Pectoralz Starfish Coldplay played show #114 out of 114 on their worldwide A Head Full of Dreams tour in Argentina. The lights, pageantry, and excitement of another show put on by Chris, Jonny, Will, and Guy capped off a multi-legged tour that grossed over half a billion US dollars, the third highest grossing tour ever. Almost 6 million fans were treated to old hits and new ones, and Coldplay rose to prominence they had never seen before.
The concert about 24 hours ago also marked the end of something for Coldplay: their “first chapter.”
One helluva opening chapter if you ask me. Seven studio albums, worldwide top charting hits, Grammy Awards, the works. Many feared that A Head Full of Dreams was it for Coldplay, given Chris’ cryptic messages about the band’s future. When December 4th, 2015 rolled around, I know I was excited for the album to finally drop, but I was also unsure if we’d get another album in the future. Chris’ comments last night reassured that this isn’t it for a band that, seemingly, has so much more to offer.
“From now on,” he said, “we’ll only be full of surprises.”
Considering the constant changing of styles done by Coldplay, who’s to say what those surprises will be?
Now that the album songs have become etched in Coldplay lore, the EP tracks have been released, and all the shows have been played, this feels like the perfect time to reflect on chapter 1 of the Coldplay story. Other fans are doing it by sharing their memories on social media via #ThankYouAHFOD. Me, I wanna reflect on an article I posted on the eve of Dreams‘ release, my favorite 25 Coldplay songs. I was a wide eyed, innocent college sophomore at the time. I remember going to our campus radio station (s/o 91.1 FM WMUA) and playing Dreams right at midnight, convincing myself and JA and our other guests that we were the first radio station in America to play the whole album. No one’s disputed this, so I’m gonna continue to believe it.
Now I’m an old, wrinkly senior. Things have changed for me (and that’s okaaaaay, I’m on my wayyyyyy). Some of the songs I had on that list in 2015 are songs that I might not have on in 2017, and some songs that I didn’t have on originally–and some of the Dreams songs I hadn’t heard yet–are songs that are no brainers to me now.
Even if it’s just for me, I have to update the list.
Few things to make your reading experience easier: I’ll start by showing which songs dropped out of the top 25 first. Any song on the top 25 is gonna have a +,-, “no change,” or “new” label. If a song gets a +2 and is sitting at #7 today, it means it was #9 on the previous list. Simple enough.
I’ll italicize and underline anything I said about a song on the old list…
…like this so you know it was an old quote.
Anything else I have to add on or anything I have to say about a new song on this list will be typed out normally like this.
And make no mistake: this list was hard to make before, but it may have been harder to revise. I love basically every Coldplay song, with “Princess of China” and probably “Another’s Arms” being the two I don’t fuck with too much. I choose to believe that those songs were never recorded.
It’s just my opinion though, so take it with as many grains of salt that you desire.
Here we go.
“Ink” (was #25)
“1.36” (was #24)
“Miracles” (was #23)
“Adventure Of A Lifetime” (was #22; I think I was just high on excitement for LP7 considering I listened to that roughly 498724389742378349 times once it dropped)
“Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love” (was #21)
“Square One” (was #19; this is probably #26 for me; this was a tough cut)
The first five songs and six out of the seven that were on the bubble are out now. A few new songs will replace them, and some oldies will make up for the others.
25. “Birds” (new)
The happy song that makes you wanna fly, it’s a formula Coldplay has perfected and uses brilliantly in Dreams‘ second song. Jonny Buckland doesn’t need crazy guitar solos to make a song work, just riffs like the one you hear towards the end of this song. And it has a bird pun at the end, so bonus points.
24. “Midnight” (was #17)
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.
I stand by that take, but “Midnight” has certainly lost a few spots in my eyes. Still a great, haunting tune, but this alongside all of Ghost Stories haven’t gotten a bump up from the last list. “Ink,” “True Love,” and “O” are songs I love, but just not enough to put them in the upper tier of Coldplay songs. “Midnight” is good enough, though, marking Ghost Stories‘ sole appearance in the revised list.
23. “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” (was #16)
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.
Again, all of that is true. Jonny still kills it, it still slaps, all that jazz. Sometimes, though, other songs jump out at me. If I revise this list again right before LP8, I may have a totally other list. Still love this song.
“Swallowed In The Sea” (was #15)
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.
Still an absolutely enchanting song, but it falls nevertheless. One of my honorable mentions when it came to requesting a song for the AHFOD C-stage.
21. “Green Eyes” (new)
Kicking myself for missing this last time around. AROBTTH checks in at 21, and we’ll be seeing much more of it as we progress. Simple song, but that doesn’t mean it gets stale. Still love it today after all these years.
20. “The Goldrush” (new)
It’s a shame that Coldplay’s B-sides don’t get as much attention. Of course, basically all B-sides won’t be blown up like a single, but that’s not the point. A lot of Coldplay’s B-sides and EP songs–especially those from the AHFOD recording sessions, should be on the studio albums themselves. “The Goldrush” is an example of just that.
19. “Warning Side” (was #18)
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 occurred.
If I die tomorrow, put “PLEASE DON’T TWEET THAT I SAID ‘FUCK THE OLYMPICS'” on my gravestone. They say you never forget your first time folks, and that was one helluva sight to see at my first Coldplay show.
18. “Cemeteries of London” (new)
Despite the fact that I can never spell “cemeteries” on my first try, this song has skyrocketed up my rankings. I always liked it a whole lot, but whatever it is over the last few months has me keep going back to it. Chillingly fun song.
17. “Up&Up” (new)
Once I heard Noel Gallagher and Jonny Boy were teaming up, I had a feeling this song was going to be special. It didn’t disappoint. It’s become an instant fan favorite and an awesome closer to shows. “Up&Up” is another song added to the resume of iconic openers and closers to Coldplay albums, with more to come on this list.
16. “The Scientist” (was #11)
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.
Gets knocked down a few extra pegs for me this time around. Still an emotionally powerful song, of course, but it’s not the cream of the crop that is A Rush of Blood. Casual Coldplay fans may not like “Scientist” being this low, but it’s a testament to the depth of the band’s catalogue. It’s a must at all Coldplay concerts, though.
15. “Hurts Like Heaven” (was #14)
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.
First off, yes: you’re cheating yourself if you’re not playing “MX” before “Hurts Like Heaven.” Don’t do that to yourself. Second, I’d love to see this song resurge on future tours. It’s too good live to only play during one tour. Probably wishful thinking, but let me live.
14. “Everything’s Not Lost” (was #20)
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.
Big bump for the closing of Parachutes this time around, thanks in part to the fact that it’s SO FUCKING GOOD live. The ’11 Glastonbury rendition, linked above, is maybe my favorite singular Coldplay live performance. At the very least, it’s top five. You also have to love Jay-Z head bobbing in the bottom half of the screen at 6:27.
13. “A Head Full of Dreams” (new)
The top new entry of the revised list is Dreams‘ title track and opener. I flipped a shit when I heard this for the first time. I was yelling in the studio (mics off, of course) out of excitement. This song brings the electricity and, much like “Hurts Like Heaven,” doesn’t deserve to be cut from live shows in the future. #SaveOurConcertOpeners.
12. “Politik” (was #13)’
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.
The unique case with “Politik” is that it was the first time Coldplay proved to us that they can effectively changed their style from album-to-album. After the generally mellowed out Parachutes, you’re immediately hit like a ton of bricks by “Politik” on Rush of Blood. Absolutely classic song.
11. “Yellow” (was #9)
“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.
Still a great song, but it gets knocked down just a bit in the new list. Man, I used to be a much shittier writer. Maybe I still am and I just don’t know it yet and I’ll perhaps find that out two years from now.
10. “Life in Technicolor ii” (no change)
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.
Not a single thing has changed with this take.
9. “Viva La Vida” (was #7)
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: its rich–and different–sound. But, still, not the best track on the album.
“Viva” takes a slight hit in the rankings but still has top 10 status. The song that truly opened the door to Coldplay for me in 2008 will always have a special spot in my heart. Thanks to Apple for making the commercial that mesmerized me and pushed me to look into this band.
8. “Shiver” (no change)
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.
“Shiver” holds steady at eight, and while Chris isn’t with Jennifer Lawrence anymore, my views on this song remain the same. This is the best song on Parachutes.
7. “42” (was #12)
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.
Big jump for “42” this time around! I feel like the band saw this song as a huge experiment, with the whole lack of a proper chorus and whatnot, and it worked out. Still think its a generally underrated song, so the least I could do is bump it up to the top 10; it’s grown on me even more.
6. “Death And All His Friends” (was #4)
“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 makewe 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…
Another VLV song checking in is a song that I did have on the Mt. Rushmore but has since been relegated to number six. I no longer see it as a better version of “Fix You,” so I disavow from my original take a little bit. Still a beautiful song, though.
5. “Fix You” (no change)
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.
Yeah, I still can’t really do “Fix You” any justice. To half-quote an inferior X&Y song, when you hear it, you understand.
4. “Amsterdam” (was #6)
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.
One album closer flips sides with another. I stress again that the latter half of “Amsterdam” is where it makes its money. In a catalogue full of epic closing songs, this is the best one. The boys need to play this song more once they start touring again.
3. “Clocks” (was #2)
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.
“Clocks” will always be a top five Coldplay song, it just depends on where it falls for me on any given day. Right now, it’s at three taking home the bronze. It’s hard to argue with how good of a song this is; from diehard Coldplayers to people who only know a few songs, it seems universally agreed upon that this song is timeless.
2. “Strawberry Swing” (was #3)
…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.
I do not comprehend how “Strawberry Swing” made it to like only one fucking C-stage on this tour. It’s a masterpiece. Run this song back too on tour next time; I know I keep saying that, but this song is too good to be shelved. It was my request for the C-stage, and while I didn’t get to hear it, I remain hopeful that I will one day. Because this song is a gem that deserves more love. Silver medal for the best song on Viva La Vida.
1. “Charlie Brown” (no change)
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.
Yup, “Charlie” is still the undisputed champion. The gold standard for any Coldplay song. A mortal lock for live concerts, where it’s such an exhilarating experience when the xylobands go off and the song starts. I’m sure this list will change from time to time, but the top spot should always be as steady as a rock. And if it is beaten one day, then the real winners are us, the fans. Because it’s hard for anyone to top a song like that.
So there it is, my revised top 25 Coldplay songs after Chapter 1. If you disagree and wanna yell at me about it, tweet at me. The beauty of loving a band like Coldplay is that a list like this certainly has no right or wrong answers, unless you’re putting “Princess Of China” at #1 of course.
I’m already getting excited to revisit this list again when Chapter 2 begins.