Anyone who is vaguely familiar with me knows that I am an enormous Coldplay fan, and have been for years. Their melodies have defined my childhood and most of my college experience. I’m confident that everyone has heard Coldplay on the radio, in shopping malls or on shuffle in a playlist. Everyone knows “Viva la Vida” and “The Scientist.” They’ve been beaten to death. I wanted to showcase the songs that many casual and die-hard Coldplay fans love, but are disappointingly rarely heard.
The finale of A Head Full of Dreams tones down the overbearing electronic dance influence heard throughout the album and replaces it with subtle strings and a chilled hip-hop style beat. The song’s vibrant imagery and uplifting message combined with a charming piano melody and pleasant climax may be too long for most radio stations, but it’s relaxing in nature and deserves a listen.
9. “Charlie Brown”
This colorful banger often gets overlooked by “Paradise” from the same album, Mylo Xyloto. I never understood why; its chiming guitar, up-tempo dance beat and lyrics about rebellion and love are the perfect combo for a big hit. I’ve talked to many people who love this song, especially after seeing it performed live. Yet, it oddly missed a majority of the 2011 airwaves.
8. “Square One”
Coldplay dug deep to pull out true rock songs for their hit-or-miss 2005 album X&Y. “Square One” fits right into the record’s soaring synths and U2-esque guitar effects, with philosophical lyrics grappling at a deeper understanding of oneself and carrying enough raw energy to fill a stadium. The album is polarizing to fans and critics, but its opener sets the mood effectively.
Guy Berryman’s moody bassline is the star of the song, laying down a beat as singer Chris Martin talks about missing his former partner of over a decade. The song reaches a starry and timid high point before falling down to a lonely, sad voice. With just about everyone going through a broken heart or two, this is a song in Coldplay’s catalog that deserves much more mainstream attention.
6. “In My Place”
As a child, when my father sat me and my younger sister down to watch Coldplay’s Live 2003 DVD, my sister would perk up and dance only when hearing “In My Place.” In hindsight, I can see why. Its iconic drum intro, basic guitar notes during the chorus and lyrics begging a love interest to come back make it easy to sing along to. Also, the music video is unforgettable with Martin’s eagerly prancing around a giant white room as his band plays solemnly. The song is such a bop because it’s just simple!
This moody piano ballad is ripe with imagery of spiders (a common Coldplay lyrical motif), a jazzy drum beat and lyrics lamenting Martin’s mistakes. Fans are known to shout out the line “They spun a web for me,” in concerts as the British singer eagerly beckons them on. I’d say this song summarizes the majority of Coldplay’s early work more accurately than any other.
4. “Violet Hill”
The unexpected political nature of the song and the hammer-like drums make this song an instant standout in Coldplay’s catalog. The ambient intro is interrupted by a harsh “It was a long and dark December,” before thrusting into broodings about religion, love and conflict. The scrappy and emotionally weighty nature of the song gives it a unique tone that many fans miss hearing.
3. “Lovers In Japan”
This Viva la Vida track is Coldplay’s brightest song of the 2000s. “Lovers In Japan” features echoey organs and subtle, deep guitar as drummer Will Champion lays down a snappy beat, all the while Martin sings about looking forward in life and overcoming various challenges that lie ahead. The song was a much-needed breath of fresh air from the predominantly gloomy numbers the band priorly put out.
2. “Don’t Panic”
The opening track from Coldplay’s debut album has been a fan favorite and a personal favorite for years. The melancholic lyrics, soothing bassline and calm atmosphere paint an endearing picture of someone living through life’s unfortunate events. The band tends to loosen up when it’s performed live, with Martin often handing the singing off to shy guitarist Jonny Buckland for the second verse.
My absolute favorite Coldplay song. It is the pinnacle of their songwriting and nobody can tell me otherwise. The introduction violently hits you as the same two notes are slammed over and over by the band before it all goes quiet. Martin’s haunting, lonely voice subsequently pierces out with just two piano chords accompanying him. The angelic and energetic outro is extremely cathartic, and it’s more meaningful when you learn that this song was written right after 9/11. Fans go nuts when the leading track of A Rush of Blood to the Head is performed live, with many calling for the song’s return to Coldplay’s setlist. Without a trace of doubt, this song is truly Coldplay’s most underplayed.