This is something I’ve been bottling up for a while, for the simple fact that I don’t fancy getting into pointless arguments with people over the internet when it’s really just a difference in opinion. [which is how I attempt to make my peace with everything that seems to disturb me – I always take a step back and consider the fact that each individual has his/her own opinion, and it does not make him/her or me right/wrong just because our opinions don’t match.] That aside, this is something that continues to bother me because it’s one thing to have an opinion, but it’s another thing to force that opinion upon others and use it to spread hate and negative vibes just because things don’t go your way.
Let me provide context.
This dates back to four years ago when I became highly obsessed with Coldplay, and was appalled to find that not everybody shared my feelings (how dare they!). OK, no, I mean, I came across a sort of divide among Coldplay fans: one group loved the ‘old Coldplay’ [they called them ‘Oldplay’ or something strange like that] and the other loved the band in the present. Needless to say, the former group of people no longer listen to Coldplay (or at least the new songs), because their new songs are markedly different from the kind of music they started off with, the kind of music that actually won their fans over. Of these people, some go so far as to spread hate and criticise Coldplay for daring to explore their potential (???), just because it doesn’t suit their tastes. This is what I think is a little problematic. I get that the band doesn’t cater to your preferences anymore, but their new music is still loved and listened to by a lot of people – it’s gaining them tons of new fans, even though their entire fanbase is probably changing. Coldplay has always had transitional phases – except for their first three/four records, I guess? – where they keep trying out new styles and genres that both adapt to the changing times and to their talent.
A similar thing happened with Ed Sheeran’s new record. So many people on my feed complained and whined about how the “new Ed” sucks and how he should have stuck to his “old style”. I love Ed Sheeran’s new AND old songs, and I think it’s great that he’s trying out new stuff – he still is brilliant and insanely talented, and I don’t think any amount of transition will change that fact.
I’m sure there have been plenty of artists who have had to face the same thing – I’m focusing on these two because they’re especially close to my heart.
My point of view is simple: nothing has to be set in stone. I know artists have always been identified with a particular genre, but why does it have to be so rigid? Since when are these artists not free to experiment, if they think themselves capable of it? Personally, I think that there are some artists who could keep shifting from one genre to the next, and that wouldn’t, in any way, diminish their brilliance. I do also recognise the fact that not everyone necessarily feels the same, and that’s fine. But when these same people revolt as though these artists are entitled to pleasing them only, that’s where I think the essence of music is lost. And this holds true for any other art form, too.
I think it’s important for every one of us to bear in mind that these artists are merely exploring their potential – something that is very necessary for them to do, given that they are humans just like you and me – and that it’s great if they want to change things up, as long as they’re comfortable with it, EVEN IF (and this is the hard part) it gets too commercial! They are not, in any way, answerable to their fans, and they definitely do not deserve the hate and criticism from the same people who raved about them once upon a time. If this is hard for you to grasp, think of it this way: you’re already uncomfortable and unsure about venturing into something you’ve never done before but think you might be good at. Now add to that the pressure of being judged by the entire world, and then given grief by half. Sucks, doesn’t it?
Part of why I admire Coldplay so damn much is because they experiment shamelessly – all they care about is internal agreement. Chris has repeated himself in several interviews when he said that it’s totally okay for people to not get their music – to each his own, obviously – but they appreciate deeply the positive feedback and support they get and try to retain only all of the warmth and positivity.
PS: While writing this, I had an entire playlist of all Coldplay songs ever play in the background. All of their old videos invariably have the “i miss old Coldplay” (one of the less non-negative comments). ARGH, WHEN WILL THIS END?!