Hello 2020 and hello new possibilities. The beginning of a new year always begins with high anticipation of what’s ahead, and for me the turning of the calendar always brings to mind the promise of new music from favorite artists.
Despite another lackluster Grammy Awards ceremony, the new decade began with a bang as we were treated to the surprise release of a new album by Eminem, the third set of the Pet Shop Boys’ Stuart Price trilogy, as well as a career-spanning 18-disc box set by Depeche Mode.
As for the rest of 2020, my ears are already anxiously awaiting new records from: Garbage, The Killers, Panic! at the Disco, plus the long-awaited new set from Tame Impala. Also, in the works are new offerings from Green Day and Weezer, which will be profligately supported by this summer’s unabashed Hella Mega Tour along with Fall Out Boy.
So, here’s to new songs, new albums, new artists and hopefully, the demise of auto-tune used as a disconcerting crutch.
(Photo: Coldplay in Cleveland by Eric Allen © 2017 Popmartzoo)
“This was our first chapter. From now on we’ll only be full of surprises,” was recently posted on Coldplay’s Facebook page upon completion of the A Head Full of Dreams Tour in Buenos Aires. The sentiment reinforced the mysterious cloud of uncertainty which hangs over Coldplay’s future as a band. Chris Martin has alleged on more than one occasion the band’s seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams marks “the completion of something.” He’s also proclaimed he doesn’t envision another proper Coldplay full-length in the future. While it doesn’t sound like the band members themselves know for sure what lies ahead for the best-selling rock band of this century, it seems all but guaranteed it’ll be some time before we find out what will come next.
Coldplay’s latest tour, which ran from March 2016 through October 2017, included 114 shows and became the third-highest grossing concert tour of all time, and ticket sales grossed a total of $523,033,675. Now that the profound A Head Full of Dreams Tour has ended its trek around the globe, I can’t help recalling the magical adventure of the three shows I was lucky enough to attend.
After my two unforgettable experiences in 2016, I was luckily and unexpectedly presented with an opportunity to travel an additional 600 miles to attend another date of Coldplay’s tour in Cleveland. This time, my best friend from high school was in tow, as he’d never before seen Coldplay live. I must admit I was not only curious if the show would have the same impact on me a year later, but I also wondered if it would impress my best friend in the same manner it had affected me previously. I’m happy to report the answers to both questions are yes and YES! [Read Full Story]
We’ve all encountered and endured the hyperbolic rantings of music snobs. You know the type; someone who not only thinks they know more than the average music buff, but more than anyone else, period. The stereotypical music fanatic feels self-important and even entitled to an unjustified sense of coolness by playing the anti-mainstream music game; declaring a particular favorite band or artist is better than whomever someone else is listening to because said artist is more obscure. Yet, these so-called music aficionados are the first to abandon their favorites upon the very first sign of even a miniscule amount of commercial triumph, because of some imaginary belief system based on tiresome and ridiculous self-imposed “rules,” which decree mainstream success is evil and taboo.
Now before you start thinking to yourself that I’m the pot calling the kettle black, understand my point is this: I don’t think my musical taste is superior or inferior to anyone else’s. But then again, I’m certainly not the type of musical hypocrite who will stop listening to a band or artist I’ve followed for years just because the mainstream masses eventually jump on the proverbial band wagon (pun intended). Also, I’ll readily admit I’ve had countless first-hand experiences of initially rejecting particular artists too hastily based upon bad first impressions, only to discover later I had prematurely misjudged or overlooked their significant musical contributions. [Read Full Feature]
Harry Styles: Harry Styles
What do you do in your spare time while on hiatus from one of the world’s biggest-selling and most successful boy bands? If you’re Harry Styles you use that time wisely by dropping a debut album so commanding that it makes you an instant rock star. If you disregard preconceived notions concerning boy bands, as well as stop trying to decipher if lyrical subtexts may or may not allude to Taylor Swift, you will hear the emerging talent of an undeniably credible solo artist. Harry Styles effectually straddles the line between do-it-yourself production qualities and cock rock.
Harry Styles won’t stop Directioners from wondering if and when the notorious boy band will reunite, but it certainly affirms Styles has the goods to become a major solo star. It’s also utterly refreshing to hear a young artist embrace the use of organic elements such as strings, guitar, and choir instead of opting for the exhausted generic sounding beat-driven production gimmicks currently permeating the musical landscape. [Read Full Review]
Watch the “Sign of the Times” Music Video:
These days, a mysterious cloud of uncertainty hangs over Coldplay’s future as a band. Chris Martin has alleged on more than one occasion the band’s seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams marks “the completion of something.” He’s also proclaimed he doesn’t envision another proper Coldplay full-length in the future. While it doesn’t sound like the band members themselves know for sure what lies ahead for the best-selling rock band of this century, it seems all but guaranteed it’ll be some time before what, if anything comes next.
When word finally arrived of Coldplay preparing to launch 2016’s A Head Full of Dreams Tour, my entire summer was instantly engrossed within a fever-pitched frenzy of anticipation at the thought of seeing Coldplay live again. Although I had caught the band’s impressive act previously during the Twisted Logic and Viva La Vida tours in 2006 and 2009, they had yet to incorporate the Xylobands, which subsequently made me feel as if I’d missed partaking in the full-on Coldplay concert experience. Therefore, I purchased my tickets posthaste.
Finally, after months of waiting, the day of the show arrived. I packed up my car early in the morning and drove to see my favorite band, coincidentally for the second time, in Louisville, Kentucky (I had previously seen Coldplay at Freedom Hall in Louisville during the Twisted Logic Tour back in 2006). During my drive, my mind constantly raced back and forth between the excitement and anticipation, but I also found myself wondering if I’d mentally created impossible expectations for the show. After all, I hadn’t been this zealous to see a concert in several years.
I ultimately made my way to downtown Louisville and was pleasantly surprised to see the concert venue within view from my hotel window. I explored some of the city as I impatiently counted down the hours until the show. I’d allotted enough time to arrive at the KFC Yum! Center just as the doors opened. I eagerly made my way to the merchandise counter and methodically selected my souvenirs. If this was to be my last chance to see Coldplay perform live, I damn well wanted something to commemorate the occasion.
Alas, it was show time. After not so tolerantly waiting through not one, but two, unremarkable opening acts, I felt my chest begin to pound as I nervously adjusted my precious Xyloband, still waiting for it to come alive. Just when I thought I couldn’t wait another minute, the concert hall precipitously filled with Maria Callas’ operatic voice as “O Mio Babbino Caro” echoed within the walls. Then, as the lights went out, the screens lit up with greetings from attendees of the previous show in Chicago, as they sent their regards and introduced “the greatest band in the world…Coldplay!” Suddenly, a collective roar erupted and music began to pour out from the amp stacks. Thousands of Xylobands concurrently ignited the darkness creating a sparkling sea of red and white pulses. Will Champion, Guy Berryman, and Jonny Buckland took their places on stage as an exuberant Chris Martin leapt onto a multi-colored runway encompassing half the venue’s floor section. The foursome opened with the effervescent title track from the band’s seventh album. It was a high-energy opening that climaxed with multiple canons firing a cornucopia of rainbow colored confetti upon the cheering crowd.
The show progressed into an arena-sized sing-along, culminating into a musical love fest enhanced with balloons, lasers, pyrotechnics, and multiple confetti showers which accentuated, but never over shadowed the hypnotic music. Songs were featured from all of the band’s albums including “Trouble,” “Fix You,” “The Scientist” and “Magic.” Also a few surprises along the way such as a cover of Bowie’s “Heroes” and Johnny Cash’s hit “Ring of Fire.” During the band’s hit “Paradise,” the setting was transformed into a technicolored diamond field, evoking the group’s kaleidoscopic album artwork, which quite frankly took my breath away.
Coldplay received NME’s Godlike Genius Award last night and treated the audience to a six-song set which included the hits “Viva La Vida,” “Charlie Brown,” “Clocks,” “Yellow,” Adventure of a Lifetime” and “Fix You.”
NME’s most coveted accolade was presented to the award show headliners by Kylie Minogue Wednesday night at London’s O2 Brixton Academy. Coldplay delighted attendees of annual award ceremony with a mini-concert performance which included LED wristbands, a great deal of confetti, and an unexpected table-top performance by Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes.
Fresh off of performing a triumphant Super Bowl halftime show, the chart-topping band will kick off its 2016 global A Head Full of Dreams Tour in March. The 2016 global trek will mark Coldplay’s first stadium tour of North America since 2012.
Summer is upon us and along with it comes a swarm of noteworthy new releases. Therefore, I’ve compiled a short list of how to get the most musical bang (and bonus tracks) for your bucks.
Sarah McLachlan: Shine On
The deluxe version includes the bonus tracks “What’s It Gonna Take” and “Little B,” which are available exclusively on CD with Target’s version, as well as Amazon and iTunes’ digital deluxe editions.
Dolly Parton: Blue Smoke
The queen of country returns with her 42nd studio album and Walmart is offering a limited edition with the four bonus tracks “Get Up Get On Get Out,” “Olive Branch,” “Early Morning Breeze” and “Angels in the Midst.”
Tori Amos: Unrepentant Geraldines
The high priestess of baroque pop returns with her first proper studio album since 2009’s Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Described as a true return to form in the vein of Boys for Pele, Amos’ 14th studio album will be released on 180 gram vinyl LP, as well as a deluxe casebook edition, which includes a DVD of behind the scenes footage and the bonus track “Forest of Glass.” The iTunes version also includes the bonus track “White Telephone to God,” and Amazon’s digital version includes the additional bonus track “Dixie.”
The Black Keys: Turn Blue
The highly anticipated follow-up to the alluring indie rockers’ El Camino was co-produced by Danger Mouse and has been described as moody and emotional, but highly melodic. The 11-track set includes the title track and “Fever,” which are available now on iTunes.
Coldplay: Ghost Stories
Coldplay returns with their experimental project, which is reported to precede another full-length set to be released in 2015. Target has scored an exclusive of the band’s sixth studio album, which includes the bonus tracks “All Your Friends,” “Ghost Story,” and “O (Part 2/Reprise).”
Mariah Carey: Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse
The emancipated diva returns with her first and fiercest studio album since 2009, which includes the hits “Beautiful,” “The Art of Letting Go,” and her stunning version of George Michael’s “One More Try.”
Chris Martin and crew offer up an ethereal sliver of grandness for the next installment of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Equally cinematic and surreal, “Atlas” is a slow building hymn, which harkens back to Coldplay’s early days and is the perfect anthem to jumpstart an early fall season of numerous new music releases.
Coldplay’s Live 2012 (the band’s first concert film since 2003), is a visual and aural experience unlike anything attempted during the group’s previous treks around the world. Coldplay Live 2012 was filmed in Paris, Montreal, and Glastonbury and was directed by Paul Dugdale, fresh from recently lensing Adele’s Live at The Royal Albert Hall.
Coldplay Live 2012 documents the band’s current and massively successful Mylo Xyloto Tour, which is still in the midst of galloping across the globe. The tour, which is the band’s most dazzling spectacle yet, is meticulously captured here on this live DVD/CD/Blu-Ray and undeniably demonstrates Coldplay has matured into world class live performers. Raising the bar by leaps and bounds above their previous outings, Coldplay Live 2012 is destined to go down in music history as the moment when the band fully hit its stride.
Rich with larger-than-life performances (most notably “Yellow” and “Charlie Brown”) ranging from intimate theatres to gargantuan sold out stadiums, the tour film is a visual color-fest highlighting the band’s luminous paint-soaked stage and featuring throngs of passionate fans drenched in neon confetti and armed with computer controlled, multi-colored, LED wristbands. The film also incorporates black and white documentary style footage (divided equally between each group member), which profusely enhances the experience instead of merely being an inessential diversion. Coldplay’s Live 2012 succeeds in creating what U2 attempted to achieve with Rattle and Hum.
Although Coldplay will be on hiatus in 2013 before beginning work on their sixth studio album (tentatively scheduled for 2014), this 96-minute concert film (plus the two bonus performances “The Scientist” and “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”), along with its accompanying live CD, is visually stunning and musically remarkable enough to keep your eyes and ears enthralled for unlimited repeat plays during the interim. Coldplay Live 2012 manages to forever capture the moment when Coldplay rises above mere greatness to become one of the world’s best live acts.
For those not fortunate enough to possess a ticket to the Mylo Xyloto Tour, this is the next best thing to being there for all of whom are willing to eagerly follow the band’s musical evolution. Coldplay Live 2012 may very well be considered paradise indeed.
© 2012 Popmartzoo