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Coldplay - 'Christmas Lights'

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Fraser McAlpine | 16:13 UK time, Thursday, 2 December 2010


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.

Three starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

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."


  • Comment number 1.

    Fraser, I know you never bother to read these comments, but seriously, can you please just review 'your song' for now I am asking nicely, and not shouting (how can you shout with a keyboard? Oh that's right, LIKE THIS)

    It's a bit weird though. Ellie is set for a third week on the big top 40 show, yet on the official chart, sh still hasn't reached number one.

    BIG TOP 40

    Entry: 6
    Week 2: 1
    Week 3: 1
    Week 4: (currently number one)

    Official chart

    Entry: 39 (released on Friday for some reason)
    Week 2: 3
    Week 3: 2
    Week 4: unknown, x factor will have a ton of physical sales, even though its like number 8 on iTunes, and scherzinger looks good for number 2, so maybe number 3 for Ellie.

    If only Greg James did chartblog, the revue would have been out MUCH FASTER!

    Also, rihanna is in the top 10 with three songs! Wow! And in the top 40 with 4.


    As for coldplay, this is a great song, Christmas number one will be tight this year, though I still think on Christmas day we will all be hearing:

    "a ba ba bird bird bird..."

  • Comment number 2.

    Don't say it. :L

    What an awful song.

    But anyhoo, 'Christmas Lights' is just a bit meandering, and Chris voice just seems so uninspired and bored. I LOVE me a bit of Coldplay - especially their amazing last album - but come on guys! Bring out Album #5 already!

    3 stars.

  • Comment number 3.

    Are you joking?! Coldplay's new song is just wonderful and it should definitely be christmas number 1. I have never ever written on any of these blog things before but when I read this review I created an account just so I could write one and defend my favourite band and their brilliant new song. I absolutely LOVE Christmas Lights and trust me, if you don't love it yet, just give it a chance and it will grow on you. It's just such a pretty song and the video is lovely. It's really catchy too - it's been in my head ever since I first heard it. I really think such a fastastic band as Coldplay deserve to do well with such an amazing song and it would be really great if an actually geniune and credible song went down as a christmas hit for years to come. :0)

  • Comment number 4.

    It's #2 on iTunes, but only about #25 on the Official Chart.

  • Comment number 5.

    Now now Bendtner, give the old guy some credit! Fraser did quote me in one of his reviews ;)

  • Comment number 6.

    ^ Me too!

  • Comment number 7.

    #1 - the reason ellie is no1 is because the big top 40 is based on itunes sales only - it ignores physical sales & other download sites completely

  • Comment number 8.

    Coldplay's Christmas song is the best Christmas song in a generation. First listen it was good but I still wasn't certain but by my third listen it really hooked me. A refreshing change from the dirge that is the rest of the charts.

    Really puts their "rivals" Kings of Leon to shame.

  • Comment number 9.

    i dont understand Coldplay or peoples obsession with them i feel as if i need anti depressents whilst listenin or having heard a song of theirs save for viv la vida and as xmas is a hot bed of suicide rates increasing its probably not a good idea for a coldplay xmas song ill stick to ll i want for christmas it leaves you feeling jolly not wanting to down a bottle of sherry. Someone needs to stop chris maartin and his miserable ways and soon

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    I feel the songs like the christmas style.


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