Coldplay songs easily make the transition into melancholia. Maybe it's the minor keys, the comfortably soft vocals of Chris Martin or the pristine, almost sparkly clean production. Whatever the exact ingredient, even when Coldplay flashes its more energetic, anthemic side, it does so modestly, with an aw-shucks earnestness.
So when the moment calls for an eulogy, Coldplay is as fine a choice as any. The British superstars completed a three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday, a day when the music community was in mourning over the loss of Beastie Boy founder Adam Yauch. Coldplay didn't let the moment go unnoticed.
The group took one of the Beastie Boys' signature songs and turned it into a piano-driven ballad. The New York trio's "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)" was one of the act's earliest hits, released on the groundbreaking debut album "Licensed to Ill." In original form it's a playfully exuberant send-up of youthful rebellion. In Coldplay's hands, it is, perhaps unsurprisingly, something far more somber.
In a video that captured the Coldplay performance, there are cheers of recognition from the Hollywood Bowl crowd when Martin sings the opening line, but it isn't until he gets to the chorus that it becomes clear to even the most casual of Beastie Boy fans which tune Martin is singing. Coldplay disregards the original's punk rock momentum, and instead gently reshapes the song with a lulling piano melody, one slightly reminiscent of R.E.M.'s "Nightswimming," perhaps.
It isn't until the second chorus that Martin's bandmates really join in, and the song ebbs into a finale after a glimmering guitar solo. Martin asks the crowd to sing along, but this version is more fit for a slow dance than a celebration. Nevertheless, the crowd overtakes Martin on the song's last verse, which name-checks the Beastie Boys. "We're sending all our love to the Beastie Boys," Martin adds before bringing the song home.
Coldplay also performed the song during its appearance at the KROQ Weenie Roast on Saturday -- as did the Orange County punk rockers Pennywise, though that band gave it a much more more high-energy treatment. A simple little ditty of teenage rebellion, "Fight for your Right" is proving to be one of the Beastie Boys' lasting legacies.
Watch the Hollywood Bowl video below: