Music at Mars Hill is a weekly column by Luke Larsen that seeks to find God amidst the newest trends in both mainstream music and independent music.
In acknowledgement of the three-track EP released by Coldplay last week, this week for Music at Mars Hill we’ll be looking at how Coldplay got to the top of the world and also attempt to guess where they will head next as indicated by their newest tracks.
With the arrival of the monumentally successful 2008 album, Viva La Vida, Coldplay had finally filled the populist shoes of U2 that critics had been foreseeing for years. Where A Rush of Blood to the Head was too intimate and X&Y was too preachy, Viva La Vida used the imagery of international history, literature, and art to be grand without having to be specific. Songs like “Viva La Vida” used Christian imagery to evoke its grand scale, while songs like “Violet Hill” used images of war and revolution to deliver its sentiments. As indicated by the full title of the album, Viva La Vida (meaning “Long Live Life”) or Death and All His Friends, Coldplay was addressing enormous themes that are as big as they come.
This was a turnoff to some, assuming that the band was biting off more than they could possibly chew or copping out. What I particularly loved about the concept was the idea that although their was an enormous life or death theme shadowing over the entire album, the individual songs were filled with small moments of victory, joy, sadness, and despair. It is the idea that in everything we do and in every decision we make, we are taking a step toward life or a step toward death.
From what I can tell, Coldplay’s new songs don’t waver much from the direction set by Viva La Vida. Unfortunately, the nonsensical lyrics of the four-on-the-floor synth single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” hint that Coldplay is continuing to move toward popular ambiguity. Lyrically, the standout track was definitely the piano-led track, “Moving to Mars”, which despite its silly name showed some thoughtful lyrical ideas. Fans will undoubtedly accept whatever their forthcoming album is like, but I’m curious to see how Coldplay will change and direct their image and sound.