Artist – Coldplay
Album – Ghost Stories
Year – 2014
Genre – Alternative Rock/Britpop
Here it is. My number one song of 2014. It wasn’t hard for me to choose this one, as no other song affected me musically and lyrically like Coldplay’s Midnight. I could go on for hours about how amazing I thought the Ghost Stories album was as a whole, but this song took things to a whole new level for me. Some of you may be surprised at my choice, but hopefully I can break down why I love it so much and you can see my points. Keep in mind, I will not be using the word “icy” to describe this song in any way, shape, or form. Take that, mass media.
How to begin. The song’s pulsating rhythm leads you in, and you get the first taste of frontman Chris Martin’s auto-harmonizer augmented voice. Now here’s the thing. You would think that a voice so bolstered my a technology and sound like this would lessen the impact of the emotion of the vocals. To me, it did just the opposite. Every harmony was haunting and dark. It was beautiful, but it seemed to actually draw the pain even more out of the words and voice. Every time Martin sang a word, I got goosebumps from sound of it.
Lyrically, the song just fits the sparse and bleak mood perfectly. The first verse sets the mood and really expresses that emotional trauma and sense of just receiving blow after blow of hurt and loneliness:
In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of this storm
When I’m rolling with the punches
And hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on
Just the vocal swell during the third line is enough to show you Martin is bearing his soul. As his voice dissolves, the delicate piano flutters and falls like teardrops. During the second verse, the bass kicks in and Martin gets some real depth behind his harmonies. The bass melody is actually very well constructed and adds a lot of emotional character through melody alone. Second verse:
Millions of miles from home
In the swirling, swimming on
When I’m rolling with the thunder
But bleed from thorns
Leave a light, a light on
If you don’t get goosebumps from that word “swimming,” then I think you should listen again. Just that note placement and jump just has so much power in it. It’s a scream of sorts; a cleansing breath. The whole nature of these verses is just that notion of when life just hits you over and over and over again and you seemingly can’t catch a break and your heart just aches for days, maybe weeks or months at a time. But there’s always that hope at the end. The hope that things will get better, and that the sun will shine again. After great suffering, always cling to the hope for closure, or love, or peace. It is truly what will save you from the darkness.
The twinkling interlude intermingles with Martin’s banshee wails and truly adds a ghostly atmosphere that is very befitting of the album’s title. The repeated chorus here still keeps you interested, as Martin’s falsetto jump once again proves very effective in emphasizing his point. Now is where the beat begins.
You can certainly picture the night sky punctuated by stars as the synths begin to glitter and dance from note to note in a very trance music sort of way. This is the point where your mind can wander and it’s up to you whether you take this as a time to dance in sadness or in joy. As Martin closes with the last haunting words and his voice fades behind the harmonies, you can’t help but have that feeling that no matter what you’re going through, the song understands and offers you a hand to hold in these troubled times of the heart.
Coldplay’s “Midnight” is my song of the year because it is the one that impacted me the most profoundly. Despite 2014’s triumphs, it was also a year of intrapersonal challenges and a lot of tough times. This song encapsulates how I felt though those times perfectly and amplifies the emotions that I couldn’t express through words. The vocals, melody, harmonies and words created a song that just hit me to my core and that I couldn’t ignore, not to mention it’s one of the most finely crafted and emotional Coldplay songs there is. Chris Martin understood me as he went through his own hardship, and I’ll end by saying anyone going through a broken heart, or loneliness out there should listen to Ghost Stories front to back. It’s just the album your looking for right now, and “Midnight” is the linchpin that holds it all together and packs the most punch in it’s subdued way.
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