Coldplay – Magic – Guy’s creative brilliance
Coldplay – Magic.
In a series of articles on the Ghost Stories tracks, under a month since the full album release, we move on to the second track of the album, Magic, after Always in My Head was summarized recently. We will delve into the realm of live performances, fan reaction, the music video and Guy Berryman’s influence on the song!
The magical track from Ghost Stories was announced with the album details as the first official single on March 1st. Magic was available to download as an ‘instant grat’ track if the album was pre-ordered and it made an instant impact in the charts, reaching #14 in the US and #10 in the UK. It would then prove to be a moderate hit, peaking within those chart positions, similar to how hit single from Mylo Xyloto, Paradise was received at first but unfortunately, the emphasis swiftly moved onto A Sky Full of Stars, greatly reducing the possibility of Magic being a ‘slow burner’ within the charts. The song received a positive reaction from fans across the globe. According to the ‘like meter’ on Youtube, Magic was more popular than Midnight, the first ‘promo’ track we heard a week before the release of Magic. The Jon Hopkins produced Midnight, has the experimental electronic vibe which drew comparisons with Bon Ivor and Justin Vernon and was popular among a range of music fans but the radio friendly vibe of Magic and its R&B influences with its infectious bass riff from Guy Berryman, made it the overall popular choice.
Magic recieved its live debut at the iTunes festival in Austin, US on March 11, the gig that celebrated the triumphant return of Coldplay after the Mylo Xyloto tour and their routine break from the spotlight. The funky track had a more subtle tone live and wasn’t as ‘loud’ as the studio version. Magic proved to be an early highlight of the band’s live performances with its laid back vibe and the band’s extended jamming at the end!
As Coldplay were recording Ghost Stories, Magic was one of first songs listed for inclusion on LP6, along with the likes of Atlas, which ended up being a standalone single for the Hunger Games : Catching Fire soundtrack. According to the revealing BBC Radio 1 Zane Lowe interview and The Making of Ghost Stories on Sky Arts, Guy, who produced Coldplay’s new album partly, came to Chris with the bass riff for Magic, after being encouraged by Chris because of Guy’s ability to write songs. Will added a drum beat on top of the loop but the track was forgotten about for a couple of months until Chris heard the partially made track and suddenly, in such a short space of time, as Guy had a cup of coffee! Chris had written Magic on top of the loop track Guy and Will had provided. Guy Berryman explains his influences in making the catchy riff for Magic…
I grew up listening to funk and soul records. Its all kind of bass heavy music and its all just reptition and that’s what I like playing, I just like playing the same thing over and over and over again!
The music video
On 7th April, the official video for Magic was released. The music video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund and it featured famous actress Zhang Ziyi, starring as Cecile, the stage magician with her assistant, Christophe, otherwise known as Chris Martin! Her evil husband, the drunk magician was also played as part of a double role by Chris. The video has a 1920’s silent movie theme. Watch the video for Coldplay’s first official single from Ghost Stories below (the video to date has over 26,000,000 views!)
Since the chilled track, Magic was debuted at the iTunes festival in March, Coldplay have performed it on many occasions as their track of choice including live TV appearances such as on Australian TV. An early highlight was their rendition of the track on BBC Sport relief for charity in the UK.
Magic really set the tone for their live shows and their BBC Radio 1 live lounge appearance was one of their best offerings and really showed the chemistry of the band. The small studio really complimented the track which is aimed at sounding better the more intimate the surroundings are!
During the Ghost Stories film, originally broadcasted by NBC in America, Magic proceeds Always in My Head, as Chris closes his eyes and by Magic, the wonderful and enthusiastic audience of Coldplay fans surround the 360 stage and start clapping to Guy’s infectious bass riff!
Fan reviews and reactions
As in Paradise, this song is Guy claiming all the attention. It starts with an upbeat bass line and Will’s electronic drums setting the tone. Then Chris sets in, singing again heartbreaking lyrics that with the music feel like kind of happy, though. The chorus uses kind a R&B trick which certainly provides that vibe to the song. However, the climax of this song comes when Chris starts playing acoustic guitar, after one of Jonny’s signature riffs. The end of the song is absolutely captivating, and like in Always in My Head, Chris ends with meaningful lyrics while Will’s drum evoke a heartbeat. It’s a delightful song to hear. 8/10.
Magic is one the strongest examples of how much Coldplay have changed their sound. Everyone knows Madness by Muse and it’s easy to see the similarities Magic shares with it. Consider it its sister.
Instantly, listeners will hear the sounds of a heavy electronic drum beat, a very steady bass line, but no Jonny or Chris. They eventually come in but with more gusto than the previous track. The funny thing is that Jonny starts off on the piano as Chris goes solo with his vocals. Still, the quartet deliver an instrumentation thats sound as optimistic as any One Direction song. This comes mainly from Jonny’s occasional piano.
Again, the lyrics are all about separation, with Martin going on about how the time spent with his loved one is simply magic. Yet the chorus, which is made up mostly of the repeated line “I don’t”, lacks a bit of polish. It is at this point that the song begins to sound a bit too repetitive and mind numbing. However, the band have a trick up their sleeve (no pun intended). After the repeat of the chorus, the band bring out of the best sounding verses on the album. As Martin sings about how far he wants to fall, Jonny comes in with some of his trademark guitar work and you feel the song growing a new lease of life. This then leads to an all-out jam and as a result, the most pleasurable part of the song. The song ends with Martin stating that he still believes in magic before the song quietly fades off into the distance.
Whilst Magic may not be the best song on the album, it is a good choice for the lead single. As for being part of a live set, it sounds as though it would fit best as a crowd sing along after some of the more energetic songs.
RATING – 3.5/5
Coldplayers were asked on the forums to vote around the time of the Ghost Stories release and the verdict is mixed. The average rating is 7.5 as opposed to the much higher grade when Magic was first released. 7.5 is not a bad rating by any means and Magic still remains a popular track among fans but it has an apparent ‘Speed of Sound effect’, where the popularity dipped after the initial hype and album release. Overplayed and/or overshadowed by the second single as possible reasons.
Got a tattoo and the pain’s alright!
We will move on soon to the proceeding track (number 3) off Ghost Stories, Ink.