So I'm browsing the book store, and pass the magazine rack. I see there a copy of Rolling Stone, a rag for which I have had no use in years. It one time pretended to "speak" for a generation, but it never really did, not the way most underground press and music magazines did. It aspired to sit astride the Atlantic Monthly and New Yorker, not to tear them down and piss on the burning corpses they left behind. No, it was an organ run by a deluded and sycophantic tool, and remains to this day a manual for such deluded sycophantic tool-ism. It remains neither soulful nor skeptically insightful. It is gloss, as it was even in it's "hippy" days, albeit now hosed down and bereft of feminine leg hair and patchouli stank. And if it's publisher has been gussied up as well, he is still a sniveling maggot who thinks nothing of rigging the voting process for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, amongst other douchebaggery.
Now, to be fair, Rolling Stone did have it's moments. The opportunistic placement of John Lennon upon it's flagship cover was a herald of sorts, and it did provide a stage for one of America's most original and powerful literary voices, in Hunter S. Thompson, as well as music critics as brilliant and diverse as Ralph Gleason and Lester Bangs. But Thompson was less a voice of the counter-culture Rolling Stone gleefully exploited than the sinister little devil on the left shoulder of the mainstream, and said critics lit on the magazine's perch less for the platform it provided than the paid byline and expense account.
Since Rob Sheffeild left a few years ago, the magazine has been culturally and aesthetically clueless, a Maxim for those who think themselves above such neanderthal conceits. It's journalistic and critical bent is best exemplified by it's film critic, the journalistically cancerous Peter Travers, who seems to take self-glorifying and snarky cluelessness to new heights with every issue.
But, this one had Springsteen on the cover. So maybe the Boss is not as relevant as he once was, and maybe he is a dinosaur. So fucking what? he's still a true believer, with the abilty to inspire. And here he is again, on the cover of Details...I mean, of course, Roling Stone. So I picked said copy up.
And before I turned to the Springsteen interview, the mag fell open to the page revealing the winners of their annual reader's poll. And who did the readership of Rolling Stone choose as their band of the year, and their last release as album of the year" ?
I nearly threw the rag back on the shelf. Why the hell would I want to read a magazine who's target audience is one that chooses Coldplay as their cultural heralds?
I can tell you, speaking from over three decades of obsessive music geekdom, including times when I would sell it during the week, write about it at night, and play it on the weekends, listening to it virtually every waking hour, reading about it and constantly drinking it in, that there has never...ever...EVER...EVER...ben a music entity as singularly overrated as the aforementioned Coldplay. My personal whipping boys cannot achieve the blatant levels of pure shit that Coldplay attains; even the Eagles had hooks and harmonies, and the Doors had to be appreciated for a certain train wreck/Holiday Inn lounge cheesiness appeal to them. Hell, even Journey had a singing rodent, and Survivor had the testosterone pump that is Eye of the Tiger.
Coldplay, however, achieves a certain banality only hinted at til now. Take the sonic veneer of Pink Floyd, strip it of any dynamics or depth, or even pretense of melody, for that matter, add sophomoric lyricism that stomps it's foot and demands the world be made a better place, throw against a wall, see what sticks, and call it art. Never mind that overdubbed and heavily affected percussion does not equal groove, nor does aimless noodling equal musicianship. From their pedestrian name to their boring, overwrought stage presence, they are an entity so musically empty as to defy logic.
I think I've figured it out, though. We experience periodically an intense nostalgic resonance with the time period two decades previous, an affinity for it's cultural and societal cliches. Remember how big the Fifties were in the Seventies, with the Fonz and ShaNaNa on the tube every week? How paisley and big, rubbery fonts became the rage in the Eighties. And how the nineties almost revived the bell bottoms and Framptonesque talk boxes. Seriously, was a mullet not just a geometric realignment of the shaggy but clean Doobie Brothers look we all tried to achieve growing up in the Seventies?
Coldplay is nothing if not an Eighties tribute band that just happens to do it's own material, with that queaky clean and synthetic sound, complete with over-modulated drums, and the kind of self-aware anguish only the Me Decade could have produced. Throw in some of shrill keyboard "texture" that helps define their "sound", and it practically qualifies as incidental music for Molly Ringwald's cherry picking.
The celebration of such a vapid musical entity in such a journalistic Trojan horse held such possibilities for ironic bedevilment, but why waste the energy? As it was, all it really did was showcase a demonically powerful vortex of pure, unadulterated suck.
Really, in it's own way, a thing of awe. But you'd still be well advised to stay away from it, lest ye be sucked into the maelstrom and be tarnished.
Don't say I didn't warn you.