Apple’s press conference to announce Ping and iPod updates featured another surprise: A new song from Chris Martin, who appeared as a special guest. “It might not even come out,” Martin said of the ballad, “Wedding Bells,” which he played alone at the piano. “[This] could be the only time it ever appears.” (Martin also played “Viva La Vida,” a song he admits owes much of its success to its placement in an Apple commercial.)
Some Coldplay fans have known about “Wedding Bells” since last fall, when a video showing Martin play a version on acoustic guitar appeared on YouTube. (The clip originated from British television.) “If I hear a new chord that I haven’t heard — it clicks something and the melody comes out,” he said at the time. “It’s actually better on guitar, I think.” Today’s version sounded tighter and more emotional. Toward the end, though, Martin improvised on a melody that, channeled through roaring guitars, could be the groundwork for an epic new Coldplay hit.
Coldplay have been working on a fifth studio album with Brian Eno, who produced 2008’s Viva La Vida. In February, Eno discussed the sessions, saying, “It’s quite different from anything they’ve done before … so far, anyway. I don’t know how it will end up being, but it’s very fresh.” Martin previewed “Christmas Lights” on 60 Minutes in 2009, and Coldplay played the Springsteen-style “Don Quixote/Spanish Rain” on tour in South America this year.