America was a tough market for artists that fell musically within the realm of “conventional pop” (which as basically anything that did not qualify as grunge, R&B, hip-hop, or Alternative Rock). In the mid-90s, the only way a “conventional pop” song could ever hope to see the light of day in terms of commercial success in America was by ending up on a soundtrack of a high-profile movie. A good example of this phenomenon is the hit single “Kiss from a Rose‘ by Seal. The song charted very low when it first debuted but as soon as it was featured in the “Batman Forever” soundtrack, it skyrocketed to the top of the charts and won the highly coveted “Song of the year” award at the Grammys. Another example is the hit single “Have you ever really loved a woman” by Bryan Adams. It was a #1 single for Adams – and it did well for someone that according to the mainstream media had passed his commercial prime in the US. This phenomenon of leverage from soundtrack features has continued to this day and can be used as an opportunity for a career revival.
It is fair to say that Coldplay‘s last album “Mylo Xyloto” (released in October 2011) was not the artistic milestone they expected it to be and it probably did not win them any new fans either. Maybe being featured on soundtrack is the answer to a turnaround for Coldplay. Their new single “Atlas” surfaced today. It is being featured on the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack.
The down-tempo “Atlas” suffers from the syndrome of almost being a great track but is not quite there. The verses feature a delicate piano refrain with sparse production thus predominately showcasing Chris Martin’s vocals. The tune of the verses are very generic and unmemorable but the chorus is where things go right for the song. In contrast to the verses, the chorus benefits from a richly layered production and soaring vocals (reminiscent of Martin’s vocal style on a track called “Moses” – featured on a live Coldplay album from 8 years ago) by Chris Martin. It has an almost anthemic quality and the vocal delivery on the repeating lines “Carry your world” have a magnetic quality. The song’s most beautiful part is its “outro” – a portion of the song that seems to have almost disappeared from the standard pop template. It features a sonic flirtation between the keyboards and an electric guitar – with Martin’s vocals occasionally drifting over that interaction.
In a nutshell, “Atlas” benefits from its moments of epic brilliance which are sadly diluted by the lackluster verses. It will most likely be at least a moderate hit for Coldplay if not a major hit. Being on the soundtrack of a high-profile movie most certainly helps. Here is a full-length clip of “Atlas” by Coldplay:
RADIO ALERT: We might be one of the few American broadcast radio stations that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Coldplay’s music is a regular staple on our radio station. “Atlas” by Coldplay is currently getting 5 plays a day on Radio Creme Brulee. We also feature some of their songs that were not released as singles. IF you are reading this on a mobile device (smartphone, tablet etc.), CLICK HERE to listen to our radio station. If not, listen to our station from ANY part of the world by clicking on the PLAY button below.