Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rock and Roll Is Cold(play)

In my blog post offering my list of winners and losers for 2015, I said that rock and roll was a winner, albeit an unlikely one, for numerous successes artists working in or connected to the genre enjoyed, concluding, "It may be only temporary, but at least for now, rock and roll is cool again."
Well, that brief comeback for rock and roll ended last week at the Super Bowl.
One of the "successes" I noted was Coldplay getting the gig for the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, as Coldplay have been a staple of twenty-first-century rock.  Almost immediately, though, the National Football League (NFL) had buyer's remorse.  Despite a few edgy and abrasive tunes here and there, Coldplay (which released their latest album, A Head Full of Dreams, in December 2015)  are generally thought of as having a safe, almost soft sound that doesn't jibe with the intensity of a championship football game.  Realizing, as I should have, that Coldplay mostly had about as much energy as a slug, the NFL quickly augmented the Super Bowl halftime show with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, and Lady Gaga, meanwhile, was called in to sing the national anthem before the game.
You know what happened.
I'll pass on commenting on whether or not it was appropriate for Beyoncé to feature at the Super Bowl a musical number paying tribute to the Black Panthers or whether or not such sociopolitical commentary was intended to bash police officers (although it was kind of funny to hear conservative politicians and commentators bitch about Beyoncé's salute to a militant, uniformed group in between the two halves of a game devoted to guys in uniforms bashing into each other for territorial advantage).  All I know is this: Beyoncé masterfully generated controversy, excitement, and energy at the Super Bowl show, and mainstream rock and roll bands used to excel at generating all three of the above with minimal effort (and with no need for choreography or backup dancers, either).  Not here.  Also, for all his lack of controversy, Bruno Mars is still more exciting and energetic than Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.  And even though Lady Gaga was not part of the halftime show, her rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" earned as much applause as Beyoncé and Bruno Mars put together.  But even without factoring in the artist legally known as Stefani Germanotta, you have to admit that Coldplay came out looking pretty bad.  I mean, when you're the headliner, you're not supposed to be upstaged by the supporting acts!
And there you are!
So let's review:  Lady Gaga, the disco singer - great take on the national anthem.  Beyoncé, the hip-hop/R&B singer -  daring, edgy, and very relevant.  Bruno Mars, the pop star - dynamic, energetic, and out of this world.    
Coldplay, the pasty-faced British rock and roll guys?  Yeah, they got nothin'.  
I suppose one could argue that, instead of a band that goes down smooth and has been around since the turn of the millennium, the NFL should have gotten an edgy, blues-based, heavy present-day rock band to headline the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.  Well, there are plenty of bands like that.  Ironically, none of them have sold as many records as Coldplay, as such bands are largely unknown to mass audiences.  Thank for that a rock radio culture that's declining faster than rock itself.
And if rock survives, it will be the younger generations that save it.  Because no one has any tolerance for middle-aged dudes who rock out onstage.
Least of all any of them who run for President of the United States. :-( 

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