The genre-breaking breath of fresh air, from old redemptions
There was a time when the air was less polluted, foods were poison-free, water was more distilled and recreations (arts, entertainment, literature and more) were aesthetically beautiful. That changed, but one thing never really changed though- the forever unstable global politics. Wars had been glorified for years over humanity; global politics and conflicts became dirtier, the level of hatred increased between religions and social classes- moreover, the world lost its purity as the best planet to shelter human.
Then there had always been some intellectual savior - who listened and cared for lives, objects and most importantly- emotion. They patronized love and respect beyond religion, and tried to bring the world together. One of those crazy-caring groups is Coldplay, the famous British rock band.
Fulfilling their promise from 10 years ago in their ‘Viva La Vida’ to observe “Jerusalem bell ringing and Roman cavalry choirs singing”- the band released their 8th studio album ‘Everyday Life’ in a very unique way, by performing live on YouTube at the time of dawn and dusk from Jordan, Middle East. Yes, Middle-East; a war-torn, conflicted place which never really made headlines for any good reason in the mainstream western media. Coldplay took that risk after coming back from a long hiatus.
Here comes the question- why? One thing is for sure - when Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Guy Berryman along with their manager (or the ‘fifth member’ of the band), Phil Harvey, formed Coldplay to create mesmerizing music- they did not intend to change the world. Fast forward 20 years later, they released their 8th album not only in the middle of the earth in Amman, Jordan- but with the divine blending of Afro-Arabian choirs inspired from Nigerian Hymn composer Ikoli Harcourt Whyte; amazing voice works of Belgian superstar Stromae and Palestinian-born singer Norah Shaqur; choirs of teenage and adults from different parts of the world including Martin’s own children Apple and Moses, and even the century’s old legacy of great Persian poet Saadi Siraji and besides all of these, when the entire world had been eagerly awaiting with millions of pounds-euros-dollars to see their extravagant, ‘profitable’ concerts- the band decided to stop touring until they come up with the most environmental-friendly solution. What else are really needed to label that the band is changing the world in a positive way?
Let’s talk about the album for a bit now, putting all other amazing aspects aside for a while. The hiatus from their last album ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ in 2015 to their 2019 venture (with a small pause in 2017 with their Kaleidoscope EP containing five songs), seemed really long- but slowly they were gearing up for this unique comeback. In this era of global entertainment where everyone is busy doing promotional gigs from late-night shows to extravagant tours or media sessions- the band decided to go back in vintage. On 13 October 2019, the band teased the album with black-and-white posters, and the date "22 November 1919" appeared in various cities around the world including São Paulo, Berlin, Hong Kong and Sydney. On 21 October, several fans began receiving typewritten letters from the band, in their mail.
On 23 October, the track listing was announced by the band in the advertising sections of several newspapers around the world. The 19 November edition of the New Zealand newspaper Otago Daily Times featured advertisements containing lyrics to the tracks from the album. And finally, on 22 November, Friday- the band released their album in the most interesting way- by doing two concerts from Amman, Jordan, broadcasted live on YouTube as ‘YouTube Originals’. The concerts are named as ‘Sunset’ and ‘Sunrise’, but they just did not use these names for the sake of naming- they legitimately meant it. The ‘Sunrise’ performance started at 6:00 am with a runtime of 28:06 minutes while ‘Sunset’ started at 4:00 pm with duration of 30:21 minutes.
Although being a double album like back in the good-old-days, the overall length of the album is relatively shorter than their other albums. Side A is named ‘Sunrise’ and side B is named as ‘Sunset’, much like what QUEEN did in their two sides of the original album ‘Queen II’ (1974) containing "Side White" and "Side Black" (instead of the conventional sides "A" and "B"). The ‘Sunrise’ section features Sunrise, Church, Trouble In Town, BrokEn, Daddy, WOTW/POTP, Arabesque and When I Need A Friend- while the other part, ‘Sunset’ features Guns, Orphans, Èkó, Cry Cry Cry, Old Friends, Children of Adam, Champion Of the World and the title track Everyday Life.
About one of the most tantalizing tracks of this album, ‘Arabesque’- Martin said in a video that ten years ago, renowned musician and one of their producers Brian Eno was working with the band and he kicked Martin out of the band for two weeks. “Well, I came back; there was a bunch of awesome jams. There was this beginning rhythm that Will, Guy and Jonny got done with Brian, and I really liked it. For years there was another song called Arabesque and we were starting to work on that for this record. And then in my head, this melody was going, and then we added the amazing Belgian singer-rapper Stromae. Additionally, we were like, we have to ask Femi Kuti to play on this because it's so influenced by Nigerian music, particularly his father Fela Kuti’s music. Femi and his son Made Kuti met us and played the horns. It's the first time we've ever had a saxophone, the album, which we swore we would never do. But life is about growing and changing. And this song represents that” - Martin explained. (Fela Kuti appears via a sample of the posthumous biographical doc ‘Music Is the Weapon’, uniting three generations of the family in one song).
Chris Martin also said to BBC that songs from Everyday Life had been inspired in part by BBC News reports about an Afghan gardener, 18-year-old Hamidullah- and Nigerian hymn composer Ikoli Harcourt Whyte. In Hamidullah’s life, one of the ways to cope with ongoing violence in his country had been his passion for gardening. On the other hand, Whyte, who was diagnosed with Leprosy at the age of 14, channeled his experience of suffering into music and went on to compose more than 200 inspirational hymns by setting up a choir made up of people living with leprosy, who toured Nigeria and his choir sang for British dignitaries who visited colonial Nigeria. Did Coldplay think to pay a little homage to one of those people that the British ruled in their era of colonialism?
Lastly comes the song ‘Orphans’- one of two lead singles. The song features Martin’s own daughter Apple and son Moses in the chorus, and was recorded in last minute. "This song is about, you see all these young and a bit older people like us, having to leave their countries and everyone calls them ‘refugees’ or ‘migrants’ rather than just people. So we were thinking about, this could be any of us in these camps or at the border or whatever. And that's what this song’s about, it's like people like us saying, 'I just want to go home and be normal”- Martin explained ‘Orphans’.
‘Everyday Life’ is more than an album. It is more like a travelogue or a wind of blissful air one needs to inhale. Coldplay breaks their boundaries with a record that tries to give everyone a seat at the table, that sacrifices hit potential for the sake of a message they believed in. All they demand in return is a carbon-neutral world, and surely the fans will understand and count on the band to celebrate an even bigger comeback in future years.