A Sky Full of Stars: A Review of Coldplay’s Stellar Discography

Photo Credit: Anna Lee

Photo Credit: Anna Lee

With over 120 shows played and 7,000,000 tickets sold worldwide on their ongoing tour, there’s no band hotter in the world right now than Coldplay (ironically).

I started getting into their music back in secondary school when a friend of mine introduced them to me. Before that I was only familiar with 2 of their hits: Paradise and Viva la Vida. After my friend’s introduction, I realised how deep and rich Coldplay’s music catalogue actually was. In a few weeks I will have the opportunity to see the band play live for the first time (a dream come true) as I missed out on their 2017 show in Singapore. So, to commemorate this special occasion, I would like to share some of Coldplay’s hidden gems; songs a casual listener probably has not heard of. I’ll take you through their discography, picking out songs from each of their 9 albums and giving some commentary (yapping).

  1. Parachutes 

Coldplay’s debut album. The first song I’d like to feature is the album’s lead single Shiver. Outshined by the hit single Yellow, I’d argue Shiver deserves the same attention as its counterpart. The two songs lie in the same vein, both featuring raw vocals, roaring guitars and lyrics about professing love to another. However, unlike Yellow, Shiver’s lyrics are not sappy in the slightest (no stars shining for you here). The lyrics are borderline creepy. No, I take that back. These lyrics are straight up giving STALKER. At first, the song just seems like a tale of unrequited love: “I look in your direction, but you pay me no attention.” (Martin et al., 2000) However, lines like “I’ll be there by your side, just you try and stop me” and “don’t you shiver” tell a more malicious story. In my opinion, the star of the song would be the guitar riffs, perfectly complemented by vocals, bass and drums. If you are into 90s alternative rock, I think you will really like this one!

  1. A Rush of Blood to the Head

After their critically acclaimed debut album, the pressure was on for the band to top Parachutes with their sophomore effort. They did. We dive into the opening track Politik. We are hit with a wall of sound. The banging of keys, guitar, drums and bass played in staccato what a way to open an album. The verse begins with the rest of the instruments fading away, leaving Chris Martin’s voice and the piano. The chorus then brings back that wall of sound we heard before. I love the contrast here between the verse (soft/gentle piano and vocals) and the chorus (loud/erratic boom of instruments). The best part of this song is the bridge. Chris sings a heartfelt “give me love over this” (Martin et al., 2002) repeatedly (this song was written on the day of ‘9/11’, a terrorist attack on the United States of America that shook it to its core, more than likely a culmination of his feelings at that time) as the piano crescendos and the whole band comes in. It’s a beautiful song. Personally, I think it is one of the band’s best works.

  1. X&Y

This album was where the band started to venture into more electronic sounds (more synthesisers), leaving some fans upset as they strayed away from their alternative rock roots. This is prominent in songs like Square One or Speed of Sound that make me feel like I am floating in space. However, one track that stood out to me would be the album closer Til Kingdom Come. Chris Martin was originally supposed to sing this song with the late Johnny Cash (one of the greatest country singers of all time) but was not able to due to his passing. The song tells a bittersweet story about a loved one passing “for you I’d wait til kingdom come” and “just say you’ll wait, you’ll wait for me”  (Martin et al., 2005) very fitting with Johnny Cash.  I am feeling super country/folk vibes with this one. The lyrics, the guitar strumming, piano and the harmonica at the end all add to that atmosphere.  I am a sucker for acoustic tracks; this is one of my favourites.

  1. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

No one saw this coming, a new, experimental sound! What genre even is this? Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends has to be one of Coldplay’s most ambitious projects. Safe to say they pulled it off amazingly. I would say this is my favourite Coldplay album. If I had to pick a song from this album it would be Violet Hill. Violet Hill is a certified protest song. “Priests clutched onto Bibles hollowed out to fit their rifles” Chris Martin ATE, spitting these bars (Martin et al., 2008). But it is the gnarly guitar riffs and bass that absolutely complete this song. I always catch myself headbanging to this one. Honourable mentions go to Reign of Love (the hidden track after Lovers in Japan) and Death and All His Friends. These pieces evoke feelings of serenity I simply cannot describe, polar opposites of Violet Hill. Overall, a MUST-LISTEN Coldplay album!

  1. Mylo Xyloto

Some say Mylo Xyloto marked the end of ‘Oldplay’, when the band ‘sold out’ to make commercial pop music. It may be difficult to accept, but we will not be getting old Coldplay back anytime soon. They are a band that constantly evolves their sound, not just a regurgitation of their first 2 albums. And even with this step into pop territory, the band pulled it off quite well. Mylo Xyloto is a fun and upbeat concept album following the journey of two lovers Mylo and Xyloto (they even made a whole comic based off the album). The album carries a beautiful blend of electronic and acoustic tracks that exude so much colour (very on brand with the album’s artwork). Hurts Like Heaven, Charlie Brown and Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall are some euphoric pop anthems to check out. The vibrant electric guitar riffs in these songs (credit to Jonny Buckland) compliment the pop sound so well and really make these songs what they are. Lastly, we have Up with the Birds. Initially beginning with just a piano, the guitars and strings soon come in and blend into a heavenly climax in signature Coldplay fashion. An uplifting and feel-good album to keep in your repertoire!

  1. Ghost Stories

A stark contrast to the band’s previous release, Ghost Stories ushered in a more melancholic and mellow sound. This album was heavily influenced by frontman Chris Martin’s divorce, and is evident with the numerous love songs on the tracklist. I really like the band’s return to a more stripped-back/acoustic sound featured in songs like Magic and O and was not too big of a fan of the very experimental electronic track Midnight. The track Oceans opens up with a lone acoustic guitar and a beat very reminiscent of a sonar ping. The protagonist speaks of an ex-lover he longs for “Wait for your call, love. The call never came” (Martin et al., 2004). He’s been “trying to change” and he’s “ready for it all”, whatever it takes to get back together. But at the end of the song, he comes to an acceptance “You’ve got to find yourself alone in this world”, a lone ship out in the ocean sending out sonar pings to no avail. Personally, it is a go-to album to listen to when I’m feeling introspective.

  1. A Head Full of Dreams

A Head Full of Dreams is what you would get if you ordered Mylo Xyloto from Wish. It aspires to be everything Mylo Xyloto is a vibrant and colourful pop record with feel-good motivational lyrics but it just falls flat to me. Okay, let me list the few things I like. The title track is a catchy album and concert opener with a fun sing along at the end. Birds is definitely one of the better songs on this record and Up&Up has a cool guitar solo (courtesy of Noel Gallagher). Other than that there is not much else I enjoyed, I guess Everglow is a decent piano ballad? The lyrics on this album were very subpar too, a huge dropoff from what the band is capable of writing. I feel the album really lacks substance and was just there to pump out some radio friendly hits and give the band a reason to go on tour.

  1. Everyday Life

A pleasant surprise from the band after their previous album was rumoured to be their last. Everyday Life is a double album that sees Coldplay experiment with various genres and tackle political and social issues. BrokEn is a fun gospel tune that will get you singing and snapping along in no time. Meanwhile Arabesque is a bustling rock/jazz fusion piece featuring trumpets and a saxophone solo. Trouble In Town serves as a poignant reminder of the inequality and injustice that runs rampant in America. And in the same vein we have Guns, a critique of America’s gun laws featuring vulgar and sarcasm! (something you do not see much from a Coldplay song). Overall, the sounds and lyrics from this album were really refreshing to hear after the disappointment that was A Head Full of Dreams.

  1. Music of the Spheres

I will just get straight to the point. This is my least favourite Coldplay album. My initial reaction after hearing the singles Higher Power and My Universe was “Ugh, what is this”. BUT, these songs eventually grew on me after a while. The album finale, Coloratura, is the silver lining of this album. The 10 minute space epic is structured into multiple unique sections and is very Bohemian Rhapsody-esque. Although Coloratura comes nowhere close to the Queen classic, it was still an enjoyable listen. There was never a dull moment throughout the 10 minutes, and I was kept intrigued as each part transitioned to the next. The rest of the album is simply forgettable at best. Maybe it is because I’m not too fond of commercial pop or because I am not a fan of the whole space/planets gimmick. But hey, at least we get a world tour out of it (and I get to see them live).

So yeah. That ended up more of a short album review of every Coldplay album. Having listened to most of their discography (and enjoyed it), Coldplay will probably remain my favourite artist for a long time.



Coldplay. (2000). Shiver [Song]. On Parachutes. Parlophone.

Coldplay. (2002). Politik [Song]. On A Rush of Blood to the Head. Parlophone.

Coldplay. (2005). ’Til Kingdom Come [Song]. On X&Y. Parlophone.

Coldplay. (2008). Violet Hill [Song]. On Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Parlophone.

Coldplay. (2008). Oceans [Song]. On Ghost Stories. Parlophone.


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