The greatest hits from the band that everyone knows
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
Say what you will about Coldplay—they’ve been anything but boring during their 20-year career. They are one of those bands that some people really like and others do not. Coldplay transformed from a small band from Camden, England—consisting of Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion—into one of the biggest bands in the world. They make songs that everyone sings along with during their concerts and are a key part of the soundtrack of the 2000s.
The documentary about Coldplay, A Head Full of Dreams, was released on November 14 for one day only and came out on Amazon Prime Video two days later. The film hints that the band might retire, which some of us at the Other Press would be pretty sad about! Here are some of our favourite songs from Coldplay.
By Meghan Lai, Production Assistant
“Look how they shine for you.” Although my youth is (and will continue to be) riddled with regret, one of my favourite memories growing up was sneaking out of the house at night with my neighbour, George. George and I had a lot in common: We both had high-achieving older sisters, we went to the same school, and we both had absolutely no clue what we wanted to do with our lives. To combat the pressure to rise above the bars set by our families, community, and most importantly, ourselves, we would sneak out of our houses in the middle of the night in search of a temporary escape. We’d visit our neighbourhood park and sing in our keyless glory. One of my favourite songs to belt with him was “Yellow” because it gave us the false affirmation that we meant something and that everything would be alright. With the Mandarin rendition of it featured in the summer flick Crazy Rich Asians, I’m so glad that “Yellow” is making a comeback and reaching many more hearts with its warmth!
“Warning Sign” (2002)
By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
I like the slow build-up of this song. The musical arrangements blend quite nicely to reflect the sombre lyrics and the different emotions someone could experience during a breakup or rocky relationship. I also like the reverb effects that are interspersed throughout the song. My favourite vocal part of the song is the ending when Chris Martin softly sings, “And I crawl back into your open arms.” His vocal performance does a good job reflecting the tenderness and vulnerability of a breakup or a turbulent relationship. The lyrics hint at a lost love, underappreciated while it lasted and deeply missed now that it’s over. Although the song and lyrics are a bit solemn, “Warning Sign” is a worthwhile song to help us to reflect about the fragility of life, our emotions, and our memories.
“Speed of Sound” (2005)
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
While I would like to talk about “The Scientist,” which got me interested in the band with its music video, I’ll leave that for other staff members to talk about.
“Speed of Sound,” the first hit single from their third album X&Y, was made during a turbulent time in the band’s history. Their manager, Phil Harvey, left the band because of creative differences between him and Martin, and Coldplay was trying to make a follow-up to their previous album A Rush of Blood to the Head. The song talks about trying to find ideas to make the record and about the record being too big to fail because it was a gamble for their record label. The music video of the song shows the band performing in the dark with a display behind them. The display shows dazzling and colourful visuals that are sparkling and shown at the speed of sound.
“Strawberry Swing” (2008) and Frank Ocean Cover (2011)
By Isabelle Orr, Entertainment Editor
Almost every single adult human in North America has, at one point, heard a Coldplay song (this research was conducted by myself, using a sample size of one person: me). Their discography of music has it all—happy songs, sad songs, songs for car commercials, and songs to make you want to get down on the dance floor (I am, of course, speaking about “The Scientist”). Coldplay has something for everyone.
Because of this, it is entirely reasonable to think that Frank Ocean, who musically (and physically) exists in a social sphere entirely separate from Coldplay, would be such a fan that he would cover “Strawberry Swing.” Ocean’s cover, on his mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, is oddly surreal, like listening to the song as sung by a friend. The original version from Viva la Vida never fails to relax me and boost my mood—to say nothing of the music video, which has Chris Martin flying through the air and fighting crime through stop-motion animation. Ocean takes a beautiful, nuanced song and adds a twist. Versatility and broad appeal—what Coldplay is all about!
“Life in Technicolor” (2008)
By Greg Waldock, Web Editor
The opening song to Coldplay’s superb Viva la Vida album is my all-time favourite Coldplay song and one of my favourite songs in general. Its quick build from a mellow jam to a full-band crescendo is nothing short of inspired. Despite being totally without lyrics, it also manages to be one of the most emotional songs in a very intense album—not the sombreness of “Cemeteries of London” nor the drama of the eponymous “Viva la Vida,” but an upbeat happiness that Coldplay only ever dabbles lightly in. It’s an enthusiastic, dynamic little song that never fails to put me in a good mood. Its poetic symmetry with the last track “Death and All His Friends” is a perfect bookend to one of the best albums Coldplay has ever produced.
“Prospekt’s March/Poppyfields” (2008)
By Bex Peterson, Editor-in-Chief
I think “Prospekt’s March” is an incredibly underrated song on an incredibly underrated album. Prospekt’s March, released after the culture-defining Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, is an EP that expanded on some pieces and added a few more from studio recording sessions for that album. All the songs off Prospekt’s March are worth a listen but for my money, “Prospekt’s March/Poppyfields” really carries the heart and soul of the EP.
Both Viva la Vida and Prospekt’s March touch on epic themes of love, war, and humanity, but “Prospekt’s March” feels like an appropriate coda to the most well-known anthem off the former album, “Viva la Vida.” Where “Viva la Vida” feels like a sweeping biblical epic of power gone mad and the loss of an empire, “Prospekt’s March” is far more sombre and humanizing. The song describes a quiet aftermath, a helpless kind of loss in the face of futile human struggles. It captures shock and grief with simple storytelling, such as in the lines “I ask somebody what the time is / But time doesn’t matter to them yet.” It’s a beautiful piece of music and a perfect epilogue to an incredible album that I feel often gets overlooked.
By Caroline Ho, Assistant Editor
Hearing the opening orchestral, sweeping synths of “Paradise”, the second single off 2011’s Mylo Xyloto, never fails to evoke a sense of staid idealism.
I’ll admit, about 80 percent of my fondness for this song is nostalgia for the simpler days of seven years ago, before I was plagued by banalities like paying rent and running out of toilet paper. Nevertheless, “Paradise” remains a powerful song about holding onto hope and finding one’s own personal paradise in the sacrosanct space of one’s dreams.
The lyrics speak of the uncomplicated optimism of youth confronting the tempered indifference of reality. “When she was just a girl / She expected the world,” frontman Chris Martin croons at the start of each verse, an all-too-relatable sentiment. Then the rest of the world kicks in, as captured sombrely in lines such as “Life goes on, it gets so heavy / The wheel breaks the butterfly.” Yet the subject of the song keeps her spirits high throughout by closing her eyes and escaping to her imagination, where paradise is always real and waiting. Simple yet poignant lyrics ring against majestic, effervescent harmonies in an idyllic soundscape.
The music video stars an elephant—or rather, a person in an elephant costume (spoiler alert, it’s Chris Martin)—escaping from a zoo and setting off on a perilous, cross-border journey to find others of his kind. The video’s a little perplexing at first, yet oddly and charmingly fitting for this quietly ambitious, inspirational tune.