By Christian Blauvelt
October 21, 2011 at 01:57 PM EDT

A “17 percent high” Chris Martin paid a visit to The Colbert Report last night for an awkwardly-funny sit-down chat and a performance of “Paradise” off Coldplay’s new album, Mylo Xyloto (out Tuesday), which may or may not be Greek for Miley Cyrus.

As is often known to happen, Stephen Colbert turned the Q&A into an absurdly passive aggressive tête-à-tête, including an award-comparing contest and a critique of his guest’s foreign birth. “You are a seven-time Grammy winner, I am a one-time Grammy winner,” Colbert said. “Between us we average four Grammys.” When Colbert said that he’d won for a Christmas album and asked if Coldplay would ever consider making one and go all mistletoe and holly on us, Martin joked, “Yes, but it won’t be as good as yours. It will be much better.”

Pretty cocky for a guy who told EW’s Kyle Anderson that “we’re as hated as a band can be,” huh? Still, Martin graciously deferred to his generally accepted place in the alt-rock firmament, saying, when comparing Coldplay to other recent Colbert guest Radiohead, “We are not as good musically, but much more attractive.” When Colbert countered with “How do you sell [50 million] albums and win that many Grammys and still be considered alternative?” Martin said, “Because we’re not as good looking as Ricky Martin.” Remember that: Chris Martin, better looking than Thom Yorke, worse looking than his brother from a Puerto Rican mother, Ricky.

Colbert also “criticized” Gwyneth Paltrow for outsourcing the job of being her husband to the U.K.: “You are not an American. You come to our country and you took our Gwyneth. And you cannot tell me that that is a job that an American did not want to do.”

Meeting of the minds having concluded, Martin got down to some airy, keyboard-heavy alt-pop, playing Mylo Xyloto’s “Paradise.” Wearing a red and black proto-military jacket with the collar turned up, he looked like Billie Joe Armstrong circa American Idiot sans skinny tie and guyliner. The Day-Glo graffiti covering his upright piano and much of the rest of the stage positioned Coldplay where they want to be: on the outside of the music industry looking in. It’s a position that seems all the more untenable with arena-ready, chorus-driven songs like “Paradise,” full of cascading piano chords and Martin’s sky-high falsetto. But whatever conceptual incongruities plague Coldplay’s work these days, the band can still play in top form, as they did last night. And Martin’s voice is full of vida.

Music Mixers, did you catch Coldplay on Colbert last night?

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Album Review: Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’ video features unicycling, adorable trunk jokes: Watch it here!

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Coldplay pay tribute to R.E.M. with cover of ‘Everybody Hurts’: Watch it here