Release date: June 2008
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is the fourth studio album by English alternative rock band Coldplay, released on 11 June 2008 on Parlophone.
In October 2006, two weeks after bassist Guy Berryman welcomed his first daughter (which makes him the third Coldplay member to have a child), reports circulated on the Internet that the band was taking a five-year hiatus. The new baby, and the fact that Coldplay had no touring or recording schedule at the time, had fans wondering if the band's new album would not be released until 2010. Dispelling such reports, Ambrosia Healy, spokesperson to Capitol Records, sent an e-mail message to MTV that there was no self-imposed hiatus. However, Healy clarified that Coldplay was indeed "enjoying a much-deserved break", and there was no timetable for the follow-up to the band's third studio album, X&Y.
In December 2006, Billboard magazine reported that Coldplay's next album was scheduled for release in late 2007. The band subsequently denied this through their official website, which also announced a new South American tour for the beginning of 2007. During this tour, the band began writing new material for their fourth studio album, but no new material was played, due to the band's concerns that their performances would leak onto the Internet.
In January 2007, during an interview on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, musician and English record producer Brian Eno revealed that he would be producing the album. During recording, Coldplay's website included notes on sessions with Eno and Markus Dravs, stating that the lyrics are "much more abstract, much more visual than before", and that the music is "less straight-forward, more oblique". Additionally, Martin would be making a vocal transition from his trademark falsetto to a lower register. This is explored in "Yes", where the main characteristic of the song, originally inspired by The Velvet Underground, is the lowest vocals Chris Martin ever recorded that was suggested by the producer Brian Eno to make every single song sound different in the album. The band's drummer Will Champion said in a interview for MTV: "One of the main things we tried to focus on with this record is changing vocal identities, because Chris has a very recognizable voice."
Later, in July, Coldplay revealed that the album was shaping up with Hispanic influences after having recorded in churches and in Spanish-speaking countries such as in Mexico in America and Spain in Europe, such as Barcelona. However, it was stressed that the influence was not in any specific sound but a general feel to the songs taken as a whole. On their website, the band also described taking acoustic guitars and basic recording equipment to churches and experimenting with particular sounds.
Throughout the recording of the album, Coldplay communicated to fans through their website, and in late October 2007, a message on Coldplay.com suggested that two new songs, "Famous Old Painters" and "Glass of Water", had been written and were being considered for the album. While this announcement hinted at further delays, in early December another post suggested that recording was nearly finished, saying that "the creative momentum keeps on gathering". The article was signed "Prospekt", strengthening rumours that this would be the album's title. In January, while Coldplay announced two more songs, "Lovers in Japan" and "Strawberry Swing", they denied that the album was called "Prospekt".
Martin revealed he had been reading many Charles Dickens novels during the recording process which may have contributed to the strong visual imagery on such tracks as "Violet Hill" and "Cemeteries of London".
On 18 July 2009, two early demos from the Viva la Vida recording sessions leaked onto the Internet: the previously unheard "Bloodless Revolution" and a very early version of Viva la Vida single "Lovers in Japan". A day later another demo, called "St. Stephen" appeared online. On 20 July 2009, six more demos were leaked: "The Fall of Man", "The Man Who Swears", "The Man Who Swears II" (actually just the second half of "The Man Who Swears"), "First Steps", "Loveless" and "Goodbye and Goodnight".
Release and promotion
In a Rolling Stone magazine interview, vocalist Chris Martin announced the album's release date and its title, Viva la Vida, which is a Spanish phrase that translates into English as "long live life". It takes its name from a painting by Frida Kahlo, an acclaimed 20th century Mexican artist. The album cover art is an 1830 painting by Eugène Delacroix entitled Liberty Leading the People. On 10 April 2008, a new journal entry appeared on the band's website announcing the track list and release date, as well as hinting at new tracks to be issued before the album's release. "Violet Hill" was confirmed as the first single from Viva la Vida, with a release date of 5 May. In May 2008, Coldplay featured in an advertisement for Apple's iTunes with the song "Viva la Vida".
Coldplay.com was updated in late April and bashes all the way home to reveal the official Viva la Vida artwork as well as a free release of "Violet Hill", which became available for download for one week from 29 April 2008. Free concert dates were also added at Brixton Academy, London on 16 June 2008 as well as a free show at Madison Square Garden on 23 June, and another in Barcelona. Seventy-three dates were announced for their current world tour with shows in North America, Europe and Asia. The tour now consists of over 100 shows and will continue until March 2010. The album was leaked around 5 June and the band decided to make the album available to stream via their MySpace profile from 8:30 pm WEST on 6 June.
On 25 June 2008, the band became the third band ever to perform on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, performing "42" and "Lost!". On 27 June at 7:00 am EDT, Coldplay began a Today Show, outdoor, live performance on the streets outside of Rockefeller Plaza, New York. The band performed on The Late Show with David Letterman on 30 June and on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on 17 July.
Along with the release of the album in 2008 the band changed its logo.
In August 2008, Coldplay announced they would be releasing an EP, Prospekt's March, consisting of unreleased material from the Viva la Vida recording sessions. The album was re-released on 25 November 2008 in a deluxe edition, titled Viva la Vida - Prospekt's March Edition. It contains tracks off the original album and Prospekt's March.
The album was successful around the world. In its first week of release it debuted at number one in 36 countries. In the United Kingdom, the album sold 125,000 copies in its first day of release and 302,074 in three days, debuting at number one. In its second week it sold another 198,000, achieving a platinum certification. The album sold over 500,000 copies in 10 days since its release, beating the first week UK sales of Coldplay's third album, X&Y. The album debuted with sales of 41,041 copies in Australia and has since been certified 4x platinum.
In the United States, it sold 316,000 copies in its first day, and 720,000 in its first week of release, nearly equalling X&Y's first week sales of 737,000. Viva la Vida has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for a shipment of over two million copies. Viva la Vida has become the most paid-for downloaded album of all time, with over 702,000 downloads. By the end of the 2008, Viva la Vida had sold total of 2,144,000 copies, making it the second top-selling album in the United States. By 8 July 2009, the album had sold 2,509,536 copies in the United States, according to SoundScan.
Globally, it was the best selling album of 2008, and by September 2009 the album had sold over 8.1 million copies worldwide becoming the most paid-for downloaded album of all time.
The album won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album at the 2009 Grammy Awards. It appeared in several year end publications' Best Albums of 2008 list including New York Post (Number 1) Rolling Stone (Number 7), Q (Number 3), Spin (Number 9), Entertainment Weekly (Number 6), and Billboard (Number 6). Despite all the positive support, NME nominated the album for Worst Album at the 2009 NME Awards, despite having given the album 8/10 in their review. Viva la Vida was named the number seven album of 2008 by Rolling Stone. Also despite giving the album three stars in The Times, Pete Paphides admitted in December 2008 that he was wrong to give it this score and had in fact become his favourite album of the year.