The New York Times' article lights a fire under the band
05 Jun 2005
Alan McGee’s ‘Bedwetters’ article had been published a couple of weeks following the release of Parachutes. This one criticising X&Y, even more brutally, hit the newsstands the day before the public could hear the record themselves.
The days leading up to release, when the band are unsure of how the record will be received are nervy enough. It’s little wonder, then, that this hit them with such force.
Essentially, the piece expresses a simple opinion. Mr. Pareles simply didn’t like Coldplay and consequently nothing they did resonated with him. And that’s completely fair enough.
Criticism can, of course, be painful. But it also works constructively in two ways: firstly, it can light a fire of “we’ll show them”, but also, it can point to new directions. It’s a very common response for all creative people to ignore every positive piece of feedback and obsess over the one biggest negative.
Very little emerges fully formed - rather, something gets made, then the artist stands back and decides what adjustments to make based on what isn’t right.
In many ways, though, all creative processes are based upon this. Very little emerges fully formed – rather, something gets made, then the artist stands back and decides what adjustments to make based on what isn’t right. This is repeated until the work is eventually finished. (Although, Leonardo Da Vinci claimed that “art is never finished, only abandoned.”) This happens in sculpture, painting, songwriting, recording, mixing and on and on. It’s how it works.
During the creative phase, it’s only the artist and their most trusted friends involved in this feedback loop. Once the work is released, critics suddenly insert themselves into that position, which is possibly what makes it feel so invasive. Especially as the artist is probably still evaluating the work themselves.
It’s likely, though, that Chris in particular was already thinking about the direction of the next record at this point. I can’t imagine this piece didn’t factor into those thoughts.