Best of the B Sides: “Yes”

I have a confession to make: in my personal opinion, Coldplay‘s Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008) is one of the best rock albums of the past ten years. It’s the band’s crowning achievement. No album before or after in their repertoire comes close to the power and precision of Viva la VidaViva la Vida is full of really base instincts and feelings, and it’s a complete work from track one to track ten. Each song has enough clarity to stand alone, but when they’re played together, this album’s really got a lot going for it. I have to give a shoutout to the final track, “Death and All His Friends“, because that’s been on my Top 25 Most Played playlist since this album dropped. This was the first album I actively anticipated. I had first listened to Coldplay after picking up some CDs at a Tower Records next to my high school that was going under in a week or two. I went to Borders first thing the day Viva la Vida came out and sat in my room listening to the whole thing twice through on my stereo. This all sounds archaic.

I’m choosing the track “Yes” this week for my b-side. If you can’t tell by now, I love songs that feature really low vocals. Lower songs stand out now that reality singing shows have everyone in popular music belting. There’s an artistry to lower vocals, which I think is why Lorde made such an immediate impression. So “Yes” features frontman Chris Martin in the low, low range of his voice where we’ve usually heard him at the pitch of “Viva la Vida” or “Violet Hill“. It’s kind of a startling addition to the album, but Viva la Vida would be lacking so much grounding without “Yes”. For the most part, it would sound like “just” another Coldplay album, but “Yes” shows a seriousness that blows all of the popular critique of Coldplay out of the water. There’s significant weight behind their music, despite what is mostly perceived (raise you hand if you ever had to awkwardly slow dance to “Fix You” in middle/high school), and this song proves it. It’s a gritty, sexy, beautifully orchestrated song that takes advantage of all the new tricks Coldplay’s working with on Viva la Vida. Whether it got much notice or not, “Yes” is the linchpin that kept Viva la Vida from being an ordinary album. It kicks things up a notch. Not to mention that the mostly instrumental second half of the song blends in beautifully with the gauzy, dream-like effect of Viva la Vida as a whole and acts as a counter to the darker, slower first half of “Yes”. It all just works so well.



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