, emotional, slow and very well done song. Easily one of the best finales I’ve ever seen.

Why it makes this list: it was a very character-driven show, so by the end you felt like Ruth, Nate, David and Claire Fisher were family, because you just knew them so well. Their good, their bad and their ugly (the episode where David gets attacked still haunts me.) Not to mention the acting chops on Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause and Frances Conroy. This entire video comes into view when I hear this song. It still gives me chills, and this scene alone made the entire series worth watching.

 

ER – S06E13, 2000

“Battleflag” – by Lo Fidelity All Stars 

The premise: another medical drama.

The scene: it’s Valentine’s Day and the ER staff are throwing a small party in the hospital. Dr. John Carter (aka Noah Wyle) stops by, and goes looking for a med student he’d asked to treat a patient.

Why it makes this list: it’s purely personal. I was obsessed with ER back in the day. I never missed an episode, watching it all in real time. No bingeing, no PVR. This was such a monumental episode because it changed the lives of so many characters. It’s an utterly benign scene, so you’d have no reason to expect anything major was going to happen. As things go awry, the music gets louder and louder, until it’s all you hear. To this day, I feel the pain of this scene all over again, any time I hear this track.

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I have to admit right off the bat that this year was not all that impressive when it came to music. Nonetheless, a closer look at the best and the worst of this year is a must. So here we go. (Note: this list is solely based on my choices, having nothing to do with popularity, sales; also, as hard as I try, I have not listened to every single album by every single artist released this year.)

Best New Artist – Hozier

This soulful meets rock ‘n roll Irish bloke knows how to do music well. Really well. From the power of his hit single “Take Me to Church” to the soft simplicity of his track “Work Song,” his versatility shines. He’s going to be around a long while.

Best Canadian Album – Advanced Basics by Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker

I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch. It’s a crowdsourced 7-track EP, which did not reach to the top of any charts. However, there’s just something so Canadian, so humble, so affable about this band and their music, I couldn’t deny them this title.

Worst New Artist – Magic!

Normally, I try and avoid taking jabs at fellow Canadians, but these guys kind of deserve it. They say they’re reggae-pop, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with fusing genres together, they execute neither one of them well. It’s like half-ass reggae, with lame pop.

Best Summer Song – “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne

This song just feels like summer. Cruisin’ down the streets, top down, enjoying the summer heat.

Best 90s Comeback – Bush

When I think about this band, all I see is the 90s. They epitomized it: from their sound, to lead singer Gavin Rossdale’s relationship with No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani; not to mention, it was the first ever rock concert I attended. Though they’re not the same as they used to be, it’s great to have them back.

Douchebags of the Year – Arcade Fire

I’ve already admitted this year that Arcade Fire confuses me. They make wonderful music that makes everything sparkle, but then they act like morons. They win this title because they insisted their fans show up in a costume or formal attire to attend their live shows. Pretentious, much?

Most Overrated Song – “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

I’m not sure why this song has received so much attention. Yes, it for once highlights voluptuous women (in a non-grotesque kind of way,) but that’s about it. The lyrics are lame, the video’s pastel colours are nauseating, and the 50’s throwback sound is ruined by her nasal voice. I am not about that bass.

Most Underrated Album – Ghost Stories by Coldplay

It wasn’t an album as much as it was a work of art. So much was said, in so few words, as the music did most of the talking. I was completely surprised by the maturity and introspection in this album, as Coldplay hasn’t put out an album true to their abilities in quite some time. Bravo.

Best Rap Album – 2014 Forest Hill Drive by J. Cole

I’m not incredibly familiar with J. Cole’s older material, but he has a lot to say on this album. It’s not the crass hip-hop scene we’re used to. It’s more mature, thought out, and patient. I’m impressed.

Best Collaboration – “Love Me Harder” by Ariana Grande & The Weeknd

The sultriness in her voice, and the velvety smoothness in his, show how each of them bring their own style to the track, their own interpretations of angst and yearning. Add that to the 80s vibe in the music, and it’s a pretty great track.

Worst Collaboration – “Booty” by Jennifer Lopez feat. Iggy Azalea

This obsession with highlighting the female derrière in music this year is absurd. What happened to actually making music?

Guiltiest Pleasure – “Bailando” by Enrique Iglesias, feat. Sean Paul, Descemer Bueno and Gente de Zona

I can’t help it. Maybe because Sean Paul can do no wrong; maybe because Enrique’s intense gaze makes it feel like he’s penetrating your soul, in a way that makes you giddy inside. The street dancing, the traditional dancing, the overall sexiness of the video makes you want to think this song is lame, but it just isn’t. Baby girl.

Best Choreography in a Video – “Hideaway” by Kiesza

This song is covered in 80s shout outs. From the synth-pop sound, to the wardrobe, to the dance moves. All perfectly executed, in sync, and apparently the entire video was done in one take.

Worst Choreography in a Video – “7/11” by Beyoncé

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but I don’t get this video. It seems to be Beyoncé just freestyle dancing, in what seems to be a home made video. She’s on her balcony, in her bathroom; then randomly drops playing dice on someone’s behind. I think it’s supposed to show her crazy, fun, free side. I think.

Worst Album of the Year – Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo

This album is actually the worst. Jason Derulo is a thug wannabe who can’t dance, trying to pretend he gets all these ladies. Except I’m pretty sure that only happens in his videos, and not at all in real life. I bet anything his idol is Chris Brown too. Get a clue, Derulo: no one wants to talk dirty to you.

Album of the Year – Rose Ave. by You + Me

Although this album wasn’t a blockbuster hit, it still stands apart from the rest. Combining the talents of Dallas Green (of City and Colour) and Pink, they created an indie rock/country/soul album which hit all the right notes. Her powerful, emotional vocals; with his soft-spoken, and  equally emotional vocals, made every track on the album shine.

Worst Song of the Year – “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj

I can’t. I just can’t.

Song of the Year – “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

He’s powerful, vulnerable, and writes lyrics that really hit home. His emotions run deep, and are felt in every note, every inflection. The gospel-like choir in the background just gives that extra heat to the track, allowing Smith to become it. He is this song; and so are all of us.

If you’ve been following my thoughts for long enough, you already know how I feel about Coldplay (click here if you need a refresher.) Last month they once again thrust themselves into the spotlight with their latest release, Ghost Stories, and are now forced to stand trial.

In their first two albums – Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head – what set Coldplay apart from most other bands was their ability to emote with abundant intensity, using both their lyrics and music. It was an unshakeable draw into their world. You could just feel that constant knot in your stomach, hear that breaking heart, and succumb to whatever mood they portrayed. At that time, not many bands were doing this well. Their third album X&Y followed suit, and pushed them front and center.

But somehow with their exponential rise to fame, the quality of their music suffered. With their next consecutive albums – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and Mylo Xyloto – they were guilty of releasing tracks of no substance, of simplistic lyrics, of little meaning. They were guilty of sinking to pedestrian metaphors, nowhere near the genius of their previous works. This was amateur work from a pro band. It wasn’t the Coldplay I was used to, it wasn’t the Coldplay I fell for, so I distanced myself.

 I was hesitant to even attempt to survive their newest album, but hanging on to the hope that the original Coldplay may return, I gave it a whirl. What I heard was pleasantly surprising. It was entirely different, not even close to anything Coldplay’s ever done. I listened to it over and over again trying to pinpoint exactly what was going on. They seemed to be experimenting with a new sound, a new direction. It was reminiscent of when U2 went in the a more electronic direction with 1997’s Pop album. I had to commend Coldplay for stepping out of the comfort of their mainstream box.

Ghost Stories has an ethereal quality to it. It seems to focus a lot more heavily on the music and sounds themselves, as opposed to the lyrics. It would be just as effective without the words, because the music is strong enough to transport you. Old school Coldplay was an emotional experience; mainstream Coldplay was a non-experience; this new Coldplay is an out-of-body experience, like it’s elevating your soul. It slowly seeps into your body and mind, until you end up in an imaginary world with that cute DJ you met at the club last week or until you realize you missed your exit on the highway.

It’s like what they used to be able to elicit with their lyrics alone, they’ve managed to do with their music. Is it a case of trying to be different to stay relevant, or simply an honest move in a new direction? Hard to say. There’s a lot of reference to space, time, the unknown, even the supernatural. They’re toying with abstract themes, intangible for the listener, leaving a sense of intrigue, because it’s completely open to interpretation.

It’s hard to judge this Coldplay album, because it isn’t a Coldplay album. It’s like a brand new band, who put out a solid, fantastic, musical experience. I hope this isn’t a one-off, a phase Coldplay’s going through, before they return to lazy music. I hope this is their new direction, and that they continue to evolve. So for now, Coldplay is innocent. Let’s hope they’re not proven guilty.