Speed of Sound (song)

Speed of Sound (song)

Single infobox
Name = Speed of Sound

Artist = Coldplay
Album = X&Y
B-side = "Things I Don't Understand"
Released = 26 April 2005 (U.S.) 23 May 2005
Format = 7", CD, 10", 12"
Genre = Alternative rock
Length = 4:49
Label = Parlophone
Producer = Coldplay, Ken Nelson, Danton Supple
Writer = Berryman, Buckland, Champion, Martin
Last single = "God Put a Smile upon Your Face"
This single = "Speed of Sound"
Next single = "Fix You"
Misc =

"Speed of Sound" is a song by English 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, synth-heavy chorus. The song was released in the United States as the lead single from "X&Y" and has reached number eight on the "Billboard" Hot 100. It was released in the United Kingdom on 23 May 2005, and has reached number one in the UK Charts.

Although the song was recognized Song of the Year by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), the track received mixed reviews from critics. "Speed of Sound" was nominated twice at the 48th Grammy Awards. The song won a Brit Award in the category for Best British Single. The single's music video was nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards.


In an interview, Chris Martin revealed that the song was written in the summer of 2004 and was inspired by Kate Bush and Martin's daughter, Apple: "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, as Martin explained, 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." [cite web|url=http://music.yahoo.com/read/news/19771811|title=Coldplay's 'Speed Of Sound' Inspired Partly By Fatherhood|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-05-31|work=Yahoo! Music News|publisher="music.yahoo.com"|format=Web] The drumbeat of the song was inspired by Bush's song "Running Up That Hill". [cite web|url=http://www.xfm.co.uk/news/2005/coldplay-premiere-xy-in-nyc|title=Coldplay Premiere 'X&Y' In NYC|accessdate=2008-07-10|date=2005-05-19|work=Xfm News|Publisher="xfm.co.uk"|format=Web]

Music and lyrics

listen|filename=Coldplay - Speed of Sound.ogg|title="Speed of Sound" excerpt
description=The music of "Speed of Sound" is built around a piano riff.|format=Ogg
"Speed of Sound" is a piano rock song. Its built around a piano riff, [cite web|first=Bud|last=Scoppa|url=http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2005/06/coldplay-xy.html|title=Coldplay - X&Y Review|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-06-01|work=Paste|publisher="pastemagazine.com"] cite web|first=Joe|last=Tangari|url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/16253-xy|title=X&Y|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-06-07|publisher=Pitchfork] 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." [cite web|first=Kevin B.|last=Hendricks|url=http://www.planetwisdom.com/music/reviews/coldplay_speedofsound.php|title=Coldplay - Speed of Sound Review|accessdate=2008-08-29|publisher=Planet Wisdom] The fourth verse 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," and "If you never try then you’ll never know". [cite web|url=http://www.mtv.com/lyrics/coldplay/speed_of_sound/8193393/lyrics.jhtml|title=Speed of Sound Lyrics|accessdate=2008-08-29|work=MTV Lyrics|publisher="mtv.com"|format=Web]

Release and promotion

Coldplay released "Speed of Sound" in the US on 18 April 2005 as the album's lead single. The song made its radio premiere on BBC Radio 1 with Lamacq on the day of the release on 19 April. [cite web|author=Judge Jules|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/zanelowe/tracklistingarchive.shtml?20050419|title=BBC - Radio 1 - Zane Lowe - Tracklisting|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-04-19|work=BBC Radio 1|publisher=BBC|format=Web] The single was pressed with two B-side's: "Things I Don't Understand" and "Proof". The song premiered in the UK on 23 May. [cite web|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/discography/more.jsp?tp=singles&pid=401639&aid=840451|title=Speed of Sound (UK CD)|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-05-23|work=Billboard|publisher="billboard.com"] [cite web|first=Adam|last=Sherwin|url=http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article386710.ece|title=Coldplay's new single breaks sound barrier|accessdate=2008-08-30|date=2005-04-30|work=The London Times News|publisher="timesonline.co.uk"|format=Web]

"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,cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4576119.stm|title=Crazy Frog 'heading for top spot'|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-05-24|publisher=BBC|work=BBC News|format=Web] [cite web|first=Austin|last=Scaggs|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/coldplay_quiet_storm/page/3|title=Cover Story: Coldplay's Quiet Storm|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-08-11|work=Rolling Stone News|publisher="rollingstone.com"] instead peaking at number two for a week, although it did stay in the Top 75 for sixteen non-consecutive weeks.cite web|first=James|last=Masterson|url=http://new.uk.music.yahoo.com/blogs/chartwatch/262/week-ending-june-28th-2008/|title=Chart Watch - Week Ending 28 June 2008|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2008-06-22|work=Yahoo! Music] However, it became Coldplay's first UK download number one, and also became Coldplay's first and biggest single to chart in the top 10 of the "Billboard" Hot 100, peaking at number eight, [cite web|first=Ben|last=Sisario|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/02/arts/02arts.html|title=Arts, Briefly - Pop: Bill Monroe's Return, Coldplay's Entry|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-05-02|work=New York Times|publisher=The New York Times Company|format=Web] [cite web|first=Edna|last=Gundersen|url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2005-06-02-coldplay_x.htm|title=Catch Coldplay|accessdate=2008-08-31|date=2005-06-02|work=USA Today|publisher="usatoday.com"] making it Coldplay's most successful single until "Viva la Vida" reached number one in 2008. [cite web|first=Keith|last=Caulfield|url=http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003817876|title=Coldplay Headed To No. 1 On Billboard 200, Hot 100|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2008-06-18|work=Billboard|publisher="billboard.com"] "Speed of Sound" marked the first time a British band entered directly in the top ten of the "Billboard" Hot 100 chart since "Say You'll Be There" by the Spice Girls. The song was also the billionth song downloaded from Apple, Inc.'s iTunes Store. [cite web|url=http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2006/feb/23itms.html|title=iTunes Music Store Downloads Top One Billion Songs|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2006-02-23|publisher=Apple Inc.] [cite web|url=http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/0602/060227-itunes-e.doc|title=Apple iTunes sees billionth download|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2006-02-27|publisher=Breaking News English] 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. [cite web|first=Hilary|last=Potkewitz|url=http://www.labusinessjournal.com/article.asp?aID=34456751.442985.1163513.5235041.2521005.593&aID2=89492|title=Coldplay Album’s Success Proves a Point – and iPod’s Dominance|accessdate=2008-08-31|date=2005-07-04|work=Los Angeles Business Journal|publisher="labusinessjournal.com"|format=Web]

Critical reception

"Speed of Sound" fared to mixed reviews among critics. Pitchfork rated it 2.5/5, noting its melodic similarity to the band's earlier song "Clocks". [cite web|first=Charles|last=Goldsmith|url=http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000102&sid=aNSIiF_tNIzU&refer=uk|title=Coldplay `X&Y' Album for EMI Tops U.K. Chart Amid Mixed Reviews|accessdate=2008-07-10|date=2005-06-13|work=Bloomberg|publisher="bloomberg.com"|format=Web] In the "Rolling Stone" review of the album, critic Kelefa Sanneh also noted the similarity between "Speed of Sound" and "Clocks", in which he wrote: "'Speed of Sound', an appealing but not thrilling song (it sounds a bit like Rush of Blood's 'Clocks' but without the swagger)." [cite web|first=Kelefa|last=Sanneh|url=http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/7372421/review/7373521/xy|title=X&Y Review|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-06-16|work=Rolling Stone|publisher="rollingstone.com"] Matt Freelove of "Blogcritics" magazine, however, wrote: "It certainly is a song that would have fit in well on the second album, in terms of the music, if not the lyrics, which include 'Where to, where do i go? If you never try then you'll never know'. Not the best lyric that Chris Martin has ever committed to paper. However, the single is still quite good, and it sounds beautiful, but I was expecting some impressive about-face by the band that sent the music in a different direction." [cite web|first=Matt|last=Freelove|url=http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/05/12/231628.php|title=Review - Coldplay's New Single "Speed of Sound"|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-05-12|work=Blogcritics|publisher="blogcritics.org"] Joe Tangari of Pitchfork Media wrote: "The track's vocal melody outperforms the one from 'Clocks' by a hair." Nick Southall of "Stylus" magazine wrote: "First single 'Speed Of Sound' point [s] towards a luscious, technologically aware, synth-driven aesthetic, any development is purely superficial [...] 'Speed Of Sound' further cement [s] the futurist aesthetic; shiny, clean, gargantuan attention to detail, avoidance of real pain and passion in favour of anaesthetised but delicious and hollow melancholy and awe." [cite web|first=Joe|last=Tangari|url=http://www.stylusmagazine.com/reviews/coldplay/x-y.htm|title=Coldplay - X&Y - Review|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-06-07|work=Stylus|publisher="stylusmagazine.com"]

"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. [cite web|first=Gary|last=Susman|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1138182,00.html|title=All About 'Mimi'|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-12-06|work=Entertainment Weekly|publisher="ew.com"|format=Web] [cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4510682.stm|title=Grammy Awards 2006: Key winners|accessdate=2008-08-31|date=2006-02-09|publisher=BBC|work=BBC News] The song won an MTV Europe Music Award for Best Song. [cite web|first=Gil|last=Kaufman|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1512983/20051104/coldplay.jhtml|title=Coldplay, Green Day Win Big At MTV Europe Music Awards|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2005-11-04|work=MTV News|publisher="mtv.com"|format=Web] In 2006, the song won a Brit Award for Best British Single. [cite web|url=http://www.brits.co.uk/shows/archive-63/|title=Brit Awards - 2006|accessdate=2008-08-29|publisher=Brit Awards] That same year, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) named the track Song of the Year. [cite web|url=http://www.ascap.com/press/2006/101106_prs.html|title=Yusuf Islam Named Songwriter of the Year at ASCAP Awards in London|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2006-10-11|publisher=American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers] [cite web|url=http://www.ascap.com/annual_report/2006/ascap_annual_report2006.pdf|title=We Create MusiC|accessdate=2008-08-29|publisher=American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers|format=PDF]

"Speed of Sound" appears on comedian "Weird Al" Yankovic's polka medley "Polkarama" in his October 2006 album, "Straight Outta Lynwood". [cite web|url=http://www.epinions.com/review/Straight_Outta_Lynwood_9_26_by_Weird_Al_Yankovic_828768995129/content_259009318532|title=Don't Download These Songs, or He'll Sue Ya|accessdate=2008-08-29|publisher=Epinions] The song also appears in the video game "SingStar Rocks!". [cite web|author=IGN Music|url=http://www.music.ign.com/articles/733/733552p1.html|title=IGN: SingStar Rocks! Reveals Song List|accessdate=2008-08-29|date=2006-09-19|work=IGN Music|publisher=News Corporation] The song was parodied on Fox's "Mad TV". [cite episode |title=MADtv (season 11) |episodelink= |series=MADtv |serieslink= |credits= |network=Fox |station= |airdate=2005-09-24 |season=11 |seriesno= |number=1102 |minutes=60 ]

Music video

The video promo for "Speed of Sound" was shot on a Los Angeles sound stage over 22–23 April 2005. [cite web|first=James|last=Montgomery|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1500714/20050425/coldplay.jhtml|title=Coldplay Announces Three Club Shows|accessdate=2008-06-18|date=2005-04-25|work=MTV News|publisher="mtv.com"|format=Web] Shooting took place on large sets backed by large LED displays developed by Element Labs.cite web|first=James|last=Montgomery|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1507607/20050815/coldplay.jhtml|title=Coldplay Were Virtually Blind For 'Sound'|accessdate=2008-06-17|date=2005-08-15|work=MTV News|publisher="mtv.com"|format=Web] The performance-based video was directed by Mark Romanek. [cite web|author=Finfacts Teams|url=http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10001488.shtml|title=Coldplay's 'Speed of Sound' shoots to No. 1 on iTunes Music Store overnight|accessdate=2008-06-17|date=2005-04-21|publisher=Finfacts Ireland] [cite web|authors=James Montgomery and John Norris|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1502693/20050520/coldplay.jhtml|title=Coldplay Announce 'We're Back' New Video|accessdate=2008-08-26|date=2005-05-20|work=MTV News|publisher="mtv.com"|format=Web] The on-set animations were programmed and performed live during the shoot, it also uses Martin's voice to create unique visual waveforms that were mixed with original visual content, along with taking the vocals, keyboards, drums, and bass guitar and splintering them out. [cite web|url=http://www.alia.com.au/international/international.htm|title=Element Labs Breaks New Ground on Coldplay’s "Speed of Sound"|accessdate=2008-09-08|publisher=Alia] [cite web|url=http://www.elementlabs.com/Projects/ColdplayMusicVideo.html|title=Element Labs Breaks New Ground on Coldplay's "Speed of Sound"|accessdate=2008-09-08|publisher=Element Labs]

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. [cite web|url=http://www.mvdbase.com/video.php?id=38459|title=Coldplay - "Speed of Sound"|accessdate=2008-08-31|publisher=Mvdbase.com] It debuted on 11 June 2005 on Fuse's No. 1 Countdown Rock, at number six,cite web|url=http://www.atrl.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-21045.html|title=Fuse No. 1 Countdown: Rock - Archive|accessdate=2008-08-31|publisher=Fuse|format=Web] and retired on 5 August at number seven of the countdown. It also reached number 16 in MuchMusic's "Countdown" a month after its debut. [cite web|url=http://top40-charts.com/songs/full.php?sid=13790&sort=chartid|title=Coldplay - Speed of Sound at Top40|accessdate=2008-08-31|publisher=Top40-Charts.com] 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. [cite web|first=Robert|last=Mancini|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1506299/20050725/green_day.jhtml|title=MTV Video Music Awards Nominations Announced|accessdate=2008-06-18|date=2005-07-25|work=MTV News|publisher="mtv.com"|format=Web] The video ranked number ten on VH1's Top 40 of 2005. [cite web|first=Tom|last=O'Neill|url=http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2005/12/vh1s_top_40_of_.html|title=VH1's Top 40 of 2005 gives Grammy noms preview|accessdate=2008-08-30|date=2005-12-04|work=Los Angeles Times|format=Web]

Track listing

#"Speed of Sound" – 4:49
#"Things I Don't Understand" – 4:55
#"Proof" – 4:10

*UK CD CDR6664, 7" R6664, 12" 12R6664, 10" 10R6664
*Australia CD 872 9862 released 23 May 2005 by Capitol Records
*Japan CD TOCP-40179 released 11 May 2005 by Toshiba-EMI


External links

* [http://www.coldplay.com/ Official website]
* [http://wiki.coldplaying.com/index.php/Speed_of_Sound "Speed of Sound" article] at Wikia
* [http://lyricwiki.org/Coldplay:Speed_Of_Sound "Speed of Sound" lyrics] at Lyricwiki

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