How Cold­play stays on top in the hip-hop age

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - GLENN GAMBOA Newsday

Cold­play may be the blueprint for the 21st cen­tury rock band.

These days, rock stars are fewer and far­ther be­tween, to the point that Nielsen Mu­sic says that so far in 2017, hip-hop has over­thrown rock as the most pop­u­lar genre in Amer­ica for the first time. In Poll­star’s list of Top 50 tours so far this year, there are only three rock bands that were es­tab­lished this cen­tury — Twenty-One Pi­lots, Kings of Leon and Panic! At the Disco — all lodged near the bot­tom of the list.

Cold­play, how­ever, is buck­ing that trend. The Bri­tish band’s last al­bum, “A Head Full of Dreams,” sold nearly 2 mil­lion copies world­wide, enough to land it at No. 8 for all of 2015, even though it was only on sale for less than a month. Its sta­dium tour sup­port­ing the al­bum has been so big that it made its sec­ond stop at MetLife Sta­dium on Aug. 1, a year af­ter the tour started. Its most re­cent sin­gle, “Some­thing Just Like This,” a col­lab­o­ra­tion with The Chainsmok­ers, peaked at No. 3 this spring, one of the few rock tracks to make an im­pact on pop ra­dio this year.

And that kind of col­lab­o­ra­tion may be the se­cret to Cold­play’s suc­cess.

“When you’ve been a band for nearly 20 years, find­ing fresh in­spi­ra­tion isn’t al­ways that easy,” Cold­play drum­mer Will Cham­pion told the Los An­ge­les Times. “So when some­one new comes in, you grab the chance.”

But the col­lab­o­ra­tion is not just for in­spi­ra­tion. Lisa Wor­den, mu­sic di­rec­tor at L.A. ra­dio sta­tion KROQ-FM, told the Times that work­ing with Bey­oncé or the upand-comer Tove Lo helps the band stay rel­e­vant in the ever-chang­ing pop land­scape.

“It keeps them in touch with a younger au­di­ence, which hears ‘Ad­ven­ture of a Life­time’ and says, ‘Cold­play is still speak­ing to us,’” Wor­den said.

While Cold­play isn’t the only rock band work­ing with high-pro­file col­lab­o­ra­tors, it is the band that has seem­ingly em­braced the new mu­si­cal styles the most. Ma­roon 5 has had a string of pop hits with rap­pers Wiz Khal­ifa (“Pay­phone”), Ken­drick Lamar (“Don’t Wanna Know”) and Fu­ture (“Cold”), but their sound hasn’t re­ally changed all that much.

Fall Out Boy hasn’t changed much ei­ther, even af­ter work­ing with ev­ery­one from rap­per Post Malone on the new sin­gle “Cham­pi­ons” to Kanye West and Lil Wayne on the “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” remix.

How­ever, Cold­play looks like it plans to take its new in­spi­ra­tions and run with them. It’s a long way from “Yel­low” to “Ad­ven­ture of a Life­time.”

“We felt like rock mu­sic has been done,” singer Chris Mar­tin told the Daily Tele­graph when “A Head Full of Dreams” was re­leased.

“There’s an aw­ful lot of rock mu­sic al­ready out there,” agreed bassist Guy Ber­ry­man.

“I’m not sure there is any­thing left to add.”

How­ever, this new hy­brid of rock and pop and dance mu­sic that Cold­play has been work­ing on seems to be work­ing for both the band and its fans.

Cold­play’s new EP, “Kalei­do­scope” (At­lantic), is heavy on the col­lab­o­ra­tions, fea­tur­ing its smash hit “Some­thing Just Like This” with the Chainsmok­ers, as well as the new sin­gle “Mir­a­cles (Some­one Spe­cial)” with rap­per Big Sean. “A L IENS ,” which the band co wrote with the great Brian Eno, will also be re­leased as a sin­gle with pro­ceeds go­ing to Mi­grant Offshore Aid Sta­tion (MOAS), an in­ter­na­tional group that res­cues mi­grants and refugees strug­gling in the Mediter­ranean Sea.

And it’s here where Cold­play’s in­ter­ests dove­tail with the band’s broader pur­pose.

Mar­tin has been very in­volved with the Global Ci­ti­zen group, which aims to elim­i­nate ex­treme poverty in the world by 2030. He has signed on as the cu­ra­tor of the Global Ci­ti­zen Fes­ti­val con­certs around the world un­til 2030, in­clud­ing the one sched­uled for Sept. 23 in Cen­tral Park and the most re­cent one in Ger­many, where Cold­play shared the stage with Shakira on “Yel­low” and “A Sky Full of Stars.”

By main­tain­ing Cold­play’s A-list sta­tus, the band also gives the causes it sup­ports a higher pro­file.

“Ev­ery­one has this to­geth­er­ness vi­sion, which sounds a lit­tle hippie at first — just as ‘Imag­ine’ does,” Mar­tin said when he ac­cepted the Global Ci­ti­zen role in 2015. “But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. The rea­son we wanted to get in­volved with ... was be­cause they in­clude ev­ery­body.”


Cold­play has found that em­brac­ing new mu­sic styles through col­lab­o­ra­tion may be the se­cret to its suc­cess.

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