I have been readying myself for Coldplay’s upcoming A Head Full of Dreams Tour since I bought tickets last year. As such, I thought it would be the perfect time to make a ranking of their best singles. I’ve only chosen singles that made the UK top 40, so any fans of Lost or The Hardest Part, that’s why I haven’t included them here.
22. Christmas Lights – N/A
Including Christmas Lights seems a bit unfair, but since it reached the top 20 in the UK it remains eligible. It’s a nice enough Christmas song, but as a Coldplay single it doesn’t hold up next to the songs mentioned below.
21. Hymn For The Weekend – A Head Full of Dreams
The band’s newest hit, despite a Beyonce feature and becoming their most successful song in a while something stops me from really loving Hymn For The Weekend. Maybe it’s because there are a much better potential singles on album A Head Full Of Dreams.
20. Violet Hill – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
Viva La Vida is one of Coldplay’s most diverse albums, and as an introductory single Violet Hill stands out against the psychedelic sounds. The triumphant stomping chorus is great, but for me it needs to be performed live to shine.
19. Trouble – Parachutes
Probably a surprisingly low place for this early hit. For me Trouble is the weakest of the singles from their debut album Parachutes. Despite that haunting vocal, it’s a song that comes and goes without really leaving much of a mark.
18. Speed of Sound – X&Y
Speed of Sound manages to sound so much like a Coldplay record that it somehow falls short of the truly great songs on this list. It’s Chris Martin by numbers, with a chorus that doesn’t quite pack the punch that you hope it will.
17. Atlas – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
As film soundtrack songs go, The Hunger Games franchise has to be up there with the best. Atlas may even be the best of the bunch too, a soft build to an eventual soaring payoff. It’s the twinkle of guitar riffs that make this for me. It was baffling to me that they didn’t include it on 2013 album Ghost Stories.
16. Talk – X&Y
X&Y is far and away the weakest of Coldplay’s albums, despite having some great singles. Talk is one of these, recalling their debut album in it’s thundering climax near the end. It’s always been an underrated favourite of mine.
15. Adventure of a Lifetime – A Head Full of Dreams
Adventure of a Lifetime is a song that’s hard to hate. Infectious catchy and the funkiest thing the group have ever released, it sets its sights firmly on the pop world and is all the better for it.
14. Yellow – Parachutes
Coldplay’s breakthrough hit still sounds as thrilling 16 years after it was released. At the time there wasn’t anything that sounded quite like Yellow. That thudding riff and drum beat against Chris Martin’s piercing vocal is the sound that has defined the band ever since.
13. Clocks – A Rush of Blood to the Head
A Rush of Blood to the Head is undeniably Coldplay’s best album and the first song to get a mention here is the most recognizable hit from it. Clocks is all about that piano hook, like a club banger without a synth in sight, it was perhaps a sign of where the band were headed.
12. Magic – Ghost Stories
Magic wasn’t an instant favourite of mine, but much like its home the under appreciated Ghost Stories it really grew on me. The way the song rides through that 808 drum beat, teasing you with hints of the band’s signature style bit by bit, before letting it all go again at the end. It’s a genius song that stands out among the singles on this list.
11. Paradise – Mylo Xyloto
There’s a reason you couldn’t switch on a TV in 2012 without hearing ‘Para Para Paradise’ blaring out. There’s something magical about that hook, yet another record designed to be heard sang by a stadium of 60,000 people.
10. Shiver – Parachutes
It’s interesting that my favourite song on the band’s debut album was their very first top 40 hit. Shiver feels even more raw and emotional than Yellow, that rolling riff capturing the early years of the group on record the best for me.
9. In My Place – A Rush of Blood to the Head
So much more than a retread of Yellow, In My Place managed to lift the group to the Glastonbury headlining level of success on their second album. It’s pretty simple as a record when compared to most of the songs surrounding it, but as far as stadium singalongs this has to be one of their best.
8. Viva La Vida – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
‘Oh oh ohhhh oh ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, Oh oh ohhhh oh ohhhhhhhhhhhhh’ There’s very little that sounds as satisfying as that.
7. Life In Technicolor II – Prospekt’s March
You’ll notice a common theme from now on, I really really like Coldplay songs that sound like Life In Technicolor II. The use of eastern instruments creates this kaleidoscope of sound, the whole thing is so wonderfully layered that it has become a personal favourite over the years.
6. The Scientist – A Rush of Blood to the Head
Ballads come so easily to Coldplay and The Scientist proves why that’s such a good thing. It’s that slow and subtle build that we’ve seen on countless records ever since. Adding a new layer every verse until Chris is literally just howling at the end. The Scientist is a gloriously simple ballad.
5. Princess of China (Feat. Rihanna) – Mylo Xyloto
The most incredible thing about Princess of China is that it makes perfect sense as both a Coldplay record and a Rihanna one. The double chorus is a neat trick, with Chris and RiRi harmonizing effortlessly over that screeching production. It’s a wonderfully dramatic song and one that you probably could have put money on appearing in the top 5 of this list.
4. Charlie Brown – Mylo Xyloto
Charlie Brown is basically Life In Technicolor III, it’s a song that just makes me so happy. There’s something about how simple that riff is, where it becomes the star thanks to the lack of a major hook. It’s the sort of electrifying anthem that make for the very best Coldplay hits.
3. A Sky Full of Stars – Ghost Stories
Over their career, Coldplay had always flirted with big pop hooks, the piano riff in Clocks, the chorus of Viva La Vida, but A Sky Full Of Stars sounds like the peak of that journey. They could quite have easily just got Avicii to bash a quick dance banger out, but instead A Sky Full Of Stars remains firmly a Coldplay song. It’s an amazing accomplishment, like the whole song is one of those ‘magic moments’ at the end of their best songs.
2. Fix You – X&Y
It takes 2 and a half minutes for it to start. No matter how many times I listen to Fix You it hits me. It’s genius. Denying the magic of Fix You is pointless, just feel it.
1. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Mylo Xyloto
Whenever I mention Coldplay to people they make that face. You know the one. That, ‘Ugh, Coldplay are so borrrrinnng’ face. The only thing I ever say is, have you listened to Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall. Pure joy. That’s what this song gives me. It’s the perfect Coldplay song, on record, live, wherever. From the opening synth to Will Champion’s thundering final drums, I love Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall.