Song Spotlight: Coldplay’s “Shiver”


Music is a very subjective medium, no doubt. There might be a song or band that everybody loves or admires, but you can’t stand to listen to them. Or, it might be the opposite; everybody loves to make fun of a certain band, while you enjoy quite a few of their songs. 

Coldplay falls into the unfortunate camp of being a band lots of people love to make fun of. They have their fans to be sure, but there are also plenty of others who just can’t help but state their disdain. The negative attitude towards the band can generally be attributed to the fact they are considered boring, vanilla, and samey. Some might also take issue with the singing style of the group’s frontman, Chris Martin, especially as he gets into higher registers. 

As for myself, I’m definitely not the biggest fan of Coldplay. Do I think they’re awful? No, not at all. There are some songs I legitimately enjoy, but plenty that I absolutely cannot stand. I would be perfectly content with going my entire life without hearing “Fix You”, “The Scientist” or “A Sky Full of Stars”, for example. 

At the same time, songs like “Yellow”, “Clocks,” “In My Place,” “Viva La Vida”, or “Adventure of a Lifetime” are songs I wouldn’t mind hearing on the radio, or ones I actually find myself listening to on my own time. Then, there’s probably my favorite song by the group and this article’s song spotlight: “Shiver.” 

Formed in London, England in the late 1990s, Coldplay are known for their dreamy, laid back style of pop rock. Nowadays, they are also known for their colorful live shows.

Coldplay was first formed in 1997 in London. Coming just following the popular Britpop genre, the band became known for their ambient, laid-back style of alternative rock and pop. This mainly can be attributed to the sparse, spacy, delay-ridden guitar style of Jonny Buckland (very similar to The Edge, the guitarist of U2), and Chris Martin’s unique vocal delivery. The band achieved great success with their debut album, “Parachutes,” released in 2000. 

To be completely honest, Parachutes is probably the Coldplay album I enjoy listening to the most. I just find the more laid-back, relaxing style of pop-rock featured on the album to be a good listen. This is also the album that gave us “Shiver.” 

There is a decent amount of nostalgia I get from this song. I first heard it while playing Guitar Hero: World Tour, sometime in high school. Even though most poppy things didn’t really tickle my fancy at the time, there was something about the bright, almost soothing melody that I heard that stuck with me. Martin’s vocals were the part I surprisingly liked as well. 

The song begins with a gentle strumming passage by Buckland, accompanied by an even gentler acoustic melody courtesy of Martin. Drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman join in as Buckland plays the song’s instantly recognizable melody. The verses show off Martin’s gentle, almost soothing vocals combined with a fun, bright guitar line by Buckland. They are both complemented by Champion’s relaxed drumming and Berryman’s equally chill bass. 

The chorus begins with Martin belting out a soft, high-pitched “Don’t You Shiver” as the melody plays again. The song is actually quite long, a little over five minutes. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t overstay its welcome; this is probably due to the fact I love the melody so much; However, a minute or two could be cut and I wouldn’t mind. The song picks up significantly near the latter half, before Martin closes out with the gently sung lyrics, “So I look in your direction, so you pay me no attention, and you know how much I need you, but you never even see me.”

The entire song is laid-back, somber, and very melancholic. The track is a sad tale of unrequited love, made perfectly clear through the lyrics. Martin himself has said it was written on a “dull day” for him. While it isn’t exactly clear if the song was written about a specific person, mainly due to some contradictory statements given, the all too familiar subject of loving someone and them not loving you back gave way to a great song.  The somber subject matter is also nicely contrasted with the bright guitar tone, especially during the verses. 

Despite my rather lackluster view of them, I can’t bring myself to fully hate Coldplay, and especially not this song. It is admittedly a bit too long, but the melody, lyrics, the performances of the band, and Martin’s singing style keep me from turning the song off. All in all, “Shiver” is a decent pop-rock song with a great arrangement, an instantly recognizable melody, and a familiar and relatable theme. 

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