Coldplay releases “Magic”. And it’s not exactly “Midnight”.

Coldplay released a new single today in advance of their upcoming May album, Ghost Stories.  It’s not a bad song, contrary to what my post title might suggest.  It’s actually quite pleasant, really (that last sentence should be spoken with a Dr. Evil accent).

But here’s my thing – A couple of weeks back, Coldplay released a video for a different song on Ghost Stories called “Midnight”.  Take a look and a listen:

The song got some buzz, and was even frequently compared to the music of Bon Iver, a bit of a indie darling over the past few years.  And the comparisons were fair enough, but I personally felt the song started at an interesting place but then never took me anywhere.  It sounded more like a piece of a larger whole than a stand-alone  track intended as a single.  There were lyrics about hopelessness and a coming storm.  If anything, I thought maybe it was a preview of what we could expect, on a grander scale, from the new album.

So today, the song “Magic” was released.  And while “Midnight” garnered comparisons to Bon Iver, “Magic” sounds more like John Mayer.  I don’t mean that to come across as critically as it kind of sounds – John Mayer has written plenty of songs that I enjoy – it’s just that Bon Iver and John Mayer are two very different kinds of artists who typically appeal to two different kinds of music fans.  It makes me wonder why Coldplay chose to release the “Midnight” video two weeks ago when “Magic” was going to be the single?

Here’s a theory:

Coldplay has long taken a wrap, fairly or unfairly, for being kind of poor man’s Radiohead or U2.  While I personally think this is kind of silly, it’s a stigma that exists.  It certainly hasn’t impacted their ability to be successful, but Chris Martin and the gang have always kind of struck me as the types who desire credibility as much or more than success.  They want to be seen as culturally relevant and not just rock stars.   So, it seems to me, the release of “Midnight” was meant to garner the kind of response that it got – these guys are getting more edgy and indie!  These guys are doing something kind of counter to what we would expect from them!  Wow, I can’t wait to hear what the rest of the album is going to sound like!  Buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz buzz!!!  It was mysterious, and it gave Coldplay the kind of buzz that I think they want, and I think they knew that track would do it.

And then “Magic” came out.

I will say this:  I like “Magic”.  And I feel like I need to be careful not to sound like I am bashing on Coldplay, because that is not what I am trying to do.  I like Coldplay.  I don’t love them, but I like them a lot.  Even own most of their albums.  I just thought the buzz around “Midnight” was so interesting in light of the much different sounding “Magic”.  This is actually a good single.  It’s a love song, but complicated.  It’s a love song between two people who are maybe struggling to maintain that love.  It’s a declaration of belief in love’s magic, even when it’s not felt.  And maybe that will end up leading us into the place that “Midnight” previewed a couple of weeks back.  Unless you have industry connections, we will have to wait until May to find out.  I’m just curious to hear what those who were enticed by “Midnight’s” buzz feel about “Magic”.

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~ by themattmorrisshow on March 3, 2014.

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