Music of the Spheres

Music of the Spheres

You don’t become one of the biggest bands in the world without sticking to a system. In Coldplay’s case, that means starting every album with an agreed-upon title that dictates the project’s direction, from songwriting to production style to visuals. “It allows us a little bit of discipline in the studio knowing what we're trying to build,” bassist Guy Berryman tells Apple Music. “If you're building a building without any kind of architect's drawings, you would just start piling bricks on top of each other.” This preparation particularly came in handy in the case of a paralyzing global pandemic. Since 2019's Everyday Life was always intended to be stripped-down and introspective, without the customary world tour, the band already had a trove of songs earmarked for a proper larger-than-life affair and a vision for their use. They knew it would be called Music of the Spheres and they knew it would be helmed by Swedish über-producer Max Martin (no relation to frontman Chris), a partnership they kicked the tires on with the Everyday Life track “Orphans.” “He's just so talented and everything just meshed together so well with everybody's personalities in the studio,” Berryman says. “We had thought ahead to playing in big stadiums.” Lead single “Higher Power” could not have made those blockbuster intentions clearer or been a better showcase for (Max) Martin’s trademark pop sheen. The entire project is so imbued with youthful spirit that five tracks have emojis as titles. “Let Somebody Go” features Selena Gomez, while “My Universe” boasts none other than K-pop phenomenon BTS, who could always use some brains to pick as they learn how to navigate megastardom. “I think they're bigger than us,” Berryman says. “We should have been asking them.” Read on for behind-the-scenes tales of making Music of the Spheres. “🪐” “That’s an intro piece called ‘Music of the Spheres.’ We always make albums as a whole, and we started putting interludes and musical sections between songs, almost like palate cleansers.” “Higher Power” “I think people needed to have something uplifting. We wanted to put out this optimism and positivity into everything on this album. The famous story which is going around about this song is how Chris kind of was tapping out the drum pattern on a bathroom sink, and he recorded it on his phone and then went and wrote the song on top of it.” “Humankind” “You can sketch ideas out in the studio sometimes, and that was one we were really kind of struggling with before Max took the reins. It didn't sound very fresh; it had a good energy, but was maybe just a little bit too rock for us, and he really gave it more of a modern shine. It could be from just editing the basic song and the song structure or it could be adjusting slightly the rhythm pattern to make it all stick together better.” “✨” “It's an interlude.” “Let Somebody Go” (feat. Selena Gomez) “It's just a really lovely ballad. And quite early on we realized it needed a female counterpart to the vocal. And we were very grateful that when we asked Selena to sing on it, she loved the song and was happy to do so. Collaborations in general are something that we've done more of recently. We never really used to do it before. When we were younger, we kind of locked ourselves in a room and felt we had to prove everything ourselves. But I think as time has gone on, it's become more interesting for us to work with other people from different parts of the world, different genres. It just adds color and character to the music.” “❤️” (feat. We Are KING and Jacob Collier) “We love the way that sound shaped up with all the stacked layers of vocals; it's almost like a modern-sounding gospel song in some ways. Sometimes as a musician, it's my job to step in and say, 'Actually, the best course of action for me is to not play anything at all, because what we created here has a much more unique sound.' You have to take your ego out of the picture and understand that the best job you can do is leave something alone. Because then it allows the other songs around it to sound bigger and fuller.” “People of the Pride” “We started the song probably over 10 years ago and couldn’t really finish it. Again, this was one which Max really helped shape sonically. The way we had it before, it sounded a little bit old-fashioned, almost like glam rock. What Max managed to do was take the energy and layer in a way which preserved that feel but also made it sound very modern at the same time.” “Biutyful” “That's quite an interesting song from a production point of view, because it's really kind of pushing the boundary for us in terms of vocal identity. The manipulated voice is almost like an alien character singing this song. Is it Chris' voice? That is highly, highly confidential. Nobody will ever know. It's going to be a big old secret.” “🌎” “It’s an interlude.” “My Universe” (feat. BTS) “BTS were asked in an interview who they'd like to collaborate with, potentially, and a couple of the guys said they'd love to collaborate with us. A lot of the themes on this album are about bringing people together and taking away divisions and walls and boundaries and all of these human constructs that keep people apart. So we felt like this would be great because it's an unusual collaboration between people who are known to come from a different genre and completely different part of the world.” “♾️” “That is not an interlude, it’s a longer piece—a collaboration with an old friend of ours who has been on our albums before, Jon Hopkins. He's an unbelievably talented musician, piano player, and arranger. He works in an electronic genre on his own music, so he has the ability to create these very beautiful landscapes in a way that none of us can really do.” “Coloratura” “Each album can quite easily be defined by the singles you release on the radio, and it's always important to us when we make albums to include many different moods and textures and styles. So it was important to us, as a counterbalance to some of the poppier songs, to have something which was unashamedly long and complicated. It started off with more of a conventional song structure, then Chris came in one day and showed us the arrangement including all these interludes and sections between the parts we were already familiar with; it was a big challenge to piece it all together. Max's involvement on that song was extremely minimal; if he got hands on it, I think it would be chopped up into something a lot shorter, the chorus 10 seconds in.”

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