Viva La Vida (Or, Death And All His Friends)

Coldplay rehearse for 2008 MTV Movie AwardsI’m sitting next to Charlize Theron in the fifth row of The Gibson Amphitheater when the string section walks in.

Coldplay, a little matchy-match in their quasi-revolutionary, epilette-laden outfits, tear into the hook: four synthy chords and a house-inspired beat. Behind them, naked, desaturated Romanesque soldiers storm an ancient gate. The stage, once cast is deep blue, turns a fierce red.

Aaaand… cue the tympani.

Drummer Will Champion lays his mallet into the deep, copper kettles, then strikes a small church bell.

Chris Martin paces the stage on the balls of his feet, straining his neck towards the high notes.

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Before the last chord rings out, MTV Movie Awards Executive Producer Mark Burnette swoops down the aisle, making a seersucker jacket (collar up, of course), ripped jeans and Chucks punctuated by one of those tattered Israeli scarfs look pretty rock ‘n roll. Nine colleagues follow him, crowding around Martin in a semi-circle.

An hour later, the entire stage has been re-arranged.

Which is roughly when it occurred to me that I am releasing my new CD, “The Invention Of Everything Else,” on the same day Coldplay is releasing its “Viva La Vida (Or, Death And All His Friends).”

‘Huh,’ I thought. ‘Not exactly a Kanye vs. 50 Cent scenario.’

I share this insight with my colleagues, reporter James Montgomary and producer CJ Smith, excuse myself, turn towards Ms. Theron’s placeholder image. I brush past her, break through the doors, and make way into the California sun.

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