Coldplay, Parachutes: Man, it is so much fun to deride Coldplay now. Between Chris Martin’s self-righteous superstardom and Coldplay’s uber-radio friendliness, they’re impossible to take seriously as real people anymore, let alone a band that was unknown ten years ago. Remember 2000? When Coldplay burst out with “Yellow”? You’re probably sick of it now, but that song was actually awesome. Katie always makes the point that every Coldplay album is the same, and buying the same album over and over is frustrating. I make the point that a copy of a copy is never as sharp as the original. But Coldplay’s original was excellent enough that even a copy is still pretty good. And I think that original, Parachutes, will always be both their best album and their best moment in time. It made shoegaze (British for sad emo) accessible to the masses. It’s a quiet album that you can turn up loud. Yoou can sing along or dance at a prom in a teen drama. And those songs will get stuck in your head for years.
Cobra Starship, Viva La Cobra: “The Scene” is unbelievably insular. There are things taht are and are not okay. Hardcore is always okay, and until the middle of the decade, dance music wasn’t. Everything had to mean something, and what could dance possibly mean? Then scene God Pete Wentz embraced the undeniably emo lyrics and dance pop anthems of Panic! at the Disco. Once everyone was okay with that electronic dance-pop, Cobra Starship asked, what if we remove the emo lyrics? What if we get out the synthesizers and just dance? Viva La Cobra, an album about the trials and tribulations of being a club kid in NYC, had such catchy melodies and phenomenal dance beats that it moved the band from novelty act to serious concern. And it cemented in my mind that Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump, who produced the disc, is a genius.
Fall Out Boy, Infinity on High: Can a band start out as mainstream posterboys and slowly work their way backwards to indie acceptance? Fall Out Boy is kind of proving that you can. Look no further than the AV Club’s annual lists, where the band has gone from guilty pleasure to bonafide list item in four years. AV Club finally gave a list spot to 2009′s Folie A Deux, but the real stunner was Infinity On High. For the follow-up to their pop breakthrough album, From Under the Cork Tree, they went nuts, piling killer riffs on top of lush orchestration, layering vocals over vocals over vocals and using every bit of software available, but they never sacrificed the personal lyrics or catchy riffs that made them who they are. In one fell swoop, they promised that success would never change them and used all of success’ own tricks to their ends. And the result is addictive.
The Killers, Hot Fuss: I thought long and hard about whether to include this. Was it just indie rock’s version of disposable pop? But at the moment when this album came out, when Brit indie was making itself known, Hot Fuss reminded us that Americans could do it too. The way the Killers fused ’80s keyboard pop and the personal, confessional, relatable lyrics of ’90s emo made this an instant classic.