Coldplay’s latest single from their upcoming album, Music of the Spheres, is a ten minute and forty-seven second epic space rock opera piece titled Coloratura. It is by far the longest song ever released by the band, and features as many literary references as fellow Brit T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. However, unlike that pompous nonsense, the literary references in Coldplay’s opus are quite distinguished and, dare I say it, luminary in comparison to that gutter trash. But, enough about The Stupid Eliot, I’ll go through every line in the song that contains an allusion (usually a name) and explain just what exactly they’re alluding to!
Coloratura, the title of the song and very first lyric, is a classical music term that refers to elaborate melodies that feature virtuoso movements like trills and runs. It also refers to an opera singing style that mirrors that type of instrumentation. That said, Coldplay has used the word in a completely different way–Coloratura is a “place” rather than a music in this soundscape. The place we’ve dreamed about in Coldplay’s The Escapist, for instance. Oh, but if I talk about all the allusions to past Coldplay songs that Coloratura has, we’d be here forever. Let’s skip to the first batch of namedrops in the chorus!
Galileo and those pining for the moon
Galileo is the name of a character from Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color. In that game, you play as a nameless character that befriends a set of orphan twins, Taro and Zoe. From them, you learn that their father, Galileo, was one of the best Doodlers in the world and left the society your character’s from in order to escape the corrupt king that’s been enforcing Doodlers to work for him. Through your long quest in this bright and cheery world, you eventually come to find out that Galileo passed away. You never quite learn how he died, but it’s safe to assume that this Galileo pined for a better world–one where the colors of the moon could shine through. Coldplay too joins in wishing for that moon as well with Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color, and continues to name drop others that wish for that moon.
Star Citizen is a game that may never, ever, ever come out. It is the most ambitious space exploration simulator ever devised, and all of the budget is spent on creating things to supplement the game, rather than the game itself. Once such example of this is the Pioneer capital ship. It is designed to be an effective “pioneer” spaceship in the same way carriages were pioneer wagons of the Oregon Trail. The literal design of it has been sold for $850 according to the Star Citizen Wiki. For a fake spaceship in a video game that will never be made. Pioneer is pining for the moon, a home to exist. But Star Citizen refuses to come out.
Helix is a playable boxer in ARMS. Helix was created by scientists as an experiment to prove the merit of the scientists’ research, which is always a great sign. “How do we know their science is good?” “Because they did science to prove they were good!” Dr. Coyle, the lead on the project, felt that Helix was a failure for breaking out of the test tube too early, and Helix (which is a self-conscious bipedal pile of green goo with a mouth that has lips and teeth) wants to prove Coyle wrong, and that it is a success. Perhaps trying to show that Galileo might have already made it to the moon all along.
I’m not sure if the lyrics site, or Coldplay got this wrong, but it’s spelled ‘Oumuamua, and begins with the symbol ‘okina from the Hawaiian language. ‘Oumuamua is the first interstellar object ever to make it into our solar system. No one really knows its origin. Whether it’s an alien probe, or just a random piece of rock (far more likely), the solitary comet is also pining for its moon. Pretty cool reference of Coldplay to drop. I know I didn’t of it when the discovery of the object happened on 10/19/2017.
Heliopause isn’t a thing in the same way the other things Coldplay have referenced are things. The heliopause is the theoretical boundary where the sun’s solar wind is stopped by interstellar medium. It’s just a theory… a game theory. That said, one of NASA’s Voyager’s probes did appear to cross through the heliosphere somewhere around 2012-3, but it couldn’t stop. The heliosphere would never pine for a moon because it is just a space. Specifically, a space revolving around the sun. Far away from moons. Come on, Coldplay. You just said that to sound smart.
Neptune is the main character of Hyperdimension Neptunia, a game series in which you play as anime human versions of morally good video game consoles that attempt to save their various worlds and dimensions from morally evil video game consoles by flying around and shooting them. It is as weird and creepy as it sounds, and I do not appreciate Coldplay giving the series such a major shoutout. Even if it is on brand for Neptune to pine for a moon without evil video game consoles like the SNES.
We mentioned a Voyager on this list already, but Coldplay’s talking about the cancelled video game titled Voyager. Based on the TV show, Star Trek: Voyager, the game was to be a classic 90’s PC FMV adventure game featuring the main cast from the TV show. But Viacom decided to leave the games industry so that they could get bought by Comcast or whatever, and the game makers founded the company that eventually developed Bioshock Infinite and prove that video games were art once and for all. Coldplay wanted to give a shoutout to those disgruntled layoffs for finding their moon, and exposing gamers’ ignorance when they thought that a reference in Bioshock Infinite to the Battle of Wounded Knee was an epic reference to Skyrim. You guys did god’s work.
The Callisto Protocol is the name of an upcoming survival horror video game. Coldplay feels like the band whose music would least resonate with the survival horror but this seems like an obvious hint that Chris Martin and company will be producing the score for the game. The Police’s drummer, Stewart Copeland, proved that great musicians are great musicians, no matter if they’re making music in a band or for a video game, so I’m excited.
Calliope Games is a traditional board game maker that’s most well-known for the board game Tsuro. Coldplay are well-known as avid gamers, so it’s no surprise they’d shout out one of their favorite game makers in the middle of a song. The goal of Tsuro is to extend your set of tiles further than anyone else, and the tiles can easily be revised from a dragon’s body to an astronaut’s rope as said astronaut pines for that moon.
Betelgeuse is, surprise, surprise, an indie game on Steam that was released last year. This simple block-rolling puzzler must’ve struck a chord for the band as they struggled through COVID. One set of puzzles in the game involves pushing four square rocks at the same time with all of them moving through the grid the same way. That symbolizes what Coldplay felt as a band of four, pushing through COVID together while apart–in lockstep and choreograph, if not together. Anyway, all the small rocks you push are actually part of a moon and who cares who’s reading this
the Neon Moons
Neon Moon is the name of a single by country band Brooks & Dunn. It’s a classic country song about the singer’s loved one leaving them, and how everything reminds them of their ex, and that they spend every night unable to do anything but wait for them to come back. You know the type. Yes, it’s weird of Coldplay to say that the neon moons are pining for their own moons, but: 1. moons can have moons of their own 2. mayhaps it is one neon moon pining for another neon moon and their online dating app preferences have them looking too closely for them to find each other… what a tragedy.
Pluribus Unum is a Latin phrase you might’ve heard before as “E pluribus unum”, the United States’ motto. Pluribus unum can be translated as either “number one” or the far more common “out of many, one”. Coldplay is obviously referring to themselves as “number one” with this lyric, and if it was any band other than Coldplay, I’d give them a hard time for it. But Coldplay is truly “pluribus unum”. Which might be lonely for them, and why they too pine for a moon to be their number two.
And lastly, another Latin phrase. Unus mundus is Latin for “one world”. Coldplay has long been dogged by comparisons to U2. It is here that they cheekily reference their major influence by quoting U2’s “One” in Latin. Perchance Coldplay considers themselves the moon that circles U2? But to me, the world is coldplayocentric rather than u2ocentric. And that’s why they call me Galileo.
Thanks for reading. Look forward to Coldplay’s new album, Music of the Spheres, releasing in October this year. I hope you learned something, and that you’re as excited about it as I am. If you are, you may be the moon I’ve been pining for all along.