Borrowing a page from the Coldplay playbook
With “Mylo Xyloto” poised to beat first-week sales by Adele and Lady Gaga, Coldplay may have released the fastest-selling album of the year on Monday. For all of their existence, the band has been dogged by criticism that they’re ripping off other bands — but that doesn’t really matter when more than 100,000 people are buying the new album on the day it comes out. What many critics overlook, however, is how influential Coldplay actually is. Would the Vaccines, the Postal Service and Keane even exist without Coldplay? Doubtful.
Here we look at the band’s fifth album and examine the ways in which it has been influenced, and the ways in which we hope it is influential. Since singer Chris Martin has gone on record saying that the phrase “Mylo Xyloto” has no meaning, we’ll use the two words of the title to differentiate between influential (Mylo) and influenced (Xyloto).
Releasing a song per day in the week leading up to the official “Mylo Xyloto” release took Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Fridays concept to their logical conclusion. And one track a day seemed like the perfect taste with-out being too much.
Bringing in Rihanna for “Princess of China” is part of the band’s unique and continuing extension into the hip-hop world. Coldplay’s relationship with the genre — which includes collaborations with Jay-Z and Kanye West, to say nothing of being sampled by 50 Cent and Lil Wayne — is a mutual love affair. The band’s fascination with hip-hop is all over “Mylo,” and the dramatic symphonic intro of “Paradise” is practically begging to be rapped over.
While Coldplay could do more to distance themselves from U2 compari-sons, it’s an asset that they worked with Brian Eno, the avant garde musician who had a hand in producing “Viva La Vida,” as well as U2’s most successful albums. He brings textured tones that blend harmo-niously under the surface of songs like “Hurts Like Heaven” and “Up With the Birds.”
Speaking of U2, there are lots of falsetto “ooh oohs” in the tradition of Dublin’s finest. The electric guitar on “Major Minus” also has an unmistakable Edge quality to it.
With “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay received criticism for lifting the anthemic “ohh ohhs” in the more recent tradition of Arcade Fire. That said, there are a few instances where that band’s influence is undeniable.
The nonsense title recalls titles by The Police like “Zenyatta Mondatta.”
The video for “Paradise” and its wandering elephant recalls Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video, where a misfit girl in a bee costume stumbles upon a field of frolicking bee-outfitted revelers.
The die-cut album artwork on the physical CD, where a graffiti mural is visible beneath a cut-out flap, recalls “Some Girls” by the Rolling Stones and “Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin. But it’s tough to criticize a band for making artistic choices that promote the purchase of an actual product that you can have, hold and look at in different ways, rather than a boring screen shot on your iPod.