‘Midnight’ – In the darkness, before the dawn
Before the dawn of ‘Ghost Stories’
On Tuesday 25th February, all was quiet on the Coldplay front with just rumours of ‘Magic’ being a single due for release in May according to music release schedules and 2 unknown animated images posted on their official website a few days before, something unexpected happened. Out of nowhere, Coldplay uploaded a brand new music video for ‘Midnight’ to their Youtube channel and millions of Coldplay fans across the globe tuned in to experience the fresh track. The first reaction for most of us would of been ‘Is this really Coldplay’? The downbeat EDM esque track with electronic ambiance, inspired largely through a co-producer of ‘Ghost Stories’, Jon Hopkins (it was built over his unreleased track, ‘Amphora’) was a surprising direction and largely different from ‘Atlas’ towards the end of 2013. At the time of the video release, we were clueless as to whether Coldplay’s new song was a single, just a teaser and when it would even be available to download ‘Midnight’ was initially received with mixed reviews from fans and critics. The most notable response was across various music forums were some general listeners who were not particularly fond of Coldplay, warmed to the taster track while Canadian newspaper, the Toronto Star, did not not think highly of Midnight’s release strategy. The buzz track ‘Midnight’ was intended to be worked well as it amassed just short of 10 million views on Youtube before the ‘Magic’ video release a week later.
The ‘Trippy’ Music Video
The music video for ‘Midnight’, which was released at midnight in Mongolian time, featured the whole band for the first time since the ‘Charlie Brown’ video in 2012. Their appearances in the clip were very ‘ghostly’, shrouded in mystery of the forest where the official video was shot. Director Mary Wigmore captured the essence of the song in the same way ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ did for the ‘Mylo Xyloto’ era and gave us a snippet of the ‘Ghost’ theme of the forthcoming album. There was a very ‘trippy’ vibe all along, especially during the tencho-y climax of ‘Midnight’. It proved to a be a stark contrast to the ‘uplifting’ videos which were to follow across the ‘Ghost Stories’ era.
Laser Harps – ‘Midnight’ Live
‘Midnight’ debuted live on Coldplay’s live return at the iTunes Festival in March as it brought a new instrument to the array of others Coldplay have experimented with over the years in the form of a laser harp! Guy Berryman was the sole operator to start off with before Chris couldn’t resist bringing one of his own in later shows. Chris Martin’s voice on ‘Midnight’ was sketchy on its first public appearance, which at first, took over ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ as the final encore song and then had moved to the middle of the setlist for the ‘Ghost Stories film’ and ‘mini tour’ shows where Chris sounded much sharper and the song became a lot more accomplished live. ‘Midnight’, by the band’s own explanation during a behind the scenes documentary of ‘Ghost Stories’, is recorded on a laptop and the laser harp was thought of to help transcend the studio version into a live performance scenario. The whole performance including the stunning version of ‘Midnight’ on that evening is available to watch or download below or on the forums!
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Remix galore and the iTunes release
Being a mix of various influences along with a techno vibe, ‘Midnight’ was a popular remix track of choice for many DJ’s including the famous Italian DJ and producer, Giorgio Moroder who pieced together an official remix for the ambient ‘Ghost Stories’ song, endorsed and released by Coldplay on iTunes. The MP3 of ‘Midnight’, the regular studio version happened to be available at the same time to download on the 17th April and was an ‘instant grat’ track for the forthcoming sixth album which meant every fan who pre-ordered ‘Ghost Stories’ would receive ‘Midnight’ for free! This in turn resulted in chart domination for a few days, as Midnight reached number 1 in a few countries and resonated in the top 5 of most major iTunes stores. Listen to Giorgio Moroder’s brilliant remix below. Other remixes of the ambient tune include Jon Hopkins himself and Kygo).
Ghost Stories release – The ‘dark core’
Upon the 12th May, we had the pleasure of listening to ‘Ghost Stories’ in full and while ‘Midnight’ was one of the least talked about tracks during the actual release, perhaps suffering the usual first track off an album ‘constantly repeat until ears explode’ status along with ‘Magic’, it still formed the ‘dark core’ of the ‘Ghost Stories’ album, surrounded by the heartbreaking ‘True Love’, followed by the dark, dulcid tones of ‘Another’s Arms’ and the calm, atmospheric ‘Oceans’. ‘Midnight’ stands out from every track within one of Coldplay’s most diverse albums to date. It offers a different journey and experience to every Coldplay track. For those Coldplayers who prefer music videos which fit the song as closely as possible, you may rate it as your favourite video from the album and as Coldplay’s introduction from ‘Ghost Stories’, ‘Midnight’ certainly won’t be forgettable when we look back in a few years time!
The reaction from Coldplay fans was positive for the ‘trippy’ fifth track from ‘Ghost Stories’, receiving many generous 10’s on our forum poll.
A few fans on the Coldplaying messageboards have written reviews of their initial reaction when ‘Ghost Stories’ was released.
Honestly after the first listen I didn’t really know what to think of this song. I remember thinking “I’ve waited 3 years for this?”. I thought it was a huge change for Coldplay. I didn’t know what to think about their new direction they were going in. After listened to it 10 more times or so it began to grow on me tramendously! So much so to where now it’s probably my favorite song off the album! I love how the vocoder Chris uses makes me feel alone in a cold winter night! This song is so relaxing! Every time I close my eyes the song just takes me into another world! I’d give this song a 8/10
and RhysBP gives ‘Midnight’ full marks!
Launched before the release announcement of the album, Midnight is as far away from old Coldplay as the band can get. Built around a pre-existing track from producer Jon Hopkins, Midnights features no guitar, minimal drums and a very different vocal sound. Yet, the experiment works a treat.
The song begins with the ticking of synthesizers that sound very foreboding before a heavily vocoded Martin chimes in with some rather dark lyrics. There aren’t a lot of lyrics in Midnight but you get the feeling this song is all about danger; just read the opening verse – “In the darkness before the dawn / In the swirling of the storm / When I’m rolling with the punches and hope is gone / Leave a light, a light on”.
A laser harp that produces the bass note takes part as the second verse commences, which again features dark lyrics (“When I’m rolling with the thunder / But bleed from thorns”). Some minimal piano helps bridge the choruses and you can feel a big climax coming in very soon. However, listeners will be very surprised. As Martin pleads for a light to be left on, the bass and drums pick up tempo as a rave like aura builds. Eventually, an arrangement of bubbling synths come in as they help bring the rave to a restrained end. You can be forgiven for not seeing that coming.
Whilst this song has be known to alienate Coldplay die hards, Midnight is the best song on the album. It is something new from the band and it remains to be seen if whether or not the quartet will go in this direction in the near future.
RATING – 5/5
Late Night Watching TV…
Or reading articles presumably?! ‘Another’s Arms’ is next in line to continue the series of articles I am writing for all ‘Ghost Stories’ songs. In the meantime, head over to the messageboards and let us know any opinions you have on ‘Midnight’.