On Coldplay's New "Experimental" Song: A Paste Email Chain

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On Coldplay's New "Experimental" Song: A <i>Paste</i> Email Chain

Note: When I listened to Coldplay’s new track, “Midnight,” I knew I had to get Paste’s take on whether or not it was truly experimental. I sent the email, and chaos ensued. Here’s how it went down.


Shane Ryan:

Dear Paste,

Coldplay  came out with a new song today called “Midnight,” and the word on the street is that it MAY be experimental and/or revolutionary. I just listened, and what I can say for sure is that unlike the so-called “experimental album” that was 2011’s Mylo Xyloto, this song actually does sound different from your standard Coldplay fare. But I can’t decide if it’s actually a bold new direction for the band (could this be the cornerstone of a revolutionary album? Is this the first sign that Coldplay’s Kid A record is imminent??) or if Chris Martin just putting lipstick on a pig and playing it a safe in a vaguely different way.

Take a listen here, and let’s get this debate started. Does “Midnight” represent something new and exciting, or are we just being duped by stylistic smoke and mirrors?

Ryan Bort:

This video looks like the True Detective intro minus color correction and good music.

Frannie Jackson:

Anyone else think Coldplay is channeling Ylvis? I mean, there’s a FOX and everything.

Sean Edgar:

Does anyone else think Coldplay is channeling ‘90s Disney band The Party? What? Nobody? OK.


Josh Jackson:

It sounds like Chris Martin and co. and experimenting with Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek. That said, I like Imogen Heap a lot more than I like anything Coldplay has done since A Rush of Blood to the Head, which I still think is a good record if you can just ignore the lyrics and forget that “Clocks” became nearly inescapable. And if they’re no longer trying to make Radiohead radio-friendly, the Coldplay frontman sure looks like he’s hoping for a Dancing Chris Martin meme to sweep the globe.

Ryan Bort:

#TrueDetectiveSeason2: Chris Martin and a photo negative fox

Tyler Kane:

First of all Shane, thanks for opening this conversation up. I am under-caffeinated, grumpy and so far unable to express it in a very public way. While I appreciate that Coldplay is taking a step away from the arena-sized glory-rock that’s defined its past three albums, I think it’s HORSE CRAP to paint this track as anything of the experimental variety.


Bon Iver’s self-titled, “experimental” album came out in 2012, won a Grammy and landed on a trillion best-of lists. This is hardly scary, dangerous territory for the band. I could stop the argument here, but I’ll continue: Coldplay utilizes all of Justin Vernon’s tricks—a lulling, pulsing beat; autotune; zero annunciation (I like Bon Iver, btw)—but in a watered-down form true to Coldplay’s discography. Listen to “Woods” (a better song) or “Calgary” (another better song) after this—it’s like consuming an O’Douls and then moving up to La Fin Du Monde. First Coldplay went Diet Radiohead (Parachutes), then Diet U2 (Viva La Vida), now we’re in the Diet Bonny Bear phase of Coldplay’s career. Can’t wait for the cabin story.

Sarah Lawrence:

By the time I read “dancing Chris Martin meme” (from Josh) I was already excitedly making a gif:


Easily my favorite part of the whole video.

Michael Dunaway:

I can’t really tell it’s Chris Martin singing, ie BIG BUCKET OF WIN.

And JOSH: Ah, but Imogen was just channeling Laurie Anderson:


Josh Jackson:

So there you have it. This song was experimental…in 1981.

Garrett Martin:

They should experiment by replacing this guy with the Chris Martin from Kinski or the Chris Martin that is my brother.

Bonnie Stiernberg:

Is this video what dogs see?

Caroline Taylor:

If we’re talking experimental, is this a video of a frat dude dancing during his first acid trip at a Widespread Panic show?

Sean Edgar:

@Sarah and her lovely meme: For fans of Coldplay and comparative religion, “Shiva Put a Smile On Your Face”

Michael Burgin:


—This is like the worst Blue Man Group performance ever.

—Photo-negative Moaning Man and the Stand Arounds is not enough to support an entire video, let alone make it interesting, let alone make it cool, let alone make it experimental (unless you’re talking emo teen high school experimental film).

—Butterfly hands! Bold move, Martin!

—I give the song a “Meh.” and the video a steaming, freshly made cow pie on the Crap-meter.

Dacey Orr:

This is like the Owl City/Postal Service situation all over again, but with Bon Iver + some extra “meh” thrown in there.

Shane Ryan:

So wait, before I lose track, how many votes is that for “this is Coldplay’s Kid A”?

Michael Burgin:

Is this like Reddit? Negative 2.

Caroline Taylor:

Guys, this is obviously a night vision outtake from Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” series.


Michael Dunaway:

Can Coldplay experiment with retiring?

Tyler Kane:

They’ll have to find the right producer to show them how.

Josh Jackson:

So I guess the only conclusion I can see, Shane, is that you can no longer trust the word on the street. Thanks, Coldplay.

Michael Burgin:

I would try to give you something to close with, but that would mean watching it again, and I refuse.

EDIT: Charles McNair chimed in late with a stirring defense of the song, and Coldplay, and we thought it was only fair to add it on.

Charles McNair:

Flame off, human torches. Good Lord.

I listened to this new cut on my walk just now. It made me wish with all my heart that I’d had it last night on a drive home from South Carolina after midnight, this pleasant, dreamy soundtrack for a long night road trip. My Paste rating: 7.9 or 8.1, in there. I don’t like the jittery synth in the last third, but it’s still a track that I’d have on in the house with my girl and some candles and sip of something after hours.

I honestly hear something like a feeding frenzy here, so much old spite, old anger. Why? Coldplay makes better music than 90 percent of the stuff I hear out there on the airwaves, and one or two songs on every album stays in my mind for years. Why the sneers and dismissive comments, Pastifarians? Can we listen neutrally to the band anymore?

About half through my walk, up in Va Highland, I ran into a friend. A bartender, smart, in tune with the world more than me. I actually stopped him and played the cut while we stood in the sun on the sidewalk in front of Alon’s. I asked him at the end what he thought. “Good,” he said, “that’s easy on the ear. Who was it?”

This Paste shark attack can’t possibly represent the ears and tastes of all Paste listeners, can it? Do none of you find this listenable? It may not be experimental for some bands, but what’s wrong with Coldplay coming at things from a new angle, trying to get better, fresher?

Let Radiohead be Radiohead. Let Bon Iver be Bon Iver. Let U2 be U2. And Coldplay? After we finish grinding the axes, whatever, I suggest we climb out of the foxholes and take a deep breath. Look around. We live in a beautiful world. All kinds of music out there, for all kinds of people. It can sound like Coldplay and be perfectly fine.