As the world stops for the release of a new Coldplay album, we stop and take an honest look back at the mega-band’s career. The truth is, there are plenty of reasons to hate on Coldplay: The cliched and generic lyrics, Chris Martin’s overbearing sentimentality, their pandering to radio-ready genres (we’re looking at you, “Princess of China”). It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say hating on Coldplay has become the fashionable thing to do.
But if we’re all honest—both fans and critics of the band can admit that there are some particularly high standouts and some sad, sad lows in Coldplay’s collection of songs. Our guess is that no one needs an introduction to the Coldplay catalogue, but let’s start off with the 10 best Coldplay songs:
10. “Strawberry Swing”
Not only does this song off of their fifth LP, Viva La Vida, have an amazing stop-motion video, it also features some great afro-pop rhythms and an awesome looped guitar part by Jonny Buckland. Chris Martin has argued that “Strawberry Swing” is the best song on the record, and it’s definitely one of our favorites.
9. “Us Against The World”
This one is easily one of the best songs off Mylo Xyloto, the band’s newest release. While most of the other tracks on the album get their steam from electro-pop Enoxification or gimmicky genre-pandering, this acoustic strummer finds Martin finally finding some lyrical and melodic inspiration on the album. “Us Against The World” proves that Chris Martin can still pull off an emotional ballad.
8. “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face”
This one instantly became something of a fan-favorite, showing Coldplay’s more experimental and darker rock sound influenced by artists like PJ Harvey and Muse. The song has that great chromatic chord progression and some interesting lyrics about identity and spiritual searching. What’s even more astounding is the fact that Coldplay released this one as its fourth single from A Rush of Blood To The Head despite the fact that its not exactly “poppy”.
The first indication that Coldplay was an arena-ready band from day one, “Shiver” was Coldplay’s way of telling the world that they wanted to be the next U2 just as much as they wanted to be the next Radiohead with lead guitarist Jonny Buckland taking the spotlight.
6. “Viva La Vida”
hired a string section, and drummer Will Champion plays timpani and church bell, and the song was still a radio hit.
5. “Don’t Panic”
Thanks to Zach Braff’s Garden State, “Don’t Panic” introduced the band to anyone who’d somehow missed “Yellow,” even if it wouldn’t quite change their life.
4. “Death and All His Friends”
Critics of Coldplay can be just as confused about who they want the band to be as much as the band is. People didn’t like the populist style of X&Y, so the band releases the most abstract, forward-thinking, piece of art pop they could muster up, and the same people were still offended.
3. “The Scientist”
There was a time when Martin was a heart-on-his-sleeves singer/songwriter who wrote mostly love songs. While we didn’t think we needed another one of those at the time, that approach produced some of Coldplay’s most well-written songs, including “The Scientist.”
singles have this way of getting really annoying when you hear them 20 times a day, but let’s be fair: What song doesn’t get old when you hear it that much? “Yellow,” the song that launched Coldplay towards stardom, is a lot easier to hear a decade removed from radio overplay.
How Coldplay went from a one-hit alt-rock band to one of the biggest in the world is still a mystery. But a lot can be attributed to this hard-hitting first track off A Rush Of Blood To the Head. Rather than releasing an albums of “Yellow”s, Coldplay took their sound in a bold new direction, exemplified in what remains our favorite of the band’s songs.
Coldplay’s 10 Worst Songs on the next page