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.”


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