Coldplay – Viva la Vida

First Hit #1: June 28, 2008

Credit to Coldplay, they might be the first band to get a pop hit out of a song about being a deposed monarch. Built on a fairly dramatic bed of strings, we have a song that is filled with historic and religious references, depicting a king remembering the days when he was a feared monarch before revolution kicks him on his rear and puts him among the people he repressed. It’s actually a pretty great character portrait, and it doesn’t hide the fact that the king misses being a right bastard. In the middle of autotuned songs about buttocks, having a fairly ambitious, string-heavy song that’s vaguely about European history is not only refreshing, it’s kind of shocking.

Chris Martin sings it like a love song, which is appropriate, since it’s the same emotions, the love is just directed towards power rather than a person. He doesn’t quite have the power to be really inspiring – nobody could possibly be afraid of King Chris Martin I, no matter how many armies he commands – and as much as I’m thrilled to hear a vocal that isn’t processed I still think it’s clear that the strings were dialed up to compensate for a lead singer better suited to small-scale love songs. Then again, from the perspective of a diminished monarch, the vocal kind of works anyway, or maybe I’m just thrilled to have something so completely different crest the top of the charts.

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One Response to Coldplay – Viva la Vida

  1. musicosity1 says:

    I agree, though my partiality to U2-style rock songs is well established by now. This song also has the distinction of being the object of a lawsuit by guitar whiz Joe Satriani, who felt that it infringed on one of his compositions. It does sound kind of like it, but as this video shows, the similarity between the two songs is also shared by many other songs; that’s just how pop music works:

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