The one with the cool kids

So no one likes Coldplay, right? Well if you believed everything you read on Twitter it would seem no one does but I was fortunate enough to be 1 of 20,000 people who on Friday very much liked Coldplay when they performed live at the O2 in London.

Having experienced a gig of that standard there are several posts I could write, amongst them:

  • Operational excellence with regard to the production
  • The passion and commitment of those performing
  • Tribes and how/why they follow people
  • Creating complete brand experience for consumers
  • Adequacy of resource, clarity of role and task (both for production and performers)

and probably a few more but it was in reflecting on the drive home that I decided to write this post…

In the pre-gig hanging around I did a little light tweeting and in killing time clicked the hashtag #coldplay and was shocked at some of the vitriol that was being expressed – not criticism of anything specific just “I hate Coldplay” and similar. As I stood there I felt this nagging feeling that I regularly used to experience as a kid, that of having put my opinion out there (I like Coldplay) and waiting for someone to disagree or rubbish my opinion. As a kid I was very reluctant to commit to liking/enjoying music, films, books etc for fear of being judged by those I perceived as cool.

I will admit at times dodging this nagging feeling resulted in me subjugating my opinions and preferences to those of others and on a few occasions making poor decisions and acting against my own better judgement not to stand out or be excluded from the cool kids.

As my career began to develop I found the nagging feeling returning, not with respect to music or entertainment but actually with regard to colleagues. Working in Human Resources colleagues would regularly express opinions (both positive and negative) about other colleagues and there I times I can clearly recall I didn’t speak up for what I thought or believed but went with the flow either to not be the odd one out or to avoid confrontation. The cool kids had now been replaced by the powerful kids…

As managers and leaders within organisation I believe it’s incumbent on us to be thorough and objective with respect to the judgements we make. As human resource professionals (as some of you reading may be) I think it’s incumbent not only to be thorough and objective in forming our own judgements but also to actively challenge those around us and those in the business we provide service to not just go with the flow or take the easy route.

I am not for a moment saying that everyone should be given a free pass to do what they want… I suppose what I’m saying is there are very clear structures for forming judgements around both conduct and capability but actually taste and personal preference should have very little to do with this. I still at times struggle to remove my personal opinion of an individual from the process of forming a judgement but I believe I am far better at doing it than I used to be and hopefully ever-increasing awareness and empowering those around me to challenge me on objectivity will see further improvement.

As for Coldplay, both their conduct and capability was impressive and if their music or them as individuals aren’t to your taste then that’s fine and dandy but I will say here that it wasn’t an argument I felt inclined to initiate with anyone on Twitter!

In the spirit of fighting my inclination not to express my tastes I would say doing a radio show that anyone on the internet can listen to is a great leveller but to complete my exorcism here are 5 confessional nuggets that show how ummmm ‘diverse’ my taste can be:

1. The first live gig I ever went to was Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine

2. I know all the words to “I’ve got a golden ticket” from the film ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’

3. I own the Greatest Hits CDs of both Barry Manilow and Bananarama

4. The 3rd most listened to track on my iPod is “Shine” by Take That

5. My favourite music to listen to when feeling fragile through hangover is ‘Adiemus’ by Karl Jenkins

Anyone else got anything they would like to confess?




Filed under Uncategorized

35 responses to “The one with the cool kids

  1. I like Coldplay.

    My first gig was Yazz.

    I have Katy Perry and Jessie J on my iPod……ok and I have Steps and S Club…….alright dammit…..Take That too.

    I do the rap in the middle of Move any Mountain…..

    I don’t know if I feel better or worse now.

  2. Doug Shaw

    Ive never listened to Coldplay so I don’t know if I like ’em or not. I used to own a Slim Whitman album. Oh the shame.

    On the subject of speaking out. I do it. Often. And it gets me into trouble sometimes. And I sleep easy at night knowing that if I’ve seen an injustice, I’ve called it. And when i get it wrong, as i inevitably do, I apologise and mean it. When all is said and done you are your beliefs.

  3. I like old Coldplay (but I’m prepared to accept that might just be snobbery).

    My first gig was a band called O. No, no-one else remembers them either

    Getting harder now: Ellie Goulding and Rihanna. Mine, not my daughters.

    Ros ran and hid when I started dancing to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Birmingham a couple of weeks back.

    I feel far, far worse.

  4. The Coldplay gig I won tickets to at The Roundhouse in the summer was the best gig I’ve ever been to and that is up against some far “cooler” competition.
    You already know about my Kids From Fame tape….


  5. I think the first proper gig I went to (that wasn’t my boyfriend’s band) was Glastonbury, does that make me cool? ?

    Great post, and it’s THIS “nagging” feeling that most of us have in various degrees in different situations. It’s difficult to put ones head above the pulpit, for fear it’ll get bashed by a hammer (just like what happens to the lemmings in fair ground games, you know the ones I mean).

    It’s much worse within organisations than it is in school, because at least in school it’s only your popularity at stake. Teachers will still award good grades for good work, irrelevant of how “popular” you are. In the workplace, your “popularity” with the “powerful” kids is what often determines the quality of your career- the opportunities you’ll be given, and popularity can even effect appraisals of your work performance…

    THIS is one of the reasons why bullying is so prolific- because when “powerful” people talk negatively about someone in the workplace, there are very few people (even their peers) that will speak out against it.

    For me, I’m opinionated, always have been. I’ve receive negative feedback for it over the years. When I was younger that feedback badly effected my self esteem. As an adult I’ve learned to get better at communicating my opinions; asking permission before I express them, and doing so in a way that can (hopefully) help others understand my perspective more than just being negative about what’s there. (A skill which is very much a work in progress for me).

    Speaking out from the crowd is an important life skill, and doing it effectively is a delicate balance, and is an important career development skill, or maybe it would be more accurate to call it a “political” skill?

    This is the quote that springs to mind about speaking out an opinion that is different from the “cool” kids:

    “First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.” -Pastor Niemoeler

    Thanks for writing this blog post, and for inspiring many, many thoughts inside my little head! (Only some of which I poured out here) 🙂

  6. I grew up in the 80s and my first music were some singles bought by my cousin when I was about 9 or 10, which included – pass the dutchie (Musical Youth), Frankie (Sister Sledge), Notorious (Duran Duran), Snooker Loopy (Chas n Dave), Diamond Lights (Chris Waddle/Glenn Hoddle), which I sadly learnt all the lyrics to and could still probably do quite a good job of singing it!

    The late 80s/early 90s took me into rock, AOR, hair metal, then grunge – I’m still programmed to love a rock ballad and know many!

    I then went to Uni, tried to become a cool kid and follow all the latest trends, which took me into loads of indie/dance music, as well as later regretting selling nearly all my rock collection. So so stupid.

    My first gigs were Del Amitri and Little Angels. I got into Coldplay after their first album, then got to know Chris Martin a little better and can’t stand them! But as I’ve grown up, you stop caring what everything thinks to certain degree and with music, definitely think each to their own and I too am not bothered what anyone thinks of my taste, as it’s something personal that adds character!

    My ipod is wide and varied – mostly rock & metal, dance, indie, portuguese music, Cesaria Evora, a few ballads, Del Amitri, reggae, dance and a little bit of Richard Marx!

  7. Neil Usher

    I really like “The Sun Always Shines on TV” and one of my first singles bought was DeeDee Jackson’s “Automatic Lover”
    I also once actually fell asleep at a Jackson Browne gig

    • he he – you’ve reminded me I went to see Magnum at the Hammy Odeon a zillion years ago. We were in the upstairs – which was almost empty. Stayed for about three songs and left. Worst live performance…..ever.

  8. Re Coldplay, I wasn’t a fan until I saw and heard this:

    Guilty pleasures? I love Jessie J despite being tutted at by my kids, my first single purchase was Althea & Donna’s ‘Uptown Top Ranking’, I cannot tear mysef from the screen if ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ is on, and I was a Johnny Cash fan when I was 14. I copped hell for that from the Durannies and Wham!mies at school.

    Running with the crowd takes you to the same place everyone else is going. I’m all for adventures, even if it means wandering off down a less pretty road.

    Excellent blog, made me chuckle and think at 9am on a Monday morning.

    • ‘Running with the crowd takes you to the same place everyone else is going. I’m all for adventures, even if it means wandering off down a less pretty road.’

      Love this!

      ‘I was a Johnny Cash fan when I was 14.’

      Are you still one now?

  9. *hands up to liking Coldplay*

    And I like Black Eyed Peas.

    And Craig David.

  10. My first gig was Busted and I have also seen My Chemical Romance (twice). These are the embarrassing confessions of a 90s child!

  11. Rob,
    I like Coldplay, but then i’m not a cool kid or muso.
    First single: Boomtown Rats and The Smurfs. (2 on the same day, not an unlikely duet!)

    First concert: Madness (Also my kids first concert.)
    Last concert seen: Suggsy
    I have Keith Harris and Orville on an orville shaped EP
    I have seen Madness 40 times
    The last CD I bought was the new (and brilliant) Madness Album just released.
    My blog is called “Norton Folgate” after the Madness Album of the same name.

  12. Margaret Burnside

    I love Coldplay and thought they were great on XFactor last night (another confession!!!) I also listen to Take That (second time round – didn’t like them the first time) and regularly play Shine as its so uplifting! Adiemus is on my iPod BUT I can’t cope with Barry Manilow – especially Copacabana. My 12 year old son has made me a special version called Copper Banana as he was so amused at my strong feelings towards that song – now I just smile when I hear it!

    The being ‘in with the cool people’ can be a very strong pressure and causes many to conform, I guess that’s why I haven’t been employed (or employable!) for over 20 years now! I have enjoyed carving my own path through the Learning and Development world and still enjoy doing so, listening to a whole range of music on my iPod as I go…

  13. Emma Fulton

    I like Coldplay.

    The first album I ever owned was by Fivestar.

    The first concert I went to was Wet Wet Wet.

    I love Take That. A-ha, Bryan Adams & Wham all feature on my iPod… I suspect there are others.

    I know all the words to the John Barns rap.

  14. The lesson here is that if you want comments on your blog…..write about music, not about the theory of OD 🙂

    • Don’t tell me you’ve only just realised! I seem to recall a much missed blogger also getting a lot of comments from a music blog!

      Oh…and slagging off recruiters usually also ensures the comment section gets a fairly healthy bashing! ;o)

  15. I have no view on Coldplay, but probably because my first gig was the Wrigley Sisters (trad scottish violin) followed by Level 42 (I was young OK) – have I ever told anyone that?

    I never remember words from songs which is convenient because then I don’t ever have to sing – humming does nicely thank you!

    I have a treasured copy of “The Benzadrine Monks of Santa Domonica”… their gregorian chant version of “Losing my Religion” is something to behold and belies 3 years working for Warner Music…

    I’ve never owned an iPod but only recently remembered owning coloured vinyl – how did I forget that for 20 years?

    To be honest, anything AC/DC seems to crack a hangover and nicely flashes me back to a mis-spent youth of Rock & Metal in Scotland…

    Can anyone recommend a therapist?

  16. Well said Rob! There’s a tendency to follow the herd, fall in with ‘popular opinion’ which can often be largely misinformed but takes comfort from strength of numbers.

    Coldplay?? Love the first two albums, the third didn’t do it for me and I haven’t really spent time with the subsequent ones.

    First album had 11 songs and lasted 42 minutes, every song made its point and nothing outstayed its welcome. Album 3 had 12 songs but weighed in at almost 65 minutes. Only one more song but loads more music that didn’t always seem to go anywhere.

    But that’s just a personal viewpoint, and wouldn’t stop me seeing them live if there was a chance (though I prefer gigs in smaller venues).

    First gig – Black Sabbath! Can still remember how mental Ozzy was!

    I used to be able to recite the words to the whole Ziggy Stardust album, but wouldn’t be able to now!

    iPod contains a bit more Prog than is probably entirely necessary – especially Yes and Gabriel-era Genesis – but I suppose that’s what you get from going to a home counties private school that Steve Howe (Yes’ guitarist) once attended.

    And as for embarrassing singalong….well you probably don’t want to be around me when Fight For Your Right To Party comes on!!!

    Love the blog…keep up the great posting 🙂

  17. Betty

    First gig? Take That
    Or was it Hawkwind?
    Fave band – The Levellers
    Fave live band – The Darkness

    Despite being a rock fan I have the best of Britney on my iPod, and my first two albums were Sonia and Michael Bolton…

  18. First single: Gary Glitter, Leader of the Gang
    First single I bought: Universal Soldier, Donovan
    First proper gig: Hawkwind at the Glasgow Apollo.

    People who live in glass houses and all that….
    I was knocked out when Jo Whiley introduced Yellow by this new band Coldplay on a late night show, and they’ve not disappointed since.
    Oh, and I have a CD of marching band music in the car. Souza is the daddy.

  19. David Henry

    Lyrics to Rappers Delight:
    I said a hip hop hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop you don’t stop I rock on baby bubba to the boogy u bang bang the boogy to the boogy the b

    Now what you here is not a test I’m rapping to the beat its just me, the crew, & my squad we gone try to move your feet

    see i am the doctor spot & I like to say hello to the black, to the white, the red & the brown, the purple & yellow

    but first i gotta bang bang the boogy to boogy say up jumps the boogy to the bang bang boogy lets drop you don’t stop rock the filling that will make your body rock.

    First gig transvision vamp and oh the Shame first single Paul Young – wherever I lay my hat, blame it on being born too late, it should have been the sugar hill gang.

  20. First record I bought was Long Haired Lover from Liverpool by Jimmy Osmond so Bananarama, gary glitter, five star etc lovers rest easy. My record collection is affectionally known as the Cheese Factory.

    My first gig was Motorhead.

    Most of my teenage nights were spent in soul clubs.

    I have every record Abba ever made.

    I never told anyone i liked Abba when i was at school. Cos…

    I LOVE John Denver.

    Consequently I have an equally different perspective on people in organisations – a John Denver perspective. Not many like it. Draws a few blank looks or faces of disdain. But i dont care. The mainstream view of leadership and people management has delivered sweet FA hasn’t it?

    I think any reasonable person has been there Rob. Ironically, I learned that the super confident, overtly opinionated and ‘trend setting’ cool kids were actually more insecure than I was.

    I think its time we all started to say “I Like John Denver” – in an organisational context obviously. We all know what is instinctively right. I think Claire captures something beautifully with her Niemoeler quote. It’s too glib to just say “speak out, take the initiative..” blah blah as all the cocksure super confidents say. The only way that works is if all the others around who believe in the message speak out too. Otherwise, the intimidating/arrogant leadership find it all to easy to say “Hey HR, move that guy along… hes not the right cultural fit for us.”

    Who doesn’t like Coldplay?

    What was this post about again..? 😉

  21. Pingback: The one with the single version of the truth | Masters or Bust

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