The aftermath of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s “conscious uncoupling” inspired plenty of material on Coldplay‘s somber last record, Ghost Stories. But amid the heartbreak and misery, Martin mixed in some left field influences including Katy Perry, Nirvana and EDM.
In a new video for Beats by Dre, Martin talks specifically about the creation of “Sky Full of Stars,” which was designed to lift listeners out of the melancholy of the rest of the record. The frontman admits he was listening to a lot of Perry at the time, fascinated by the way many of her songs repeat a single chord sequence while the vocal melody keeps things interesting.
“Then I realized all these other people that have done that,” Martin says. “Nirvana being a classic example — ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is the same chord sequence basically the whole time. There’s a simplicity to that. I needed to find a sequence that I could play for ages and ages and ages.”
Once he found that progression, Martin knew he had to imbue the track with his affinity for the bombastic togetherness of EDM as well. “Some people turn their nose up at [it], but then you go and see an EDM thing and people are so together and having the best time,” said the singer. “So I was like ‘Fuck it, I love that stuff, I want us to have a song that comes from that world.'”
But knowing they were moving out of their wheelhouse, Coldplay brought the song to Avicii, who created his own version of “Sky Full of Stars.” The new, EDM-heavy version was then painstakingly melded with the original. “[It was] essentially playing Tetris for fucking hours,” Martin cracks. “That’s why it took so long.”
“Sky Full of Stars” has already become a live standout — the big, communal dance-fueled blowout Martin always imagined it to be. But for the frontman, the song holds a greater significance. “It’s the most important song we’ve ever had lyrically, because every time I sing it I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s how I want to live my life,” says the singer.
“There’s stuff going on in the world right now which you can’t imagine why is this happening; it’s crazy,” he continued. “I don’t know what the answer is, but if you didn’t have faith in the universe that somehow something great would arrive at the end then we’d all give up, and that would be a waste of everyone’s time. That would be terrible.”