The French may have sublime cheese and wine and endless vistas of pastoral paradise, but we Brits gave the world ground-breaking pop.
You don’t need to spend your spare time picking through the vinyl at a hipster shop in Shoreditch to be appalled at the news that Coldplay topped Radio 2’s list of the 100 greatest albums ever. I am hardly a keeper of the sacred flame of British popular music (my ownership of Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles precludes that), but even I was aghast to see that Rush of Blood to the Head was deemed greater than anything by the Stones or Beatles.
For decades British rock lovers could rest safe in the knowledge that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would head any pop poll, satisfying traditionalists and iconoclasts alike with its incontrovertible genius. This, after all, was an album that sent the tone for an entire decade, not just musically, but sartorially and socially, with its undercurrent of turning on, tuning in and dropping out. Coldplay’s subtext, by comparison, is more akin to the kind of muted woe you feel when John Lewis takes a week longer than expected to deliver a sofa. No wonder Creation records boss Alan McGee once dubbed it “bedwetters’ music”.
It was my painful duty to break the bad news about the poll to my husband; he worked on the NME in the Seventies and maintains a strict line on the issue of musical integrity. He wasn’t angry, so much as disappointed, like a headmaster who’s just been informed that Dickens has been knocked off the syllabus in favour of J K Rowling. It’s not that you dislike, or even disapprove of, Harry Potter or the nice-natured Chris Martin. However, neither of these cheerful, accomplished modern crowd-pleasers have much claim to actual greatness. The fact remains that they’re derivative rather than innovative and it’s the comfort of the familiar and not-too-challenging – artfully re-clad – that brings them huge audiences.
Read the full article by Rowan Pelling at The Telegraph here