Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 3, 2023

Coldplay’s new album takes a political stance

By SEAN GLAISTER | December 5, 2019

Frank Schwichtenberg/CC BY-S.A 4.0 Coldplay’s decision to not promote their new album on tour was a surprise.

We’ve all grown up with Coldplay. From their saddest songs like “The Scientist” or “Yellow,” to their jubilant hit, “Hymn For the Weekend,” their artistic and instrumental style of music has an almost universal appeal. Not to mention that from their seven studio albums released between 2000 and 2017, they’ve managed to rack up 29 Grammy nominations and six wins.

But it’s been a while since we last heard from them. Their last performance dates back to the end of their global tour in November of 2017. Their last album, A Head Full of Dreams, was released four years ago in 2015. In that year, they also performed at the Super Bowl 50 Halftime show (way back when my beloved Denver Broncos claimed the title of the best football team in the NFL). 

However, just recently, on Nov. 22, Coldplay made a reappearance as they released their eighth studio album, Everyday Life. More technically, it is a “double-album” split into two portions — “Sunrise” and “Sunset” — which, one after the other, outline difficult, real-world issues. And, while it still holds true to their traditional instrumental style, the album has a few surprises and deviations from their prior releases, all of which highlight the ability music has to contribute to the greater good.

To start out, the band has advertised that, for the first time, they will not be touring their album. They plan to postpone their Everyday Life tour until something is done to resolve unsustainable touring practices that leave large carbon footprints.

Instead of touring, Coldplay performed the album for the first time in Amman, Jordan (a location right in the middle of a region that they had never been able to perform at in the past) on the date of the album release, playing “Sunrise” and “Sunset” at corresponding times of the day. Still, they made sure both concerts were available to the world by streaming and releasing both concerts on YouTube.

Specific to the actual songs and lyrics in Everyday Life, in an interview with YouTube, lead singer Chris Martin expanded upon the purpose of the album relative to current world events. 

“There’s a portion of the world that is fed this terrifying image of otherness… I think that, in our own small way, we are rallying against that viewpoint. Every human is precious and every human has magic,” he said.

To point to the beauty in all people, Everyday Life includes music from all different cultures. The song, “Arabesque,” is, as the song suggests, Arab-esque, as it merges western musical styles with Middle Eastern rhythms. The song is almost entirely instrumental: with a heavy beat underlying a saxophone solo and the harmonious bursting of horns, it easily compels your head and foot to tap to the rhythm. The song’s chorus, “And we share the same blood” is repeatedly sung in both English and French in order to emphasize the fact that, regardless of culture, we are all part of the same family. 

Another song on the album titled in Persian and translated as, “Children of Adam,” is inspired by Iranian poet Saadi Shirazi’s piece, “Bani Adam.” The poem itself contends that, in order to be recognized as a human being, you must feel empathy toward others. The song contains a beautiful classical piano piece which reflects the tranquil message.

Several songs on the album are not afraid of delving into controversial topics. “Trouble in Town,” comments on the racist treatment of non-white people in western countries. The music builds tension by sampling a voice tape from a 2013 incident in which two men of color were racially profiled in Philadelphia. 

Another song, “Guns,” also takes a political stance, as it criticizes lack of gun control by illustrating a chaotic setting with a few fitting swear words. The inclusion of explicit language is remarkably new for Coldplay. According to the band, drummer Will Champion was previously adamantly against the use of profanity. 

The songs range from energetic peaks to mournful and beautiful lows. The transitions between these songs take place all over the album. “BrokEn,” a loud and spirited gospel song, is immediately followed by “Daddy,” a tear-inducing soft piano song sung from the perspective of a child who longs to see their neglectful father. As such, the album truthfully addresses the shifting nature of human life. As Chris Martin put it during an interview with BBC, “Every day is great and every day is terrible and every day is a blessing.”

Artists in the past have used their voice in their music to comment on their perspective of the state of the world. Not only did Coldplay shift the style of their content in order to comment on issues they’ve observed while touring the world, but they’ve also taken action on a whole new level: halting the touring of their music to make their desired comments even more pronounced. 

And, since they managed to still produce the same high-quality instrumental music that I’ve loved to both dance and cry to, I am proud of the choices the band has made and look forward to seeing the impact of their album on other artists and listeners.

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