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"Midnight" is a song recorded by Coldplay for Ghost Stories (2014). It was written and produced by band members Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin, with production assistance from Paul Epworth, Daniel Green, and Rik Simpson, and co-production from Jon Hopkins. A music video for the Ghost Stories track was released on 25 February 2014 as a teaser for the then-unannounced sixth studio album. A "Midnight" 7-inch vinyl single was pressed by Parlophone for Record Store Day 2014. The single, featuring the track on a single side of the record, was released on 17 April 2014, becoming the second music release by the band in promotion of Ghost Stories. A live version of the song, recorded and filmed at the Royal Albert Hall, in London, was included in the Ghost Stories Live 2014.
Composition and RecordingEdit
"Midnight" was built over a previously unreleased original track produced by Jon Hopkins in 2003. The track, named "Amphora", was never completed by Hopkins and was partly released by ambient/electronic music blog A Strangely Isolated Place on SoundCloud in early 2012, as part of their playlist "ASIP - 1.00.00". The song also incorporates elements from a Jon Hopkins recording titled by Hopkins as "The Fourth State II", a reproduction of his 2008 extended play The Fourth Estate.
The song was recorded by the band during sessions for their sixth studio album in 2013, at their purpose-built studios The Bakery and The Beehive, London, England, both originally constructed for work on their two previous studio albums, 2008's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and 2011's Mylo Xyloto respectively. Chris Martin's recorded vocals for the song were put through a vocoder.
"Midnight" was first performed live by Coldplay on the opening night of the 2014 iTunes Festival at SXSW on 12 March 2014 at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. It was performed as the only song during the encore segment of the setlist. Bassist Guy Berryman played the laser harp and Will Champion a Reactable.
A 5-minute music video for "Midnight", directed by Mary Wigmore, was premiered on music video hosting service Vevo at 6pm UTC (Midnight in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia time), on 25 February 2014. The video was shot nearly in its entirety in thermal infrared imaging and negative imagery, incorporating various visual effects. The thermal infrared camera was a FLIR SC8303 with either a 25 or a 50mm prime lens, depending on the shot.
The lenses were made by Janos Corporation. The wavelength range is 3 to 5 microns, or mid wave infrared. The thermal infrared video was recorded as HD-SDI on an Atomos Samurai Blade with a 480 GB solid state hard drive. Simultaneously, raw digital video was captured at 30 frames per second into FLIR ExaminIR software.
The video was watched over 1 million times in less than 24 hours after it was posted on their Facebook page. Just two days later it reached 3 million views, later passing 31 million views by 24 June 2015.
The song received mostly positive reviews from critics, who noted a change in the sound of the band and drew comparisons to Bon Iver and Justin Vernon. Al Horner of NME approved of the band's new musical direction and lauded the song as a "dive into icy electronic experimentalism". Contactmusic.com's Lauren James similarly praised the song, writing: "gone are the crashing pianos, guitar and soaring vocals of the Brit rockers' more famous ballads, replaced with a pared back, minimalist electronic song". Micahel Nelson of Stereogum concurred, commenting that the song brought out Coldplay "at their most spacious and ambient, stripped down to a ghostly essence." Writing for PopMatters, Evan Sawdey rated the song 8/10 and summarized it as "chilly, moody, and evocative". Rolling Stone 's Cory Grow compared Martin's vocals to Peter Gabriel "as he sings about darkness, while the synths build throughout the track before a skittery, rave-like keyboard line flits about noisy static". Idolator's Carl Williot described the song as "a haunting electronic soundscape that not only lacks the band's trademark anthemic choruses and stadium-filling guitar lines, but boasts nary a hook and has few decipherable lyrics". Lewis Corner of Digital Spy opined that the song was "subdued, murky, twinkling, but definitely not lead single material on first listen" and hailed the band for "never fail[ing] to shake up their sound and become even more successful with it." Jamieson Cox of Time magazine felt the song "never blossoms into one of Coldplay's trademark climaxes, instead blurring into a phosphene cloud of synth melodies" but praised it for being "another step in a new direction for a band that's never been content with staying in place".
The song was nominated as the World's Best Song in the 2014 World Music Awards.
In popular cultureEdit
The song was featured on the drama TV series Under the Dome in the seventh episode of the show's second season.
The song was also used for the Exodus: Gods and Kings theatrical trailer.