Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
"Viva la Vida (album)" redirects here.
For other albums of the same name, see Viva la Vida (disambiguation).
"Life in Technicolor" redirects here.
The album was named after a Spanish phrase that best translates into English as "Long live life".
Lyrically, the album contains references to love, life, death and war.
The album was Coldplay's first to be produced by Eno, and also their first album to not be produced by long-time Coldplay producer, Ken Nelson.
The band forced themselves to explore new styles, as Eno required every song on the album to sound different.
Development of the album delayed the release date several times.
Viva la Vida was both a critical and commercial success.
in November 2008, and "Strawberry Swing" in September 2009.
"Viva la Vida" became the band's first song to reach number one in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
It was the best selling album of 2008.
By 2011, the album had sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
In October 2006, two weeks after bass guitarist Guy Berryman welcomed his first daughter, which makes him the third Coldplay member to have a child, reports circulated that the band were taking a five-year hiatus.
The new baby, and the fact that Coldplay had no touring or recording schedule at the time, had fans wondering if the band's new album would not be released until 2010.
Dispelling such reports, Ambrosia Healy, spokesperson to Capitol Records, sent an e-mail message to MTV that there was no self-imposed hiatus.
However, Healy clarified that Coldplay was indeed "enjoying a much-deserved break", and there was no timetable for the follow-up to the band's third studio album, X&Y.
Work on the album began in November 2006, only being interrupted by the Latin America Tour in March 2007.
Coldplay moved to "The Bakery", after finishing up their Latin American Tour, building a studio there.
The songs written during their time at the studio are lyrically "much more abstract, much more visual than before", and musically "less straight-forward, more oblique".
This is explored in "Yes", where the main characteristic of the Velvet Underground-inspired song is the lowest vocals Chris Martin ever recorded – this was suggested by the producer Brian Eno, to make every single song sound different.
The band's drummer Will Champion said in an interview for MTV: "One of the main things we tried to focus on with this record is changing vocal identities, because Chris has a very recognizable voice."
However, it was stressed that the influence was not in any specific sound but a general feel to the songs taken as a whole.
On their website, the band also described taking acoustic guitars and basic recording equipment to churches and experimenting with particular sounds.
Throughout the recording of the album, Coldplay communicated to fans through their website.
"Famous Old Painters" and "Glass of Water" were written in late 2007 and they were considering both tracks for the album, but were not well received by the producers though the latter was added to the finalized Prospekt's March extended play track listing instead.
The album was delayed further, but a December 2007 post gave hints that the recording stage was nearly finished.
The article was signed "Prospekt", strengthening rumours that this would be the album's title.
Martin revealed he had been reading many Charles Dickens novels during the recording process which may have contributed to the strong visual imagery on such tracks as "Violet Hill" and "Cemeteries of London".
In an interview for the Latin American TV channel Boomerang in 2010 Chris said that a big inspiration for the record was the book Les Misérables, which can be noted by the French revolution themes on "Viva La Vida" for example.
When asked about why "Lovers in Japan" had an additional track, bassist Guy Berryman explained that the band couldn't make up their minds, because they had discussed that they did not want an extra song on the album, and instead they wanted to keep the album concise with a total of ten tracks (and an intended length of under 42 minutes).
Champion followed with, "We just preferred to have less titles and more stuff.
The album as a whole has got the most on it, but it’s the shortest.
We wanted to make it almost impossible for you to not listen to it all in one go."
In addition, vocalist Chris Martin revealed that the band had always wanted a song title which was two in one.
He added that the reason for having two titles in the track listing of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was due to American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake doing it for his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006).
The violinist Davide Rossi contributed with Coldplay to record strings on his acoustic and electric violin (the latter being capable to reach notes as low as the upright bass, thus recreating a full orchestra) throughout the album.
His strings are featured in six songs: Viva la Vida (the song in which his strings are the most used), Violet Hill, Life In Technicolor, 42, Yes and Strawberry Swing.
Some of the songs they recorded with Rossi didn't make the cut for the album but were released on the Prospekt's March EP.
On 18 July 2009, two early demos from the Viva la Vida recording sessions leaked onto the Internet: the previously unheard "Bloodless Revolution" and a very early version of Viva la Vida single "Lovers in Japan".
A day later another demo, called "St. Stephen" appeared online.
On 20 July 2009, six more demos were leaked: "The Fall of Man", "The Man Who Swears", "The Man Who Swears II" (actually just the second half of "The Man Who Swears"), "First Steps", "Loveless" and "Goodbye and Goodnight".
Other three left off tracks were leaked later into the internet, an instrumental of "Lukas", an unreleased song given to Natalie Imbruglia, "Solid Ground (Until The Water Floats Over)", a song written and performed live in 2006, and an instrumental of "Famous Old Painters".
Composition and themes
It features influences of dream pop, art pop and alternative rock.
Musically, Viva la Vida contrasts with their previous albums.
Martin described Viva la Vida as a new direction for Coldplay: a change from their past three albums, which they have referred to as a "trilogy".
He said the album featured less falsetto as he allowed his voice's lower register to take precedence.
The album contains an array of different themes such as love, war, and revolutions.
Unlike their previous releases it has a more universal approach, it deals less with personal problems and more with issues of humanity.
Martin stated the lyrics of "Violet Hill" were a commentary on Fox News.
"Violet Hill" also is the first anti-war protest song from the band.
Other songs, such as the double track "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love" and "Yes" are about love and desire.
Revolutionary themes are also an important part of the album and its promotion.
Coldplay used customized French revolutionary costumes through the Viva La Vida Tour and on the videos produced for the album's singles.
The work of the Beatles is apparent as an inspiration throughout the album.
For instance, the song "Violet Hill" references the Beatles album Abbey Road (1969), borrowing its rhythm from the Beatles.
The song is named for a road which adjoins Abbey Road in London.
The design style for the album took months to be completed; it was initially developed from a set of large-scale sketches and paintings of expressive typo.
Lyrics and song titles were boldly painted across old maps, books, copies of old paintings, newspapers and various sorts of second-hand things.
The final work was photographed and later some additional typography was added by computer.
Almost all tracks from the album and the Prospekt's March EP have one or more graphic images.
On the album's booklet there are nine paintings made by the band.
However, the image was later reworked and used as the artwork for the "Lost!"
The second painting on the booklet illustrates the song "42".
The image consists of part of the song's composition written in a red background, with a black stripe covering the centre.
A portion of the lyrics is used on the top of it.
The visual design for "Reign of Love" has its lyrics drawn on a green background.
In the middle of the booklet, most of the lyrics of the album are shown amidst an unrecognizable object.
The artwork for "Yes" consists of a ripped heart, and a line from the song, "Lord lead me not into temptation".
The painting next to the song's artwork contains lyrics from "Viva la Vida" painted in black on a blue background.
The artwork for "Death and All His Friends" was made with scissors and paper.
Lyrics for the song appear in the design.
Some of the paintings were shown on a screen during the Viva La Vida world tour, or used on big balloons inside of the venues.
There were three covers for the album.
The front cover for the standard edition is a painting by Eugène Delacroix, entitled Liberty Leading the People, which was slightly altered for the cover by using a white paint brush to draw "VIVA LA VIDA".
The Prospekt's March Edition cover uses the same words again, but painted in gold and bigger, on a plain black background.
The cover for the Prospekt's March EP included another Eugène Delacroix painting (Battle of Poitiers), and had "Prospekt's March" drawn across the painting similarly to how "Viva La Vida" was drawn across Liberty Leading the People for the standard album cover.
The cover used for the Asian Tour edition, has the word "VIVA" painted in red and black stripes against a white background, this same painting was used as the home page for the official Coldplay website during a period, it was created by the band and painted by the drummer Will Champion on a wall at the studio called The Bakery.
Release and promotion
In a Rolling Stone magazine interview, vocalist Chris Martin announced the album's release date and its title, Viva la Vida, which is a Spanish phrase that translates into English as "long live life".
It takes its name from a painting by Frida Kahlo, an acclaimed 20th century Mexican artist.
On 10 April 2008, a new journal entry appeared on the band's website announcing the track list and release date, as well as hinting at new tracks to be issued before the album's release.
"Violet Hill" was confirmed as the first single from Viva la Vida, with a release date of 5 May.
The band's official website was updated in late April to reveal the official Viva la Vida artwork as well as a free release of the single "Violet Hill", which became available for download for one week from 29 April 2008.
On 25 June 2008, the band became the third band ever to perform on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, performing "42" and "Lost!".
In August 2008, Coldplay announced they would be releasing an EP, Prospekt's March, consisting of unreleased material from the Viva la Vida recording sessions.
The album was re-released on 25 November 2008 in a deluxe edition, titled Viva la Vida – Prospekt's March Edition.
It contains tracks from the original album and Prospekt's March.
The stage setup for the Viva la Vida Tour consisted of a stripped down main stage and two catwalks; Coldplay also performed amongst audience members at the back of venues in a special acoustic set.
Instead of a giant video screen on-stage, the band opted for six hanging giant lightbulbs that displayed images and closeups.
The tour ended in March 2010 at Latin America and consisted of 172 concerts.
|The A.V. Club||B+|
|Los Angeles Times|
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends has received generally positive reviews from critics.
According to review aggregator website Metacritic, the album received an average critic score of 72 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic stated, "They demonstrate a focused concentration throughout this tight album – it's only 47 minutes yet covers more ground than X&Y and arguably A Rush of Blood to the Head – that turns Viva la Vida into something quietly satisfying."
Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly magazine rated the album "A-" and called it their best album, while Alexis Petridis of The Guardian, however, wrote a mixed review explaining "Viva la Vida's mild tinkering with the formula represents a failure of imagination: perhaps it's hard to think outside the box when the box is the size of the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Equally, however, there's a genuine conviction about its contents, a huge advance both on its predecessor and their legion of imitators."
Will Hermes of Rolling Stone magazine wrote that "Coldplay's desire to unite fans around the world with an entertainment they can all relate to is the band's strength, and a worthy goal.
But on Viva la Vida, a record that wants to make strong statements, it's also a weakness.
Sometimes, to say what needs to be said, you need to risk pissing people off."
Melodic magazine's critic Kaj Roth gave the album 4/5 and felt that "the typical Coldplay trademark is there too with beautiful atmospheric melodies that will embrace the heart".
Spin magazine's critic Mikael Wood said in a positive review of the album, "For all of Coldplay's experimentation, though, there's no doubting that Viva la Vida, with its sturdy melodies and universal themes – think love, war and peace – is an album meant to connect with the masses (arenas have been built for less than the climax of "Death and All His Friends").
The band's triumph lies in how exciting they make that prospect seem".
IGN gave the album 9.3/10 and Q said "...So some habits die hard, but on every other level Viva La Vida...is an emphatic success...radical in its own measured way but easy to embrace..." Robert Christgau gave it a one-star honorable mention (Christgau's_Consumer_Guide:_Albums_of_the_'90s#Grading_key), saying, "Applying all his powers, Chris Martin successfully dilutes Radiohead, with—what else?--pleasant results."
It appeared in several year end publications' Best Albums of 2008 list including New York Post (Number 1) Rolling Stone (Number 7), Q (Number 3), Spin (Number 9), Entertainment Weekly (Number 6), and Billboard (Number 6).
Also, despite giving the album three stars out of five in The Times, Pete Paphides admitted in December 2008 that he was wrong to give it this score and had in fact become his favourite album of the year.
Conversely, NME nominated the album for worst Album at the 2009 NME Awards, despite awarding it 8/10.
The album was successful around the world.
In its first week of release it debuted at number one in 36 countries.
In the United Kingdom, the album sold 125,000 copies in its first day of release and 302,074 in three days, debuting at number one.
In its second week it sold another 198,000, achieving a platinum certification.
The album sold over 500,000 copies in 10 days since its release, beating the first week UK sales of Coldplay's third album, X&Y.
As of June 2016, the album had sold 1,480,000 copies in the UK.
The album debuted with sales of 41,041 copies in Australia and has since been certified 4x platinum.
In Canada, the album debuted at No.
1 on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 90,000 copies in its first week.
The album would remain at the top of the chart for five consecutive weeks, selling 176,000 copies in Canada within the first month.
The album has been certified five-times platinum by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA).
In the United States, it sold 316,000 copies in its first day, and 720,000 in its first week of release, holding down the number one spot for two weeks, and nearly equalling X&Y's first week sales of 737,000.
Viva la Vida has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for a shipment of over two million copies.
Viva la Vida was at one time the most paid-for downloaded album of all time, with over 702,000 downloads.
By the end of 2008, Viva la Vida had sold total 2,144,000 copies, making it the second top-selling album in the United States.
As of August 2011, the album had sold 2.8 million copies in the US.
Globally, it was the best selling album of 2008.
Coldplay were first accused of plagiarism of "The Songs I Didn't Write" by American alternative band Creaky Boards, for the melody of "Viva la Vida".
Creaky Boards' band member Andrew Hoepfner claimed that Martin had heard them playing the song at a live show in October 2007.
The band released a video clip, in which it compares sections of both songs.
Coldplay denied the claim.
Band spokesman Murray Chambers said Martin was working in AIR Studios in London at that time, having checked the singer's diary.
In addition, Coldplay had recorded a demo version of "Viva la Vida" in March 2007, long before Creaky Boards performed it live in October later that year.
Creaky Boards later retracted the accusations and speculated that both songs may have been inspired by the video game The Legend of Zelda.
On 4 December 2008, American guitarist Joe Satriani filed a copyright infringement suit against Coldplay in Los Angeles.
The suit claims that "Viva la Vida" incorporates "substantial, original portions" of his instrumental track "If I Could Fly" from his 2004 album Is There Love in Space?
The band has denied the allegation, saying the similarities were "entirely coincidental".
On 14 September 2009, the case was dismissed by the California Central District Court, with both parties potentially agreeing to an out-of-court settlement.
He said "My son brought it to my attention and said: 'Doesn't that sound like 'Foreigner Suite?'"
Islam said that any legal action he might take "depends on how well Satriani does."
In June 2009, Islam later said, "They did copy my song but I don't think they did it on purpose", adding, "I don't want them to think I am angry with them.
I'd love to sit down and have a cup of tea with them and let them know it's okay."
In a documentary for Sveriges Television (2011) American music professor Dr. Lawrence Ferrara showed that the melody structures of "Viva La Vida", "If I Could Fly" and "Foreigner Suite" were very similar to the composition "Se tu m'ami" by the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, who died in 1736.
"Obviously this is a work that we would call in the 'public domain'", Dr. Ferrara said.
Chris Martin once said that the plagiarism allegations were inspiring him and added: "If everyone's trying to take away our best song, then we'd better write 25 better ones!"
Will Champion has also talked about the accusation saying, "For some reason, God only knows why, the successful songs seem to be the ones that are accused of being stolen."
- Tracks 5, 6, and 10 contain two separate songs each; the latter two are hidden and not listed on the album sleeve.
- The album is intended to be gap-less and, as such, some songs fade into another.
- Both "Life in Technicolor" (track 1) and "The Escapist" (track 10) contain a sample from "Light Through the Veins" written and performed by Jon Hopkins.
Prospekt's March edition
The Viva la Vida: Prospekt's March edition includes the Prospekt's March EP.
Tour edition DVD
In some Asian countries a special edition of the album was released with a DVD including the five official videos from Viva la Vida and the video for "Life in Technicolor II", from the Prospekt's March EP.
- Chris Martin – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, keyboards; rhythm guitar (on "Chinese Sleep Chant")
- Guy Berryman – bass guitar, synthesizers, santoor (track 1), backing vocals, photography
- Jonny Buckland – electric guitar, backing vocals
- Will Champion – drums, percussion, piano, backing vocals
- Michael Brauer – mixing
- François Chevallier – assistant engineer, engineer
- Coldplay – artwork
- Eugène Delacroix – cover painting
- Markus Dravs – mixing, producer
- Brian Eno – producer, sonic landscapes
- Olga Fitzroy – assistant engineer, engineer
- Tappin Gofton – art direction, design
- Dan Green – assistant engineer, engineer, photography
- Phil Harvey – manager
- William Paden Hensley – assistant engineer, engineer
- Dave Holmes – management
- Jon Hopkins – organ, harmonium, synthesizers, colouring, producer
- Mike Kezner – sitar
- Jason Lader – assistant engineer, engineer
- Bob Ludwig – mastering
- Dominic Monks – assistant engineer, engineer
- John O'Mahoney – mixing
- Vanessa Parr – assistant engineer, engineer
- Jan Petrov – assistant engineer, engineer
- Davide Rossi – electric violin, strings
- Andy Rugg – assistant engineer, engineer
- Rik Simpson – mixing, producer
- Brian Thorn – assistant engineer, engineer
- Michael Trepagnier – assistant engineer, engineer
- Andy Wallace – mixing
|Argentina (CAPIF)||2× Platinum||80,000|
|Australia (ARIA)||4× Platinum||280,000|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||2× Platinum||40,000|
|Belgium (BEA)||3× Platinum||90,000|
|Canada (Music Canada)||5× Platinum||400,000|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||4× Platinum||80,000|
|Germany (BVMI)||7× Gold||700,000|
|Greece (IFPI Greece)||Gold||7,500|
|Ireland (IRMA)||4× Platinum||60,000|
|Italy (FIMI)||2× Platinum||140,000|
|Mexico (AMPROFON)||2× Diamond+4× Platinum||1,120,000|
|Netherlands (NVPI)||3x Platinum||180,000|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||2× Platinum||30,000|
|Portugal (AFP)||2× Platinum||40,000|
|Spain (PROMUSICAE)||2× Platinum||160,000|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||3× Platinum||90,000|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||5× Platinum||1,500,000|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,000,000|
|Europe (IFPI)||3× Platinum||3,000,000|
|sales figures based on certification alone
shipments figures based on certification alone sales+streaming figures based on certification alone
|Canada||26 May 2008||Capitol||CD||509992 26126 0 1|
|United States||CD||50999 2 16886 0 7|
|LP||50999 2 16965 1 0|
|Japan||11 June 2008||EMI Music Japan||CD||TOCP-66805 / 49880 068632 5 5|
|United Kingdom||12 June 2008||Parlophone||CD||5 099921 211409|
|LP||50999 212114 1 6|
|Brazil||12 June 2008||EMI||CD|
|Europe||13 June 2008||Capitol||CD|
|Australia and New Zealand||14 June 2008||EMI||CD||2169640|
(Unless specified otherwise)
|16 June 2008||EMI||CD|
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.