Altuesdays: Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” places itself on a pedestal of timelessness

Altuesdays: Coldplays A Rush of Blood to the Head places itself on a pedestal of timelessness

Sophia Fowler '22, Multimedia Manager

Listen to “Altuesdays Episode 1: Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head”” on Spreaker.

Whether you find Coldplay to be a cringe-worthy, sell-out of a band that quickly transitioned their unique, alternative roots into basic pop melodies and cliche lyrics covered by a generic EDM track, the band’s presence over the last two decades can only be described as legendary. Their string of hits throughout every album and the countless awards they’ve received place them in a coveted position very few musical artists find themselves in. Their name will continue to haunt its way through generations of music listeners, much like the Rolling Stones or U2, and their iconic songs -ranging from their first hit ‘Yellow’ all the way to their newest release, ‘My Universe’ featuring BTS- will always flood radio stations and playlists around the world.
Coldplay’s 2002 record, A Rush of Blood to the Head, is, in my opinion, their most iconic album. Despite only being their sophomore record, A Rush of Blood to the Head not only took radio listeners through a docile yet extremely compelling trip around the roots of Coldplay’s music, it also made music geeks admire the ability and true sound the band had labeled themselves with. The record to me has always been a more mature version of Parachutes, their debut album which helped to put them on the top of the world. A Rush of Blood to the Head was the culmination of everything Coldplay could do without stretching outside of their original sounds too much, and managed to provide new and cohesive sounds without giving up the comforting and familiar music the band had based themself on.
It starts with ‘Politik’, which opens with a Beatles-esque track filled with hard guitar and drum, only to fall again with soft piano complimented with Chris Martin’s initially unappealing voice. The chorus kicks in, and truly highlights the complexity of the album. The sudden jump back to a track with similarity to Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, yet still unique to Coldplay and their individual sound seems to immediately pull you into the feel of the entire album.
Track two, ‘In My Place’, is a timeless sounding track that can only be described with the same feeling you get wrapped up in too many jackets, scarves and sweaters on a cold winter day. It’s such an oddly comforting song, highlighting every band member’s ability with their individual instruments, Guy Berryman on bass, Will Champion on drums and Johnny Buckland on guitar, Chris Martin left on vocals and piano. To me, this song was the epitome of Coldplay’s ability to collaborate on such a breakingly gorgeous song, leaving me with a mixed feeling between being oddly happy and relieved, but an aftertaste of heartbreak still haunts deep within the roots and lyrics of the track.
The third track, ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” again brings the similar feel and sound of Coldplay, and keeps the consistency within the first three tracks. Despite the relative popularity of this track, in my opinion, there was little special about it aside from being catchy and definitely having clear early-2000s alternative undertones.
Track four holds the space of one of Coldplay’s most iconic songs, ‘The Scientist’. As a kid, I remember my parents listening to this song like many other adults who were almost grown out of their 80s alternative phases filled with influences of The Cure and Depeche Mode. I never truly understood the simplistic beauty of this song until I myself became obsessed with uncovering musical backbones and lyrical meanings. The glorious nature of such a pure song is not found nearly as much in the other band members as much as Martin’s rare display of deeper lyricism and vocal range that seems to be a comforting challenge against what had previously been heard in the album. It isn’t until the end that the piano medley is drained by simple guitar strums and a satisfying simple bass, but only for a minute or so before the song comes to a complete close, one that leaves the listener satisfied in a melancholy fashion.
The fifth track also holds an even more iconic Coldplay song, despite it’s contrast to its predecessor track. ‘Clocks’ hooks listeners in immediately with such an intriguing piano melody that can only be described as an adrenaline rush. The daunting nature of the piano is soon partially drowned out by the sudden entrance of guitars, bass, and an even more prominent drum line that may be just as iconic to the song as the initial piano. Martin’s lyricism is truly a work of art in a subtle gold frame within this song, a poetic tragedy of oddly haunting metaphors and similes that need to be decoded to be understood. There is absolutely no simplicity to this song, yet that’s what makes it so good. There’s no chorus, there’s no clear understanding of where the next twist or turn is. More or less this song can be perfectly described as a rollercoaster of sounds that cohesively work together, threaded by the foundation of the defining piano melody. This was Coldplay’s experimental track on this album. As much as it sounded like Coldplay, it also managed to break barriers and push the boundaries of previous songs, all while maintaining a similar sound to the one the band had managed to trademark themselves with.
‘Daylight’ is the sixth track, and one that I find respectable. I feel as though that was the track on this album where Coldplay was trying to break away from the rest of the record, it almost sounds like a song that transitions A Rush of Blood to the Head into their third studio album, Fix You. The importance of this track is found within the confusion and overall head twist the sound gives you, it was the first glimpse at Coldplay wanting to break out of their safety net of sounds found on their first three records, and although it may sound nothing like it, almost foreshadows their break from their initial sound into the ones found on their fourth album, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.
The seventh track, ‘Green Eyes’, is mediocre at best. Without having previously listened to the song, I could guess what lyrics were coming next, and I was actually right about a lot of them. I find this song to be one that could be found if Martin had gone off and done a solo project that honestly would have failed miserably with him singing to small groups of people in hole-in-the-wall coffee shops. Overall this track left me unimpressed, and somewhat disappointed compared to every other track on this album to this point.
‘Warning sign’, the eighth track, helped me regain a lot of my faith in this album. It has a 90s-alternative feel in the guitar that makes you very delicately bop your head, and tap your foot to the snare drum that weaves its way into the track. Here, Martin’s depressing lyrics are easily blanketed over by the friendly backtrack in such a way that leaves your feelings in a war between the happiness the song fuels, with the incredibly sad meaning, and that in itself is songwriting at it’s finest.
Track nine, ‘A Whisper’, is easily wrapped into the same realm as ‘Daylight’, within its hopes to break away from cohesiveness and, in turn, becomes an alright song. The heavy guitar and bass definitely makes it more of a light-rock track, which at this point in the album is something listeners are itching to receive. It definitely relieves that want for a more rock-based track, fitting into the overall feel of the album, but again, plays testament to the band’s want to break out of the shell they had begun to trap themselves in.
The title track, ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’, brings listeners back to an oddly unfamiliar sound of Coldplay. For the first time since ‘The Scientist’, the lyrics and sound of the song match up perfectly. Even the lighter chorus still leaves an oddly unsettling feeling, and the overall dark melody painted with even darker lyrics leaves listeners with a sudden urge to commit arson. I would be lying if I didn’t mention that this song felt like burning down an abandoned house in the middle of winter and just watching it burn. It’s the darkest, most outward track on the album lyrically, yet still leaves room for questions as to the story being told. It’s the perfect, poetic song, and seems to be the basic heartbeat of the album, making it the perfect title track.
The final track, ‘Amsterdam’, feels like a more stripped version of ‘The Scientist’. This seems like the place where Martin truly shines through as an individual, which could be relatively unfair given it is the last track on such an influential album, yet the sudden change in the last minute of the song, where the piano, guitar, drum, and bass are all clashing together for dominance can only be described as every other song on the album meshed together into one. This track is by no means remarkable, but seems appropriate in its place as the last track on the album.
A Rush of Blood to the Head is the closest album we will ever get to hearing the true ability Coldplay has in their original alternative sound. Despite the amount of times they’ve changed genre, sound and their image, this record is by far the one that encompasses Coldplay as well as any of their other eight, and is truly a dark and depressing album that seems too clear and understandable to the average listener to be true.