Saturday, December 3

One Dopey Performance

There is non-music and there is music. There is the BRIT School and there are 'Guitarist wanted' ads in NME. And there is The X Factor and there is Coldplay.

These are borders about as stern as Gaza. They are worlds not meant to collide. Ever. But, following yesterday's much-dreaded confirmation that Chris Martin and his men are to perform on next weekend's X Factor finale, one such line is about to be crossed in full ITV1-schlocky techno glitter.

The thing is, Coldplay have never negotiated the perimeter before. They may be the most love-to-hated band on the planet, but those against their soft rock anthemia can't at any time accuse them of ho-ing themselves over the last decade or so. Diet Coke, Gap and Gatorade all hurled them million-dollar pacts, yet the reply has always been NO.

So why now have the Hampstead-based foursome decided that the time is right to exhibit themselves on Saturday night telly in amongst non-music One Direction, non-music Leona Lewis and non-music 'whoever wins the damn thing'? Well, the motivations, I believe, are fourfold.

"We all love The X Factor and we enjoy the show but we can't go on it. We do something different," said Martin merely five weeks ago. But he is a frontman of flaky, Woody Allen-helmed paranoia; One who often contradicts himself on just about everything and either goes full-throttle in love or rules out the world entirely. Said Martin yesterday: "We're all big X Factor fans so we're very excited to play live on the show."

He, too, is a good mate of a certain Gary Barlow, the only (truly) talented one in Take That and head X Factor judge, of course. Barlow is the number-one reason Coldplay would even inspect such an offer. I'm thinking late-night, hour-long calls of he justifying to Martin that Matt Cardle's 'Run for Your Life' is a fine pop ditty purely on the basis that someone, he, wrote it.

Not to mention, most of Coldplay (like most of the nation) are genuine fans of The X Factor. I am, too. For its utterly contrived and gloriously histrionic premise, it is easily the best (un)reality show on TV. Saturday and Sunday nights just aren't the same without the tension it brings along. But this express ticket to the music biz doesn't really count - it's not proper and never will be. All it is is great TV.

However, another force behind Martin's decision is that he says he no longer sees the borders himself. Music has become one in his eyes - and in fairness, Mylo Xyloto is about the most pop his band have ever sounded. "Don't you think that music now shouldn't fall into a particular box? I don't think anyone thinks like that anymore," he insisted earlier this year.

What is ironic about Coldplay's sudden mini-pop transformation and agreement to play The X Factor, is that I - forever an NME-spun indie snob yet with an 'I fucking love Coldplay' front - have actually started listening to the current acts congesting the singles chart. Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry - those who have naturally played The X Factor of late - spark good, wholesome choons. But unless they honest-to-goodness fashioned 'em themselves, fuhgeddaboudit.

To drop them as my most favourite band now all because of one dopey performance on a reality TV show would be silly. But in truth, that is all I can handle. No Amelia Lily duets. No finalists-hurdle-round-the-piano-for-'Paradise' spectacles. No Barlow 'Back For Good' collabs. One dopey performance and we can move on.