Coldplay: one vital step for sorting out their carbon footprint | Rebecca Nicholson | Opinion


Coldplay fans are bereft at the prospect of being unable to see the band’s new double album Everyday Life performed out in the wild, after Chris Martin told the BBC that they would not be touring it.

Instead, the band will spend the next year or two figuring out how best to put on a “sustainable” and “actively beneficial” live experience that places environmental concerns above scale and convenience, addressing the climate-ravaging issues of flying and single-use plastic, for example, in the live music industry. The future they imagine is a para-, para-, paradi… oh, never mind.

In an era that sees celebrities criticised for speaking out about the climate emergency, then strung up again for flying to do so, of course it is Coldplay who are putting their money where their mouths are. I will not hear a word said against Coldplay. When actors use tear sticks to help them cry during emotional scenes, I wonder why they don’t just pipe in Fix You on a loop instead.

Coldplay’s later career has pulled off the impressive feat of bringing the aesthetic of a decades-old semi-illegal world music festival in the Midlands to a global audience. Chris Martin is a superstar, a stadium frontman who clearly loves being on stage in front of thousands, even though he carries the vibe of a GCSE drama teacher who can’t stop talking about his Monday night reiki course. I love Coldplay. I don’t see how anyone can fail to love Coldplay.

Coldplay’s vast money mountain should make the prospect of not touring an album a little easier on the financial front, even though playing shows is one of the only ways left for most musicians to make a living from music. As a result, it will be tougher for performers at a lower level to follow their example. However, Martin has already thought of that. “I think it is a question of just accepting that you have to do your best, not to be over-zealous in criticising others because everyone will catch up if you prove it is easy to do the right way,” he said. He’s the Elon Musk of carbon-neutral touring. Basically, trust him, he’s got this.

One of the biggest issues, when it comes to live concerts, is the audience. We are a huge part of the problem, comprising a significant proportion of a tour’s carbon footprint by simply making our way to the show. I like watching live music and so I want Coldplay to fix this. Here’s an idea to get them started. If Chris Martin stopped making guest appearances during literally everyone’s sets at Glastonbury, it might just be enough of a cut to save us all.

Dolly Parton: country queen unites the States

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton, ‘a notoriously charming but ungiving interviewee’, Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Christmas has come early for Dolly Parton fans. Thanks to Netflix’s exuberant policy of commissioning absolutely loads of stuff, it has served up Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings, eight really long episodes of drama, each adapted from a Parton song, with the source material of course including Down From Dover and Jolene (but sadly not Baby, I’m Burning – maybe season two?).

Parton introduces each one ,casing the entire endeavour in a retro jacket, and while it is predictably schmaltzy and spectacularly drawn out – these are stories taken from minutes-long songs, after all –it does offer the TV movie comfort of a Sunday afternoon under a blanket.

Better, though, is Dolly Parton’s America, the podcast hosted by Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad, which has been exploring how Parton unites a divided country. Abumrad has spent time with Parton, a notoriously charming but ungiving interviewee, and has spun it into gold as bright as her smile by speaking to family, friends, colleagues and, crucially, those most affected by her music.

The episode on her “Dollitics” expertly pulled apart the union anthem 9 to 5, while Jolene got an instalment of its own, and it is brilliant, informative and just about as entertaining as the legend herself.

The Vivienne: no drag paying the licence fee for this show

The Vivienne

The Vivienne, centre, a worthy winner. Photograph: Leigh Keily/BBC

Congratulations to The Vivienne, the deserving winner of the inaugural RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, who walked away with the kind of underwhelming prizes that only the BBC could offer with a straight face: three badges and the promise of a “digital series” with the show’s producers.

Given the budgetary restraints, you’d be forgiven for thinking that might end up being an Instagram story, perhaps, at a push, a YouTube video. But no. The production company has already announced two follow-up series: The Vivienne Takes Hollywood and Morning T&T, which pairs the winner with her fellow finalist Baga Chipz, and has them reprising their Trump and Thatcher impersonations for a spoof talkshow.

The Vivienne was the perfect reality TV contestant and the inevitable winner. She started strong, coasted at the top, dipped to the bottom, learned her lesson, then got her game back right when it counted. She had a serious, sympathetic backstory and she went on that crucial journey. The only disappointment was the lack of surprise, because she’d been the clear frontrunner since episode one.

As a longtime Drag Race viewer, the format had been flagging. It started to feel like there were more series than RuPaul has had birthdays and, as a result, it was in danger of becoming too meta, more about the show than the people on it, with contestants constantly referring to previous contestants, the cultural touchstones eating themselves.

Drag Race UK has been a crude, smutty, utterly British defibrillator that has given it all a new lease of life. Its contestants were mucky, its drag more disruptive than one might have predicted and it provided one of the sweetest TV moments of the year, when Cheryl (formerly) Cole met her namesake Cheryl Hole. Now that’s the kind of wholesome family entertainment I want my licence fee to fund.

Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist

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