Coldplay is one of the most successful and influential bands of the 21st century, with over 100 million records sold worldwide and countless awards and accolades. The British quartet, consisting of Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion, has released nine studio albums and dozens of singles, spanning various genres and styles.
From their humble beginnings as an indie rock band to their evolution into a global pop phenomenon, Coldplay has always delivered memorable songs that touch the hearts and minds of millions of fans.
But what are the best Coldplay songs of all time? This is a difficult question to answer, as different songs may appeal to different listeners for different reasons. However, based on factors such as popularity, critical acclaim, musical quality, lyrical depth, and cultural impact, we have compiled a list of 15 songs that we think represent the best of Coldplay.
15. Yellow (2000)
The song that launched Coldplay into stardom, Yellow is a simple yet powerful ballad that showcases Chris Martin’s emotive vocals and Jonny Buckland’s shimmering guitar. The song was inspired by the night sky and a Yellow Pages directory, and it expresses a sense of awe and devotion to a loved one.
Yellow was the breakthrough single from Coldplay’s debut album Parachutes, which won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2002. Yellow has since become one of Coldplay’s signature songs and a staple of their live performances.
14. Trouble (2000)
A beautiful and melancholic song that expresses regret and remorse, Trouble is one of Coldplay’s earliest and most enduring songs. The song features Chris Martin’s piano playing and falsetto singing, Jonny Buckland’s guitar arpeggios, and a string section.
The lyrics are about making mistakes but also asking for forgiveness. The band released the song as the third single from their album Parachutes. Critics praised the song for its simplicity and sincerity. The song’s music video, a classic, shows the band performing in a flooded room.
13. Clocks (2002)
One of the most recognisable piano riffs in modern music, Clocks is a hypnotic and haunting song that blends rock, pop, and classical elements. The band wrote the song in a rush during the recording sessions for their second album A Rush of Blood to the Head, and it almost didn’t make the cut.
However, Coldplay decided to include it at the last minute, and it turned out to be one of their biggest hits. Clocks won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 2004 and has been widely praised for its musical innovation and lyrical depth.
12. The Scientist (2002)
A heartbreaking ballad about love and loss, The Scientist is one of Coldplay’s most emotional and poignant songs. The song features Chris Martin’s soulful vocals and piano playing, accompanied by a string section and a reverse guitar solo. The lyrics are inspired by Martin’s fascination with science as well as his desire to fix a broken relationship.
The band released the song as the second single from their album A Rush of Blood to the Head. Critics acclaimed the song for its honesty and vulnerability. The song’s music video, a masterpiece of visual storytelling, shows Martin walking backwards through various scenes.
11. Fix You (2005)
Another tearjerker from Coldplay, Fix You is a song about trying to comfort someone who is going through a hard time. The song was written by Chris Martin for his then-wife Gwyneth Paltrow after her father’s death. It starts with a soft organ melody and builds up to a powerful climax with electric guitars, drums, and choir vocals.
Coldplay released the song as the second single from their third album X&Y, which debuted at number one on both sides of the Atlantic. Fix You has become one of Coldplay’s most popular songs and a fan favourite at their concerts.
10. Viva La Vida (2008)
The first and only Coldplay song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Viva La Vida is an epic anthem that explores themes of life, death, power, and revolution. The song was inspired by various historical and artistic references, such as King Louis XVI of France, Frida Kahlo, and Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People.
The song features a catchy string arrangement, a marching drum beat, and Chris Martin’s soaring vocals. Brian Eno produced the song, which was the title track from Coldplay’s fourth album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. What’s more, the album won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2009.
9. Paradise (2011)
A soaring pop-rock song with an infectious chorus, Paradise is a song about escaping from reality and finding happiness in one’s dreams. Moreover, the song was written by Chris Martin for his daughter Apple, who was going through a difficult time at school.
The song also reflects Martin’s own childhood fantasies of becoming a famous musician. It features synthesisers, violins, drums, and an African choir. Coldplay released the song as the second single from their fifth album Mylo Xyloto, a concept album that followed the story of two lovers in a dystopian world.
8. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall (2011)
A vibrant and uplifting song that celebrates the power of music, Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall is a song that showcases Coldplay’s ability to blend different genres and influences. A 1976 song called Ritmo de la Noche by Argentine band The Sacados inspired the song, which itself sampled I Go to Rio by Peter Allen.
The song also borrows lyrics from Sing by Travis and incorporates elements of dance, rock, and folk music. It was released as the lead single from Mylo Xyloto and received positive reviews for its energy and optimism.
7. A Sky Full Of Stars (2014)
A collaboration with Swedish DJ and producer Avicii, A Sky Full Of Stars is a song that combines Coldplay’s melodic rock with Avicii’s electronic dance music. The song is a love song that compares the beauty of the night sky to the beauty of a lover. It features piano, guitar, drums, as well as a pulsing EDM beat.
Coldplay released the song as the third single from their sixth album Ghost Stories, a more intimate and personal album that dealt with Chris Martin’s divorce from Gwyneth Paltrow. Furthermore, A Sky Full Of Stars was a huge commercial success, reaching the top 10 in over 20 countries.
6. Magic (2014)
A minimalist and mesmerising song that explores the magic of love, Magic is a song that showcases Coldplay’s versatility and experimentation. Moreover, the song features a simple bass line, a drum machine, a guitar riff, and Chris Martin’s falsetto vocals.
The lyrics are about falling in love with someone who makes you feel like you can do anything. The song was released as the second single from Ghost Stories and received critical acclaim for its subtlety and elegance.
5. Adventure Of A Lifetime (2015)
A funky and groovy song that celebrates the joy of living, Adventure Of A Lifetime is a song that showcases Coldplay’s evolution and reinvention. Moreover, the song features a disco-inspired guitar riff, a catchy bass line, a danceable drum beat, and Chris Martin’s cheerful vocals.
The lyrics are about finding someone who makes you feel alive and grateful. Norwegian duo Stargate produced the song, which was the lead single from Coldplay’s seventh album A Head Full Of Dreams. The album was more colourful and upbeat than Ghost Stories. Critics praised Adventure Of A Lifetime for its freshness and fun.
4. Hymn For The Weekend (2015)
A collaboration with American singer Beyoncé, Hymn For The Weekend is a song that blends Coldplay’s pop-rock with Beyoncé’s R&B. The song is an ode to the weekend, when people can let go of their worries and enjoy themselves.
The song features piano, guitar, horns, drums, as well as Beyoncé’s powerful vocals. The lyrics are about feeling drunk on love and having a good time. The song was released as the second single from A Head Full Of Dreams and became one of Coldplay’s biggest hits, reaching the top 10 in over 15 countries.
3. Something Just Like This (2017)
A collaboration with American duo The Chainsmokers, Something Just Like This is a song that combines Coldplay’s pop-rock with The Chainsmokers’ EDM. The song is a love song that rejects the need for perfection and heroism. The song features piano, guitar, drums, and a drop with synths and beats.
The lyrics are about wanting someone who accepts you for who you are and makes you happy. The Chainsmokers and Coldplay released the song as the second single from their respective albums Memories…Do Not Open and Kaleidoscope EP. Additionally, the song, Something Just Like This, was a huge hit, reaching number one in over 10 countries.
2. Orphans (2019)
A lively and catchy song that addresses the refugee crisis, Orphans is a song that showcases Coldplay’s social awareness and activism. The song features guitar, bass, drums, handclaps, and choir vocals. The lyrics are about two young orphans who lost their parents in a bombing in Syria.
Real stories of refugees that Chris Martin met during his work with Oxfam inspired the song. Coldplay released the song as the lead single from their eighth album Everyday Life, a double album that explored various themes such as war, religion, racism, and love.
1. Higher Power (2021)
A futuristic and anthemic song that celebrates the power of music. Higher Power is a song that showcases Coldplay’s creativity and ambition. The song features synthesisers, guitar, drums, and a vocoder effect on Chris Martin’s vocals. The lyrics are about finding a higher power that gives you strength as well as inspiration.
Swedish pop mastermind Max Martin produced the song and it was the first single from Coldplay’s ninth album Music of the Spheres, which explored the idea of music as a universal language as a concept album. Higher Power was a hit, reaching the top 10 in over 20 countries.
The Bottom Line
Coldplay is a band that has constantly evolved and reinvented itself over the course of their career. They have produced some of the most memorable and influential songs of the past two decades.
Coldplay has always delivered songs that resonate with millions of listeners around the world. From their indie rock roots to their pop-rock experiments, from their intimate ballads to their epic anthems, from their personal struggles to their social causes. These are just 15 of their best songs, but there are many more to discover and enjoy. Whether you are a longtime fan or a new listener, we hope you find something to love in Coldplay’s music.