For this post, I want to re-visit Coldplay, as another one of their albums is pivotal to my love for music. Similar to the Justin Timberlake album from last week, this album contributed to several “core memories” for me during high school, and still manages to be one of my favorite albums to this day. Come take a ride with me as we look into Coldplay’s 2014 release, ‘Ghost Stories’.
At the time, of the six albums Coldplay had released, this is the first one that did not sound like “Coldplay,” if that makes sense. Previous albums gave you songs that you could dance and feel alive to, while this album has a much more laid-back and personal vibe to it. If you know anything about Chris Martin, this should make complete sense, as ‘Ghost Stories’ was released two months after he announced his split from Gwyneth Paltrow. Instead of hiding his feelings from listeners around the world, he showed fans his pain through this release.
Certain songs on the album really hit home and make you understand Chris’s pain. The opening track, titled ‘Always In My Head,’ gives you the first intimate look into Chris’s mind. Jason Lipshutz’s review of the album calls this out, mentioning that “the singer sounds more broken than ever, as if every insecurity hurts to say aloud in fear that it will become true” (2014). You immediately get the sense that this album is a detour from the traditional Coldplay anthems you’ve heard before.
On the other hand, this album produced one song that became a go-to driving and party hit for many people, myself included. ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ is easily one of Coldplay’s greatest hits of the last few years, and to me, this song brings back a distinct memory of walking to my house after getting off the school bus freshman year of high school. Spring was in full bloom, and I was in the middle of one of the happiest times in my high school career. Everything felt perfect, and the bouncy melody of this song coupled with my endless smiles kept me going as I finished up finals and became a sophomore.
In my opinion, I’m happy that ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ was the song that blew up on this album. While it’s an iconic track, it is nowhere near my favorite on the album, and I like that not many people acknowledge this next song. To me, ‘Midnight’ is a stand-out piece on this record. It is so incredibly different from anything else Coldplay has produced, and it has the ability to make you feel like you’re floating. The ticking beat in the background and the note choices almost make me feel like I’m on a shore in the middle of the night. As beautiful as the beginning of this piece is, it’s the moment when the bass comes in full-force that really transports me into a different mindset. It’s incredibly crafted, and even if you don’t like Coldplay, give this song a shot. Please.
As much as I love this album, many people actually hated it and thought it was some of Coldplay’s worst work. AV Club calls the band out for this release, saying that no one wanted a laid-back Coldplay record “considering the band already had a partially deserved reputation for delivering various shades of vanilla” (2014). Look, I know it’s not the best album in the world, but to me, this is my favorite Coldplay album because of how versatile the listening style can be. I mean, I’m listening to it as I write this post! You can play this album during study sessions, as you go through your own heartbreak, or on late-night drives to help you clear your head. The almost lo-fi-sounding record is incredibly appealing to me, making it my personal treasure.
Whatever your favorite Coldplay work is, you can’t deny that ‘Ghost Stories’ takes you on an intimate dive you never thought you’d see from the band. As sad as some tracks are, this album helped shape the latter half of 2014 for me, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a reason I’m still a Coldplay fan to this day, and it’s because of releases like ‘Ghost Stories’.