Musician Credibility And Popularity: A False Dichotomy

Lynne Kiesling

Interesting post and comments over at Grant McCracken’s place about Coldplay, their new album, and their disdain for corporate shareholders.

I really encourage you to read the whole post and comment thread. A teaser, though, because I really treasure Grant’s open, forward-looking vision as articulated here:

Ours is no longer a dual world that distinguishes artists into two mutually exclusive camps: popular and credible. It’s now a continuum and we have seen artists learn to work the continuum in a variety of ways.

One of these is to release a stream of albums, some of which are frankly popular, others frankly difficult. Martin’s wife, Gwyneth Paltrow appears to chose her film roles according to this rule. Another is to fill a single album with work that is both popular and difficult. A third is to make single songs that have this mix of the popular and difficult.

Contemporary culture has opened up. The audience is no longer either clueless or hip. Everyone, I think, is a good deal more sophisticated than we used to be. That means that new multiplicity rules apply and we are interested in a variety of music. More than that, we are interested in artists who are sufficiently mobile to work the creative continuum.

The last thing we want is to witness celebrity self destruction that comes from the anxiety that they are not “serious” and “artistic” enough. Chris, dude, you don’t have to choose anymore.

BTW, Coldplay’s new album, X&Y, will be released a week from today. I like the music, I like Chris Martin’s voice, I don’t like the lyrics. Two out of three …