Kofi's hat

Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Copycat Bands -- That Song Again

The Guardian Unlimited explores the apparently always-timely issue of the "surrogate band", that is, so-called soundalike bands. Writer Dave Simpson accuses Keane, Snow Patrol, and Athlete of sounding like Coldplay... and himself sounds a somewhat familiar note there. Hasn't this been said before? Yes, at least some of it has, but it's an interesting, thought-provoking article.

Simpson allows that soundalikes are nothing new... which also has been noted elsewhere, but I'm being harsh again. Shakespeare got there first with everything. Even the Coldplay criticism. Somehow. Oh, it's in the oeuvre somewhere. Prescient guy, Shakespeare.

The article addresses more than alleged Coldplay copying. Artists are accused of being "morose, David Gray-type songwriters" -- a "type" I thought as old as time itself. The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, the Strokes, and the Killers are singled out as each having spawned numerous similar bands.

Paul Weighell, who used to work in A&R, told Simpson, "Sometimes I think the industry wants - and perhaps, financially, needs - a situation where a massive audience are buying exactly the same records."

A scary thought, at least to anyone who's reading this sort of blog.

The article delves into attempts to water down the sound of bands to make them more commercially successful, as well as the potential for successful artists to later grow artistically.

Surely, the Coldplay backlash will lead to a boomerang effect at some point... It seems like Chris Martin may be toning down the "WE ARE U2, BOW DOWN TO US, MORTALS!" routine. That may make it more difficult to sustain the hate, unless one goes the "Oh, look at him, thinking he can manipulate us into liking him!" route.

Martin told NME that Coldplay will be playing smaller venues during their next tour. He said they're "not BON JOVI quite yet." Quite clever, this... and a Bon Jovi comparison looks playful, rather than arrogant. Spin control might have played a role in this announcement -- why announce this now, for one thing? -- but that need not be sinister. Martin, for his part, attributed the decision to "very geeky and technological" concerns, saying they don't think they can "make the most of" outdoor stadium spaces "yet."

NME asked whether Coldplay would like to "become" like Bon Jovi, and Martin replied, "I would love to have hair of that volume." Cute. Was Bono ever that silly? I'm weakening... I'm... Wait... giant lemon. Keep trying, Martin!

mp3:Keane - Walnut Tree (Keane stands accused of being a Coldplay clone)

mp3:Jonathan Rice - So Sweet (Rice, alleged "morose, David Gray-type songwriter")

Both songs are from the same Music From the OC album. Masses of people buy those albums, but I can't work up a lot of righteous indignation about people buying albums with tracks by Beulah, Death Cab, The Futureheads, and sure, Keane. I like some of the Coldplay "clones" and I think such labels may be fun to play with, but they're silly and often unfair.


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