Ghost Stories (Coldplay album)

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Ghost Stories
Coldplay - Ghost Stories.png
Studio album by Coldplay
Released 16 May 2014 (2014-05-16)
Recorded February 2013 – March 2014
Studio The Bakery and The Beehive (London, England)
Genre
Length
  • 42:37 (standard edition)
  • 49:40 (Target deluxe edition)
Label
Producer
Coldplay chronology
A Sky Full of Stars EP
(2014)A Sky Full of Stars EP2014
Ghost Stories
(2014)
Ghost Stories Live 2014
(2014)Ghost Stories Live 20142014
Coldplay studio album chronology
Mylo Xyloto
(2011) Mylo Xyloto2011
Ghost Stories
(2014) Ghost Stories2014
A Head Full of Dreams
(2015) A Head Full of Dreams2015
Singles from Ghost Stories
  1. "Magic"
    Released: 3 March 2014
  2. "Midnight"
    Released: 17 April 2014
  3. "A Sky Full of Stars"
    Released: 2 May 2014
  4. "True Love"
    Released: 14 August 2014
  5. "Ink"
    Released: 13 October 2014

Ghost Stories is the sixth studio album by British rock band Coldplay. Co-produced by the band with Paul Epworth along with returning Mylo Xyloto producers Daniel Green and Rik Simpson, it was released by Parlophone on 16 May 2014. The album was released by Atlantic Records in North America on 19 May 2014. It is the first album by the band in North America under Atlantic, after Coldplay were transferred from Capitol Records in 2013, following the purchase of EMI and its assets by the Universal Music Group in 2012.

The album was recorded by the band throughout 2013 and 2014 at the band's purpose-built home studios in London, England, and in Los Angeles. It features guest producers Avicii, Timbaland and Madeon, and the band's frequent collaborator Jon Hopkins. It was heavily promoted by the band and Parlophone in the lead-up to its release, with an accompanying prime time TV special, a visual album, and a special six-date promotional tour of the album, as well as various appearances on television and radio. The album was further promoted by five singles: "Magic", the lead single, released in March; "Midnight", released in April; "A Sky Full of Stars", released in May; "True Love", released in August; and "Ink", released in October. It was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 57th Grammy Awards. At the 2015 Billboard Music Awards it was named Top Rock Album.

The album received mixed to positive reviews, with many critics praising the band's return to the more stripped-down and melancholy style found in their earlier music, though some took issue with its lukewarm lyrical content. It is reported by several media outlets that Chris Martin has said that the album was inspired by his and Gwyneth Paltrow's split in 2014.[5]

Background[edit]

In 2011, Coldplay released their fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto. Originally conceived by the band as a "stripped-down, more acoustic collection",[6] it became one of Coldplay's most experimental and pop-oriented records to date, being described as "luxuriously colourful"[7] where "the choruses are bigger, the textures grander [and] the optimism more optimistic."[8] Produced by Markus Dravs, Brian Eno, Rik Simpson and Dan Green, the album peaked at number one on 18 national album charts and was certified Platinum in 16 different countries. Mylo Xyloto had also sold 8 million copies within the first year of release.[9] Coldplay's 2011 single, "Paradise", became the band's second UK number-one single after 2008's "Viva la Vida". Coldplay's subsequent world tour in promotion of Mylo Xyloto visited North America, Europe, Australia and Africa, raising $99.7 million in revenue.[10]

Going into the creative process for their sixth studio album, the band wanted to return to the "stripped-down, more acoustic collection" they had stated their fifth album would be, returning to the original idea of an acoustic-oriented album, with less of the production and sound that made Mylo Xyloto. Drummer Will Champion spoke to Jo Whiley of BBC Radio 2 fame, saying in response to a question about the album being more stripped-back: "Yeah, that might be nice, actually. There's only so far you can go without becoming pompous and a bit overblown, so we'll tread that line very carefully. Reset. Recalibrate."[11]

Concept[edit]

Ghost Stories is a spiritually driven album that revolves around two major themes mentioned by lead singer Chris Martin. The album explores the idea of past actions, and the effects they can have on your future and one's capacity for Unconditional Love. To him, Ghost Stories represents "a journey learning about Unconditional Love" (as said in the televised Making of Ghost Stories with Fearne Cotton).

Recording[edit]

The creative process and recording sessions for the band's sixth studio album took place between 2013 and early 2014, at their purpose-built studios The Bakery and The Beehive in North London, England, then in Los Angeles for the final process. The creation of the album actually started at Guy Berryman's house in London in early 2013 where he had settled a little studio where everyone gathered to jam and try some new music during a break after the band's big tour for Mylo Xyloto. The band took a different approach for their sixth studio album in contrast to their previous studio albums.[12] Lead singer Chris Martin invited the band to contribute original songwriting material for the album, as opposed to building songs off Martin's ideas as they had done during previous recording sessions. For example, "Magic" was built off a bass riff originally conceived by bassist Guy Berryman in the studio.[13]

Packaging[edit]

An example of Mila Fürstová's work, which are inspired by mythology, a central theme also depicted in the artwork for Ghost Stories. (Pictured: "Other Skies I" by Fürstová, 2011)

The album artwork for Ghost Stories was etched by British-based Czech etching artist Mila Fürstová.[14] The medieval art-driven artwork, measuring 100 by 100 cm, features a pair of angel wings imposed onto a painting of an ocean under a sky at night. The angel wings themselves feature cryptic imagery of medieval-style drawings of fairly contemporary objects and concepts. The images include a couple in love, a man facing a mirror, a flight of white doves, a circular maze, a girl by candlelight, a window looking out onto an incoming tornado and a garden plant with a ladder, amongst other imagery depicted in the artwork. A larger, digital version of the artwork is available on Coldplay's official website, with the ability to zoom into the artwork with a screen magnifier.[15]

Fürstová had etched the artworks for all of the releases in the Ghost Stories album cycle, including the artwork for singles "Magic" and "Midnight", which all use the same motif of a scenario taking place in a larger body. Fürstová, whose work has been described as "dazzling images are both contemporary and personal, searching in the surreality of dreams, tales and fables that can map the framework of our consciousness",[16] and has won numerous awards, including the Royal College of Art Society Award in 2001 and becoming the youngest academician at the Royal West of England Academy in 2009,[17] was invited by Coldplay to etch artworks for their new album in January 2013. She described the collaboration between her and the band as "a most inspiring journey and a truly humbling experience to cooperate with such talented people".[18]

There are plans for an exhibition of Fürstová's Ghost Stories artworks in the Autumn of 2014 in central London. 25 original etchings and 100 high-quality digital prints of the artwork, all hand-signed by Fürstová, are also set to go on sale on 19 May 2014, the same day Ghost Stories releases in the United Kingdom and the United States.[19]

Promotion[edit]

Coldplay performing at the televised 2014 iTunes Festival at SXSW where four Ghost Stories tracks were premiered live.

Coldplay performed on the opening night of the televised 2014 iTunes Festival at SXSW on 11 March 2014 at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. In addition to performing "Magic" and "Midnight", the band performed "Always in My Head" and "Another's Arms"; the first live performances of the four songs.[20] The band also performed "Magic" in a pre-recorded segment of Sport Relief 2014, which aired on BBC One on 21 March 2014.[21]

In April 2014, Coldplay announced an international scavenger hunt for sheets containing lyrics to the nine songs on the album. The notes, handwritten by Martin, were placed in ghost story books in libraries around the world, with the band tweeting clues leading to their locations. One of the hidden envelopes also contained a special Golden Ticket, allowing its finder and their guest to go to London for the Coldplay concert at the Royal Albert Hall in July.[22][23] The lyric sheets were found in libraries in Mexico City, Singapore, Helsinki, Barcelona, Dartford, New York City, Tauranga, Dublin and Johannesburg.[24]

A TV special titled Coldplay: Ghost Stories was filmed 21–23 March 2014[25] by the Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale (Adele, The Rolling Stones) on a custom-built stage in a Sony Pictures movie soundstage in Los Angeles.[26] Coldplay performed material from the album in its entirety for the first time. The show, which included cinematic vignettes and 360-degree projections, was attended by an audience of 800 fans and press, and was broadcast in prime time in several countries in May and June 2014.[27][28][29] The special was then sold on DVD and Blu-ray in November 2014. Additional footage was shot at Paradise Cove in Malibu, California and at Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, California for the film.[30] Chris Martin said, "The Ghost Stories show at Sony Studios was a very special moment for our band ... This film is basically our original vision for the Ghost Stories album." [31] Coldplay was also the musical act for 3 May airing of NBC late-night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and performed "Magic" and "A Sky Full of Stars". It was the band's fifth appearance on the show.[32]

On 12 May 2014, seven days before its release date, the album became available to stream in full via iTunes, accompanied by an animated video revolving around Fürstová's album artwork,[33] but the band refused to allow Spotify, Beats Music, Deezer, and Rdio to stream the album until 22 September 2014, which they had previously done on their last album, Mylo Xyloto.[34][35][36]

Singles[edit]

A music video for "Midnight", the fifth track on the album, was released as a teaser for the band's sixth studio album on 25 February 2014. Ghost Stories was officially unveiled by Coldplay and Parlophone a week later on 3 March 2014, along with its artwork and track listing.[37]

"Magic" was released by Parlophone on 3 March 2014 as the lead single promoting Ghost Stories. The featured track, "Magic", was also made available to download through Ghost Stories on iTunes and Amazon.com the same day, with pre-orders of the album including the track as an "instant-grat" download.[38][39] Following the release of the single and track, it charted on 25 national record charts, so far peaking within the top ten in 18 countries.

"Midnight" was released as a single by Parlophone on 17 April 2014[40] as a one-sided 7-inch vinyl for Record Store Day in a number of 3000 copies.[41] "A Sky Full of Stars" was released digitally as the second official single on 2 May 2014. Within 24 hours from its iTunes release, the track had sold 121,690 units worldwide,[42] peaking at number one in 86 countries on the iTunes Store Charts.[43] The song reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, making it their third top 10 hit and first since "Viva la Vida" in 2008.[44] It also became their first number-one single on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart.

On 4 August 2014, the band announced that "True Love" would be released as the third single from the album.[45] The music video for the song was released on 22 August 2014, and was directed by Jonas Åkerlund. Chris Martin and Jessica Lucas stars as lovers in the video.[46]

"Ink" was released as the fourth[47] single to Italian contemporary hit radio stations on 13 October 2014[48] and to US modern rock radio stations on 18 November 2014 as the album's third radio single in the country, and the fifth overall from Ghost Stories.[49] The music video for "Ink" is an interactive video which was written, directed and animated by an LA based agency called "Blind". The agency worked with a company by the name "Interlude" to make more than 300 possible journeys throughout the music video.[47]

The music video for "All Your Friends" was released on 7 November 2014 for the commemoration of the first World War.[50] Although the track is not available on the standard edition of Ghost Stories, it is available on the A Sky Full of Stars EP worldwide–except for the United States were it is included on the deluxe version of Ghost Stories sold by Target. An official video for "Ghost Story" was released as a part of the "Ghost Stories Live 2014" DVD on 24 November 2014;[51] it was uploaded on the band's official youtube channel on 9 March 2015.[52] The video was shot in black and white, and shows the band performing the song during their Ghost Stories Tour. Similar to "All Your Friends", the song is available on the A Sky Full of Stars EP and on the Target Deluxe edition of the album is the U.S.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 61/100[53]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[54]
The A.V. Club B−[55]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[56]
Entertainment Weekly B[57]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[58]
The Independent 3/5 stars[59]
NME 7/10[1]
Pitchfork Media 4.4/10[60]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[61]
Spin 7/10[4]

Ghost Stories received mixed to positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 61, based on 31 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[53] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard wrote the magazine's track-by-track review of the album, praising it as the band's "most listenable album in years" and describing it as "an evocative concoction of sullen phrases, sparse arrangements and powerful themes."[62] Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly commented that Ghost Stories "will likely be remembered as a transitional album" and noted that "while being solid, it feels like a prequel to something better".[57] Larry Fitzmaurice of Pitchfork Media wrote that the album is a "subdued work that finds Chris Martin and his band crisply moping through mid-tempo soundscapes and fuzzy electronic touches that have the visceral impact of a down comforter tumbling down a flight of stairs."[60] Nick Hasted of The Independent wrote that Martin "accepts his loss too meekly to approach the anguish of a great break-up album", but concluded that the band's "step away from grand platitudes is still one in the right direction".[59] Stephanie Benson of Spin wrote that "its deep sea of synth-encrusted pop glistens under a halo of angelic ambient touches and Martin’s ever-rosy perspective."[4]

Jerry Shriver of USA Today felt that "within the realm of memorable breakup albums", Ghost Stories lacked "the confessional gut-punch of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, the acrimony of Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights and the irresistible sonic appeal of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours", ultimately describing it as "not even a particularly memorable Coldplay album".[63] While noting that Ghost Stories "should be applauded for scaling back the gaudy excesses of their previous albums", Consequence of Sound's Josh Terry opined that its songs "suffer from a lack of direction" and "could use the vitality that launched them to the top in the first place".[64] Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The nine songs on Ghost Stories hum gently, cultivating an effective sense of intimacy. As always, there's a lot going on in the music, sculpted by the band along with various collaborators." He added, "Coldplay's new album, 'Ghost Stories,' finds the British band setting aside its trademark grandiosity."[65]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, selling 168,000 copies in its opening week—the second largest sales of 2014.[66] By July 2014, it had already become the best-selling album of the first half of 2014 with 375,000 copies sold in the UK.[67]

In the US, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 383,000 copies sold for the week, then the biggest debut week sales of 2014.[68] As of November 2015, the album has sold 853,500 copies in the US.[69]

In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart with 49,000 copies sold in its first week.[70] It became 2014's fifth best-selling album, having sold 117,000 copies throughout the year.[71]

Worldwide, Ghost Stories sold over 3.7 million copies in 2014.[72]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, and Chris Martin, except "A Sky Full of Stars" (co-written by Tim Bergling).

Ghost Stories — Standard edition
No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Always in My Head"
3:36
2. "Magic"
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
4:45
3. "Ink"
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
3:48
4. "True Love"
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
4:05
5. "Midnight"
4:54
6. "Another's Arms"
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
3:54
7. "Oceans"
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
5:21
8. "A Sky Full of Stars"
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
  • Tim Bergling[a]
4:28
9. "O" ("Fly On" – 0:00–3:54 / "O" – 6:18–7:47)
  • Coldplay
  • Epworth
  • Green
  • Simpson
7:47
Total length: 42:37

Notes[74]

  • ^a signifies a co-producer
  • "Midnight" contains samples of the track "The Fourth State II" by Jon Hopkins.
  • "Another's Arms" contains a vocal sample from "Silver Chord" by Jane Weaver.
  • In the Target deluxe edition, there is no silence between the songs "Fly On" and "O", which sets the track's duration to 5:24. This version of the track also appears on the digital version released on Spotify.

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from Ghost Stories liner notes.[74]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[139] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[140] Platinum 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[141] Platinum 30,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[142] Platinum 117,000[71]
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[143] Platinum 20,000^
France (SNEP)[144] 3× Platinum 300,000*
Germany (BVMI)[145] 3× Gold 300,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[146] 2× Platinum 12,000^
Italy (FIMI)[147] 2× Platinum 100,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[148] 2× Platinum 120,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[149] Gold 25,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[150] Gold 7,500^
Poland (ZPAV)[151] 2× Platinum 40,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[152] Gold 20,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[153] 2× Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[154] 2× Platinum 619,383[155]
United States (RIAA)[156] Platinum 1,000,000^
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[157] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Catalog no.
Australia[158] 16 May 2014 Digital download Parlophone none
Austria[159]
Belgium[160]
Finland[161]
Germany[162]
India[163]
Ireland[164]
Netherlands[165][166] CD 0825646305919
Digital download none
New Zealand[167] none
Canada[168] 19 May 2014 CD Atlantic Records 2-305919
Digital download none
France[169] Digital download Parlophone
Greece[170]
Poland[171][172][173] CD Warner Music 0825646305919
LP 0825646298815
Digital download none
United Kingdom[174][175][176] CD Parlophone B00IQE4NUK (ASIN)
LP B00J0H0YN2 (ASIN)
Digital download none
United States[177][178] CD Atlantic Records B00IQE4NUK (ASIN)
LP 542279-1
Digital download none
Mexico[179][180] CD Parlophone unknown
20 May 2014 Digital download none
Brazil[181]
Italy[182]
Spain[183]
Japan[184] 21 May 2014
Deluxe Edition
Region Date Format Label Catalog no.
United States[185] 19 May 2014 CD Atlantic Records 542280-2

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  64. ^ Terry, Josh (15 May 2014). "Album Review: Coldplay – Ghost Stories". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  65. ^ Wood, Mikael (16 May 2014). "Chris Martin feels it all on Coldplay's 'Ghost Stories'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
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