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Coldplay feat. Rihanna, 'Princess Of China' - Review

The latest track to emerge from 'Mylo Xyloto'

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Album Info

  • Release Date: October 24, 2011
  • Producer: Markus Dravs, Daniel Green, Brian Eno, Rik Simpson
  • Label: EMI
  • Fact: It took a while for Chris Martin to pluck up the courage to ask Rihanna to guest on the track: "I was very Hugh Grant-like and spluttering about it."
First 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall', then 'Paradise', and now this... it's obvious that Coldplay's fifth album 'Mylo Xyloto' is to be their most pop to date. It might also be their last, if Chris Martin is to be believed (but then he always says that).

In that same interview, Martin talks about being in competition with the likes of Adele and Justin Bieber. It's a mark of his blazing ambition. Whereas, say, Radiohead retreated from the mainstream after 'OK Computer', Coldplay seem hell-bent on becoming even bigger than they already are. 'Paradise', and now 'Princess Of China', are nothing if not single-minded in their naked quest for full-spectrum mainstream dominance.

That sits uneasily with indie snobs. Coldplay have now unquestionably ascended to that position formerly held by U2: they are the band people can't resist slagging off, as is made abundantly clear every time we post a news story on the band, and the vicious comments roll in.

But anyway. The important question is: is 'Princess Of China' actually any good? Well, if you can get beyond the outrageously chart-hungry intro - that glossy synth sound wouldn't sound out of place on a Taio Cruz album - it's actually kind of awesome. For all the poppy surface sheen, this is a song with surprisingly hefty balls, possessed of a pounding momentum that recalls 'Viva La Vida'.

Obviously it's rather over-stuffed with "Oh-oh-oh" bits and "La la la" bits - you do sometimes wish Chris would resist the wordless cop-out and write some actual lyrics for a change - but it's got a chorus that soars, and a production job the size of an ocean liner. As for Rihanna's vocal? It's strange, far more airy and lightweight than we're used to, but that's no bad thing.

Where normally Rihanna sings with a robotic, stiletto-on-your-throat quality, here she sounds uncharacteristically girlish and human - almost Lily Allen-like in terms of tone. Coldplay have brought out a new side to her. In return, she has helped Coldplay produce the most pure pop moment of their career. Consequently, 'Princess Of China' is a pretty smart case study in how a giant rock band and a blockbuster pop star can join forces without totally embarrassing each other. 8/10

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