Coldplay has never been a subtle group. When they’re at their best, they make big, dumb arena rock songs that can be truly catchy and even great. When they’re at their worst, they make bad parodies of same—self-serious artsy tunes that aim for the heights of Radiohead or earlier U2 but nosedive straight into a teardrop waterfall of sappiness.
“Midnight,” the band’s new single, falls into the latter category, but the band it apes is a different one: Bon Iver. Chris Martin is only rarely intelligible as he sings into his vocoder (“In the darkness, thumm the thumm,” go the garbled lyrics, as far as this blogger can make it out), before a wash of synths takes the band away to a rave populated by woodland animals.
The video doesn’t do them any favors. At some point in the mid-2000s, someone seems to have told Martin he could dance (he seems to fancy himself in the twitchy, just-feel-it mold of Thom Yorke), and here he twirls and then waves his arms around in a move that’s perhaps best described as “the Angels in the Outfield.” By the time he breaks his twirls long enough to make birdy-birds with his hands (3:30), any chance at taking this song and its lush, warm production seriously has flown out the window.