Poison vs. Coldplay

One of the reasons we own an 80 GB iPod is the desire to access any piece of music we own when the mood or whim strikes us. (A profound distaste for being an unsolicited audience to other people’s conversations on the subway is a very close second.) So, this morning, on our way into Manhattan from the county of Kings, i.e. Brooklyn, we felt the need for some Coldplay and proceeded to let Chris Martin and co. guide us en route to our destination.

As “Sliver”, from their debut album Parachutes, flowed through our headphones we started contemplating how the band’s name—if not the group itself—has become shorthand for numerous non-flattering adjectives: fey, pasty, lame, etc. etc. etc. You would think this was, say, Antony and the Johnstons, or Rufus Wainwright people were referring to. It got us thinking how, in their heyday, the pop-metal hair farmers—Winger, Warrant, Poison et al—were accorded their fair share of derision, yet didn’t get as much grief as Coldplay do today. And how, in fact, some of these clowns are still around, albeit in a much less imposing capacity. Poison, in particular. Why the disparity? And why doesn’t anyone defend the British quartet? Surely, a coherent, articulate argument in their favor could be easily found among the pronouncements of their millions of admirers. (For the record, we like Coldplay but wouldn’t call ourselves fans.) Nope. Not that we’ve come across anyway. We were pondering this when we had a bit of a flashback.

The cover of the October 1980 issue of the late Creem magazine carried the headline Clash vs. Led Zeppelin: Controversy Continues! Inside was a spirited yet sometimes crude, sophomoric debate over the relative merits of these two bands, which had seemingly been going on for a bit at this point. Although very young at the time we’d already heard Led Zeppelin, while yet to make The Clash’s acquaintance. Nevertheless, we read the bloody exchange with perverse fascination as this was one of our earliest introductions into the world of gonzo music writing, and hell, it was funny. Which brings us to our own little slugfest.

Perhaps the impetus for initiating this particular showdown is our perpetual dislike of Poison. This could have been triggered anew by the fact that front man Brett Michaels has been once again in the public eye via that most ubiquitous example of the need to recognize Andy Warhol as a prophet: the reality show. Regardless, we want to know why a smart, world affairs-conscious Chris Martin gets the shaft over an ignoramus such as Brett Michaels. How is a guy who married and has a family with a classy, beautiful, talented actress such as Gwyneth Paltrow bested by a jerk whose idea of courtship is to audition a small army of strippers, drunks, and assorted misfits on a TV reality show? (Not to mention Coldplay bearing the seal of approval of one Noel Gallagher, a man who can be accused of being many things. "Poof", however, is not one of them.) "Unskinny Bop"? "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"? In the words of the great John McEnroe, you can't be serious!!

Van Halen, we love you. But you have so much to answer for.