Though Music of the Spheres promises to be a stylized collection of pop songs with an outer space theme, Coldplay is no stranger to transformation. Each of their studio albums, from 2000’s Parachutes to 2019’s Everyday Life, are ambitious, detailed works, with several highlights and exciting entries to their discography.
From their bare-bones, post-Britpop hits of the early 2000s, to Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends‘ chamber pop, to the Top 40-friendly sounds of their new albums, Coldplay’s chameleon-like energy doesn’t seem to be dying out any time soon.
Nobody said it was easy, but to celebrate their storied career, we’re ranking the 10 best Coldplay songs.
— Paolo Ragusa
Executive Editorial Assistant
Memory is a tricky thing — how much can it be trusted, when a relationship has started to fizzle out? “Sparks” addresses this phenomenon in a quiet, contemplative track off Coldplay’s debut, Parachute. Lyrically, it’s very sparse — two verses and a chorus take up a nearly four minute song — yet it still feels full. The waltz tempo ensures a feeling of intimacy and romantic longing persists. It’s a song that makes an easy argument for why so many people were drawn to this album upon its initial release. — Mary Siroky
09. “Hymn For The Weekend”
The second single from 2015’s A Head Full of Dreams features none other than an uncredited Beyoncé (who also stars in the vibrant music video). As the story goes, Chris Martin wanted to write a club song. Luckily, Queen Bey was into the idea. “I presented it to the rest of the band and they said, ‘We love this song, but there’s no way you can sing “drinks on me.”‘ So that changed into ‘drink from me’ and the idea of having an angelic person in your life,” Martin told the Wall Street Journal. “Then that turned into asking Beyoncé to sing on it.” With over 1.5 billion views on YouTube as of press time, it’s Coldplay’s most viewed video. — Gab Ginsberg
Of all the songs on Coldplay’s (mostly) underwhelming sixth studio album Ghost Stories, “Magic” is the most pure, the most restrained, and the most focused. In fact, it’s one of the best love songs that Coldplay has ever written, harkening back to the simple joy of songs like “The Scientist” and “Yellow.”
Though the album seems to revolve around the high-profile divorce of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, “Magic” seems to take place almost in another universe, prioritizing a dreamy and ethereal feel over a “Sky Full of Stars”-esque explosion. Even Martin’s often superfluous musical choices fit gorgeously in “Magic” — a case in point being the bridge’s extended “I call it magic” melody line, which Martin delivers in a whizzing falsetto, stacked with harmonies, and above a reverb-drenched groove.
It’s a perfect example of Coldplay experimenting just enough with their sound while remaining true to what drew so many fans to their music in the first place. — P.R.
Yes, it’s a bit synth-y for some hardcore fans’ taste, but there’s no way you don’t get right in the feels when those strings kick in (and that’s even before Martin starts crooning over sparse piano). The nostalgia-inducing track, which appears on Mylo Xyloto, “is about two people who grow up separately in a very big oppressive city, and they each are a bit lost in their lives,” Martin has noted. If it’s been a while, give it another spin and let him drag you to para-para-paradise. — G.G.
Before Coldplay was one of the biggest bands in the world, they were four scrappy college kids attempting to make music that straddled the line between The Bends-era Radiohead and Jeff Buckley. “Shiver,” one of the lead singles from their Mercury Prize-nominated debut Parachutes, is a prime example of their influences, their heart, and their genuinely impressive musical ability.
Chris Martin often steals the show in Coldplay songs, and while his excellent performance in “Shiver” shows off the sheer range of notes he can comfortably hit, the rest of the band is absolutely riveting. Jonny Buckland and Guy Berryman’s overlapping guitar and bass lines are symbiotic throughout the song, ebbing and flowing with each other perfectly, and all the while, drummer Will Champion drives the song in a powerful and dynamic way.
“Shiver” features Martin both moody and playful, devastated over the lack of attention he’s receiving from the person he loves and completely obsessed with them at the same time. When he reaches the peak of the chorus, asking “Don’t you shiver?”, a jarringly high note flies out of his mouth, bringing a full band’s worth of energy to a massive climax in a stunning and unexpected way. — P.R.