Best album of all times – Number 15: Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
11:th of June 2008, Coldplay released the Brian Eno produced album “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends”. For me, this album was the first time I really started to enjoy Coldplay. As often when I come across new artists it takes a little while to get used to the sound, the atmosphere and of course the lyrics. What really makes this album complete, is the fulfillment of all those categories.
In short, the album covers the aspects of life, death, war and love. Not the typical “easy going topics”, to say the least.
The album starts off with Life in Technicolor, which is a long intro to the rest of the album. In my opinion this intro works perfectly as an atmosphere leveler.
Cemeteries of London; a typical track about the topics of the album, was recorded in a Barcelona church, and if you listen closely you can hear some spanish “clapping” in the song, while “Bass player Guy Berryman told Entertainment Weekly: When I imagine the song in my head, I see London in 1850. A hell of a lot of rain and men in top hats.” (reference Entertainment Weekly)
Lost! is really well described by “Floridaguy” on song meanings:
This was one of the first songs Coldplay worked on for the record. The band were originally inspired by the song “Sing” by Blur, which they were listening to in their dressing room before performing in a gig in Detroit. They tried to write a song like it and it ended up evolving in various ways with lots of different versions before the final recorded rendering. Chris Martin explained to MTV News: “That’s often how we write, is we listen to something and we think it’s incredible, and we feel stupid for not having anything as good as that, so we go and try to play it. And then, of course, because we don’t know how to do that, we often come up with something new.”
42 is a quite melancholic track with many of the big life questions asked. So far in this review I’ve kept much focus on the lyrics, but the album musically is really amazing. What’s different with this track is that it doesn’t contain a chorus. Instead it’s divided into three parts.
Lovers in Japan. When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, drummer Will Champion said:
We were in a studio in New York, this place called the Magic Shop, and it had this thing called a tack piano there, which sounds like an old honky-tonk piano, where you put little tacks in the hammers, so it sounds like more of a harpsichord almost. And so we wanted to use that kind of sound, but we didn’t have a tack piano, so rather than sample it, we went and bought an old piano from the shop up the road from our studio, and we bought a load of tacks, and me and Guy and Jon spent a couple of hours pushing tacks into the piano hammers. (Source Wikipedia)
Yes: As many of the tracks on this album, this track also have it’s completely own identity. The vocals by Chris Martin are really low.
Viva La Vida is the big top hit from this album reaching the top in both the UK singles chars as Billboard Hot 100. I guess almost everyone who reads this blog at least have heard the typical strings intro. The lyrics carry many biblical references but seems to be more aimed at the conflict between people and government, and especially around war.
Violet Hill. Also a track about a soldier going into battle. The first rows in the lyrics are truly amazing, and gives the rest of the track its atmosphere.
Was a long and dark December
From the rooftops I remember
There was snow
I really like the contrast in this song (which I may write about almost all the tracks on this album)
Strawberry Swing is a low-key track with african drums, a guitar melody that almost runs throughout the track as a thread.
The last track, Death And All His Friends somehow share some identity with the Swedish pop band Kent.
In the later part of the track the summarize the album beautifully with the sound of “Life in Technicolor”
As I think I’ve written in all my posts, this album should’ve ended up higher in this list, and I begin to feel that I will have a correction post afterwards where I will rearrange all albums. This album is truly great!
Full album on Youtube: