Coldplay’s new music video for “Hymn for the Weekend” evokes images of India all NRIs have at some point described to their white friends in an attempt to convince them to visit India. It is an Incredible India ad, but made by a British band that attempted to highlight India’s beauty in a way that cheapens it, making it digestible for the Western viewer.
The song, the kind you’d listen to while getting ready to go out, has the hook “been feeling drunk and high” as images of India, its religious ceremonies, its rituals, its children, and its poverty are colorfully depicted on the screen. Beyoncé and members of Coldplay dance to celebrate the beauty that is India and are often made the center of attention in the middle of celebrations such as Holi. As though Holi happens every day all the time. So while the video takes place in India, the viewer and the subject are both Western.
This is not the first time Coldplay has done something like this. In fact, the video for “Hymn for the Weekend” is eerily reminiscent of the one for “Princess of China,” where the stereotypical images of a country are montaged to a song that, ultimately, has to do with the life of white people. The lyrics for “Hymn for the Weekend” have nothing to do with India, so the video’s indulgence in Indian experience, or even Indians (what is Sonam Kapoor’s role in this video, even?), seems like a fun gimmick for views on the part of Coldplay.
India is not a backdrop for a pop song about white people getting ready for the weekend. Holi is not a backdrop for a Coldplay concert. Impoverished Indian children playing in the water or selling things on the side of the road are not props for a music video.
Also, can someone get Beyoncé outta there? We’re tired of Coldplay making us groan over our faves.