When I heard that Coldplay had collaborated with Beyoncé on a track I freaked out. Not in a good way. I literally called it “unforgivable” to a friend of mine. When I think Beyoncé, I think sex, vigor, boldness, gimmicks and rowdiness. Couldn’t see how that would go with Coldplay. Beyoncé is the artist who released 7/11, one of the most awful tracks I ever heard recently, and I can’t say I have been a fan of her ringing loud voice. She has simply become uncreative, uninspired and too comfortable, exhausting the same techniques over and over again without any sign of growth. She is, in my eyes, an epitome of a lack of progress. It is like all the talent and potential has been drowned in the success and sultry gimmicks. I doubted that Coldplay needed to add any more mediocrity to their repertoire, because, let’s face it, Coldplay has been in a steady descent since Mylo Xyloto with the exception of Ghost Stories (which was just adequate and had old fans believing Coldplay could turn back). And the only Beyoncé that has ever impressed me is the “B-Day” and “I Am Sasha Fierce” Beyoncé, what followed was a lot of howling and screaming that is quite annoying to be honest, there was a certain sophistication and charm to her. She practiced appropriateness, timing and gentleness – very balanced. So when I set out to listen to Hymn of the Weekend it is fair to say I was very pessimistic.
Layers of Beyoncé’s voice open up the track, clothed in effects, each doing different things simultaneously which, instead of contradicting each other, complement each other. That, in its own, creates a certain air of sophistication, a feature of the song that titter around the avant-garde in effect and feel. A kind of thing you would expect to hear from Bjork’s Vulnicura. So already simplicity has given way to something that has some substance while being catchy and infectious (although catchy it ain’t easy to imitate). This is refreshing.
Then Chris Martin’s fingers scamper on piano keys delivering a tune that plays to the subtle playfulness hinted at in Beyonce’s opening vocals. The tune is light and floaty. Although this is a song about love there isn’t a need for melodrama which is the mark of most. In fact, it is colorful without being emotionally shallow. When the pre-chorus arrives a gut moving bass groove and wind instruments bloom into a beautiful eruption of emotion while Chris Martin and Beyoncé jointly sing :
“And said drink from me, drink from me
When I was so thirsty
Pour on a symphony
Now I just can’t get enough
Put your wings on me, wings on me
When I was so heavy
Pour on a symphony
When I’m low, low, low, low.”
This section is thick and potent, and strongly emphasizes the story Chris has told in the verse. The lead guitar is very much Coldplay-like in the chorus, an embellishment covered in layers of sound that is pleasing to listen to mindlessly and makes for rigorous earworms.
In the end Beyoncé and Coldplay make a better team than I could have ever predicted, making for what I think it is the best, if not one of the best, songs in this album.
Thanks for reading.
Now, as tradition, I will leave you with a song lyric:
“Life is a drink, and love’s a drug
Oh, now I think I must be miles up
When I was a river, dried up
You came to rain a flood” – Coldplay ‘Hymn for the Weekend’