Apple scores new Coldplay cut 'Viva La Vida,' and it's good
Coldplay's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" recently went up from pre-order from Apple's iTunes store, and those who make the pledge for the album will get immediate access to the title track.
It's a nice little coup for the Steve Jobs store, considering Coldplay's first single, "Violet Hill," has been downloaded more than 2 million times, according to multiple press reports.
Of course, the 2-million figure was helped by the fact that the song was free. To hear the title track, as purchased from iTunes, one will essentially have to fork over $9.99, and the cut unfortunately comes encoded with DRM at 128 kilobits per second.
But how does it sound?
Pretty good, and my initial reaction* is that this is a stronger cut than "Violet Hill." It opens with a triumphant string melody, and it's the violins that carry much of the song. It's a cleaner-sounding cut than the more aggressive "Violet Hill," but it still glides along with an urgency not heard often enough in Coldplay's music.
By tapping producer Brian Eno, comparisons to U2 will be inevitable, and "Viva La Vida" brings a bit of U2 grandeur with its epic build, but it still colors the song with enough fresh sounds to demand repeated listens. Things get rolling with a frisky violin, and Chris Martin puts it in check with a commanding vocal turn, singing "I used to roll the dice / Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes."
Moments later the song gets more interesting, with a flash of rhythm briefly sending a more electronic-sounding beat to the background. References to Catholicism grace the song, and Martin repeatedly declares that Saint Peter won't be calling his name.
But never mind the biblical nods. The song further reveals the Coldplay of "Viva La Vida" to be a hungrier, more challenging band. Indeed, as the song builds, strings disappear into a twittering of electronic atmospheres that bridge the verses.
Even the addition of church bells sound off just enough to not be corny. As the song comes to a close, a jaunty piano helps carry some background "whoa-whoas," and there's not a guitar in sight. Instead, "Viva La Vida" is a swift-moving minimalist orchestra.
*Subject to change
Photo courtesy Capitol Records