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Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Safety Tips
Apologies in advance for this bit of back-and-forth blogging. Look away if you must. But our mind keeps coming back to Coldplay (they were on VH1's Storytellers tonight). And we wanted to bring the tussle back to our ballpark.

So we were talking about sincerity. And Carl said: "... it's not about sincerity - it's about whether a sentiment is worth expressing, it's about cliche, it's about crap. The problem isn't whether Coldplay is sincere or insincere, but whether what they purport to be sincere about has any value. To call them insincere is beside the point - and I think it also boils down to calling them inauthentic, and is subject to the same criticism that charge would be."

Fair enough. We don't necessarily agree. We kind of think there's something to be said for buying what a musician is selling. And we have a bit of thing about honesty. It's naive. And silly. But we think it's increasingly hard to come by.

Anyway. Then Carl pointed to this piece — SFJ's New Yorker review — as a better example of what to do when telling someone what you dislike about what they do. And he's right. It is a much more graceful knifing.

But. There is also this: "Only a churl could resist their best singles: 'Yellow,' a piercingly sincere bit of high-school poetry that is just as moving as they intended it to be..."

And then this: "Coldplay’s more modest charm doesn’t benefit from being supersized. Martin’s lyrics, once introspective mash notes, now sound like a thousand coffee-mug mottoes strung together, inspirational at first blush but completely devoid of substance."

Which is awful close, if we do say so ourself, to this: "... there is something to be said for sincerity in delivery, especially lyrically and I can see where some could argue that Martin's words often seem pulled from those 'inspirational' posters you might find on the walls of some executive's office."

So. Wouldn't it be fair to say that if you found us to be "cliche," "crap" and "completely devoid of substance"... you would think us... erm... insincere? Isn't part of SFJ's subtle, satisfying argument that Coldplay have gone from seemingly sincere to disposably, er, not?

That might not necessarily be a problem. Don't make us name all the musicians whose sincerity, or lack thereof, has no bearing or their genius, or lack thereof. But if you're all about singing the song of the plastic bag kid in American Beauty and really meaning it, isn't it important that people find you worthy of their belief?

Somebody's gotta feel this.

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