Up&Up by Coldplay

A Head Full of Dreams by ColdplayTrack: Army of One
Album: A Head Full of Dreams
Artist: Coldplay
Genre: alternative, pop, rock
Music Rating: 9/10
Lyrics Rating: 10/10
Overall:
9/10
Sounds Like: Keane, Snow Patrol, U2
Interesting Fact: While this song has gained recent attention for it’s amazing and creative music video, the album version of this song is actually significantly longer. Clocking in at 6:45, that makes it the longest track on the album. This is particularly impressive, because “Army of One” (the second longest track from the album, listed at 6:17) houses a hidden track called “X Marks the Spot”.
Best thing About this Track: The relentlessness of the lyrical structure and symmetry is breathtaking and life-giving while its message is soul-shattering and unifying.
One thing I wish was different: I love the artistic integrity of Coldplay as a band and this song in particular, so I’m hesitant to voice dissenting opinions. I will say that the last twenty seconds of the song (album version) are not my particular favorite, but I know that there is purpose and intention in them.
Website: Coldplay

First things first: consider this my obligatory comment about how amazing the music video is. I don’t really want to focus my comments on the visual portion of this song, because, as amazing as it is, it is not the most remarkable part of the song to me. So, while I agree that the video is creative, inventive, ingenious, and thought-provoking, I don’t actually care about it beyond its function to show people the beauty that is inherently housed within the song itself. Because the music video is a shorter version of the track than the album version (which was truthfully a really good call for mass consumption), it actually has somewhat less of an impact in its message, as it is missing pieces of the story (although I must concede, it also gains visual impact that helps to fuel its message). So, to recap: I really love this video as a visual enhancement of the song, but I don’t think it even begins to approach the genius of the writing on the song itself.

Note: From here on out, I will be talking about the album version of this song. There is, of course, large overlap, but specificity may get a little dicey. You’ve been warned!

Oh, Coldplay. I love you so much. Wow. True to form, this song is completely weird and unexpected, yet instantly understandable and relatable. Coldplay is one of the only mainstream bands that I know of that consistently disregards all the rules of popular music and gets away with it. I love them so much for that! If you break down the track’s instrumentation, it feels extremely experimental, but in practice the presentation is fully confident and rehearsed in a way that makes the listener immediately comfortable and trusting of the musical methodologies that they were heretofore unexperienced with. The track starts out with a piano guiding us into the song with a foreshadowing of the melody that is accompanied by some snare rimshots to set the groove, a classically Coldplay string section hitting the chords to highlight the progression of the song, and a bubble synth which reminds me of some eastern percussives. (In fact, I’m now wondering if it is not a synth at all).

Soon, everything but the string section fades out as human voice takes over the melody which was previously led by the piano. After the tone is set, the snare and bubble-percussion-synth come back in to accompany Chris, along with a powerful, booming bass drum. A more modern, traditional-sounding synth signals the start of the chorus as layers upon layers of vocalization soar into the acoustical frame, making up and defining the signature sound of this song’s bottomline.

This song is (as previously discussed) quite long, yet is continually progressing the themes and motifs without stagnating. I won’t detail the music throughout the whole song, but there is some amazing electric guitar that won’t come in until two minutes into the song, and won’t become prominent until about three minutes and twenty seconds into the song. Vocal effects are used in almost every conceivable way, and we won’t even talk about what happens during the last twenty seconds of the song.

Speaking of the progressive nature of the overall structure of the song, I’d just like to take a minute and talk about the chord progression. The bulk of the melody in this song is carried squarely on the backs of the 1, 2, and 3 of the key, with an occasional dip into the 7th. While certainly atypical, that sounds a bit boring . . . until you account for the fact that this song has a flat major seventh chord comprising 25% of the chorus. Just take a minute and let that sink in, will you? Yes, borrowed chords are always exciting and fun when they are done well, but . . . just . . . it resolves to the fourth after that. 😍

To make matters more structurally delicious, the only variation in progression from verse to chorus is the third chord (the flat major seventh), which is merely translated from a minor chord a half-step lower in the verse. Do you understand what I’m saying to you? Each chordal phrase always lands on the fourth. That shouldn’t work, but it does, because they are coming from happy intervals. One comes down a third, and the other goes up a fifth. The two respective leading chords are a half-step apart. For those of you keeping score at home: no, 5 minus 3 does not equal 0.5. That is why music is amazing, interval resonance is magic, Coldplay is genius, and I LOVE THIS SONG!

Now, if you are the type of person who actually pays attention to the stuff that I put at the top of the post, you’ll be like “Anie, why are we still talking about music? I thought you loved the lyrics more!” right about now.

And right you are, random, hypothetical reader. I do love the lyrics more. So let’s get into that. Whoah, these lyrics, y’all. The consistency is enough to make a grown man weep. If you have heart problems, proceed with caution. (I probably should’ve put that up at the top, huh? 😏) This song is simply relentless in its quest to convey core concepts into the center of creative connectivity. So much of the sound and structure remains immovable, that the human mind strains to conceive of how a new message is being born by each line, continuing the same story with only slight modification on the overall linguistics.

Moving on to the message, I believe that this song gains much of its power from the universal human instinct to reach higher. Man’s inclination to search for something more. Aspiration is an inexplicable inevitability of existence as long as we retain the will to not let it die. As humans living in this world (often in less-than-desirable circumstances), we understand its shortcomings and problems. Yet, we are all in constant search of transcendence from that which we know. The same blood that denotes death is that which gives us life and hope that we can strive for more. We can be better. The continual question in every subconscious is: how? Coldplay posits an answer for us in the form of refrain.

Which direction are we trying to move in? “Up and up and up.” How can we dare to acquire such a lofty goal? “We’re going to get it. Get it together” sing a thousand voices in the chorus, combining in harmony and unison.

P.S.  I didn’t get a chance to talk about how the music and lyrics fit together, but I’ll leave you to enjoy putting A+B together.

Follow on Bloglovin

Lyrics:
Fixing up a car to drive in it again
Searching for the water hoping for the rain
Up and up, up and up

Down upon the canvas, working meal to meal
Waiting for a chance to pick your orange field
Up and up, up and up

See a pearl form, a diamond in the rough
See a bird soaring high above the flood
It’s in your blood, it’s in your blood

Underneath the storm an umbrella is saying
Sitting with the poison takes away the pain
Up and up, up and up it’s saying

We’re going to get it, get it together right now
Going to get it, get it together somehow
Going to get it, get it together and flower
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
We’re going to get it, get it together I know
Going to get it, get it together and flow
Going to get it, get it together and go
Up and up and up

Lying in the gutter, aiming for the moon
Trying to empty out the ocean with a spoon
Up and up, up and up

How come people suffer? How come people part?
How come people struggle? How come people break your heart?
Break your heart

Yes I want to grow, yes I want to feel
Yes I want to know, show me how to heal it up
Heal it up

See the forest there in every seed
Angels in the marble waiting to be freed
Just need love, just need love
When the going is rough saying

We’re going to get it, get it together right now
Going to get it, get it together somehow
Going to get it, get it together and flower
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
We’re going to get it, get it together I know
Going to get it, get it together and flow
Going to get it, get it together and go

And you can say what is, or fight for it
Close your mind, or take a risk
You can say it’s mine, and clench your fist
Or see each sunrise as a gift

We’re going to get it, get it together right now
Going to get it, get it together somehow
Going to get it, get it together and flower
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
We’re going to get it, get it together I know
Going to get it, get it together and flow
Going to get it, get it together and go
Up and up and up

We’re going to get it, get it together right now
Going to get it, get it together somehow
Going to get it, get it together and flower
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
We’re going to get it, get it together I know
Going to get it, get it together and flow
Going to get it, get it together and go

Up and up and up

Oh-oh oh, oh-oh oh oh oh oh

Fixing up a car to drive in it again
When you’re in pain
When you think you’ve had enough
Don’t ever give up
Don’t ever give up

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *