Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Coldplay’s coming to San Diego

Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin performs during the iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada U.S. Sept. 22, 2017. (Reuters/Steve Marcus)
(STEVE MARCUS / Reuters Photo)

Talk about phoning it in.

When Coldplay performs Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, fans will not only be able to sing along, they can also provide live instrumental accompaniment - in a manner - for the band’s recent single, “Hypnotised.”

The tour is part of the hugely popular English quartet’s “A Head Full of Dreams Tour.” Having a phone app to accompany Coldplay is an apt reflection of our digital era and of a band whose insistently pleasant concerts are far better suited to finger-tapping than, say, crowd-surfing or moshing.

The free “Coldplay - Hypnotised App” can be installed on any iPhone running iOS 9 or higher and on any Android phone running 4.4 or higher.

The single-minded app can detect when “Hypnotised” is playing and then “play” its own generative melody, which is based on the song’s piano motif. Fans can tap the screen on their phone to create additional melodies.

Or, as Coldplay tweeted this summer: “If you’re going to one of our shows, please play the app when we play the song ‘Hypnotised’- it will sound magical.”

If the app makes this proudly mainstream band’s members sound like they have suddenly become visionary mavericks, guess again.

“Hypnotised” is the latest aural balm from a band that owes much of its success to its proven ability to soothe listeners with music that lulls rather than provokes or challenges.

The “Hyponitised” app was created last year, but not by Coldplay. Rather it is the invention of their producer, veteran cutting-edge music maverick Brian Eno, and software designer Peter Chilvers.

The two created it as a stand-alone, Coldplay-free app called “ Bloom.” It was designed by Eno and Chilvers to “allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen. A generative music player takes over when Bloom is left idle, creating an infinite selection of compositions and their accompanying visualizations.”

Or, as Eno put it last year: “ ‘Bloom’ is an endless music machine, a music box for the 21st century. You can play it, and you can watch it play itself.”

Eno, incidentally, has produced or co-produced some of the best albums by U2, the Irish band Coldplay has long striven to emulate, along with Radiohead.

With or without Eno, Coldplay’s music is catchy, well-crafted and proudly innocuous. The combination of these qualities helped the band sell more albums in the U.S. between 2000 and 2011 - 15 million, to be exact - than Radiohead, Beyoncé, Rihanna or anyone else you can cite in that same period.

Then again, creating ear candy is Coldplay’s specialty. Another is lead singer Chris Martin’s lyrics, which are full of such bland platitudes as “The future’s for discovering”; “What if there was no light, nothing wrong, nothing right;” and ‘Maybe I’m in the black, maybe I’m on my knees / Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes.”

But in a world filled with chaos, hostility and disarray, there are clear commercial benefits for a band that makes such decidedly un-threatening music. Coldplay owes much of its international success precisely to the fact that its songs lack both the edge that makes Radiohead’s music so enticing and the epic grandeur that U2’s best work achieves.

That may be why - after Coldplay was selected to perform at the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show - the NFL ended up adding prominent guest spots by the much more charismatic Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.

So be prepared for lots of audience arm-waving, plus “Whoa-whoa-whoa!” and “Ah-ah-ah!” sing-alongs, when Coldplay performs Sunday at SDCCU (formerly Qualcomm Stadium). Oh, and don’t forget to download that “Hypnotised” app.

Coldplay, with Tove Lo and Alina Baraz

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: SDCCU (formerly Qualcomm) Stadium, Mission Valley

Tickets: $99-$225 (plus service charges)

Phone: 800.745.3000