Aries: Sinister Kid by The Black Keys / Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey / I’m a Ruin by Marina and the Diamonds Taurus: Million Dollar Man by Lana Del Rey / Empty Gold by Halsey / Valley of the Dolls by Marina and the Diamonds Gemini: Ghost by Halsey / Savages by Marina and the Diamonds / An Honest Mistake by the Bravery Cancer: Colors by Halsey / Princess of China by Coldplay and Rihanna / Precious Declaration by Collective Soul Leo: Strange Love by Halsey / Dangerous Girl by Lana Del Rey / Money Power Glory by Lana Del Rey Virgo: Viva la Vida by Coldplay / Shine by Collective Soul / Starlight by Marina and the Diamonds Libra: Take Me to Church by Hozier / Do I Wanna Know? by Arcric Monkeys / Philosopher My Arse by Marina and the Diamonds Scorpio: Slow Poison by the Bravery / Empire by Of Monsters and Men / Hold Your Color by Pendulum Sagittarius: Fire and Whispers by IAMX / When You Were Young by the Killers / Midnight City by M83 Capricorn: Gasoline by Halsey / Propane Nightmares by Pendulum / Young God by Halsey Aquarius: Starlight by Muse / All These Things That I’ve Done by the Killers / I am Not a Robot by Marina and the Diamonds Pisces: Simple Girl by IAMX / The State of Dreaming by Marina and the Diamonds / Born to Die by Lana Del Rey
i can’t believe ive done this?? omfg. most of the songs have annotations on ‘em! those are always fun
1. Thistle and Weeds - Mumford and Sons //2. Princess of China - Coldplay ft. Rihanna //3. Trade Mistakes - P!tad //4. C’mon - P!tad & Fun //5. Oats we Sow - Gregory and the Hawk //6. Begin Again - Purity Ring //7. Grande Finale - Studio Killers // 8. The Saltwater Room - Owl City // 9. What You Know - Two Door Cinema Club // 10. Haven’t Had Enough - Marianas Trench // 11. Luna - Bombay Bicycle Club // 12. Settle Down - The 1975 // 13. Nonsense -
Madeon // 14. Between Two Points - The Glitch Mob
Well here we are, 18 months later and another Coldplay album is upon us. It really shouldn’t be that surprising though, given the personal nature of 2014’s Ghost Stories and the limited promotion surrounding the release, it was really a matter of time before the band got right back into the studio for another album. And did they ever. A Head Full of Dreams can be described as the colorfully neon yin to the grey and melancholy Ghost Stories yang, and is what I’d originally envisioned the band would follow Mylo Xyloxo (2011) with.
This new album also sees Coldplay open up to more collaborators and guest artists than ever before. Gone are the days of the shock and horror that was received when it was announced Rihanna was to guest on “Princess of China.” A Head Full of Dreams features no less than 14 listed artistic contributions from outside of the band, including Beyoncé, Avicii, Noel Gallagher, US President Barack Obama (seriously), Davide Rossi, Tove Lo, Chris Martin’s son Moses, his ex-wife Gwyenth Paltrow, and new girlfriend Annabelle Wallis. Each of these collaborator’s contributions ranges in scale, but it’s amazing to see how many people were featured in this album. And on top of all of them, there is a listed 28 member “chorus” comprised of family & friends that help sing the final track “Up&Up.”
For the new album, Coldplay enlisted the Norwegian production team of Stargate to help them work. Known for more pop acts like Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and Rhianna, I was initially apprehensive about this new direction. But I think they managed to produce a fantastic sounding album. It’s got all of the electronic pop elements I was expecting, while still keeping true to that signature Coldplay sound.
Some thoughts on a track by track analysis:
A Head Full of Dreams - Coldplay like to treat their intro song as a mission statement of the album, and by also making the first track the title track, they really want to emphasize what the listener is about to experience. I love the instrumentation collage (bells?) that open the album, the first 15 seconds feels a bit like “Life In Technicolour” on Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends. Bright, colorful, and upbeat, “A Head Full of Dreams” is a beautiful track complete with a signature “woahhhoohhhh” wordless vocal over the final chorus. A great stadium singalong, to be sure.
Birds - The second track in the album is another upbeat one, but a little quieter compared to the bombastic opening song. Jonny Buckland’s guitar parts over most of this song makes it feel like a reprise of “Hurts Like Heaven” from Mylo Xyloto. My only real complaint about this song is that it’s the third album in a row with a song concerning birds. I’m stuck between calling it lazy or chalking it up to the fact that Chris Martin is clearly influenced by birds. Regardless, another great track.
Hymn For The Weekend - Three songs in and Coldplay aren’t taking their feet off the gas. Another very upbeat and colorful track, but with a more R&B beat (compliments of Avicii). Featuring Beyoncé, I admittedly figured it would be a duet or mostly her, but it really is Coldplay featuring Beyoncé. She sings the background hook and duets the chorus with Martin, which is just enough of an element without overpowering the entire song. I didn’t much care for it on my first listen, but after a few repeats I found myself dancing and singing along with the chorus. It’s now one of my favorites on the album.
Everglow - Classic Coldplay. They finally ease up on the tempo and allow the listener a chance to breathe. Lyrically, the song deals with the feeling of “joyful residue” thinking about someone after they leave your life. Looking back positively on an ending relationship, the track could easily serve as an epilogue to Ghost Stories. By no accident I’m sure, this track features vocals by Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin’s ex-wife. Like Beyoncé, I assumed she would be all over the track. However, she only features a minor “heyyyy” in the background that, if you didn’t know it was her, would just write it off as a sample or session musician. A great breath of air.
Adventure of A Lifetime - Break’s over, time to dance. Upon first listen, this disco-inspired track immediately felt like the band’s attempt to make a track like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” The song is built around a repeating 4 chord structure and guitar lick (go Jonny!), a great bassline (go Guy!), and another classic “woo-hoo” Coldplay chorus that we’ll all be singing along at stadiums soon enough. Martin says this track came out of a jam the other 3 members of the band were having, and I think it comes across as a great ensemble piece. Production-wise, I love the decision to run a high-pass filter on the line “feel my heartbeat” so that we’re essentially left with a kick drum and bass, the heartbeat of the track. Excellent stuff, great song.
Fun - Another post-breakup track, but like “Everglow”, this is about looking back positively on having fun with someone during your time together. Another featured artist, Tove Lo, sings along with Chris Martin but never takes a lead vocal. They blend well nicely, however. Maybe the weakest track on the album, but by no means a bad one. Just less good than others.
Kaleidoscope - The first of two interlude tracks, “Kaleidoscope” lives up to it’s name by incorporating the seemingly random collection of a spoken word poem, several piano riffs, and finishing with a sample of Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace. Again, after hearing Obama would be on this I was hesitant that it would be heavy-handed, but again I was proven wrong. If I didn’t know it would have thought it was just a mumbled sample. Cool track.
Army of One - Rhythmically, this feels kinda similar to “Fun”. I love the use of the organ and church bell in the background of this song, a very cool and powerful song. Not much to say other than it gets stuck in my head very frequently.
X Marks The Spot - A “hidden track” on this album that and maybe the only time that my worry about what I’d heard about this song was confirmed. Described as Chris Martin “spitting rhymes over a beat” sums it up nicely. I really want to not like this song, but it gets stuck in my head pretty frequently. The jury is still out.
Amazing Day - Easily one of my favorites on the album, and a perfect mirror to the opening track of “Always In My Head” on Ghost Stories, right down to the drum beat and tempo. But while “Always In My Head” was dark and melancholy about how life can just suck, this is a joyous and celebratory song about how life just couldn’t get any better. Another cliché wordless “wooooahhhahhahhh” vocal, but might be my favorite since “Viva La Vida.” This song makes me feel like I’m running through a field of wildflowers or something. Amazing indeed.
“Colour Spectrum” - Another interlude, and a reprise of the bells that make up the intro to “A Head Full of Dreams,” mixed with some other samples of vocals in the album. A great little track, I just wish it was longer. I use quotes for the title because, as it’s listed on the CD, it’s actually a bar with the color spectrum.
Up&Up - A great closing track, probably the second best album closer since “Death And All His Friends” on VLVODAAHF. The song slowly builds from a beat and piano with Martin singing to a grand crescendo with two guitar solos by Noel Gallagher from Oasis, a 28-member chorus, and every insrument you could possibly imagine. A great song about how things, no matter what, are always getting better and that it’s important to focus on those parts of your life. After the climax of the song comes to pass, we’re left with one final thought in the form of a piano coda: Believe In Love.
A Head Full of Dreams is a colorful and ambitious album. Period. It sounds like it was written by a band who couldn’t be more happy to be alive and doing what they are doing. It’s certainly a great juxtaposition with Ghost Stories in that it forms a happy ending and resolution to the darker work, both musically and lyrically. It’s a great addition to the Coldplay canon.