It took nine years. And learning how to ride a unicycle. And, oh yeah, writing a typically kick-ass tune and brainstorming a wacked-out video that is silly and sad and marvelous to look at. But Coldplay is finally a Video Music Awards champion again.
The British band took home the 2012 Moonman for Best Rock Video during a live-streamed ceremony, presented by MTV News’ James Montgomery and MTV Buzzworthy’s Tamar Anitai, in the midst of the main event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday night (September 6). Chris Martin and his crew won for “Paradise,” a stellar track off their 2011 album, Mylo Xyloto.
With the triumph, Coldplay bested the likes of the Black Keys (and their viral smash, “Lonely Boy”), Linkin Park’s special effects-laden nod to some of Hollywood’s geekiest blockbusters, “BURN IT DOWN,” and first-time nominee Imagine Dragons’ “It’s Time.”
“Paradise” features Martin, dressed in a plushy elephant costume, escaping the confines of a zoo, hitching a ride on an airplane, hopping aboard that unicycle and peddling furiously to find his fellow humanoid-elephant creatures in South Africa. Part travelogue, part childlike escapist fantasy, part mushy family-reunion saga, the video rises to become more than the sum of its jagged parts, not least because Martin’s sonorous vocals have a way of twanging your heart strings.
Moreover, that voices makes you think, Bro, we’re all just elephants trapped in our own cages and, seriously dude, if we could just run free, the ice caps would stop melting and no one would go hungry again. Just as important to the video’s pop-art success, there’s a witty undercurrent rippling through what could seem like, if you were describing the video to your buddy in a bar, a farcical concept: the elephant, stashed away on an airplane, reaches out with his truck to scoop up some spilled peanuts; later his trunk pokes out from a luggage trunk in which he’s hiding.
The Best Rock Video win marks Coldplay’s fifth Moonman and its first since “The Scientist” nabbed three trophies in 2003, including Breakthrough Video and Best Group Video. Since then, and until this year’s show, the band had come up short a number of times at the VMAs, most recently in 2010 when their effort for “Strawberry Swing” lost out on a Breakthrough Video award to the Black Keys’ “Tighten Up.” It’s hard to believe that one of the biggest bands on the planet hadn’t won Best Rock Video until now. There Martin goes, unicycling into history.