I knew it, I , sadly, just knew it. One of my hobbies is to spot patterns of where otherwise normal people become suckers – and then try to apply those patterns to current events.
The most useful application of this came when a long, long time before the invasion of Iraq, I was saying to anyone that would listen that it all stank. Why was I so certain? Because even propagandists have patterns and methods they follow. Recognise the pattern and there simply is no other explanation. (The rules for propaganda incidentally were first and most brilliantly outlined in Phillip Knightley's book The First Casualty – a book I cannot recommend highly enough).
Coldplay's latest album X+Y may not be of such significance as the Iraq war, but the same principles and the same inherent madness is there.
The band's third album was given the most extraordinary universal praise. Dozens and dozens of press articles used Coldplay as the lead point in otherwise vaguely connected stories. TV ads started appearing (for a music album?). It went straight to number one. It has been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. More articles appeared about how fast it was selling. Even more incredibly, articles start appearing about how it was “set to become the fastest selling British album of the Millennium after going on sale yesterday”. What absolute insane tosh.
But we've seen it all before – many times. And the reasons behind it are very simple, very clear and entirely monetary. The only remarkable thing is the number of people that fall for it every time.
X+Y is not the best album this decade, this year or possibly even this month. It is not Coldplay's best album. It will take a year for this simple truth to be told but it will be told.
When a record company hears that a new album by one of its biggest artists is coming out, it is constantly there, listening in. And record companies do know what is good and what isn't. At least the people on the ground know. The execs couldn't care less – they want units sold. When the ground people say “it's not so hot”, the execs, rather than write off all the money they've invested, consistently do a massive double-bluff on the public – they spend a fortune telling the public that it is amazing. Why? Because they know they cannot rely on 10, 20-year sales because it's a classic – they have to make their money in three to six months.
And so they hype it. And, like mugs, a huge number of people buy it. And then, after raving about it for three months, slowly but surely file it in their cabinets to be forgotten about until some melancholic mood takes hold of them.
Don't believe me? Be Here Now by Oasis. Zooropa by U2. The Great Escape by Blur. Read em and weep. Just don't listen to em.