In the same way that a fresh Al Qaida terror threat invariably accompanies a public holiday, so this year’s imminent Glastonbury appearance has churned forth a new track from Coldplay.

And, like 9/11, the band have outdone themselves this time. Clearly chastened by their public image as purveyors of miserabilist drear Coldplay have opted instead for a bizarre motivational tract, churning forth vapid positivity as though they think it actually means something.

But then that kind of over-earnest poetic delusion was obvious from the title: Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall. Sounds important, emphatic, zeitgeisty. Means absolutely nothing – it’s a void of meaninglessness, a vacuum that rips meaning from any who dare try to apply it. And that’s just the song name. The lyric sheet pretty much mocks itself, satire that oversteps that all-important line of restraint: trying to pick out a choice line is like wading through untreated sewage, eyes burning and throat retching at the sheer, staggering nerve of Chris Martin. But verse three has, I think, a particular pungency:

I turn the music up, I got my records on

From underneath the rubble sing a rebel song

Don’t want to see another generation drop

I’d rather be a comma than a full stop

Written down they might not seem so awful – although stare long enough and you’re sure to black out, awakening in a foetal position clutching a bloodied grater and surrounded by bodies – but you need to imagine these words coming off the back off a guitar break that sounds like bagpipes, each note a stab of Norman Bates’ knife. And then you need to read them again, countenancing if you can the notion that Coldplay – Coldplay! – would dare attempt a protest song. Coldplay, surely the most anodyne, unthreatening, vacuous presence in music in the last decade, a band that somehow makes Simon Cowell’s blighted progeny seem punk, actually trying to say something. Worse, they seem to be alluding – although it remains carefully ambiguous enough so as not to risk alienating the twitchy, xenophobic middle-Englanders – to the Arab Spring, Martin assuming the role of a protester fighting oppression as though he wasn’t a privately-educated multi-millionaire WITH A CHILD CALLED APPLE.

Granted, the image of Chris Martin lying underneath rubble is a pleasing one, although it’s a short-lived joy, soon to be displaced with the following verse’s lyrical gem:

Maybe I’m in the black, maybe I’m on my knees

Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes

But my heart is beating and my pulses start

Cathedrals in my heart

Sadly that’s less likely to inspire revolution than international condemnation, the UN Resolution that the Libya conflict has so far been denied suddenly finding itself coming our way, Mladic pushed off front pages to make way for this new atrocity.

But hey, it’s not fair to tear apart the lyrics – loads of great artists have sung drivel. Rarely this bad, sure, but still, benefit of the doubt and all that. Maybe Martin’s deranged. Maybe he has rabies. Perhaps he’s a Mayan, doing his bit to usher in the end times.

If so, it seems to be working. All around the windows are rattling, quivering in their frames: the winds picked up yesterday, gathering strength immediately the song emerged, and haven’t yet abated. Dark times are coming. Heck, the date’s even been foretold: June 25th. Around 10pm. In a field in Somerset, that’s where the hell-mouth will spawn, to the whoops and cheers of the waiting tens of thousands.

That’s the worst thing. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall has been precision-engineered for mass-appeal, from the soaring chorus wails to the slightly-ravey, remix-craving synths, its emotion freeze-dried and vacuum-packed and ready to be consumed by audiences the size of Nuremberg rallies. Coldplay have worked long and hard on Satan’s cock to reach this point, where they’ve gleaned vast crossover status whilst maintaining an absolute zero-point in artistic merit. Few have pleased Satan quite so well. Bono is going to have to up his game, maybe break out some toys. Perhaps the sybian, Bono: you can take turns with the Edge. There’s two of you too, but just one cup.

A horrible thought, but still preferable to the inevitable field of thousands, eyes glistening and phones held aloft as they stand emoting to the musical equivalent of cattle feed: a track that co-opts the strive for democracy to sell something that’s the very counterpoint to revolution, that strip-mines revolutionary fervour and commodifies it into a vague amorphous mush of feel-good Athena-poster sentiment. Listening to it is to suddenly understand what purgatory entails, to feel your synapses just giving up, one by one, as though they no longer see the point in trying to fire ever again.

Christian Cottingham



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