So folks, the day is upon us.
We’ve been waiting for LP7 for a while, basically ever since we got the whispers just after Ghost Stories‘ release. And now, on December 3rd/4th, 2015, the next great Coldplay project–A Head Full Of Dreams–is in our hands
I feel like I should be through the roof with excitement. And, like, I am. But I can’t really wrap my head around it.
From what we’ve gotten so far, it seems like Chris, Jonny, Will, and Guy have been as committed as ever with A Head Full Of Dreams. Ghost Stories was so wishy-washy, and it didn’t even feel like a full project as opposed to a nice random LP that dropped. It was cool to have, yeah, but it didn’t really feel like the true Coldplay spirit was around. I mean, it had some tremendous songs on it, but for every great song, it seemed like there was a very skippable one. Seemed like there was a direct correlation. It probably had to do with Yoko Paltrow fucking everything up, but hey; we’re past that.
But besides Ghost Stories, Coldplay’s albums have all been jam-packed with incredible songs full of totally different styles bound by that constant, special Coldplay touch.
Before we all dive into the new album, I’ll try and name the best of those tunes. I’m gonna try and answer the question I’ve asked myself often: what are the best Coldplay songs? If I’m showing someone the band for the first time, what songs am I playing if handed the AUX cord?
This took a lot of thought. You have so many eras, so many sounds, so many choices, when picking the elite Coldplay songs. At times, it’s almost like comparing a pitcher and hitter in baseball; they’re hard to compare.
So I tried. I compiled short lists. I made heartbreaking cuts and gut wrenching ranks. It was so tough, because saying that one song is, by definition of the ranks, better than the other is emotionally tough. I feel bad for some of these tracks almost!
But here it is: the official top 25 Coldplay songs.
One of the sorrow songs from Ghost Stories but very easily the best one. Soothing melody throughout, and Chris displays his amazing vocal range from start to finish. The lyrics, obviously, depict heartbreak, but that’s what you’d come to expect from this era. Not all of those depressing songs hit emotionally, but this one sure does.
A thing I adore about Coldplay is that their B-sides pack just as big of a punch as their big hits. “1.36,” a B-side from A Rush Of Blood To The Head is no exception. This is a genuine, grade-A Jonny track. He carries and drives this song on the lead with that magical AROBTTH-era riff. A deep cut, but a pure cut.
Written for the movie Unbroken (book was phenomenal, haven’t seen the film), “Miracles” is yet another deeper cut from Coldplay. But unlike the lower-key “1.36,” this tune sounds like a song that can be sung by 80,000+ in a packed stadium. The boys are no strangers to that type of atmosphere, and this Ghost Stories/MX-style mashup proves just that.
22. Adventure Of A Lifetime
WOO HOO! WOO HOO! WOO HOO! WOO HOO! The song that has been flooding my eardrums ever since it dropped a few weeks ago is already a classic. The Indian inspired riff, the mystical backing vocals, and Chris’ pure energy creates a blissful jam that you can’t help but “shuffle your feet a bit too.” The first of many dunks of Yoko Paltrow from A Head Full Of Dreams.
21. Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love
The first song from Viva la Vida or Death And All His Friends, “Lovers in Japan” begins with pure euphoria. The piano, the echoing guitar, the pitter-patter from Will, oh it’s amazing. The one thing with this thing…is “Reign of Love.” It’s not bad in the slightest; very soothing and what not. However, after the amazing sound of the first part, it sorta takes away from the track as a whole. It’s still phenomenal–don’t get me wrong–but I feel like if the first part was left alone, it could be ranked much higher. Oh whale, had to rank something at 21, right?
20. Everything’s Not Lost
Parachutes‘ final song is a song that’s epic in length (not the last time this was the case for a closing track for Coldplay), but not very epic/big in terms of sound. And that’s OK. It’s mellow, just like any early stuff from the boys, and can easily be sung along to. It’s also tremendous live, as you can see below.
19. Square One
Maybe the most underrated Coldplay song, ever. Like, you think X&Y, and what do you think of? “Fix You,” “Speed of Sound,” “Talk,” and then maybe one other song. But as unfortunate as it is, not many remember the opener. ‘Tis a shame, truly, because it’s a PHENOMENAL way to open a record. X&Y got some (unwarranted) shit when it came out because of its new sound, and maybe not every song on it is both innovative and amazing overall, but this is. I feel like it’s not as high up just because I don’t even think it’s the best opener they have.
18. Warning Sign
Simply a beautiful song. “So I crawl back into your open arms” gets me every friggin’ time. Plus, the personal experience I have is one that I’m sure many Coldplayers wish they could also have; Chris was playing this when the notorious “Fuck the Olympics,” incident occured.
Weird. As. Fuck.
Good. As. Fuck.
This is the best track on Ghost Stories by far. Very weird track, yes, and you deserve to be thrown out of the car on the highway if you play it on the AUX cord with your friends. It’s more of a track that you listen to in solidarity, where no one else can hear. That’s when “Midnight” makes its mark. The Bon Iver-ish track sends chills up my spine, especially when it picks up a little bit towards the end. It was a completely different song from what we were used to from them, especially considering this was the first song released for the new album, but it’s tremendous nevertheless.
16. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfull
Quick!!!! Think of the exact opposite of “Midnight” Fitz!!!!
Mylo Xyloto checks in with the song of the summer in 2012, “ETIAW.” Absolute fire song, and if anyone tells you different they’re a straight up liar. Everyone is on an emotional high on this track: Chris is slaying left and right, Will’s percussions are terrific, Jonny SHREDS, and Guy is still handsome as fuck. I dare you to not jump around and dance to this song. Go on, try.
15. Swallowed In The Sea
This love song transcends most other love songs. It’s just so powerful. Most of the time with Coldplay, I simply don’t know what truly captures me. Is it Chris’ raw emotion? Is it the gigantic sound? Is it both? I don’t know, to be honest. I’m just thankful that this song–another X&Y sleeper–exists.
14. Hurts Like Heaven
Another high energy opener, this song sets the scene for the concept of Mylo Xyloto: two lovers living in an Orwellian shithole. The rebel anthem creates goosebumps from the first listen to the last, and the high energy (seems to be a running theme) never fails me. The rhythm, melody, and pitch changes help keep the song fresh. It’s an amazing song, but still not the best Coldplay opener. Also, this has to be listened too with the 42 second overture “Mylo Xyloto” preceding it.
Chris Martin has referenced before that writing for AROBTTH began shortly after 9/11. This song captures those efforts. A song full of both musical and lyrical dichotomy (“Give me love, give us a kiss/Tell me your own politik, and open up your eyes”) and two completely different yet mesmerizing parts, “Politik” is a song that really buries the idea that Coldplay write songs like every other popular group, such as Radiohead or Oasis. They don’t. No one could, can, or ever will make a song like this. It’s not their best, but it’s peak and unique Coldplay. It accurately reflects the world right after the attacks from a fairly neutral stance. Listen to the lyrics–it’s sorta subtle but also sorta not–with that in mind, and then you’ll see why Chris Martin’s lyrical critics should be silenced.
12=42. Another multi-layered song and another long song, “42” is just a flood of emotions. If you listen to it at first and think, “What the hell is this?” it’s natural. When you get to the ladder half of the song, you’re probably wondering how we even got there in the first place. It’s a beautiful mess; it wears a lot of different hats but it wears them well. “42,” like a lot of VLVODAAHF, takes a few listens to get through. If you listen to it enough and truly absorb what it has to offer though, it’s worth it. “42” doesn’t get much love, and I wish it did. An underrated gem.
This is where it started to get really tricky, as you would imagine.
11. The Scientist
It’s not a tambourine song…
…but it’s a beautiful one.
The piano ballad off of AROBTTH is one that millions of people, Coldplayers and non-Coldplayers alike, know and love. It probably tops a lot of fans’ list, and I can see why. Chris captures the predicament of powerless in amazing fashion. Fun fact: if this sounds like something that could’ve come from the Beatles (this very easily could’ve been a White Album track) that’s because Chris wrote this after listening to and absorbing George Harrison’s classic album All Things Must Pass. It’s obviously an incredible song, but not even the best on the album. That’s what knocks it down a few pegs for me.
10. Life in Technicolor ii
First off, I’ll never forgive the band for not making this the official first track of VLVODAAHF. It is MIIIIILES ahead of the simple instrumental that I tell myself that this is the first track on the album instead of the EP Prospekt’s March. But anywho, this is everything you want in a Coldplay opener: the musical chemistry that you hear in “Politik,” the energy of “Hurts Like Heaven,” and the lyrical power of anything from 2008 Coldplay. It’s simply magical, and I wish they played it live more.
“OHHHH you like Coldplay?! You know “Yellow” you know that song?! I LOOOOOVE that song!!!!”
Yessss….I know this song. As trendy of a pick as it is, it deserves the hype it gets. It’s a bonafide love song that anyone can get behind. Literally, anyone. Have you heard it live? The “YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU SO!” returns are fucking exhilarating and make this song a staple of any show of theirs. And it’s nothing complex either. No overly technical things, no massive guitar solo, nothing too flashy at all. It’s just all about the music, baby. “Yellow” is a tour de force, butttttt its lesser known cousin off of Parachutes is a smidge better.
Yes, “Shiver”>”Yellow.” Not the popular pick, like I alluded to, but these two songs are fairly similar (read the whole “No overly technical things”). But Jonny’s riff is so spectacular, Chris’ high notes are spot on, and even the lulls feel energetic. The best parts of this song, in my opinion, are the bridges. The build-ups to each chorus are so in sync. They don’t overdo it; it’s just a perfect amount of energy leading you on to an explosion of harmony. And lyrically, I love how it’s different than “Yellow.” Instead of simply saying “I love you” to someone, it’s waiting to be noticed so you can say “I love you.” “and it’s you, I see, but you don’t see me/And it’s you, I hear, a so loud and so clear,” AHHH! It’s amazing to look back and see Chris, who’s got JLaw on his résumé now, as a wallflower. This was before her, before Yoko, before fame, when he was just an uncool kid from England. He still has some of that in him, but it’s awesome to look back at this tune and see that (and his old ‘fro) on display.
7. Viva la Vida
If we’re talking strictly lyrics, this might be their best song. Another song that makes me laugh when people say that they’re unoriginal or copycats. A lyrical masterpiece (it won Song of the Year, aka best lyrical song, at the Grammys in 2009) about having it all and losing it accompanied by Jerusalem bells a ringin’ and Will Champion leading the band with a heavy drum. The most dominate strings are from the violin and, arguably, the most powerful vocals come from the other members not named Chris. That’s what makes this track unique and special. It was #1 in the world and is still popular to this day for a reason: it’s rich–and different–sound. But, still, not the best track on the album.
The first half of this song is nice. Nothing too amazing, but very nice. Calm, composed, collected. Chris gives you a lone piano and subtle beauty in terms of his singing voice, but not a whole lot in terms of an instrumental. It’s the second half of the song that makes it unbelievable and remarkable. Once that piano starts to change up and he belts out “STUCK ON THE END,” and the music erupts, it’s serenity. Pure, unadulterated emotion. All the four members are brought together through the power of the song and they mesh so goddamn well. And the final lines summarize the album perfectly: “Stood on the edge, tied to a noose/You came along and you cut me loose.” It’s a song about not surrendering faith or love in any circumstances. A terrific closer to a tremendous album.
5. Fix You
I really don’t have to go too in-dept on this one, do I? I mean, I just have to let this masterpiece from X&Y speak for itself. Everyone knows what it can do to another. The organs, the guitar riff that picks the song up, the drums that lead to an explosion of feelz, you know what I mean. I simply can’t do this song any justice. Just listen.
4. Death and All His Friends
“Death and All His Friends,” to me, is just a better version of “Fix You.” Starts slow with a piano and strong lyrics, picks up a little bit, and then EXFUCKINGPLODES into music para, para, paradise (that was the first one out, by the way). The guitar riff given off by Jonny Buckland makes you feel like you’re in heaven listening to angels sing to you as you rise, “No I don’t wanna battle from beginning to end/ I don’t wanna cycle the recycled revenge/I don’t wanna follow Death and all of his friends.” It then ends softy, and bookends VLVODAAHF with “And, in the end,
the love you take is equal to the love you make we lie awake and we dream of making our escape.” I keep saying the word “beauty” and “beautiful” a lot, but this truly is just that: a beautiful work of art…
3. Strawberry Swing
…but not as beautiful as the song that goes riiiiiight before it on the album. The penultimate song of the album is “Strawberry Song,” a song that was scientifically proven to be one of the most relaxing songs ever made. But don’t take it from those guys in lab coats; from the opening finger picks, to the closing violins, it truly feels like you’re sitting with a loved one on a (violet) hill on “such a perfect day.” It’s a relaxing song to the ears, but also a song that stresses nonconformity and critiques about world powers and their constant conflicts. The Spanish and African influences on this song helps create one of the most audible pleasing songs in Coldplay’s catalog, and the lyrics just add to it. Add it all up, and you have a tune any true fan of music (in general, not just Coldplay fans) should appreciate.
You know it. I know it. We all know it. “Clocks” is the song that many know by its iconic piano riff. The amount of times I’ve heard people call it “The Coldplay Song” without knowing its name is baffling. It’s funny how iconic it became when it almost wasn’t included.
Thank God he added those “You, are”‘s in there. Arguably their most popular song, it exemplifies one of the things that Coldplay knows how to do best: they know how to, usually, not overdo it. Obviously, there are some exceptions (“Princess of China” gtfo of my life pls) but when they know their limits, they’re ironically able to reach new heights. They let the pure music do the talking. Yeah, they’re not the most talented musicians in the world. Chris Martin can’t even read fucking sheet music. Jonny, Will, and Guy are certainly not the best guitarist, drummer, and bassist ever. But the four of them play together so well, so intimately, so wonderfully. They’re a true band; everyone depends on and plays off the others. “Clocks” defines that standard. Chris contemplates morality and a whole bunch of other things while they all play together to bless us with a timeless tune.
1. Charlie Brown
I’ll be honest…this was all just a race for #2. I never really questioned this position. “Charlie Brown” is as close to a perfect song from Coldplay that we’re ever gonna get. They don’t overproduce it, like “Clocks,” but they’re so naturally able to play a larger-than-life song. They make it look easy! It’s the best guitar melody that they will ever have barring something outrageous, Chris puts on an extravagant performance on the track, and emotions run high throughout. Somehow, in some way, the song continues to grow and grown and get bigger and bigger as more time passes. I mentioned the whole “not-overdoing it” thing with “Clocks” as one of the best things that Coldplay does well. “Charlie Brown” is the best example, however, of the absolute best thing that Coldplay does: reinventing themselves while also taking bits and pieces from what they’ve already done. This song was something I had never heard before when it first entered my life. I was blown away, as I still am to this day. Yet with more and more listens, I noticed that this song from Mylo Xyloto took things from everything I already loved about the band’s first four albums. The strings of X&Y, the drums of AROBTTH, the smooth base and powerful vocals of Parachutes, and the massive overall sound and atmosphere of VLVODAAHF. I’ve pointed out what all of these previous 24 songs did well specifically, but “Charlie Brown” does all of those things combined into just over 4 minutes of exceptional music. It’s big. It’s emotional. It’s unlike anything else. It’s “Charlie Brown.” And it’s the best song Coldplay has to offer.
So as we prepare for a new era of this band that has given us so much joy over the years, don’t forget to remember where they came from and what made us fall in love with them.
Agree or disagree? Tweet at me, @BfitzP17, and let me know about it. I’d love the company. Until then, enjoy A Head Full Of Dreams!