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:
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.
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.
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.
Coldplay hired a string section, and drummer Will Champion plays timpani and church bell, and the song was still a radio hit.
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.
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.
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.”
Coldplay 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
Unfortunately, with all the things Coldplay has done right, they’ve also made plenty of cringe-worthy artistic choices along the way as well. The reason why a lot of these got placed on this have to do with either the fact that Chris Martin is not exactly much of a wordsmith. On other occasions, the band has opted for the easy (listening) way out. So here is our list of the 10 worst Coldplay songs of all time:
As much as we hate to put a song on here from Parachutes, “We Never Change” had always been the one song on the album that made us hit the skip button on our boom-box CD players. There were already a few too many slow songs like this on the album, and this was the weakest. Furthermore, “We Never Change” was the first song to make us start taking issue with Chris Martin’s falsetto.
We like the church organ and the big hip-hop beat, but this is Chris Martin’s lyric-writing at its worst. Somewhere between the sad attempts at wordplay (“Just because I’m losing, doesn’t mean I’m lost”) and the nonsensical phrases written just for the sake of rhyming (“I just got lost, every river that I tried to cross”), Martin proves that at times he approaches the most embarrassing songwriters in modern pop music.
This song is the best example of genre-whoring. While Rihanna’s chorus is pretty catchy, Martin’s parts sound like they were written on the spot. As one reviewer put it: “The important thing is that it’ll sound great at the Grammys.”
The idea that Coldplay could get away with doing such an obvious rewrite of “Clocks” blows our minds. Not only does this song directly rip the piano hook from “Clocks,” but it even features the same spacey synth vibe. The band actually wanted to hold “Clocks” out for their next album before a producer convinced them to place it on A Rush of Blood—why hold a song when you can just use it twice?
Forget the fact that this one is a serious nod to OK Computer-era Radiohead what with all the computer-references and arpeggiated guitar work. The way “Twisted Logic” is just so painstakingly straight-faced about its call to arms (“Don’t fight for the wrong side / Say how you feel like”) reminds us of how thankful we are to have a band like Radiohead to seriously address similar themes.
This one is perhaps the weakest moment off of A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Not sure who’s great idea it was to form a song entirely around the idea of endlessly repeating two words and a non-existant melody, but this one gets irritating at about the 30-second mark, a record even for Coldplay.
Here is Coldplay at their laziest. Sure they’ve got this catchy guitar hook, but this song honestly doesn’t even have a chorus to speak of. It’s bad enough without even mentioning the fact that Chris Martin is trying to use a Peanuts character as a metaphor for something serious.
One of the only songs on X&Y to feature Chris Martin’s acoustic guitar strumming shows off the worst part of Martin’s overbearing belief that his songs are saving the world: “My song is love and I’ve got to get that message home.”
The lyrics to “The Hardest Part” is literally a list of cliched phrases that have no relation to each other whatsoever aside from the fact that they rhyme. Although we’re still not sure what the words in “The Hardest Part” are actually talking about, we do know that this part of X&Y is the hardest part of Coldplay’s career to stomach.
“What if there was no light, nothing wrong, nothing right / What if there was no time?
And no reason or rhyme?” Time to go listen to some Dylan to cleanse our ears.