I already know what you’re thinking, and you can just stop right there, and unthink it. I haven’t gone crazy, I haven’t sold out, and I haven’t just lost a drunken bet.
It’s the summer of the year 2000, and I’m walking down a quiet street in a small town in the South of England. As I pass by a hairdresser’s I can hear, in the tinny shop-radio style, what I know to be a new single by a potentially exciting band. Not that I can really tell from this distance and with this sound quality, but there’s a vulnerability to the singer’s voice, and some lovely interplay with the lead guitar when they both move high in the register on the line “your skin, oh yeah your skin and bones”. It doesn’t feel like an obviously big hit; the dissonance in guitar right from the start of the track ought to put some people off. At the same time, I’m kind of hoping it does well.
On 2th July 2000, “Yellow” by Coldplay enters the singles chart at #4. It’s the second single from their debut album Parachutes, and their first Top 5 hit. Quirkily, it’s only the third highest new entry of the week, behind Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”, which was straight in at #1, and “Gotta Tell You” by Samantha Mumba, in at two. The previous week’s number one, “Spinning Around” by Kylie Minogue, drops to number three. In all the top 20 features nine new entries, including “Good Thing Going” by Eastenders actor Sid Own at #14. What times we lived in.
Looking back through the prism of Coldplay hatred and anger that greets their every move these days it’s hard to separate the casual abuse from actually considering that they might not be completely without merit. Believe me, I’ve been there, done that, bought the “I hate Coldplay t-shirt” and wanted to hit people for daring to suggest that the indie I’ve been telling them I’m into all these years is the indie they think they hear when they listen to A Rush of Blood to the Head. Protesting the difference, it’s hard not to sometimes feel like Basil Fawlty explaining to the assembled guests that they’ll have the fire drill when he rings the fire bell.
Well, how were we supposed to know that wasn’t the fire bell?
Because it doesn’t sound like the fire bell!
No, it didn’t!
The fire bell’s a different…it’s a semi-tone higher!
In other words, totally different. Not that same at all. AT ALL.
Particularly memorable is the aftermath of a BBC 6 Music vote to find the 100 Greatest Hits of the channel’s lifetime. Someone – an outrage! – allowed a Coldplay song into the shortlist, someone else – a gleeful representative of the band – noticed, and a global army of Coldplay fans was mobilised until the world’s least surprising poll-winner was announced:
Cue the outrage: “Indie for ABBA fans”, “Let’s never talk of this again”, “Hang your heads in shame, 6Music listeners”, “6music listeners did not vote Coldplay no.1. can we all be clear on that? *switches radio off*”.
And, referencing the important role that Coldplay-haters played in saving the station when it was threatened with closure in 2010:
#6MusicGreatest Coldplay as No1 – I regret sending in my save 6 letter and remarks now.
— antondeck (@AntonDeck) February 1, 2013
I no more need to justify to Mr Fifty Quid my dislike for all the humdrum Coldplay singles in the world any more than I have to justify to my music snob friends and acquaintances why I think “Where’s The Love” by Hanson is a giddy delight. There are no guilty pleasures: only pleasures.
And “Yellow” is one of them.