Musical group, Coldplay's video for their "Hymn for the Weekend" new song already was noted as "cultural appreciation of Indian religion." However, some wonder if it is doing more harm than good for the respect of religion, especially given the feature role that rhythm-and-blues diva, Beyoncé, plays in the video. The video has had nearly 41.2 million views on YouTube since it was posted Jan. 29.
The song is featured on the group's latest album, "A Head Full of Dreams," which was released this week in multiple formats. The group is a British rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London, joined by bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion. The music video displays beautiful cinematography, yet the imagery it contains prompts questions about its social and religious significances.
As Billboard reports, the video is set during a mock-Holi festival. Monks in saffron robes glide past stone statues covered in garlands, while lead singer Chris Martin rides a Pakistani-designed rickshaw to an old cinema to watch Beyoncé star as a seductive Bollywood film star.
It's not the first time cultural appreciation has muddled with appropriation, reminds Billboard. A worldwide debate sparked since the video hit the Internet, accusing the megastars for feeding into stereotypes and representing historical Hindu imagery through a limited perspective that exoticizes India, all with serious repercussions: "When cultures are limited to their stereotypes, we repress understanding of a country's real political and social environment," wrote Billboard's Lior Phillips.
Lyrics from the new song include room for interpretation:
Oh, angel sent from up above
You know you make my world light up
When I was down, when I was hurt
You came to lift me up
Life is a drink, and love's a drug
Oh, now I think I must be miles up
When I was a river, dried up
You came to rain a flood
[Coldplay & Beyoncé:]
And said drink from me, drink from me
When I was so thirsty
Pour on a symphony
Now I just can't get enough
Put your wings on me, wings on me
When I was so heavy
Pour on a symphony
When I'm low, low, low, low
The Coldplay video, along with previous ones made in the same style, continue a dubious and ongoing tradition of portraying the country of India as essentially a backdrop for western enjoyment and enlightenment, agrees World Religion News.
These music videos convey culture to watchers who won't ever have the opportunity to visit any of these exotic landmarks nor understand that even though hennaed hands appear to be beautiful, they actually have a religious and social significance, states World Religion News.
Another major observation of this music video is that it essentially depicts religious practices. It portrays a child dressed up to look like Lord Shiva, priests appearing in saffron robes, a sadhu balances on a tightrope. The issue some are having with these appearances is that their purposes aren't explained or obvious. For those with little or no knowledge of Hinduism or India, the video's depictions of numerous religious practices dissect their true meaning and become simple "video entertainment."
In 2014, when Martin was interviewed about this album, he said it might be the band's final album and compared it to Harry Potter; "It's our seventh thing, and the way we look at it, it's like the last Harry Potter book or something like that."
Coldplay and Beyoncé just performed together Sunday for Super Bowl 50, along with Bruno Mars.