After about a month of listening to Coldplay’s new experimental album Everday Life I had some time to give it a good listen, analyze, and back track their previous studio albums in an entire eight studio album discography.
Over the course of 21 years, the British Alternative Rock Band, Coldplay has had many ups and downs, changes to their sound which garnered mixed feelings from the fans. Regardless, they’ve kept up with the powerhouse persona as a modern day “The Beatles”, not to sound too ambitious.
Whether you love them or hate them, call them the greatest band in the world or quote The 40-Year-Old Virgin, “you know how I know you’re gay? You listen to Coldplay.” Coldplay has taken many risky chances which evolved their sound. Their creativity and artistic expression can be easily showcased and viewed in each album. One thing to say from the British rock band’s collection, is that not one album is bad. Everyone deserves a listen and you can gain something out of every song. Some songs are more quiet while others have more energy, with some songs used as transition fillers. If you’re interested, I would give some of their EP’s and B-sides a listen as some of those songs are better than the ones chosen for the studio albums. They’re more raw sounding. For now, we will only talk about their studio albums.
After a long listen to each album over the years, I came with my pick for the least favored to most favored, as each album is unique in it’s own way. This countdown was challenging, and if you have a differing opinion at the end of this, that is fine. Music is an art-form and the beauty of art is interpretation, one’s perspective will differ than another.
#8: Ghost Stories (2014)
Though an assortment of beautiful and heartbreaking songs, for me did not grab my interest enough to bring this any closer to the bottom of the list. This tearful and melancholy ballad also felt sappy at times. The tracks that stand out the most are “Magic“, “A Sky Full of Stars” and for the bonus track, “Ghost Story“. This album was Christ Martin’s reaction to splitting up with his now ex-wife, actress, Gwyneth Paltrow.
#7: A Head Full of Dreams (2015)
This album, compared to Ghost Stories was more fun and uplifting. There were many dance tunes, and yet it’s one of the albums for Coldplay to extremely shy away from their old days. This album was catchy, poppy, and relied heavily on electronica beats, similar to Mylo Xyloto, but less appealing. “Hymn for the Weekend” with Beyonce, “Adventure of a Lifetime” and “Fun” featuring Tove Lo stand out. It’s colorful, but lacks substance.
#6: X & Y (2005)
Known as Coldplay’s final album in the original trilogy. With a recent listen, the songs have not aged as well as they have. Great songs like “Talk“, “Fix You” and “Speed of Sound” are then slowed down by more dull sounding tracks. Nearly, every song is about 5 minutes long, which can be great for the better songs, but worse for tracks like “What If“, “White Shadows“, “Swallowed In the Sea” and “Low” that over extend its welcome. And the underrated song choice is “Twisted Logic” with its dystopian depiction of a futuristic society.
#5: Everyday Life (2019)
As we get into the mid-tier area of the countdown, Coldplay’s newest album is also one of their most ambitious one’s yet. It certainty surpasses their last two albums of recent years and sets the band in a more positive direction. There are uses of world music, influences of religion, gospel, blues, reggae, classical, big jazz band, along with some of their more recent pop and older school alternative rock. It seems as if the album was recorded in Jordan, a country in the Middle East. The album protests police brutality and gun violence. This album is a cornucopia and a wonderful experience as it stretches across a double album feature of Sunrise and Sunset. The album has the feel of music from a community stand point, between the sound of children back up singers, a choir, Arabic language being spoken, Norah Shaqur and Stromae. There seems to be a trend in Coldplay’s studio discography, that after every three album trilogy, there is a fourth experimental one. Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends started it and Everyday Life continues it. “Arabesque“, “Orphans“, “Church“, “Champion of the World“, and “Everyday Life” stands out the most. Not to mention, it’s the first time we hear Christ Martin cursing in songs. Not everything works together and the pacing is off. That is why it’s not further down the list.
#4: Mylo Xyloto (2011)
This concept album which is based off of two characters from a limited comic series has aged really well over the years. Coldplay band members Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion may have regretted giving their 5th studio album such a strange name, but they can rest assure that Mylo Xyloto is a fantastic glamour rock opera. Coldplay’s EDM album is a rush of energy to the head. When it came out, it had polarizing reviews since it came off of Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends. Songs like “Paradise“, “Charlie Brown“, “Hurts Like Heaven“, and “Major Minus” are awesome. This is Coldplay’s best album in the second half of their career timeline.
#3: Parachutes (2000)
The remaining three albums fall in the elite category. In the year 2000, the world was introduced to Coldplay with Parachutes as they delivered dark toned themes with inspirations from U2 and Radiohead. In it’s raw simplicity, some die hard fans regard this as their best album. I beg to differ, but it certainty is well deserving of being in the top 3. “Yellow“, “Don’t Panic” featured in the film Garden State, “Sparks” used in the film, Wedding Crashers, and “Spies” all stand out.
#2: A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
Coldplay’s sophomore album was the first time I got into the band. This early masterpiece is the true essence of old Coldplay. This rock album is raw with intensity and dark undertones. Every song deserves a listen on this track list as it leads you into the depressed mind of Chris Martin. Songs like “Politik” screams out to the listener to “open their eyes” to the horrors of a new terrorist fuel world post 9/11. Other amazing singles are “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face“, “The Scientist“, and of course the piano masterpiece of “Clocks“. During this time, I was becoming an awkward teenager where images from the apocalyptic zombie film 28 Days Later kept flooding through my mind as I listened to the album.
#1: Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends (2008)
The fourth studio album in Coldplay’s discography reigns king on this countdown list. From beginning, middle, to end, the entire album is a masterful work of art, a painting that tells of war, loss, revolution, and history. The painting, “Liberty Leading the People” which Coldplay used for their artwork cover was from the French Romantic painter, Eugene Delacroix. “Viva La Vida” celebrates the overthrowing of King Louis XIV during the French Revolution. It is an anthem for the oppressed to overthrow dictators and unjust monarchies or totalitarian governments. A number of other songs stand out like, “Violet Hill“, “Lost!“, “Lovers In Japan“, “Strawberry Swing“, and “Death And All His Friends“. This album combines bombastic percussion that sound like cannons and classical instruments of the cello and violin to express the grief and sacrifice from war. Their EP connected to this album, Prospekt’s March adds some great B-sides, as well as a more polished version of “Lovers In Japan (Osaka Sun Mix)” and the lyrics behind the first track to create the beautiful “Life In Technicolor II“. Brian Eno who was the producer and brains behind composing this masterpiece, had Coldplay explore their creative efforts by having them experiment with different sounds. This set Coldplay to the top of the charts around the globe, where they began amplifying their concerts in stadiums to tens of thousands of fans and sold out shows. Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends has been Coldplay at its highest peak. Nothing has yet been able to top this titan.
Think Viva La Vida is Coldplay’s best album to date? Let me know of your thoughts in the comments below. In the meantime, keep listening as music is the weapon of the future.