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YouTube Uploader: Coldplay

The first single from Coldplay's third album X&Y (2005). Stream / download the album now from

Video directed by Mark Romanek. Read Chris's memories of the shoot on the Coldplay Timline at

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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Speed Of Sound on Wikipedia
"Speed of Sound"
Single by Coldplay
from the album X&Y
B-side"Things I Don't Understand"
Released23 May 2005
Format7", CD, 10", 12"
GenreAlternative rock, post-Britpop
Writer(s)Berryman, Buckland, Champion, Martin
ProducerColdplay, Ken Nelson, Danton Supple
Coldplay singles chronology

"Speed of Sound" is a song by British alternative rock band Coldplay. It was written by all members of the band for their third album, X&Y. Built around a piano riff, the song builds into a huge, synthesizer-heavy chorus. It was released on 23 May 2005 by Parlophone Records as the lead single from the album.

Coldplay vocalist Chris Martin admitted that the song was developed after the band had listened to English art rock singer Kate Bush. The song's drumbeat is similar to Bush's 1985 song "Running Up that Hill". Upon the song's release, it charted in the UK Singles Chart in the number two position. In the United States, it reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 her first top ten hit in the country.

"Speed of Sound" was recognized Song of the Year by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and it was nominated twice at the 48th Grammy Awards. The song won a Brit Award in the category for Best British Single in 2006. The track's music video was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards. "Speed of Sound" was also the billionth song downloaded from the iTunes Store.


In an interview, Coldplay vocalist Chris Martin revealed that the song was written in mid-2004 and was inspired by Martin's daughter, Apple, and English alternative rock singer Kate Bush: "That's a song where we were listening to a lot of Kate Bush last summer, and we wanted a song which had a lot of tom-toms in it. I just had my daughter up also, and was kind of feeling in a sense of awe and wonderment, so the song is kind of a Kate Bush song about miracles."[1] The drumbeat of the song was inspired by Bush's 1985 song "Running Up that Hill".[2] In a 2011 interview with Howard Stern vocalist Chris Martin admitted that 'Speed of Sound' was one of his least favorite songs. He said that they never play it live and that mainly just didn't like the recording of the song and that he doesn't like playing it because of his dislike for the recording. Martin has said in multiple interviews, "We just didn't get it right."

In a separate interview, bassist Guy Berryman, in discussion of "Speed of Sound", said: "We were listening to a Kate Bush song called 'Running Up that Hill' and we were really trying to recreate the drums on that song for this song, and the chords. Some bands are reluctant to admit that they take things from other artists and bands that they listen to and we're shameless in that respect, we don't mind telling."[3]


"Speed of Sound" is a piano-based song. The song benefits from an insistently ornate keyboard riff and a busy but less-hummable chorus,[4][5] in which the song builds into a huge drum beat and a synthesizer-heavy chorus, which also includes an upbeat tempo.

The lyrics in the song are cryptic; the ending lines of the third verse emphasize in belief and faith: "If you could see it then you'd understand/ah, when you see it then you'll understand," and "Some things you have to believe/others are puzzles puzzling me."[6] The fourth line in the second verse alludes to discovering your place in the world: "How long am I gonna stand/with my head stuck under the sand."[6][7]

In his review of X&Y, Bill White of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper noted that the "slowing ... creative juices" evident in "Speed of Sound" compare to "melodies from both Jeff Buckley ('Last Goodbye') and Keane ('Everybody's Changing')".[8]

Release and promotion

Coldplay released "Speed of Sound" in the US on 18 April 2005 as the lead single of their third album. The song made its radio premiere on BBC Radio 1 with Lamacq on the day of the release on 19 April.[9] The single was pressed with two B-sides: "Things I Don't Understand" and "Proof". The song premiered in the UK on 23 May.[10]

"Speed of Sound" was beaten to the number one spot on the UK Singles Chart by the novelty song "Axel F" by the Crazy Frog,[11][12] instead peaking at number two for a week, although it did stay in the Top 75 for sixteen non-consecutive weeks.[13] However, it became Coldplay's first UK download number one,[11] and also became Coldplay's first and (at that point) biggest single to chart in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number eight,[14][15] making it the band's most successful single until "Viva la Vida" reached number one in 2008.[16] The single marked the first time a British band entered directly in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart since "Say You'll Be There" by the Spice Girls.[13] The song was also the billionth song downloaded from Apple, Inc.'s iTunes Store.[17][18] A ring tone was available from Cingular Wireless, which had a song clip from "Speed of Sound" available a week before it was heard on radio.[19]

Critical reception

The song was met with mixed reviews from critics after its release.

Rolling Stones magazine gave a mixed review, calling it " appealing but not thrilling song..." and noted " sounds a bit like..."Clocks" but without the swagger."[20] PopMatters felt that the song "comes close to sounding too safe, almost like the band is on autopilot."[21] MusicOMH commented that "Speed Of Sound, the lead single, has Clocks-like drumming contrasts with synth sequences that remind more of Enya than rock music" and criticized it for sounding "familiar and far older than it is."[22] Pitchfork Media critizied the songs "uncanny resemblance to Clocks" and continued "Certainly, it rarely hurts to stick with what works, but this is not just a near-exact replica of its successful predecessor; it's also a less memorable song riding a piano hook that has so deeply infiltrated the pop-culture landscape that I've become numb to it." The reviewer did however comment that "the track's vocal melody outperforms the one from "Clocks" by a hair."[23]

The Village Voice felt that the song was "unusually accomplished, fresh, and emotional." [24] Paste Magazine praised the song, saying “Speed of Sound, the first single from their big-stakes follow-up, X&Y, reveals the hand they’re playing: a piano riff as memorable as the one in “Clocks,” ringing guitars, martial drums, orchestral pomp and, in the center, Chris Martin’s keening vocal, so vulnerable and yet forceful enough to stand out from the mass of sonic detail."[25] The New York Times disliked the song for "trying to carry beauty of "Clocks" across an entire album - not least in its first single, "Speed of Sound," which isn't the only song on the album to borrow the "Clocks" drumbeat."

"Speed of Sound" was nominated for two Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocals at the 2006 Grammy Awards.[26][27] The song won an MTV Europe Music Award in the category for Best Song.[28] In December 2005, "Speed of Sound" appeared at number nine on Q magazine's "100 Greatest Tracks of the Year".[29] In 2006, the song won a Brit Award for Best British Single.[30] That same year, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) named the track Song of the Year.[31][32]

The song appears on comedian "Weird Al" Yankovic's polka medley "Polkarama!" in his October 2006 album, Straight Outta Lynwood.[33] It can also be heard in the video game SingStar Rocks!.[34] The song was parodied on an episode of Fox's sketch comedy television series Mad TV.[35]

Music video

The video promo for "Speed of Sound" was shot on a Los Angeles sound stage on 22 and 23 April 2005.[36] Shooting took place on large sets backed by large Light-emitting diode (LED) displays developed by Element Labs.[37] The performance-based video was directed by Mark Romanek.[38][39] The video features the band performing in front of a curved ellipse wall that consists of 640 Element Labs' VersaTubes placed on 6" centres.[40]

The on-set animations were programmed and performed live during the shoot.[41][42] Romanek wanted the song's stem "split out" and to have the drums, bass, guitar, and vocals on separate tracks, which were then animated, and the lights were synthesized to each of the tracks. In the end, Romanek and Michael Keeling, the lighting designer, opted to use Chris Martin's vocal track to animate "because it had such dynamics. Roughly 75% of the video is driven by voice-activated animation", said Keeling.[40]

The video opens in pitch-black, followed by a light framing Martin as he reaches skyward out of the shadows. The scene then shifts to the band, as they play the song. When Martin spread his hands, the two-story-high LED lights erupt in a colour of rainbow hues. The LED background changes its colours as the band proceeds with performing the song. The video concludes its ending with the band lined up, one-by-one, and the LED set displaying a white light background.

The video debuted on 23 May 2005 and proved successful on video-chart programs.[43] It debuted on 11 June 2005 on Fuse's No. 1 Countdown Rock, at number six,[44] and retired on 5 August at number seven of the countdown.[44] It also reached number sixteen in MuchMusic's Countdown a month after its debut.[45] At the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, the video was nominated for four nominations in the categories of Video of the Year, Best Special Effects, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography.[37][46] The video was the ranked at number 10 on VH1's Top 40 of 2005.[47]

Track listing

  1. "Speed of Sound" – 4:51
  2. "Things I Don't Understand" – 4:55
  3. "Proof" – 4:10
  • UK CD , 7" , 12" , 10"
  • Australia CD released 23 May 2005 by Capitol Records
  • Japan CD released 11 May 2005 by Toshiba-EMI


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  2. ^ "Coldplay Premiere 'X&Y' In NYC". Xfm News. 2005-05-19. Retrieved 2008-07-10. 
  3. ^ "Coldplay Steal Drums From Kate Bush". Contact Music. 2005-06-10. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  4. ^ Scoppa, Bud (2005-06-01). "Coldplay — X&Y Review". Paste. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  5. ^ Tangari, Joe (2005-06-07). "X&Y". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  6. ^ a b Hendricks, Kevin B.. "Coldplay — Speed of Sound Review". Planet Wisdom. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  7. ^ "Speed of Sound Lyrics". MTV. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  8. ^ White, Bill (2005-06-07). "This Week's Hot CD: Coldplays' 'X&Y'". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  9. ^ Judge Jules (2005-04-19). "BBC — Radio 1 - Zane Lowe — Tracklisting". BBC Radio 1. BBC. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  10. ^ Sherwin, Adam (2005-04-30). "Coldplay's new single breaks sound barrier". The Times. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  11. ^ a b "Crazy Frog 'heading for top spot'". BBC News. BBC. 2005-05-24. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  12. ^ Scaggs, Austin (2005-08-11). "Cover Story: Coldplay's Quiet Storm". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  13. ^ a b Masterson, James (2008-06-22). "Chart Watch — Week Ending 28 June 2008". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  14. ^ Sisario, Ben (2005-05-02). "Arts, Briefly — Pop: Bill Monroe's Return, Coldplay's Entry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  15. ^ Gundersen, Edna (2005-06-02). "Catch Coldplay". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  16. ^ "Coldplay top US Billboard chart". BBC News (BBC). 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  17. ^ "iTunes Music Store Downloads Top One Billion Songs". Apple Inc. 2006-02-23. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  18. ^ "Apple iTunes sees billionth download". Breaking News English. 2006-02-27. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  19. ^ Potkewitz, Hilary (2005-07-04). "Coldplay Album’s Success Proves a Point – and iPod’s Dominance". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved 2008-08-31. [dead link]
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  26. ^ Susman, Gary (2005-12-06). "All About 'Mimi'". Entertainment Weekly.,,1138182,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  27. ^ "Grammy Awards 2006: Key winners". BBC News. BBC. 2006-02-09. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  28. ^ Kaufman, Gil (2005-11-04). "Coldplay, Green Day Win Big At MTV Europe Music Awards". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  29. ^ Akbar, Arifa (2005-12-02). "Sensitive souls of rock 'n' roll show their strength with album prize". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  30. ^ Grose, Thomas K. (2006-02-18). "Sing When You're Winning". Time.,9171,901060227-1161172,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 
  31. ^ "Yusuf Islam Named Songwriter of the Year at ASCAP Awards in London". American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. 2006-10-11. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  32. ^ "We Create MusiC" (PDF). American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2008-08-29. [dead link]
  33. ^ "Don't Download These Songs, or He'll Sue Ya". Epinions. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  34. ^ IGN Music (2006-09-19). "IGN: SingStar Rocks! Reveals Song List". IGN Music. News Corporation. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  35. ^ "MADtv (season 11)". MADtv. Fox. 2005-09-24. No. 1102, season 11. 60 minutes in.
  36. ^ Montgomery, James (2005-04-25). "Coldplay Announces Three Club Shows". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  37. ^ a b Montgomery, James (2005-08-15). "Coldplay Were Virtually Blind For 'Sound'". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  38. ^ Pytlik, Mark; Marcus Robinson (2005-07-01). "Playlist". Boards (Brunico Communications Ltd). 
  39. ^ Montgomery, James; Norris, John (2005-05-20). "Coldplay Announce 'We're Back' New Video". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  40. ^ a b Newman, Mark A. (2005-07-01). "The Need For Speed". Lighting Dimensions (Penton Media). 
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  42. ^ "Element Labs Breaks New Ground on Coldplay's "Speed of Sound"". Element Labs. Archived from the original on June 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-08. 
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  44. ^ a b "Fuse No. 1 Countdown: Rock — Archive". Fuse. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
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  50. ^ " – Coldplay – Speed of Sound" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Ultratop & Hung Medien / Retrieved 17 June 2011.
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  55. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche –" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
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  57. ^ " – Coldplay – Speed of Sound". Top Digital Download. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
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  60. ^ " – Coldplay – Speed of Sound". VG-lista. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
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  63. ^ "Coldplay – Speed of Sound –". Swiss Singles Chart. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  64. ^ "Archive Chart" UK Singles Chart. Official Charts Company.

External links

  • Official website
  • Speed of Sound article at Wikia


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