The Blog

Stardumb: Chris Martin of Coldplay

A Grammy special, Cusack revisited, MTV goes anti-war, and the Boss.

11:00 PM, Feb 25, 2003 • By DAVID SKINNER
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The song Coldplay performed at the Grammys, "Politik," is from their new album, "A Rush of Blood to the Head." Martin wrote the song days after September 11, 2001, but one detects little political commentary in it. With its vague, skyward pleas for calm and understanding and peace, it has more in common with Bruce Springsteen's Grammy-nominated album The Rising than, say, the leftist, belligerent roughhousing of The Clash (whose leader, the late Joe Strummer, was also honored Sunday night).

What makes Coldplay worthwhile is their music. Their soulful and melodic songs are consistently pleasant and of reasonably good craftsmanship. They remind one of the softer side of U2, a band they admire, though in terms of percussion the new album is as interesting as a metronome. Their chord progressions also sometimes mark an all-too-predictable trail. And yet, they can make happy songs like nobody's business, such as "Don't Panic" from their first, Grammy-winning, album "Parachutes." Its chorus, "We live in a beautiful world" gives some idea of the debut album's superior feel-good vibe. One os the standout tracks "A Rush of Blood to the Head," is called "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face": "It's about you can't believe what a great life you have," the usually upbeat and humorous Martin told KCRW.

Someone tell Martin that the "great" life generally doesn't involve dabbling in false accusations of mass murder.

Barbrometer: Two out of five Barbra Streisand heads

Grader's comment: Although Martin's statement at the Brit Awards was horrible and reckless, it may have been a one-shot bit of idiocy. Their anti-war lyrics--"I'm going to buy a gun and start a war / If you can tell me something worth fighting for," barely register on the Barbrometer, which is like one of those giant scales lugged out only for the really big fish.

"LLOYD, LLOYD, NULL AND VOID": A handful of readers have complained that I was too hard on good ole' John Cusack, who incidentally seems to have become a protege of Sidney Blumenthal, who gets a producing credit in "Max" and shows up in a recent Salon interview with Cusack.

In particular, many correspondents say Cusack was entirely correct to describe the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center as having been deliberately staggered to make sure television cameras would be present when the second plane hit. Perhaps I didn't argue this point hard enough, but that was out of respect for the intelligence of my readers. My apologies in advance to those who require no further illumination:

To say that Osama bin Laden deliberately "staggered" the planes hitting the Twin Towers is to say he entertained the possibility of having both planes hit simultaneously--and had the power to choreograph it--but decided against this astonishing course of action. Which is incredibly unlikely, given the difficulty of pulling off the terrorist attacks to begin with, the varying degrees of experience among the pilots, and the fact that the planes that hit WTC 1 and 2 left Boston at different times. I'll grant that aside from murdering thousands of Americans, the attacks were intended to terrorize the rest of us (of course), but I will not indulge any more silly, postmodern blather about Osama's designs for the "iconography of murder," to use Cusack's awful and misleading phrase. It sounds like something a VH1 host would say.

Stardumb Honorary Mention: It's hard to know who to blame for MTV's generally vacuous and sometimes bizarre anti-war announcements. The music channel or the musicians? That famous student of the GOP Adam Duritz, the frontman for Counting Crows, says, "What disturbs me the most about the situation is that we may be going to war . . . to keep a political party in power in our country." Rob Thomas states that he can never support war. For his part, Jay Z tells us that in war "everyone loses." Yeah, tell it to the Soviets, Jay. Justin Timberlake says in one of two 20-second recorded messages that he leaves such issues as war to our "world leaders." Why then is he speaking out? These public service announcements make their stardummies sound like they received their political education from, well, public service announcements.