A while back, I talked about how Coldplay took a very odd means of promoting their upcoming single. One that would eventually get its premiere on Midnight (BST) on May 7 via the ISS and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Quoth the band: “Higher Power is a song that arrived on a little keyboard and a bathroom sink at the start of 2020. It was produced by Max Martin, who is a true wonder of the universe.”
And then, they unveiled the music video, directed by Paul Dugdale. So, how did it go?
To be completely honest, I don’t like this song. It took a couple of days to figure out what it was that bugged me about it, and even then, I’m still not entirely sure I can put my finger on it. The best I can figure out is that there’s something very off about the synth and drum beats that permeate the song. They may be out of sync. Now that I’m writing it down and thinking more about it, the best way I can describe it: you know the bedroom scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey?
For those of us who are confused by this scene, this is the aliens’ attempt at making an environment Bowman is comfortable with: reconstructing an Earth bedroom apparently using an ancien regime French manor bedroom lit via floor lights. The backing track to the song sounds like those same aliens tried to reconstruct Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer.”
(Also, why the bloody Hell is the original black-and-white music video not on YouTube anymore?)
And, honestly, the video makes it even worse. Paul Dugdale has directed the official concert videos for three of the band’s last four albums, and he’s mostly specialized in concert films. He’s done a few music videos, but mostly for The Prodigy and their 2009 album, All Invaders Must Die.
The best things about it are that it was done in one shot (read my review of 1917 for my treatise on why this is an awesome technique, at least when done right), and it’s nice to see what gear Jonny and Guy used on the song. And, in this Anglophile’s opinion, that’s pretty much it. At least, in this case, it’s easier for me to explain why I don’t like it. For the verses, it’s mostly a performance-style video (filmed on what appears to be a parking lot where it has recently rained, not the best place for a band with electric instruments) with constant (not to question unusually quick and shaky) panning between the four members of the band. At times, to distract from the incipient motion sickness, I notice that the band doesn’t even seem to be properly miming the song (although I could be wrong, given that I was able to see some of the odder things in actual performance), and that, for some reason, Will Champion’s drum kit is still fully miced despite this. And then, the choruses happen, and we zoom back to reveal these gaudily-toned holograms that I’m fairly certain are aliens dancing. And they don’t even put an “H” on their foreheads.
And, of course, in the days since the single’s release, they’ve performed it twice: once on American Idol, where Chris Martin is mentoring, complete with a Coldplay-themed episode:
And then, as part of the BRIT awards, performing on a barge in the middle of the Thames, presumably an extra bit of social distancing.
And this time, they’ve included the holographic dancers.
And, for what it’s worth, on Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp, when asked if there’ll be a new album soon, Chris Martin said: “We’re not supposed to say, but there won’t not be one… I think if we’d spent the whole of this time just doing one song we’d be… we’re just saving some announcements. There might not not not not not not be, there might not be a not non new album.” Jonny Buckland added that they had “Recorded more than one song.” Well, let’s hope they’re better than “Higher Power.”