Is Coldplay still relevant? A look at how the once-biggest alternative rock band has evolved over the years
A band that skyrocketed to fame for their unconventional take on rock music in the 2000s, later took the world by storm when they introduced mainstream sounds like gladiators
Like many bands have faced over time and around the world, it is always a massive challenge to hold up a longstanding career and continue to hype up the style of music that may have once impacted most of a band or musician's discography. Unconventional styles can certainly leave minds blown and even reshape what is popular in the mainstream for a lasting effect, but bands are frequently faced with the question of whether or not to keep their original sound, go full mainstream, or inject their music with a careful amount of either. It all depends on what type of fans a band wants to pull and if such fans outweigh the numbers of fans following any other popular genre. Bands have to give up their everyday lives and have to be almost married to their careers if they want to, not only make it big, but continue to make money, even if their careers hit a low point.
If you're an alt-rock music lover, chances are highly likely you would have heard of Coldplay. A band that skyrocketed to fame for their fresh and unconventional take on rock music, then later took the entire world by storm when they introduced more mainstream sounds, Coldplay felt like gladiators in a musical arena, swiftly catching the attention of listeners everywhere. In the 2000s, you had new listeners dropping their jaws at their music that was unendingly catchy with every track while longtime fans could still enjoy the experimental sounds they were used to. Coldplay had tapped into something perfectly in-between and conquered the mentality that only solo artists can become the most popular. It was a victory for music and whether you realized it or not, you felt it.
Remembering the alt-rock titans
On this day, November 10, Coldplay was declared the biggest-selling act of 2008 at the World Music Awards held in Monaco. Along with the prize, the band picked up the 'Rock Act Of The Year award' after their smash album 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends' topped charts around the globe. Some would argue that the album was their best iteration and the pinnacle of their success, but whether or not that was the case, it was clear by that stage that their music had been heard around the world.
This could've also been where things started to spiral down for the band. It is debatable but worth discussing. Aside from the factor that many non-commercial listeners are turned from their favorite band once they become too "mainstream", once the highest mark is achieved, expectation crops up with its sneaky little head. You've now garnered enough mainstream music lovers to significantly boost your career, but such listeners generally stick to what is popular. This means you'd have to raise the bar on every new project in competition with other popular artists to stay ahead when non-commercial music-making is less likely a competition but a platform to showcase pure and unique art. Curiosity is often the biggest pull factor. Popularity is linear with little allowance for experimentation before who you are comes plummeting to the ground before you know it. Cancel culture is sick.
Remember the first time you hit play on Coldplay's early tracks like 'Trouble' or 'Yellow'? You were captivated by a brand-new sound of melancholic-toned music and felt understood. Yet Coldplay's love for music made them appear happy. It wasn't drown-in-your-sadness melancholy but something more enchanting. Move on to albums like 'X&Y' or 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends' and things began to evolve into something pepped up and inspirational. Now, put such songs next to some of their latest tracks like 'Orphans' or 'A Sky Full of Stars', and the differences are so distinguishable, they feel like music from different bands.
Is Coldplay still relevant?
Case in point, Coldplay have evolved, they've matured, and creativity is left up to the artist entirely, but is their music still relevant? Encasing music in positivity is welcomed in today's world that surely needs it, but is there such a thing as too happy? If Coldplay had started out as happy as their focal demeanor then things may have turned out differently. Bear in mind that a large portion of their fandom was drawn to the melancholic sounds of earlier tracks, and if it's almost erased entirely, then along with the change comes the loss of said fans. That also doesn't mean melancholic tones aren't found in some of their latest songs, but their image has changed, and image and music go hand-in-hand. The clincher of fan-love is relatability.
The past several years, and especially the year 2020, have made people more aware of social issues, and what often ensues is anger. The general public often feels angry because they believe injustices need to be made right before they can enjoy peace. If anger is the solution, it's not written in stone, but this leaves a lot of artists/bands struggling whether or not to adapt or stick to their most recognized image. If it's mainstream or not, music should carry a message for the time if influence and relatability are necessary ingredients for a music career.
It is for this reason that Coldplay's latest music might be a necessary change. It's lighter, brighter and uplifting and we know that you can't fight fire with fire but with water. If Coldplay's music carries a current according to the waves of change in modern society and manages to cool down hatred with sharply intellectual and bolder thinking in their lyrics, and at the same time gives listeners something to latch on to that they are understood, then this may be the turnaround. We're up for Coldplay's newer sounds but tip the thought to become more connective with followers both old and new.