Coldplay - 'Christmas Lights'
As I write this, the majority of the country is covered in blizzard-skin; once-friendly pavements seek to up-end all but the most careful traveller and the shops are full of things which are sparkly, glittery and festive. It feels, for better and worse, like Christmas.
And now here's Coldplay, with a suddenly-here dusty waltz about using the magical properties of the festive season to try and put a broken relationship back together, in much the same way that the Pogues did what that song about the perils of buying low-cost meatballs.
It's at one and the same time, a cynical song about a romantic situation AND a romantic song about a cynical situation. People who use Christmas as an excuse to bury the hatchet often find someone has dug it right back up again once the New Year hangover kicks in. And bands who make romantic Christmas singles aren't exactly doing it with the purest of motives either. Everyone wants to join Mariah, Slade and Phil Spector in The Pantheon of Christmas songs which come back year after year.
(Here's the video. Nothing says 'the good old days of yore' like a waistcoat.)
And that's the conundrum on which this thing rests. You don't want to be cynical at Christmas, that pose is just a great big cliche anyway. It doesn't make you especially clever or perceptive to realise this whole thing is hooey built on nonsense, and that it's an excuse for a lot of silly things to happen. It just makes you look defensive, like someone who won't be hugged in case it makes them cry.
However, giving in to every soppy gesture at this time of year is a recipe for re-believing in Father Christmas again, even though you know it's your dad. And it's always a little bit irksome to feel like your emotions are being tugged at by puppeteers.
So, what I have to say is this. I like this song just fine. I like the tempo changes, I like the swoop and the swish and I especially like Chris Martin's voice when it's all low and growly. But I'm not transported by it, and really, that's what would need to happen to make this the magical festive experience it so clearly wishes to be.
PS: If it's festive indie you are after, but you want something with a bit more oomph, can I recommend 'Christmas Was Better In The 80s' by the Futureheads? It basically starts like a carol, just like the Coldplay song, but then...well it's pretty much brilliant bedlam from there on in. Also, it occasionally sounds like they're singing "Christmas was better in the A-Team", which is a sentiment it is hard to refute.
Evigshed says: "A sweet ballad to warm the hearts and have the smile on your face."