In The Guardian this morning I was pulled into an article by the title, ‘Coldplay: how can something so banal be so powerful?’
I’ve never liked Coldplay and so I was interested in hearing a similar voice express how a pop band so banal could be so popular.
I had to pull out of the article midway for it was exceedingly more banal than the actual music. And I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite old sayings, ‘the only thing worse than bad television is talking about bad television.’
I coined that particularly useful expression 15-20 years ago to shut someone up who was ranting about some bad TV program that they had seen. I used it again very successfully 4 years ago to shut up the person behind me who was complaining loudly about the long line at the single checkout stand in a Washington, DC Capitol Hill CVS pharmacy.
Tangentially just a few years ago a friend of a friend in France began raving to me and my daughter about how much they liked Coldplay. And didn’t we love them too? For the past 36 hours the guy had been regularly pissing me off so I showed him no mercy when I flatly replied, ‘No.’
He reacted as if he had just caught me taking a shit in his favorite hat. He protested, ‘But they’re one of the top groups in the world!’ As it seemed so unspeakably incredible to him that I didn’t like them, I gritted my teeth as I waited for him to ask me why.
When he did, I quickly grimaced, ‘That’s why it’s called pop music.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ He asked. All the meanwhile I was frantically searching my coat pockets for any sharp object: a pen, a knife, but preferably wanting to close my hand around an ice pick; which as cruelty would have it just wasn’t there.
Inwardly I counted to ten before slowly enunciating,‘Pop as in popular.’ I could see he wasn’t catching on so I said, ‘Popular meaning, lots of people like it.’ He still didn’t get it but I felt no compunction to enlighten him further.
And if you don’t understand where that particular argument is heading, don’t write me and ask me why. Remember, ‘the only thing worse than bad television is talking about bad television.’