With their latest hit "My Universe" in the public eye and a new album called Music of the Spheres coming out next week (October 15), it's a better time than ever to create a top 10 list of Live365's favorite Coldplay songs! The British alt rock band is one of those acts that's managed to stay relevant for over 20 years, and we'd be remiss to not acknowledge Chris Martin's, Will Champion's, Guy Berryman's, and Jonny Buckland's talent.
Coldplay formed in the late 90s after the four members met at University College, London. Since their inception, Coldplay have gone on to perform at the 2016 Super Bowl, sell more than 75 million copies of their seven No. 1 albums, and receive seven Grammy awards and nine BRITs. It's not an overstatement to say they are one of the most popular acts on the planet.
What's kept Coldplay going? Their deeply personal, experimental, and existential music. Listening to a Coldplay album can either feel like being transported to a new dimension, time-traveling back to the 1700s, or examining the inner workings of the human mind. This is a band that best caters to listeners who prefer a more intellectual music experience.
Without further ado, here are our Coldplay picks!
10. "Charlie Brown"
This is one of those songs you'll always hear on big network reality shows like America's Got Talent or The Voice whenever something happy and inspirational occurs. But putting the commercial success of "Charlie Brown" aside, this track has a coming-of-age message and lively beat that feels appropriate for the finale of your favorite teen movie. It's like driving in a fast car under a starry sky while whipping your hair out the window.
The title "Charlie Brown" is derived from the famous Peanuts character of the same name. The track comes off Coldplay's 2011 record Mylo Xyloto: a concept album where every song tells a story in the life of the main character, Mylo. There's also Mylo's lover, a character named Fly. In "Charlie Brown," Mylo steals car keys to take an automobile to a party. It's there where Fly and Mylo first meet and become interested in each other.
Chris Martin once declared to NME, "I know our lyrics are a bit s-–t. But [the ones for “Charlie Brown“] I like them a lot." With rich, poetic lines like "scarecrow dreams" and "Be a bright red rose come bursting through concrete," it's easy to see why Martin enjoys them.
9. "In My Place"
Coldplay's modern electronic phase is cool...but we really miss the early 2000s era of the band. In the budding Y2K days, every Coldplay song packed an edgy, emotional punch. It's songs like "In My Place" which cemented them as an alt rock success.
"In My Place" comes off their 2002 masterpiece A Rush of Blood to the Head and speaks of the inevitably unchangeable characteristics present in all human beings. Martin warns listeners that their flaws can deteriorate relationships with loved ones. He even asks his lover to "wait for him" despite his impulsive behavior and lack of emotional intelligence.
"In My Place" was the second track and first single of A Rush of Blood to the Head and won the award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. Chris Martin even said this song was the track that made Coldplay want to do a second album following a period of feeling lost musically.
This song from Coldplay's debut album Parachutes (as well as another Parachutes track we'll mention later) helped establish our four boys as a band to look out for during the turn of the 21st century. According to Martin, the track was written for a specific woman in mind, but it was never revealed who. He also claimed it was a “stalking song” similar to tunes by The Police and Jeff Buckley.
While "Shiver" may be a serenade from a stalker, it's a downright beautiful one. The spry guitar riffs that seem to skip to the drum beat and Martin's intense vocals give it a life all its own. We get chills when listening to "Shiver" (no pun intended). Can you believe this gorgeous hit was recorded only in one take?
7. "Violet Hill"
We're surprised this rockin' track from Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends didn't become a bigger commercial success. "Violet Hill" is an example of a song that had slow and steady development, but won its race in Coldplay's discography. It was written by all the band members over a number of years, but was finally completed in 2007 after they watched Bill O'Reilly rant, and Chris thought about a fellow musician who worked in a bar and struggled with his boss.
Ultimately, "Violet Hill" is an antiwar/protest song about having your life managed by people you don't like. It's lyrics like "When the future's architectured by a carnival of idiots on show" that really give this song some poetic, timeless style. It almost feels like you're being transported back to the middle ages when focusing on the words.
Additionally, the themes of this song are still relevant today. "Violet Hill" takes a frosty dig at capitalism and conservative media outlets like Fox News with the line, "Was a long and dark December when the banks became cathedrals and a fox became God." Will Champion told Q Magazine the instrumentals intentionally sound machine-like, which heightens the fury and psychedelic nature of the track. We particularly love the gorgeous visuals of the 2008 music video, which was filmed in Sicily on top of Mount Etna.
The grand finale of A Rush of Blood to the Head, this beautifully complex song is about how love can redeem human flaws in a relationship. It was written while Coldplay was in Amsterdam, hence the title.
There's a misconception that this song is about an attempted suicide by Chris Martin (due to the bridge, noose, and "star is fading" lines), but there's no information to give credit to that brazen theory. It's a piano ballad full of hope with a grand guitar-infused climax. We have no words to describe what kinds of emotions this track can bring out of you. It's a perfect ending to a vulnerable album about the human condition, and if you haven't heard it already, you need to listen to it now.
Another song from A Rush of Blood to the Head (noticing a pattern here?), "Clocks" continues the existential themes of Coldplay's sophomore album. The lyrics allude to the big paradox facing humanity: an obsession with time and its end versus a desire to savor every second and “seize the day.”
“Clocks” was well received by critics and won Record of the Year at the 2004 Grammy Awards. With Martin's falsetto vocals and that iconic piano melody that seems to spiral around in your head, you won't even notice the time pass by while listening to this hit. Our only complaint is that it isn't longer! As Martin would sing, "nothing else compares."
4. "Viva La Vida"
While it may be impossible to time travel back to the French Revolution, it's viable to feel like you're in the heat of the June Rebellion with this epic track. Revered as an essential rock song of the noughties, "Viva La Vida" debuted to massive acclaim, peaking at number one on both the Billboard 100 and UK Singles Chart. Coldplay received several awards for it, including Song of the Year at the 2009 Grammy Awards.
“Viva La Vida” is narrated by a monarch who’s lost his empire to rebels and contains a whirlwind of string instrument, piano, and church bell noises. The title derives from the Spanish phrase “Long Live Life,” and takes its name from Frida Kahlo’s final painting before her death. Martin told Rolling Stone, "She went through a lot of s–t, of course, and then she started a big painting in her house that said ‘Viva la Vida.’ I loved the boldness of it...It just felt right."
3. "Fix You"
We highly recommend not listening to "Fix You" unless you're willing to cry. Seriously - this song has so much heart, it may cause a tsunami of tears to uncontrollably leak from your eyes.
“Fix You” is the fourth track and second single from Coldplay’s third album X&Y. It was actually written by Chris Martin for his then-wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, to comfort her after her father passed away. It's like Martin is speaking directly to you in this ballad, and despite sorrowful organs in the opening, it manages to become far more hopeful by the end. "Fix You" can be hard to digest when you're enduring tough times, but the finale makes it a cathartic experience.
On a more jovial note, this song is so beloved that the opening line, "when you try your best but you don't succeed," has become a meme in more recent years. We're just happy this track has endured throughout time.
2. "The Scientist"
Another Coldplay piano ballad that could be a tearjerker for some listeners, "The Scientist" is a melancholic song about a thinker who puts his work before his lover. He tries to analyze where his broken relationship may have gone wrong and wishes he could go "back to the start." We can't say we recommend this tune after experiencing a painful breakup, but it's definitely a relatable listen.
The melody is actually inspired by the Oasis hit "Don't Look Back In Anger." Chris Martin revealed to Rolling Stone how the song was made, saying, "I was in this really dark room in Liverpool, and there was a piano so old and out of tune. I really wanted to try and work out the George Harrison song "Isn’t It A Pity," but I couldn’t. Then this song came out at once. I said, ‘Can you turn on the recorder?’ The first time I sung it is what’s out there."
This song is also known for its stunning music video, which tells a story in reverse chronology. Chris Martin had to learn "The Scientist" backwards in order for the visual to work. Although the video fits the song well, the concept came to director Jamie Thraves independently. He had to wait for the perfect song to come along so he could use his brilliant idea.
We recently showed this gorgeous song some love on our 20 Great Songs from the Early 2000s and Creating Fall Playlists articles. But putting aside Live365's respect for the Coldplay hit, "Yellow" has been a fan favorite ever since it was first released in 2000. It's Coldplay's most beloved - and oldest - magnum opus.
“Yellow” is the fifth track and second single from Parachutes. The title of the song came from the mood of the band during its composition, described as filled with “brightness and hope and devotion.” While this song is one of the most dreamy and romantic things you'll ever hear, it was actually inspired by Chris Martin's unrequited love. We're sorry it didn't work out for him, but we're happy it led to this masterpiece.
Between Martin's beautiful vocals, the opening guitar riff, steady drumming, and a fantastic beachy music video, it's hard not to fall in love with "Yellow." It'll warm you up even during the chilly months. "Yellow" proves the stars have been shining bright for Coldplay since the beginning!
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