Saturday, December 18, 2010

Backup Dancers From Hell: Coldplay - “Christmas Lights”

Preliminary Note: Just before watching this for the first time, I noticed a YouTube comment from somebody claiming “the fish eating the boat is the best part!”. What the hell? What am I getting into with this one?

We start out with the camera focused on an old phonograph, with somebody getting ready to play a record of Cold play’s “Christmas Lights”. Okay, that’s what I’m wanting to hear, so that’s good. A mysterious hand gets things going, and we pan down to a strange piano that is playing by itself. Aside from the paranormal angle, we’re also distracted by all of the keys having been painted different colors back in about 1918. Hmmm.

Camera moves away from the piano and we pan along the band members lying on their backs on old wooden floor. (What, they’re too lazy to actually perform in this video? Was the mayo bad in the tuna salad? Has Gwyneth put them in time-out?) We finally get to lead singer Chris, and he starts singing while still laying there. I spy an “X” on one of the floorboards near his head, and I find myself much more interested in what might be under that floorboard than where the rest of this video is going. I need to focus.

Chris is singing really low on this part of the song, and I’m straining to hear, so it’s kind of a relief when the camera pans away. Sadly, we’re back at the creepy piano that is being played by the Ghost of Christmas Past, or maybe his cousin, the Ghost of Videos Where You’re Not Sure What Is Going On. The camera pulls back, and we see that Chris is still on the floor, but the rest of the band is gone. (I didn’t receive a memo on where they might have went.)

Suddenly, Chris levitates from the floor into a standing position. Oh? There is just something really wrong with this place. Chris isn’t bothered that his body was just transported against his will, and he starts playing this Piano of the Dead. The camera pans again, and we see a nice, billowy red curtain, which is hopefully not possessed. The curtain parts, and hey, there’s the rest of the band. They’re playing their little instruments on an old-timey stage. There a cut-out props shaped like buildings in the background, and for some reason I think of Istanbul. I’m probably supposed to think of something else, but I’m very confused.

The guys jam for a bit as the camera moves backwards so we can get a better gander at this stage thing, and we can see that there are some pretty Chinese lights strung across the stage. Okay, are we supposed to be thinking of Christmas around the world? Not sure. The camera moves back in so we can watch Istanbul slide into the wings, and then we have an apparent ocean and a moon rising out of the water. Suddenly, three drunken Elvis’s zip by while playing violins.

Did anybody talk to Graceland about this?

The camera pulls back again so we can see that the band is still playing, but that wasn’t really necessary since we can hear them the whole time. Then we zoom in on Chris still banging on that piano, and he’s singing to somebody that must be in the balcony because he sure doesn’t want to look at us. In the back of the stage, the Elvis’s zip by again, followed by one of Lisa Marie’s lawyers.

Oh wait, there’s that boat getting eaten by a giant fish. Well, then. I can’t really say it was the most exciting development in this video, filled as it was with carnage and violence, but I’ll agree that it was unexpected.

Chris gives up the piano and moves closer to his mates, allowing for a great photo-op. The camera pulls back from the stage, pretty far, so we can see there’s a little marquee above the stage with the words “Credo Elvem Etiam Vivere”. I’m sure there are scholarly people who can interpret this slogan for us, but I’m going to assume it means some character from “The Lord of the Rings” is now living in Las Vegas and helping Santa deliver presents.

The camera pulls back far enough that we can see buildings in the distance over the top of the theatre. One of them looks like the Capitol Building, but I’m going to assume that it’s not, since we’re dealing with British folk who would prefer that the Pilgrims had just stayed home and sucked it up like everybody else. The camera zooms back in on the band, still doing their thing. Now we’ve got fake snow falling down, but it’s clearly just scraps of shredded newspaper, so the magic is a bit thin. But Chris is wearing a carnation, and that makes everything better.

The fake newspaper falls for a while. Somebody was really invested in this part of the goings on.

Then the camera pans to the left, and we’re looking at what I’m guessing is the River Thames. There’s a triple-decker boat floating about, with tons of people on the top deck releasing balloons at just the right lyrical moment. Fireworks light up the sky, which isn’t really something we do in the Colonies during the Yuletide season, but it’s very festive.

Now we’re zooming back into the old-timey theatre, with the Elvis’s playing their violins with a passion and more fireworks exploding from where the seats should be if there had been an actual audience. Chris is really interested in doing hand movements over his head, so we’ll assume that this part of the song is super important to him.

The curtain closes, the camera gives us another glimpse of the creepy piano, and then pans over the top of the theatre so we can see the cityscape once again. More fireworks explode as the music fades and, presumably, Tiny Tim convinces Scrooge that world peace is possible as long as everyone has enough figgy pudding…


Click Here to Watch the Video on YouTube.

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