On Thursday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live with live stream Coldplay’s iHeartRadio Album Release Party for A Head Full of Dreams. Click HERE to watch!
(photo: AP/Starpix, Dave Allocca)
On Dec. 4, Coldplay release their seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams. Much of the hype surrounding the album focuses on guest stars like Beyoncé (and her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter), former Oasis mastermind Noel Gallagher, frontman Chris Martin’s ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, Swedish up-and-comer Tove Lo, legendary backing vocalist Merry Clayton, EDM guru Avicii, and even a sample of President Obama. But this is far from the first time that Coldplay have collaborated with famous names. The most interesting thing about Coldplay’s and Martin’s many collaborations is the fact that they’re not limited to the usual suspects. Aside from Martin’s friends and heroes in the rock world, he’s veered into hip-hop and pop with a variety of artists one wouldn’t usually associate with him or his band. Here’s a handy ranking of their greatest collaborations, both on record and in concert.
22. Bruno - Never let it be said that Chris Martin doesn’t have a sense of humor. In 2009, he joined comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno character – in a scene for the film Bruno – at Abbey Road Studios to record the song “Dove of Peace,” a mock charity song that also features Bono, Elton John, Sting, Snoop Dogg and Slash.
21. Gwyneth Paltrow - They may have “consciously uncoupled” back in 2014, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t make music together. The actress is featured on backing vocals on “Everglow,” a moody piano ballad and the second track to be released from A Head Full of Dreams.
20. Noel Gallagher - The elder Oasis brother appears on Coldplay’s new album, but he has history with the band. He and Martin have collaborated onstage several times, on both Oasis and Colplay songs. Here’s a clip of Coldplay’s “Yellow” from the 2002 Make Trade Fair concert, with Gallagher on acoustic guitar and Martin on vocals.
19. Ariana Grande - At the recommendation of Martin’s children, Apple and Moses, Coldplay joined forces with Grande at September’s Global Citizen Festival on the Harry Styles-penned “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart.”
18. Ed Sheeran - At the same festival this year, Martin guested on piano during Sheeran’s set for a performance of “Thinking Out Loud.”
17. The Flaming Lips - Martin got down with Oklahoma’s favorite psychedelic tripsters on “I Don’t Want You to Die,” a track from the 2012 Record Store Day vinyl release The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, which was subsequently issued on CD and digitally, but not with the Martin collaboration. The vinyl set-closer is a somber track, borrowing heavily from John Lennon’s “Imagine,” with Martin providing a soothing vocal foil for Lips main man Wayne Coyne.
16. Ron Sexsmith - Martin turned up on “Gold in Them Hills,” a delicate ballad featured on the Canadian singer-songwriter’s 2002 album Cobblestone.
15. Nelly Furtado - This collaboration sprung out of a chance meeting at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards where Martin, performing with Coldplay, bumped into the Canadian songstress. She told him she was working on a new album with producer Timbaland, whom Martin was a fan of, so she invited him to drop by the studio. That resulted in this song. Although Martin has a songwriting credit in the officially released version, he truly shines on an unreleased demo of the track.
14. The Streets - Martin lent his vocals to “Dry Your Eyes” by the British rapper, born Mike Skinner, in 2004, but executives at EMI blocked its release. Reportedly, they felt the track lacked hit potential and Martin wasn’t thrilled with his performance. A different version of the song, not featuring Martin, was eventually released and hit #1 on the U.K. chart.
13. Richard Ashcroft - The former Verve frontman is the star of this 2005 performance from Bob Geldof’s Live 8 festival, but Martin does an admirable job working the piano and adding backing vocals, and his introduction of “probably the best song ever written” and “the best singer in the world” isn’t far off the mark.
12. Alicia Keys - Coldplay put in another stellar performance with another over-the-top intro (“probably the most beautiful woman on the planet, except my wife”) in this 2008 take of “Clocks” live in Japan.
11. Kylie Minogue - ‘Tis the season, and to get us in the mood, the Australian pop queen recently released a new holiday album, Kylie Christmas, that includes the Martin-penned “Every Day’s Like Christmas,” produced by Stargate, the Norwegian duo that also produced several tracks on the new Coldplay album.
Minogue and Coldplay also shared the stage live for a duet in 2014 of “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” a track she originally recorded with Nick Cave, as well as her monster hit “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.”
10. Ian McCulloch/ Echo & The Bunnymen - The Bunnymen are another veteran band that was an influence on Coldplay, and apparently the feeling was mutual. McCulloch invited Martin to play piano and lend backing vocals to two tracks on his 2003 solo album Slideling, and later Martin returned the invite by having McCulloch perform the Bunnymen’s 1987 single “Lips Like Sugar” with Coldplay in 2003 at T in the Park festival.
9. Beyoncé - Queen B is featured prominently on “Hymn for the Weekend,” a piano-based jam on the new album, but it’s not the first time the band and Mrs. Carter have joined forces. Beyoncé has appeared onstage with Martin and/or Coldplay on several occasions, including a 2011 performance at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. However, their best-known performance is likely a stark take of “Halo” at the 2010 Hope for Haiti telethon with Martin and piano and Beyoncé belting it out on the mic.
8. Kanye West - A 2006 jam session at Abbey Road Studios in London led to Martin’s best-known hip-hop collaboration, “Homecoming.” Martin, who is credited as a co-writer, is featured on piano and vocals while Kanye works the mic. Martin also appeared in the video, and the pair joined forces with Jay Z for an epic New Year’s Eve performance in 2011 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.
7. Band Aid - Martin, along with U2’s Bono, is one of the few artists to be part of both the Band Aid 20 and Band Aid 30 charity remake recordings of “Do You Know It’s Christmas.” Like we said, 'tis the season!
6. Faultline - Long before he got together with Avicii, Martin guested on “Where is My Boy?” and “Your Love Means Everything Part 2,” two tracks on Your Love Means Everything, the 2002 album by Faultline, a British electronic act that’s the brainchild of David Kosten. Coincidentally, the album also featured guest spots by future Martin collaborators Michael Stipe and the Flaming Lips.
5. U2 - Bono was seriously injured in a bicycle injury on Nov. 16, 2014, but the band still had a big gig to play on Dec. 1, 2014 for World AIDS Day. Rather than cancel, they recruited two replacement singers – Martin and Bruce Springsteen. Since U2 is a major influence on Coldplay, Martin – wearing a T-shirt that said “SUBSTITU2” – noted that “dreams come true for young and old” while he was onstage with the band. He fronted U2 on “Beautiful Day” and “With or Without You.” Bono was hardly missed.
4. Avicii - The Swedish DJ, born Tim Bergling, is another artist you wouldn’t necessary associate with Coldplay, but you could cite his influence on the band for some of its more adventurous material. He co-wrote and co-produced the band’s 2014 hit “A Sky Full of Stars,” which is the precursor to the band’s current single “Adventure of a Lifetime.” Martin returned the favor, co-writing and appearing on “True Believer” from Avicii’s 2015 Stories album and turning up again on the track “Heaven,” which hasn’t been officially released, but has been previewed live.
3. Rihanna - She appeared on “Princess of China,” the fourth single released from the band’s fifth album, 2011’s Mylo Xyloto. She also appeared with the band in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-inspired video for the song as star-crossed lovers and turned up at the 54th Annual Grammys to perform the track with the band. Martin once said that the song was written specifically with Rihanna in mind. “In like a dream scenario, we had a song that I’d secretly kind of written to see if Rihanna would want to sing it … and then the rest of the band wanted to keep it, so we came up with the idea of asking her to sing it with us, and, to our great surprise, she said OK,” he told MTV News.
Like Jay Z, RiRi has also turned up onstage at several Coldplay gigs, including some shows with Jay Z. The most notable may have been a 2012 date at Paris Stade where Martin played piano as Rihanna serenaded the crowd with a stripped-down version of her hit “Umbrella.”
2. Michael Stipe - Martin and the former R.E.M. frontman are kindred spirits, but unfortunately it seems to take a natural disaster to bring the two together to raise money and soothe our souls. They first joined forces in 2005 on a cover of Joseph Arthur’s brilliant “In the Sun,” recorded and released to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Stipe joined Coldplay to perform the song live on Austin City Limits and also performed R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming” on that show with the band.
Seven years later – and a year after R.E.M. disbanded – Martin brought Stipe temporarily out of retirement to perform “Losing My Religion,” with Martin on acoustic guitar and vocals, for “12 12 12” a benefit for Hurricane Sandy relief.
1. Jay Z - Martin got down with Jay Z on 2006’s “Beach Chair” from Kingdom Come and “Most Kingz,” a 2010 track that turned up on a mixtape. Jay returned the favor, turning up as the featured rapper on a version of the Coldplay track “Lost!,” retitled “Lost+.” Martin has also appeared at a number of Jay Z gigs as a special guest, and vice versa.
Among their most memorable live collaborations was a 2009 Grammy performance of “Lost+,” with Martin on the piano and vocals and Jay Z on the mic, which spawned an entire bootleg mashup album Viva La Hova, still available for download.
One artist that didn’t seem too amused about the pairing of Coldplay and Hova was Kanye West, who had collaborated with Coldplay earlier. In the track “Big Brother” from 2007’s Graduation, 'Ye raps, somewhat jealously, “I told Jay I did a song with Coldplay / Next thing I know he did a song with Coldplay.” Of course, that made for the perfect snippet for inclusion on Viva La Hova’s “Intro.”