[[Sound off]] “Is Beyoncé the most contradictory feminist of the 21st century?”

by Paige Lockwell

“Is Beyoncé the most contradictory feminist of the 21st century?”

Beyoncé! One of our most iconic artists of female empowerment right?! Wrong.

The ‘Who Run the World’ star discusses her feminist essay “Gender Equality is a Myth!” by preaching that “unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change”, but does she really know what she’s talking about?

Many have been sceptical after her British Vogue interview in 2013, after defining the word feminist to “be very extreme”, and stating she was “a modern-day feminist” instead.

Yet three years later during her ‘Flawless’ tour in 2016 she states this ‘iconic’ feminist sign was “not for propaganda or to proclaim to the world that I’m a feminist, but to give clarity to the true meaning”, but does she really know the true meaning herself?

Beyoncé has been repeatedly vocal on her views through her co-funded campaign ‘Chime for Change’, and her clothing brand ‘Ivy Park’ as she states that, “I am mentally strong, and I wanted to create a brand that made other women feel the same way”. 

Although not everyone is feeling these ‘amazing’ effects of the brand, including the young girls being exploited in Sri Lanka, who are treated like slaves earning only 44p an hour to create the clothing brand in a sweatshop.  

The worker . . . machinist we spoke to said there was little opportunity to escape poverty

Beyoncé’s spokesperson stated– “Ivy Park has a rigorous ethical trading programme” and they are “proud of our efforts in terms of factory inspections and audits”. 

So maybe not empowerment for ‘all’ women then. But can her music be any better? 

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In her earlier works, the notorious “B-Day” (2006) album didn’t really reveal this hyper ‘feminist’ message either. Upgrade U was an iconic hit but didn’t display the most pleasing lyrics, “You need a real woman in your life/Taking care home and still fly” doesn’t really scream independent female more like domesticated housewife. 

The lyrics don’t seem to get any better “When you in the big meetings for the mills/Take me just to compliment the deals”, completely objectifies women, but then attempts to reel it back by saying she’ll “split the bill” so I guess that makes it all ok! 

The final lyric “Ladies that’s a good luck believe me” acts as this odd message of guidance for women, when really it sounds like more repression than empowerment. But the past is in the past right? Well… 

Her ‘Beyoncé’ (2013) album is another whirlwind of conflicting messages. Her third track ‘Drunk in Love’ refences the distressing scene from Tina Turner’s biopic ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ (1993), through the lyrics “I’m Ike, Turner, turn up…Now eat the cake, Anna Mae/I said eat the cake”, which shows Anne Mae (Tina Turner) being brutally force-fed cake by her abusive husband Ike Turner. So why on earth would you ‘claim’ you’re a feminist yet glamourise and celebrate such an awful man? 

It gets worse, her track “Partition” is the most contradictory and confusing song yet. The obscure seedy video basically shows Beyoncé as a stripper wearing nothing but her underwear performing in-front of Jay Z for his entertainment, with multiple women. If that doesn’t scream objectification I don’t know what does.

The repetitive chorus “I just want to be the girl you like”, referring to Jay Z as “daddy” accompanied with her odd sexual ‘performance’ acts as this sort of weird desperation for Jay Z’s attention which just looks and sounds bizarre. 

To make it worse the ending lyrics spoken in French “Men think that feminists hate sex but it’s an exciting and natural activity that women love”, is just the weirdest part of it all, she claims she is a feminist yet is nothing more than a sex object having to seductively perform for a man’s entertainment, doesn’t really scream feminist to me.

To top it all off the repetitive derogatory chant “bow-down bitches” on iconic song ‘Flawless’ is just the icing on the cake, is this really as Jon Pareles calls it a “pro-feminist” album or just a mixture of really confusing messages? 

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Maybe 2016 was a bit better? Think again. Visual album ‘Lemonade’ might have been the worst out of all 3. Her hate fuelled album revealed some pretty vicious lyrics like “Today I regret the night I put that ring on”, as well as instructing her “ladies” to put their “middle fingers up…wave it in his face tell him, boy bye” on iconic hit ‘Sorry’ with reference to the Jay Z cheating scandal which happened a few years back.

Her third track “Don’t Hurt Yourself” refers to how she’d “Bounce to the next d***” if it ever happened again, as well as stating “Tonight I’m fucking up all your shit boy”, and “keep your money/I got my own”. Here, you would think this represents Beyoncé as this self-reliant, liberated female who isn’t controlled by any man, right? 

Well the album was exclusively only pre-released on Jay Z’s music streaming site “Tidal” which earned him over 1.2 million user sign-ups, earning him roughly 12 million US Dollars within the first week, but remember she’s still an independent female!

Even Consequence of Sound fell for this hyper-feminist nonsense by branding the album as “Beyoncé fully coming into her own: wise, accomplished, and in defence of herself” even though she is completely controlled by her husband, even when releasing an album about how much she despises him. The irony…  

The only celebrity to realise this feminist propaganda was ‘212’ singer Azealia Banks, as she called her out for her ‘poacher’ like behaviour towards women. Savage!

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To make things even more bizarre her most recent album reverted to this strange cultivated image of a maternal housewife, as she changes her name to ‘Mrs Carter’ in her “Everything is Love” album in 2018, accompanied with Jay Z. 

Beyoncé’s lyrics on their track ‘Heard About Us’– “why these bitches so mad for/They don’t want Yoncé on their door” and the repetitive chorus “put your hoes in their place/Bitch stay in your lane doesn’t really reinforce this ‘women supporting women’ idea she attempted to ram down our throat in her previous album. 

Rolling Stone branded the album by saying it “splendidly celebrates their family dynasty”, yet Jay Z’s lyrics on track ‘Apes***’- “you need me, I don’t need you”, sounds more like a family affair than a ‘dynasty’. Ironically this probably the only lyric out of all her albums that spoke some home truths.  

Who runs the world? Girls! Men according to Beyoncé.

Bibliography:


[[Sound off]] J. Cole – Biblical, boring, or both?

by Khairul Raimi Hamzah

Not too long ago, anyone associating themselves with rap or hip hop in general was seen as rebellious, without morals, black, or trying to be black. However, times have changed and what used to be considered a “subculture” or “counterculture” is now, popular mainstream music. And like every era of hip hop, there are always MC’s who reign over the rest.

This particular generation of rappers has (debatably) 3 kings of rap. Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and J. Cole. While the other two artists are practically loved by most hip hop fans, not many are fond of J. Cole’s music, including his newly released album titled K.O.D.

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Jermaine Lamarr Cole was born on January 28th 1985 and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina. While he grew up lacking a lot of things, two things he didn’t lack were talent and hardship, which most of us know, are recipes for a great MC. He’s regarded as the Nas of this generation. ​Nick Genovese of America Magazine went as far as to call him the “Modern-day St. Augustine“​. Now, we know he’s got what it takes to be at the top but he just raps about women, money, and drugs like everybody else in the rap game, right? Not quite.

Most rappers early in their careers (Cole included) rap about these things in a derogatory term. It’s just how it’s been for so long with people being less sensitive towards certain social issues. Social justice warriors, the feminist movement and gender equality weren’t a big thing at the time.

When it comes to women, Cole talks about finding “the one” or first loves and staying faithful. He also talks quite a bit about his experiences growing up with a single mother in tracks like “​Apparently​” from his 3rd album and “​Once an Addict (Interlude)​” from the latest one.

He doesn’t flaunt his own cash either. Instead, he talks about black people unable to earn a living or reach their highest potential due to the education system. In his track “​BRACKETS​”, he touches on how we don’t know if money donated these days actually reach their intended destination. And in “​ATM​”, he says

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“Count it up, count it. Can’t take it when you die, but you can’t live without it”​​.

Paired with the visuals of his video, he claims that people are willing to sacrifice anything in return for bigger cheques. The majority of his music speaks about the experiences in his life be it with relationships, the black community or drugs. He’s known for being the rapper to go “multi-platinum without any features”. So why then, do people still not pick up what he’s putting down?

If you scroll through social media, online threads and the like, you’d see that the most common critique he gets is that he’s “boring”. But how can that be? A multi-platinum album selling artist… boring? If you’ve ever listened to a J. Cole song (subjectively), you’d know why people say that.

Unlike Kung Fu Kenny (Kendrick) and Drizzy (Drake) who have distinct voices, Cole has a more laid back and chill tone. He’s not as lyrically skilled as Kendrick, nor does he have catchy punchlines like Drake. But does that mean he’s not as good? Well, to be frank, every king has his own way of ruling over the rap game.

Murs from HipHopDX came up with a theory called the “​3 Lane Theory​”. In contemporary hip hop, there is the “Pop” lane, dominated by Drake, the “Hip pop” lane, dominated by Kendrick, and finally the “Hip hop” lane by the man in question, J. Cole.

He explains that the “Pop” lane is for selling records targeted to the mass where it’s catchy and people will bump in the clubs. The “Hip pop” lane has the same intent as the “Pop” lane but also has a message the MC’s trying to push out. Lastly, the “Hip hop” lane is for MC’s trying to deliver a message without caring whether it sells. And that’s exactly what Cole does.

Yes, his voice may not be the most recognized, yes maybe his beats aren’t the most iconic, and yes maybe his lyrics aren’t as deep as Kendrick’s but what he excels at is storytelling. He even said on “​False Prophets​”

“My highest moments come from tellin’ all the saddest stories I’ve seen in my life, I be fiendin’ to write Songs that raise the hair on my arms.​​”

Essentially, what he’s doing is weaving truth into his music. Those who’ve been through the same struggles will resonate with his music. With his immaculate songwriting, he’s able to paint a picture with sound and still be capable of writing “fire” lines like

“so ahead of my time, even when I rhyme about the future I be reminiscing”
“The problem with this game is this weak sea of rappers. I’m the answer on the low, I’m a cheat sheet for rappers.”
“​​I recognize that life is a dream, and I dream lucid.”

In his song “​1985 (Intro to “The Fall Off”)​”, he targets the younger generation of rappers typically known as “Mumble Rappers”. He gives them advice from the standpoint of someone who’s considered one of the greats. However, these “Mumble Rappers” didn’t like what he had to say. So, in line with Cole’s message of spreading positivity and love, he sat down with Lil Pump, one of the “Mumblers” who had beef with him, to talk it out. At the end of it all, both rappers had a mutual respect for each other.

The main objective of this album is to break the “small town mentality” and to bring to light certain issues he sees in the community. Sure, a lot of the things Cole says may be considered preachy, but love him or hate him, you can’t deny that he stands atop this current generation of rappers. One thing’s for certain, Cole looks hungry for more and this album, is only the beginning.

You might like… Soul Music: Songs of the Civil Rights Movement

I regularly post links to some related BBC shows that touch on the material we cover on the module or material that we don’t always have time to go into enough depth with. Here we have a celebration of the like of Martin Luther King in the 50th anniversary year of his death from Radio 4’s Great Lives series.

BBC Radio 4 Soul Music

You can stream the show here or you can download an mp3 here.

Show notes below:

Actor Clarke Peters narrates a special edition of Soul Music marking fifty years since the assassination of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King on April 4th 1968.

“If in doubt, pray and sing” an activist recalls how music was used as part of Dr King’s non-violent resistance movement.

This edition of Soul Music tells the stories of the songs behind the Civil Rights Movement including the spirituals and freedom songs that were integral to the struggle. In the 19th century, music became a tool for protest and resistance among the enslaved peoples of the American South. The programme hears the stories behind some of the most popular anthems and Freedom Songs that were later used as part of the civil resistance movement that eventually led to voting rights and desegregation. From Swing Low Sweet Chariot and We Shall Overcome to Amazing Grace, Strange Fruit and A Change Is Gonna Come, witnesses to and participants in the Civil Rights Movement recall how songs were such a vital part of the story.

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

You might like… Great Lives: Miles Davis

Every now and then the BBC Great Lives series pushes out a musical cracker. Here we have Adrian Utley of trip-hop/electronica act, Portishead, explaining why Mr Davis is the one of the greatest jazz musicians to ever graced this planet.BBC Radio 4 - Great Lives - Miles Davis

You can get stream the show here or download the show as an mp3 here. Below are the show notes:

Miles Davis – trumpeter, composer, bandleader – is championed by Adrian Utley of Portishead.

“He’s always been really important in my life, right from early on when my dad used to play him. It was part of the atmosphere of our house.”

From the early years with Charlie Parker and on via Kind of Blue to playing in front of 600,000 hippies on the Isle of Wight, Miles Davis was a musician who never stood still. “Always listen for what you can leave out,” he used to say, and Portishead’s seminal nineties album Dummy seems to have taken advice from the man. According to Adrian Utley, “The darkness and the sense of space is the thing that I have assimilated from Miles … he’s in my DNA.”

With Richard Williams, author of The Blue Moment: Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue and the Remaking of Modern Music,.

Presented by a sceptical Matthew Parris, and produced by an enthusiastic Miles Warde.

You Might Like… Soul Music: ‘Redemption Song’

I’ve often found this BBC Radio 4 series to be a little bit hit or miss with regards to their episodes and their focus but there are some gems hidden away that you deserve to listen to. The episode below is from Series 25 and tackles the late Bob Marley classic ‘Redemption Song’ – one of the singer’s last (and finest) songs from the Uprising album. It features some heart-wrenching accounts of the song and its meanings that fans have attached

You can stream the show here  and you can download the mp3 here.

BBC Radio 4 Soul Music
Click the image to download the MP3 from bbc.co.uk

Show notes

“If you’ve never heard of Bob Marley then you must be living under a rock” – Neville Garrick, Bob Marley’s Art Director and friend.

At the time he wrote ‘Redemption Song’, circa 1979, Bob Marley had been diagnosed with the cancer in his toe that later took his life. It is considered one of his greatest works and continues to inspire generations of Marley fans across the world.

For Grammy Award Winning artist John Legend, it’s become an anthem for addressing the criminal justice system of America. ‘Musicians without Borders’ practitioner Ahmed al ‘Azzeh finds the song inspires him to work towards a better life in the Palestinian Territories. For Jamaican Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison, it is a reminder to continue Marley’s call to ‘sing these songs of freedom’ and for Bob Scott, it will forever be heard in memory of his nephew Dominick who lost his life during the 2004 Tsunami.

Featuring interviews with Neville Garrick and Wailers Guitarist Don Kinsley.

Produced by Nicola Humphries.

[[Sound off]]: Love to Love You, Disco.

By Maurice Long

 

Disco is a genre that rarely appears to be taken very seriously and, in the present day, often seems to be disregarded as novelty music that people do not genuinely believe to be of supreme quality. However, during its emergence from the late 1960s to the 1970s, it represented a very important outlet for a lot of people who, away from the dancefloor, were the target of much discrimination at this point in history. As well as this, revisiting a lot of disco music is an enjoyable thing to do because, despite how it sometimes tends to be perceived today, it is a genre that produced a considerable amount of very good music. It went though something a crisis with the ‘Disco Sucks’ campaign and the film Saturday Night Fever, which seemed to ignore so many of the important themes that were at the centre of the disco movement but, through a retrospective look at the disco scene, it is clear that it deserves a lot more respect that people have often been willing to give it.

The origins of disco and its initial popularity are usually traced back to the DJ David Mancuso and his parties at The Loft in New York in the early 1970s. An Alex Petridis article in The Guardian after Mancuso’s death in 2016 says: “The crowd Mancuso’s parties drew were pansexual and racially mixed – about 60% black and 70% gay, according to one estimate – a gathering of ‘the disaffected and disenfranchised’”. This was in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which had empowered communities who had been consistently targeted by police and oppressed for so long and had led to the formation of groups like the Gay Liberation Front. The music and nightlife were important as a means of exercising that liberation and as expression for racially and sexually diverse groups of people. Musically, what Mancuso played was dance music that had its origins in funk, with distinctive basslines and horn sections. These characteristics can be heard in songs like Manu Dibango’s 1972 jazz-funk hit ‘Soul Makossa’

Donna Summer

Grace Jones’ Portfolio

Artists such as Donna Summer and Grace Jones emerged as standout stars of the genre. Particular highlights from their respective discographies include Summer’s 16-minute disco epic ‘Love to Love You Baby’ from 1975 and Jones’s irresistibly funky bass-driven 1977 reworking of Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en rose’ from her first album, Portfolio. The sexual liberation that disco fans were enjoying was reflected in the music. The lyrics to ‘Love to Love You Baby’ are punctuated by moans that are clearly there to emphasise the intensity of the sexual experience the song appears to be referencing.

The early years of disco were characterised by freedom and diversity, and also by musical innovation. Nicky Siano, a DJ who opened his club The Gallery in 1973, is acknowledged as the pioneer of various new DJing techniques, such as beatmatching and the use of multiple turntables. As an interview on the Vinyl Factory’s website highlights: “In the history of DJ culture, Nicky Siano’s presence looms large. His club The Gallery was instrumental in forging the disco culture of the 1970s in New York, while his technique on the decks helped further the art of mixing records as we know it.” In terms of the history of dance music as a whole, Siano’s innovation that was central to the disco scene in New York has been very influential.

It was not just in the USA where disco took off. It was also prominent in European popular music. Boney M, made up of four vocalists from the Caribbean but formed in West Germany in 1975, were particularly successful. Musically they had unmistakably disco elements but also took inspiration from reggae. Their live performances were characterised by the energetic dancing and costumes of Bobby Farrell and they enjoyed chart success throughout Europe with singles such as ‘Daddy Cool’ and ‘Sunny’ as well as the uniquely unforgettable 1978 track ‘Rasputin’.

ABBA were also involved with eurodisco and remain one of the most successful bands of all time. The disco tracks that these acts put out may be a bit poppier and perhaps less interesting than the music of Donna Summer and Grace Jones but they are still fun to listen to and the early days of disco were all about people having the freedom to express themselves and have fun in a way that had previously not been so open to them.

The release of 1977’s Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, brought disco very much into the mainstream. However, what was represented in the film was not a particularly accurate depiction of the disco scene. It centred on white, heteronormative characters and was soundtracked by the Bee Gees. It would be difficult to describe it as a celebration of the racial and sexual inclusivity that was so fundamental to the development of disco music and dancing.

While Saturday Night Fever’s portrayal was perhaps unhelpful for how disco was received, the ‘Disco Sucks’ campaign, started by rock radio DJ Steve Dahl, was to prove more damaging. As a Hadley Meares article for Aeon describes: “Dahl saw disco as slick and inauthentic, and he took to playing popular disco tunes, only to ‘blow ’em up real good’ with sound-effects live on-air.” He had a lot of fans who agreed with him and the movement kept growing. This culminated in the 1979 public demolition of many disco records and subsequent riot at a Chicago White Sox baseball game. Dahl distanced the movement from racism or homophobia but it did involve many young white men who appeared to find the disco scene, which welcomed so many marginalised people, threatening to their notions of constructions of masculinity.

Disco did slow down and the scene became less prominent into the 1980s but it is impossible to deny the influence that it has had on popular music styles since then. It undoubtedly deserves to be loved and appreciated for what it represented, and for the joy and freedom that the music communicated.

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Music mentioned can be found here:

[[Sound-off]] Post-Punk: The Big Bang of Modern Music

By Daniel Holstead

After the dust cloud of the Sex Pistol’s implosion had settled, there was no time for Punk’s eulogy as our dear music culture at the time wasn’t particularly into grieving for the era that has just been and gone. And so with that mentality the music scene had decided that an almost page-one-rewrite was needed for the coming era.

 

Gone was the righteous hegemonic masculinity of punk rock where men were Neanderthals in expressing a deep rooted rage at the establishment and everything it stood for. These punk rockers were unprepared for the likes of Joy Division and the kind of earnestness that Ian Curtis would bring to dark dystopian guitar work and tribal drum beats figuratively exploded the heads of those who once engaged in the slamdancing and spit fights of the mid-to-late 1970s. Where punk had been the liberation of a generation, post-punk was the rising of underground music to a mainstream that needed a new direction.

 

The post-punk moment in music was one which ignored the doctrine of the time before it and raided the pre-punk chest of the whole of prog rock, the androgynous sexuality of Roxy Music and perhaps most importantly balls-to-the-wall all out craziness of Captain Beefheart. While this type of music had been viewed as stale when the likes of The Ramones and The Clash set fire to them in the mid 70s, it was the new pioneers of the Talking Heads and The Cure who found in this the key to a new future. Whether it’s David Byrne reciting Captain Beefheart’s ‘Well’ or getting former Roxy Music member Brian Eno to produce the pivotal post-punk album Remain In Light, it is easy to find the fingerprints of pre-punk all over post-punk.

 

While 1977 had been the year that gave us Never Mind The Bollocks which had become the holy scripture that the Sex Pistol’s brought down from the mountain top of counter-culture, David Bowie and Brian Eno were putting out what Bowie described as “new language” what was particular interesting, about these release in hindsight is how the experimentation of Low and Heroes had been unprecedented.  On one hand it was being described as “alienating” by a Dutch journalist and on the other was being regarded by the New York Times as “a strange crossbreed of Roxy Music, Brian Eno’s own solo albums, Talking Heads and an Indonesian gamelan”.

 

With this response to Bowie’s Low, it is easy to identify how post-punk was melting the minds of a music audience whilst feeding them the conventions of the early 1970s rock music which punk had attempted to erase from the archives of popular culture. While we could of course talk at great lengths about the krautrock influence on David Bowie’s work in Berlin and how he appropriated the sounds of Neu, Can and Kraftwerk for his very western and very large cult following, it is important to accept that David Bowie is to this day being cited by contemporary pop artists such as; Lady Gaga, St. Vincent, Calvin Harris and Lorde and it is this period of work that is time and time again referenced as his greatest imprint on music.

There is also a separate discussion to be had on Brian Eno’s influence on the colourful landscape of modern music.

Eno and U2 as part of the Passengers project (1995)

Whilst Brian Eno began his career as a producer by working on the various cornerstone records of post-punk and new wave, it was from this that he became the master of turning big bands into great bands. When it came to U2, he turned them from the biggest cult post-punk band into THE biggest band of the late 1980s and 1990s. This was evident in the various reinventions in U2’s career that begun Eno-produced The Unforgettable Fire and had continued through until the late nineties. U2 of course also being a product of early post-punk influences courtesy of the sounds of CBGBs with Television and Talking Heads having a large influence on the Irish band along with the dystopian experimental sounds of British bands Joy Division and Wire. Then there is the sequel to U2; Coldplay who enlisted Eno as producer on their Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto which spawned a variety of anthemic pop songs that topped worldwide charts. None of this could have possibly happened without Eno’s beginnings as a member of glam rock outfit Roxy Music and the subsequent genre fusing that led to post-punk.

Of course there is the highly influential feminist post-punk bands such as; Au Pairs and The Raincoats who can share the acclaim of heavily influencing nineties alternative rock acts such as; Nirvana and Pixies. It is documented that Kurt Cobain had high praise for The Raincoats and went as far as to listing their self-titled debut in his top 50 albums of all time as well as being credited as being a reason for their mid-nineties reformation. The Raincoats’ amateurish punk sound had been the framework for the sound of Nirvana, not only in its bare bones approach to a defiant rock sound, but in its both personal and often self-celebratory spirit which is reminiscent of the few and far between almost joyous moments of Nirvana’s short career, a key example being ‘Silver’  and ‘Been A Son’.

So while it is only quietly, you will find admission of post-punk’s wide ranging influence on the music of today and a lot of what has transpired since it faded into the early 1980s, once David Bowie’s work with Brian Eno is considered as being a sort of genesis for post-punk and those whom took influence from Low and Heroes in this period, it is easier to find how the roots of post-punk led to a portion of the popular music of today. And perhaps the most key example of this can be found here

[[Sound off]]: From Starfish to Stardom

By Lauren Rackham

They used to be bland and boring, now, they give it all for an adventure of a lifetime

For a newly upcoming band in the alternative rock spectrum, it’s quite difficult to make everyone instantly like you. For Coldplay, their music was arguably non conformist to the alternative rock ‘n’ roll stereotype, much to the extent that many people sought to reject their musical style and seek something…let’s just say, a bit more “rebellious”.

 

Since then, the band have faced mass amounts of scrutiny from fans of the genre for their lack of rock ‘n’ roll significance, going as far as branding them as being very bland.

 

Why, you might ask? Rock bands such as Rage Against the Machine use their songs as platforms to voice their opinions of society. Listening to Coldplay, there’s no underlying issues raised in their work.

 

What does ‘Fix You’ mean? Are they voicing their opinions on the political, economic or societal state of the world? No, they’re singing about love. Richard Bradley, a writer for the Huffington Post, argued that Chris Martin’s ‘songs ought to be more political, less personal.’

 

Take this into account and substitute the “in your face” guitar distortion that is often associated with rock, for sweet melodic piano driven relaxation vibes. Subvert the riotous singing for calm undertones of a peaceful serenade from a leader that in the eyes of Andy Gill thinks is, the ‘world’s least impressive rock star by virtually any criteria connected with rock’n’roll’ and you get an alternative rock band that isn’t really much of a rock band at all…or at least, perhaps one without a cause.

 

As sad as it is, people actually use that about Martin as an excuse for disliking him and the band, and arguing how dull they can be…truth is, if they were really that boring, then why is it that they are still relevant sixteen years later?

 

According to Forbes, the band earn $88 million as the eighth highest paid celebrity in the entertainment industry, having apparently sold over ninety-three million records with seven incredible albums, by which, according to Official Charts, all reached the number one
spot in the UK charts.

 

For the decade of the noughties, Coldplay released Parachutes,

Coldplay, X&Y album released in 2005

Rush of Blood to the Head, X&Y and Viva La Vida. Ultimately Coldplay are known for their consistency within albums. Even though X&Y was least favoured by some as Adam Silverstein demonstrates, it obtained the number one spot in the UK Official Charts for four consecutive weeks, containing top notch singles like ‘Fix You’ and ‘Speed of Sound’.

 

A collaboration with Johnny Cash, having only made it to the written stage as he unfortunately passed away before recording could be done. This was a major victory for Coldplay because if they were so tasteless, then why would one of the most iconic figures from rock ‘n’ roll history want to collaborate with them?

 

In fact, why would artists like Beyoncé, Jay Z, Rhianna and the Chainsmokers, want to collaborate with artists that had a reputation for being uninteresting? How would this profit themselves? Yes, so Beyoncé may have turned down a song before and said it was ‘awful’
but every artist has the occasional bad song but lets not forget she did collaborate with them for their newest album, A Head Full of Dreams, lending her vocals to ‘Hymn For the Weekend’ – they must’ve done something right?

 

Coldplay have blossomed in the spotlight; by embracing their blandness critiques, they’ve managed to constitute it for a more emotional performance. So much so, that having been emboldened to try new things, visually and sonically, came with great success and relevance throughout the years.

 

Although they have no political stance, they’re admired by fans around the world for being different. Martin himself has stood his ground for over a decade cultivating a genre that was full of stereotypical madness.

 

Even though some lyrics may be considered border-line cringe – singing about generic love and loss (lost in translation to someone who’s tired of hearing those things, yes, it can be a little boring) but, the music is expressive.

 

Coldplay live

The emotion in Martin’s voice, the soul in the music; how it can make you smile, laugh and cry, all at the same time reflects all the attributes of an amazing artist and experience.

Despite whatever criticism Coldplay have received in the past about their songs, their performances have been beyond a dream, enough to have millions of fans worldwide eagerly wait on the edge of their seats for tour dates and tickets to be released.

 

Following the release of their newest album, A Head Full of Dreams, on 4 December 2015, the same album which won Best British album of the year at the Brit Awards in 2016. Touring started near enough immediately, having first appeared at in Buenos Aires, Argentina on March 31 2016.

 

Still performing around the world just over a year and a half later, there’s no denying the band’s determination is inspirational. Aol reported back in 2016 that, a ‘second round’ of dates had to be ‘added across Europe’ because the 2017 tour had ‘sold out in minutes’. At present, Coldplay are still adding tour dates on thanks to the major stadium sell outs and the cry for more dates.

 

No one can argue that their journey from Starfish days, singing in local pubs to global sell out stadiums has become anything but an adventure of a lifetime. They’ve provided their fans with enough memories in one night, to last them a lifetime – I’m sure of this because I still remember 
July 16 2016 at Wembley Stadium like it was just yesterday – firework and confetti explosions, inflatable surfing, laser beams, illuminous colour changing bands that lit

up by nightfall. Martin running, jumping and leaping in all directions of the stage, it appeared like he didn’t care if his vocals were a bit pitchy and his dancing was a bit outdated…but neither did I or the thousands of other fans that paid hundreds to see him and fellow bandmates either.

 

Still sound boring to you?

 

[[SOUND OFF]] is a series of student-written features on artists/albums/music worth checking out

You might like… The Summer of Love: How Hippies Changed The World

BBC 4 has a 3 part series on air at the time of writing that fits in with some of the content we look at in the first couple of weeks on the module. Psychoactive drug experiments by pioneering psychologists and starry-eyed kids combine to create a movement quite unlike anything that came before it.

Here’s the show notes for Episode 1:

The first episode looks at how ideas, music and lifestyles from Asia, Europe and the American Left became entwined in California. It traces the roots of the hippies back to a 19th-century German sect of wandering naturalists called Lebensreform who brought their freethinking ideas about nature to California after the Second World War. There they merged with a growing interest in Eastern mystical concepts of human nature imported to America by maverick British thinkers like Aleister Crowley and Aldous Huxley. Add to this mix a wonder drug first developed by the CIA called LSD and a wave of student activists and anti-war protestors agitating for revolution and you have the astonishing story how these forces came together to give birth to the Summer of Love in San Francisco, 1967.

If that sounds good to you then you can click through this link to watch via the BBC iPlayer.

The second episode can be found on this link. Show notes below:

The second episode explores how the Summer of Love of 1967 set in motion an era of social upheaval that pitted America’s youth against its elders and how the American government responded with a series ofbrutal crackdowns. The hippies failed politically, but their cultural influence changed the world. Everything from the environmental movement to the explosion in alternative health practices to the birth of feminism all grew out of this moment. And most surprising of all, we trace how hippie ideas first imagined on LSD went on to shape the information age itself.

Enjoy.

You might like… Soul Music: Who Knows Where The Time Goes

The song ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ is a beautiful and whimsical folk track that was written by Sandy Denny (prior to her brief stint with Fairport Convention), when she was only 19 years old and it betrays a much older soul. Her life was tragically cut short, aged only 31.

The tune is the subject of the BBC Radio 4 series, Soul Music, this week and it’s one of those hauntingly beautiful tragic songs that warrants a half hour deep dive. Click this link to go to the show or download an mp3 (26.9mb) by clicking the image below.

BBC Radio 4 Soul Music
Click the image to download the show (source BBC.co.uk)

Here’s the show notes:

Sandy Denny was just 19 years old when she wrote ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes?’, her much-loved song about the passing of time. Soul Music tells the story behind the song and speaks to people for whom it has special meaning.

The record producer Joe Boyd and founder member of Fairport Convention Simon Nicol remember Sandy and her music. We speak to musicians who have covered the song, including folk legend Judy Collins and the singer Rufus Wainwright, about what the song means to them. And we hear from people whose lives have been touched by the song, including the singer-songwriter Ren Harvieu, who suffered a back break in a freak accident and found strength in the song during her recovery. And neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman explains why the years seem to fly past ever more quickly as we grow older. Also featuring contributions from Sandy Denny’s biographer Mick Houghton and Dr Richard Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Music at Newcastle University.

Producer: Mair Bosworth.

The track has been covered extensively. You can find some of the covers referenced in the show together with a few other notable versions in the playlist below

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