A Rush of Blood to the Head is the second album by Coldplay, released in 2002. Known for its atmospheric sound and its lyrics centered on the theme of urgency, the record catapulted the band to worldwide recognition thanks to its singles In My Place, Clocks, and The Scientist. Clocks won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year, In My Place won Best Rock Performance, and the album garnered nearly universal acclaim from critics. Coldplay's songs gained popularity among a public reeling from the 9/11 attacks and The War on Terror.
The recording was difficult since the band looked to eschew the simplistic sound of Parachutes and create a record that sounded far more complex. Songs that sounded as though that they could have appeared on the band's previous record were scrapped from the outset, while others underwent heavy modification. Achieving harmony between the diverse tracks, A Rush of Blood to the Head drew from Johnny Cash and other Folk Rock musicians to inspire the more melodic sections of the album, especially the title track and The Scientist. The dense, production-heavy sound captured in tracks such as Politik and God Put a Smile Upon Your Face paid homage to everyone from Pink Floyd and U2 to Muse.
The band's wide range of influences has contributed to the songs' extensive appeal, and many still consider it to be Coldplay's best. It was listed #466 on Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and #266 on NME's list of the same name. A Rush of Blood to the Head continues to remain popular thanks to its calming, yet urgent demeanor.
- "Politik" (5:18)
- "In My Place" (3:48)
- "God Put a Smile upon Your Face" (4:57)
- "The Scientist" (5:09)
- "Clocks" (5:07)
- "Daylight" (5:27)
- "Green Eyes" (3:43)
- "Warning Sign" (5:31)
- "A Whisper" (3:58)
- "A Rush of Blood to the Head" (5:51)
- "Amsterdam" (5:19)
- Guy Berryman bass
- Jonny Buckland electric guitar
- Chris Martin vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards
- Will Champion drums, harmony vocals, percussion
A Rush of Tropes to the Head:
- An Aesop: "Clocks" seems to reference the story of William Tell in the line "Come out of things unsaid/Shoot an apple off my head". Tell was a legendary archer who was forced to shoot an apple off his son's head to save his own life; upon doing so, Tell then impulsively spoke against the Austrian guards, who had him arrested again. The song talks about how the things we stand for change over time, and Tell's convictions were no exception.
- Back to Front: The video for The Scientist, which starts when Chris Martin is lying on the ground, before slowly reversing the series of events to show how he got there: a horrific car crash in which his girlfriend died and he escaped with minor injuries. Chris Martin said that he had to learn his own song backwards so that the video could be so fluid.
- Break-Up Song: Warning Sign, which could also overlap with a Grief Song:A warning sign
It came back to haunt me and I realized
That you were an island and I passed you by
And you were an island to discover [...]
When the truth is, I miss you
- Broken Record: At the ending of "Daylight" the phrase "slowly breaking through the daylight" is repeated 22 times.
- Concept Album: The lyrics are mainly centered on a theme of urgency, despite the often calm string sections or pianos used throughout the album. While the theme isn't as explicit as Mylo Xyloto or Ghost Stories, there is a certain consistency among the emotion beneath the tracks. This is thanks to the fact that post 9/11, Coldplay's lyrics generated more appeal thanks to the public's desire for more calming, inspiring music. The songs often play on this, bringing forth a quiet, melodious façade while the lyrics often remain pleading or sorrowful.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The minimalist album cover was done by a photographer named Sølve Sundsbø, who used a three-dimensional scanning machine to photograph a model. Due to the machine's limited range, and after Sundsbø completed some artistic enhancements, the photo captures most of the left side of the body with the head partially cut off.
- Epic Rocking: The title track, Amsterdam, Warning Sign, Daylight, "Clocks", and "The Scientist" too. Most of these involve repetitive riffs as well.
- Gambler's Fallacy: "The Scientist" references how the relationship keeps repeating itself, with the boy and girl convinced that they are bound to land "heads" at some point: in other words, that their relationship is eventually bound to be successful. Unfortunately, no matter how many times they repeat it, the relationship keeps failing.Tell me your secrets, and ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart
- Grey and Gray Morality: "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face":And ah, when you work it out I'm worse than you
Yeah, when you work it out I wanted to
And ah, when you work out where to draw the line
Your guess is as good as mine
- Heavy Meta: In typical Coldplay fashion, "In My Place" asks the listener to sing a song while Martin himself sings the lyrics:Sing it please, please, please
Come back, come sing to me, to me, me
Come on and sing it out
- "I Want" Song: "Politik" sounds a lot like this. It can be viewed as a subversion, since it advocates unselfishness:Give me time and give me space
Give me real, don't give me fake
Give me strength, reserve, control
Give me heart and give me soul
- I Will Wait for You: "In My Place" is about waiting in one place, waiting for the lover to come back.
- A Light in the Distance: Mentioned in "Daylight":To my surprise, and my delight
I saw sunrise, I saw sunlight
I am nothing in the dark
And the clouds burst to show daylight
- Limited Lyrics Song: "A Whisper" repeats the title and a two-verse chorus for much of the song.
- Location Song: "Amsterdam" was written in the titular city, even though the song has nothing to do with the city.
- Lonely at the Top: The businessman in the music video for "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" spends so much of his life patronizing others and worrying too much about his material possessions. He does this until he becomes an Un-person at the end, much like the homeless man he regarded with disgust in the beginning. He disappears without being missed by anyone.
- Love Makes You Evil: A Rush of Blood to the Head is about impulsively committing vile acts in a desperate attempt to return to love.You said I'm gonna buy this place and burn it down
I'm gonna put it six feet underground
You said I'm gonna buy this place and watch it fall
Stand here beside me baby in the crumbling walls [...]
I'm gonna buy a gun and start a war
If you could tell me something worth fighting for
- Love Will Lead You Back: Mentioned in "Warning Sign", with its outro: "So I crawl back into your open arms".
- Lyrical Dissonance: Amsterdam is about suicide, despite its soft piano section and uplifting outro:Come on, oh my star is fading
And I see no chance of release
And I know I'm dead on the surface
But I am screaming underneath[...]
Stood on the edge, tied to the noose
And you came along and you cut me loose
- Measuring the Marigolds: "The Scientist" seems to invoke this idea, since the lyrics are about love is unable to be quantified.
- Music Is Politics: Chris Martin dedicated "Clocks" to then-U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry, who ended up losing the run to George W. Bush.
- Non-Appearing Title: "The Scientist" and "Amsterdam".
- One-Word Title: "Amsterdam", "Daylight", "Politik", "Clocks".
- The Pollyanna: Chris Martin often comes off as such since the songs are frequently optimistic despite being dark in theme. One example is In My Place, which is about being lost but continuing to wait for comfort:In my place, in my place
Were lines that I couldn't change
I was lost, oh yeah [...]
I was scared, I was scared
Tired and under-prepared
But I'll wait for it
- Realpolitik: Politik, right down to the song's title. The song is actually about how people pick and choose relationships based on how advantageous they are at any given point in time.
- Rock Me, Amadeus!: The piano and string sections featured in most of the songs were largely inspired by classical music. It just falls short of Sampling since the songs sound distinct enough to be original.
- Silly Love Songs: Green Eyes, about Chris Martin's then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow. Famed music critic Robert Christgau, in his one-star review of the album,note actually said "let Green Eyes dump him for real and we'll see how long he hums in the void." (Paltrow and Martin got married the following year, and divorced in 2015.)
- Stepford Smiler: "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" plays with this idea, saying that a relationship doesn't work if either party believes that they have to be happy to continue it.
- Textless Album Cover: Some pressings do include the title and the artist toward the side of the cover, but most simply include the weird figure.
- There's No Place Like Home: Referred at the end of "Clocks", with the refrain "Home, home, where I wanted to go".
- Through the Eyes of Madness: Amsterdam, which is about a suicidal guy. Daylight is so hazy that the narrator could be mistaken for an insane patient seeing for the first time.
- Tick Tock Tune: "Clocks" stylistically borrows from a classical guitar piece, "Clockworks", written by Alex De Grassi. The syncopation on the latter inspired the fast-paced riffs on the Coldplay song, associating the sound with the ticking of a clock.
- War Is Hell: "Politik" implies this heavily, especially in the context of the end of the Cold War and the beginning of The War on Terror, though it doesn't come out and say "war" at any given point.
- William Telling: Referenced in "Clocks".Shoot an apple off my head