Everyday Life


 

I love Coldplay. Everyone knows that. But the Coldplay I knew and the Coldplay that created this album are two starkly different Coldplays. Lots of people would argue that there’s already been multiple Coldplays–the one they fell in love with during the Parachutes/A Rush of Blood to the Head era, and then the one that sucked from X&Y onwards. I’ve loved Coldplay since I’ve known who they were after rediscovering Viva La Vida in 2010, and I’ve loved every different type.

This version of Coldplay is just as lovable.

I do really want to stress that this is the first Coldplay album that feels like a different Coldplay. This album is a major departure from their old sound, yes, AND it’s a major departure from their old lyrics. Well, not too much a departure. The shift to the overtly political lyrics that Everyday Life brings was first telegraphed with Violet Hill off of Viva La Vida; it was an attack on the propaganda machine and warlust on the right side of the political spectrum that was mostly hidden with the bitter love-song chorus of “if you love me, won’t you let me know”. Then Coldplay stayed out of politics in their music (but very much not so in action, Chris Martin is a very good Samaritan) until A Head Full of Dreams, and they didn’t even do much political here: they just sampled Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace.

So the band went explicitly political with their next release: the Kaleidoscope EP. Buried with behind the extremely vapid track of Something Just Like This was the touchingly empathetic track A L I E N S that gave a voice to “illegal aliens” that just want to get home again, they don’t want to “take over” other countries and steal every “native’s” job. Yet the xenophobia and hatred in the comments on the music video for the song was heartbreaking. And, at that moment, Coldplay decided to go all-in, and started producing Everyday Life.

Past Coldplay hits have all been about individuals. The lyrics are like fortunes–vague enough that anyone can relate to, and specific enough for the individual hearing the words to think they were written for them. Funnily enough, the seemingly-specific political issues that Coldplay brings up in the album Everyday Life share that same quality since anyone who is empathetic to the issues sung about can think of an analogue in their country/neighborhood. And that is what makes the lyrics of Everyday Life beautiful. Anyone can relate. Let’s listen together to the dual album which begins with the Sunrise half.

Sunrise is classic Coldplay–the band loves instrumental intros that sound out of a church. What makes this one different is that the rest of the dang album could be played in a church and not be out of place. Including the first “real” song on the album: Church. The first time I heard Church, I was blown away. Coldplay always has beautiful melodies, but they rarely play them on traditionally beautiful instruments. The swelling strings, vocal samples, and simple percussion that back Chris Martin’s terribly-metaphorical love song just combine altogether into something nearly-perfect. It’s a lot like Ink, my favorite track off of Ghost Stories. Except it’s got the Arabic and other foreign samples that elevate it further. Super good start to the album.

And then the album gets heavy with Trouble in Town. The first half of the track is sung from the perspective of those abused by law enforcement. It’s a quiet track that Martin adds urgency to with his broken-voiced singing. And then the second half starts as the music crescendos to an angry outburst. In structure, the track beautifully captures how a citizen’s riot starts. And then it gets very overt about how they start by playing a minute-long clip of a police officer abusing his power over a citizen. There’s three songs where Coldplay drops the f-bomb, and this disturbing tirade from the police officer is one of them. It’s a brilliant track.

Broken (spelled with an “E” on its back) is a short Gospel track that has all the trappings of Gospel–simple piano, plenty of backup singers yelling back the lyrics, and finger snaps. It’s well-done as a Gospel track. Thematically, it’s the first time in the album Coldplay invokes the Lord, and the band does it a lot. And it provides a conundrum to the religious far-right that listen to this album. How can they support and act on all this hatred of those who love God like them? Coldplay isn’t invoking God’s name to win over listeners like Kanye West. They’re doing it to appeal to the conscience. Some might say it’s to show those religious far-right folks as hypocrites, but Coldplay never directly says that God would not be proud of their actions; they simply celebrate the Lord. It’s a brilliant way of avoiding getting called hypocrites themselves for judging the individuals “called out” by the lyrics, but only those that perceive it as a personal attack should feel attacked by it. There’s no harm in singing “Oh Lord, come and shine a light on me”.

Daddy is the saddest track Coldplay’s put out. And considering its company, that’s hard to do. Lyrically, it’s about a child missing their absentee father (absentee because they’re a bad dad, or because they’ve been unjustly arrested, or for whatever reason you want to interpret from the stark music video). Musically, it’s simple. There’s little going on. Just a piano, and sometimes you can make out a faint, deep percussion. But the way Martin progresses in sound as he sings “so far away” in the chorus is… sublime. And the last chorus is haunting as the strings pile up towards one final hope that won’t be answered. Great track.

WOTW/POTP stands for Wonder of the World/Power of the People. It’s a short 2 minute track where Martin plays an acoustic guitar and mumbles. It reminds me of my least favorite tracks off of Mylo Xyloto. It’s weird, out-of-place, and filler. But it sets up the rocking anthem of Arabesque which was the first single off the album. I’ve already posted my thoughts on Arabesque, but hearing it loud on my stereo was an experience. I feel like Martin shouldn’t have made his swearing so filtered, but other than that, no complaints. Great track.

When I Need a Friend closes out the Sunrise half of the album. This is a “traditional” Christian hymn in sound rather than Gospel like Broken. The whole choir is singing together about how violence should end. It’s to God, but his name is never invoked. The song and album half ends with another sample. It’s the speech of a man at the center of the Honduran film Everything is Incredible; his dream was to build a helicopter, and he had worked for over 50 years piecing it together with parts picked up on the street. The speech itself ends with the lines “The problem is that everything is amazing, and people don’t accept it”. Fitting.

After six or seven or eight tracks that’s just a bell ringing for three seconds at a time, the Sunset half of the album begins with Guns. It’s just Chris Martin playing some urgent acoustic guitar while singing about how those in power have decided that everyone needs more guns, and Martin questions their and his sanity. It’s for sure a pro-gun control song that also sneaks in further criticism of those in power who “burn down the forest” and save only the lookalikes. It also has Martin dropping another f-bomb. God bless. Short and sweet anti-gun track that clearly and effectively communicates its message, though not as well as The 1975’s I Like America and America Likes Me.

Orphans is the best track on the album. It’s also the most specific in lyrical content in that it namedrops people and places that got bombed in the Middle East. That’s all I need to say. Èkó is a city in Nigeria. The track named after it feels like another song from the perspective of a child. There’s something beautifully naive about this track. The lyrics sound like they’re torn from a picture book and sung like a children’s song, and the feelings invoked are innocently hopeful. It just feels like something out of a coming-of-age movie just before the bombs fall, which is why it’s strange that it comes after Orphans in the track listing. Very pretty track.

Cry Cry Cry features musician boy genius Jacob Collier to provide his very weird vocals in harmony with Chris Martin’s straight-laced voice. I personally don’t think the mix works as well as the band would want. And the piano backing the voices doesn’t do much to beautify the harmony. It’s the spiritual sequel to Church in how it’s not about God, rather a person, but from the perspective of the one who is going to comfort the one who needs it. Cute, but probably my least favorite of the “real” tracks on the album.

Old Friends is probably the most easily relatable of all the tracks on the album. Everyone has an old friend or two that they think of but simply can’t reconnect to for one reason or another. It’s a short two and a half minute track that may take people back years in thought. Even though there’s so much acoustic guitar and piano on this album, this track stands out through its swells and harmonies. And something about the way Martin sings “Time just deepens/sweetens and mends” and “we all melt/into the picture” feels really familiar, but I just can’t place it. It’s a musical old friend that I can’t re-find. Beautiful track.

بنی آدم (Children of Adam) is a lot like Kaleidoscope off A Head Full of Dreams. Only, this time, instead of stopping at one poem, the band lets three poems play. One in Arabic that calls out those who fail to empathize with those in real pain (i.e., those in the Middle East), one in English praying for peace, love, and perfection through God, and a sample of a gospel track from Nigeria saying that God made everything. The ones in other languages sound way prettier because you can’t understand them. It’s a track Coldplay would put together, that’s for sure.

Champion of the World is the best track on the album that wasn’t a single. It’s classic Coldplay in sound in how it builds to an immaculate chorus and just keeps going higher. Lyrically, it’s similar to another Coldplay track, Miracles. It’s about persevering in the face of pain with no hope of something better but your own belief. The track is dedicated to Scott Hutchinson, the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit. Hutchinson took his own life in 2018, and one particular track from the band left such a large impact on Martin that he credited Hutchinson as a co-writer of this track. I can’t say anymore about this track. It’s perfect.

The album ends with the track for which the album is named after, which is a usual Coldplay move. Everyday Life is a very pretty piano ballad where Martin tries to get inside the headspace of a conflicted person who struggles at seeing an individual or group of people as anything but the enemy. But the chorus of his mind reminds him that everyone hurts, everyone cries, and, ultimately, the figure in the song throws their arms out wide and welcomes those he sees with a Hallelujah. It’s the journey in thought that Coldplay hopes everyone listening to the album goes through. And for that, the track is beautiful. A great end to a great album.

Or, it would be the end, if the Japanese version of the CD didn’t have Flags as the closer instead. And this is a bonus track worth listening to. It’s a lot like Champion of the World in sound and content, which is a great track to double up on. The lines “You’ll let telephone in by a region/Is there any advice that you could give?” is such a perfect callback to the old hit Talk where brothers are speaking over the phone, and one is asking for advice a lot like this. And the track ends by saying “I just love you for yourself”, which is the life-affirmation that is missing from the normal cut of the album. It really, really, really should have been on the album.

Everyday Life is an album that I’ve liked more and more the more I’ve listened to it. I first thought that there were too many low-key, lame piano/acoustic tracks that were pretty but also pretty interchangeable. But on these repeated listens, more and more layers of depth reveal themselves in each “simple” track, and the album truly comes together as a joy. It’s an incredibly important album in content, and is delivered so beautifully that I just pray that people listen to it and are moved by it. And I really, truly pray that their preaching hits more than just the choir.

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Breaking the Resumeta: Applying for Game Industry Jobs


Hello! The intern is coming at you with some fresh new content. The main boss is currently too much in a funk to write anything, so he’s handed the content creation reigns to me. This is super exciting, as it’s the first time in the seven years I’ve been here that I get to give my unfiltered voice. See, mom? It took until I was 34, but I’ve made it as a writer.

Anyway, I was brainstorming what sort of content to write with this opportunity, and came to the conclusion that since I was able to find the job I love in this economy, I should give out advice as to how to get other people the jobs in the industries they love. That’s how I came up with the idea for “Breaking the Resumeta”.

What is a “resumeta”, you ask? It’s a combination of the words “resumé” and “meta”. I hope everyone reading is at least familiar with the concept of a resumé; it’s that document you give to would-be employers that outlines your skills, experience, and astrological sign.

The second term is a little trickier to explain. “Meta” is short for “metagame”. A metagame is a video game term. The direct definition of “metagaming” is to “use any strategy, action, or method that goes beyond the supposed limits of a game”. In abstract, that doesn’t make much sense, but I can break it down. See, in most competitive online games, the best players are all roughly at the same skill level. What differentiates them is what playstyle they choose since most online games are balanced around different playstyles competing against each other.

For instance, you have the choice between three playstyles in rock-paper-scissors. If two players are to repeatedly play rock-paper-scissors by randomly choosing what to “throw”, the results should end up with player one winning 33% of the time, player two winning 33% of the time, and the two drawing 33% of the time.

However, no one plays rock-paper-scissors randomly. Instead, each player tries to read the other’s mind to predict what the other person will “throw” so that they can pick the perfect counter “throw”. Like if one player noticed that the other player liked to throw paper after throwing rock, said player would probably throw scissors the next time they saw their opponent throw rock in anticipation of seeing paper. This sort of next-level thinking is called “metagaming”.

Just like in rock-paper-scissors, players playing online games can choose whatever playstyle they feel comfortable with. Playstyles are generally put into tiers, with tier 1 playstyles being the agreed-upon best overall styles. Some of these tier 1 playstyles are tier 1 because they beat every other playstyle the most consistently. However, some tier 1 playstyles are playstyles that may be less likely to beat every other playstyle, but these can beat the agreed-upon “best” playstyle more consistently than any other playstyle. Below is the usual rock-paper-scissors “metagame”.

Normal RPS Metagame Infographic

Going back to the rock-paper-scissors example, imagine if a fourth choice was added called “hammer”. Also, let’s just pretend that rock beat both paper and scissors, hammer beat rock, paper and scissors both beat hammer, and paper and scissors now tie. Because rock could beat half of the choices available, tie the third choice, and only lose to the fourth choice, it would have a 75% chance of not losing, and thus be a “tier 1” playstyle.

However, because of this, other players would expect more people to choose “rock” over any other choice, and thus more players would start to choose “hammer” in anticipation of an opponent choosing rock. These players are said to be making “counterpicks” as according to the “metagame”. As “hammer” starts to be used more, it becomes a “tier 1” choice despite losing to both paper and scissors and only earning a draw if both players choose hammer. In a heavy rock “metagame” the best players will choose “hammer” more often than 25% of the time even though in a “normal” metagame in which all four choices are used 25% it would be the worst choice. Below is another infographic that shows the new rock-paper-scissors-hammer meta based on this data.

Rock Paper Scissors Hammer Metagame Infographic

I hope that explanation makes sense, because I’m here to “break the resumeta” in the same way the hammer would. What this means is that I’ll be looking at examples of the “tier 1” resumés that got members of the industry I’m covering their jobs, really study them, and then provide you guys advice as to how to one-up (gaming industry term!) those exact kind of resumés! Now, tier 1 resumés are whatever is on the first page of Google Images. Let’s see what “gaming industry resumés” are at the top of the tier lists.

This is the very first resumé that shows up when you search “gaming industry resume”, and my god it could not be more boring. We can’t say for certain what job our friend Douglas was looking for, but based on the experience and education listed, it’s probably for a position as a game company’s historian. Which, despite the name, does advertising? Man, the anime club really screwed up its position-naming.

Now, as with all tier 1 playstyles, there are weaknesses in Douglas’ resumé that we can exploit to make our resumé stand out among the sea of similar resumés. The first place to start is the file name. I would bet 100 gil or zenny or coins or rupees that Doug named his file something boring like “Douglas M. Moore Advertising Resumé 2016”. Which is functional but so lame. You’re applying for the games’ industry, man! Spice it up. I recommend to name your resumés in the same format as a video game save file. My personal favorite type of save file formats are those classic RPG ones that go “File Name – Character Level – Time Played – Location”. Here’s an example of a good gaming industry resumé file name.

gaming industry resume file name

Already this hypothetical resumé is poised to break the resumeta! But now, 1000 words into this tutorial level (god, don’t you hate unskippable tutorials??? hit that like button if you agree), we finally get into the meat of the resumé. The resumeat, if you will. As I said earlier, a huge problem with Douglas’ tier 1 resumé is that it is so visually boring. Black and white, Times New Roman, and lacking anything that makes it stand out from literally every other resumé. No, if you want to work in the gaming industry, you have to prove your gaming chops from your font and color choice. Luckily, retro 8-bit font is in, so it’s gonna be super easy to impress your hopeful employers. Check out the naming header (using the great font from this link: https://dafont.com/8bit-wonder.font):

John 3rd Mario Bro Smith

As a gamer, it’s very important to add in your gaming nickname in your headline. You don’t want to look like some n00b. Of course, a cool handle isn’t enough to prove your worth to the king–er, employer. Douglas’ resumé does the traditional thing of listing his “professional experience”, but you’re a gamer trying to get a gaming industry job! List the most relevant stuff: your gaming experience.

Funny

This is my old gaming resumé.

The next section in Douglas’ resumé lists his education. Obviously, this is important to the gaming industry, but instead of being impressed by dumb Ivy League schoolkids who got 4.0s, the gaming industry wants to know who taught you how to game. Let’s take a look at another typical example of what they want.

john education

You’ll notice that part of the text has been colored yellow to make the important names and dates stand out in contrast with the more bland text below. That’s another part of our “tier 1” rival’s resumé I found lacking. His next section reads “computer skills”, but I think it’s far more important to list the most difficult skills in games you’ve been able to master. That’ll definitely stand out compared to everybody listing “Microsoft Office”, “Java”, or “Good with children”. Take a look:

john skills

Douglas continues his resumé with a section of miscellaneous jobs he held that he spun as “leadership experience”. You could do that, or you could break the meta by not talking about the times you were “on the board” of college extracurricular clubs in which the whole point of the “job” was for resumé filler. Let’s just skip to “awards and honors”. If you’re a true gamer, I don’t even need to tell you that the name of this section needs to be “achievements”. If done incorrectly, this section might be redundant with “gaming experience”, so take proper care to space out your storied gaming history like so:

john achievements

Phew! I think we covered all the sections of Douglas’ resumé, but we aren’t out of the Deku Woods (gamer term) yet! The resumé is a definitely half of the boss key (gamer term), but the second half to the final boss is unlocked with the cover letter. Truly, it is the Super Mushroom (gamer term) that you’ll need to power up (gamer term) your application. I recommend making a couple of generic cover letters that outline your most relevant gaming experience with regards to the specific job you want. Then just replace the proper nouns as needed depending on what job/company you’re applying for. Here’s my typical cover letter:

john cover letter.PNG

Alright, now I think we’ve sufficiently busted the resumeta for the gaming industry. If such a 50-Cent Bulletproof (gamer term) resumé and cover letter can’t get you a job, the economy is way worse than I thought. If you do manage to get a job that actually pays and this guide helped you out, please hook me up. I always can get past the application stage but whenever I get interviewed by the gaming industry recruiters, they say that all my memes and jokes are from 2006.

I have a plethora of knowledge as to how to break the resumeta in any industry, not just video games, so if you have a suggestion as to which resumeta to break next, leave a comment. And the years of experience you have for leaving comments, so that I know what terrible suggestions I can easily filter out. Thanks for reading, and happy job hunting!

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