Saturday, June 28, 2008

Coldplay lands its only #1 in the U.S. with “Viva La Vida”

image from latimes.com


Coldplay “Viva La Vida”


Writer(s): Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin (see lyrics here)

Released: 5/25/2008, First charted: 5/24/2008

Peak: 11 US, 11 AC, 12 MR, 11 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.14 US, 1.2 UK, 7.99 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 0.6 Video Airplay (in millions): 470.26 Streaming (in millions): 200.00


Review: Chris Martin, Coldplay’s lead singer, saw the phrase “Viva La Vida” on a painting by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. He told Rolling Stone he “loved the boldness of it” and decided the use the phrase – which loosely translates to “long live life.” SF Guy Berryman, the band’s bassist said the song – which never actually uses the phrase “Viva La Vida” – was “about a king who’s lost his kingdom.” SF Martin echoed that idea, saying it was about a deposed dictator reduced to sweeping the streets. He saw it as a “turning-over-a-new-leaf kind of song.” SF He also explained that lines like “I know Saint Peter won’t call my name” referred to the “idea of finishing your life and then being analyzed on it.” SF Berryman also said the song reflects the idea that “We're human beings with emotions and we're all going to die and the stupidity of what we have to put up with every day.” SF

Musically, the song eschewed the band’s usual guitar or piano base for a riff consisting mostly of a string section and digital piano. WK IGN critic Chad Grischow said it was “their one and only foray into unabashed orchestral pop” but that it was “far too charming and lively to dislke and even harder not to love.” WK

Several acts accused Coldplay of plagiarizing the song. Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, claimed the song resembled his 1973 “Foreigner Suite.” SF Guitarist Joe Satriani filed a lawsuit accusing Coldplay of lifting the melody from his 2004 song “If I Could Fly.” The case was settled out of court. SF Music professor Dr. Lawrence Ferrara showed in a 2011 documentary how the melodies of all three songs resembled “Se Tu M’ami” by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, who died in 1736. WK

Creaky Boards’ singer Andrew Hoepfner alleged Martin attended one of their concerts in October 2007 and lifted the melody from “The Songs I Didn’t Write.” It turned out “Viva La Vida” was written and demoed seven months before the night in question. SF Creaky Boards later suggested both songs might have been inspired by the video game The Legend of Zelda. WK Will Champion, Coldplay’s drummer, said, “It’s tough when people accuse you of stealing something, when you know that you didn’t…There are only eight notes in an octave and no one owns them. And there are probably about 12,000 songs that feature the exact same chord progression.” SF

Coldplay was the first British male group since Jesus Jones and Escape Club in 1991 to land a second top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100. SF When the song went to #1, it made Coldplay the first British group since the Spice Girls (“Wannabe”) in 1997 to top the U.S. charts. SF The song, which won a Grammy for Song of the Year, was iTunes’ best-selling song of 2008> WK The band opened their 2016 Super Bowl halftime performance with “Viva La Vida.”


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):


Monday, June 2, 2008

Fifty Years Ago Today: The Everly Brothers achieve a “Dream”: #1 on 4 charts simultaneously (6/2/1958)

image from youtube.com


The Everly Brothers “All I Have to Do Is Dream”


Writer(s): Felice Bryant, Boudeleaux Bryant (see lyrics here)

First charted: 4/14/1958

Peak: 15 US, 13 CW, 15 RB, 17 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 6.0 Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: Don Everly was working as a writer in Nashville in 1954, having crafted songs for Kitty Wells and Justin Tubb. KL-50 When the Everly Brothers tried to launch their own careers, they struck out on their first recording session, but then tapped the husband-and-wife writing team of Felice & Boudleaux Bryant, KL-50 who’d written hits for Little Jimmy Dickens, Joe Smith, and Eddy Arnold. BR1-37

The Bryants went on to write the Everlys’ first three big singles – “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” and “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” All three topped the country charts and the latter two topped the pop charts. However, “Dream,” “with Chet Atkins’ innovative tremolo chording backing the brothers’ high-lonesome harmonies,” RS500 also topped the R&B and UK charts, making it the biggest hit of the Everlys’ career. On June 2, 1958, the song became the only record to hit #1 on all four of Billboard’s singles charts simultaneously. WK

Phil Everly recalls first hearing the song “on an acetate and it was just Boudleaux and his guitar. I said, ‘You could put that out and it would be a hit.’” KL-50 “‘It’s just a great, great song. It’s beautiful.’” SF

Phil’s sentiments have been echoed in subsequent decades. Richard Chamberlain had a #14 hit with it in 1963. In the ‘70s, Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell had a top 40 version of the song and in 1981 Andy Gibb dueted with Victoria Principal for yet another charted version. In the end, though, it is the Everlys who own the “definitive version.” HL-13 Theirs is “so pretty, so evanescent, so – dreamlike” WI-41 that they “don’t sound like two guys. But they don’t sound like one guy, either. They sound…like an angel.” WI-42


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):