Sticking up for The Band to Hate

ON THE B-SIDE: IT’s what you would call “a nice problem to have”. But it still probably gives Chris Martin the odd sleepness night (similar to the disturbed hours caused by the babies he’s had with Gwyneth Paltrow).

How To Be Big is the over-arching aim of most aspiring young bands. When you get there, How To Be Big And Not Naff is a whole new beast. That’s something Martin is trying to fix with his band Coldplay right now.

If you source the last 50 mentions of the group on the internet or the rock press I’d guess about 47 or 48 would be utterly contemptuous. They have become The Band To Hate. You could probably pull on that sleeveless Bon Jovi T-shirt and be slightly less open to ridicule than being a Coldplay fan.

I’m still proud to say I am a Coldplay fan. But making that statement these days feels like I should be standing in the middle of a circle of well-wishers looking up at me with concerned eyes and assuring me “now you’ve admitted it, that’s the first step”.

So, why does this band generate so much derision? Jealousy? I think it’s mainly a case of familiarity breeding contempt. And Coldplay have become the soundtrack to everything from Big Brother to the golf.

Coldplay’s fans – and there are millions of them, obviously – are perhaps not the type to go to war on their behalf, either.

Rock fans are always protective of their heroes, but Coldplay don’t rock. They’re too downbeat to be pop; too big to hang on to any indie cool; and too mainstream to be alternative. I realise I’m starting to sound like I’m writing lyrics for Martin, but there’s no place to seek shelter. They’re just Coldplay.

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For help in this situation, they should look to U2. I’m sure they already have. People seem to hate U2; they despise Bono. You don’t hear many people sticking up for them.

But go to a U2 concert and everyone comes crawling, screaming, shouting, flag-waving out of the woodwork. And that’ll do for them.

I get the feeling Martin might be edgier with the critical mauling he’s getting.

His sensitive lyrics suggest he’s the type. “When you try your best and you don’t succeed,” he yearns every night onstage during Fix You. “When you get what you want and not what you neeeed....”

You could try to fix it, Chris, but I wouldn’t bother. Plenty of us that don’t see anything broken. And when people aren’t slagging you off, perhaps that’s the time to really worry.