Coldplay's lead single from their ninth album finds Chris Martin trying to maximize his potential as he finds common ground through the power of love:
I'm so happy that I'm alive
Happy I'm alive at the same time as you
The power of music:
I'm buzzin' night after night after night
This joy is electric
And divine power:
When for so long I'd been down on my knees
Then your love song saved me over and over
Coldplay wrote the bright '80s-inspired pop song with:
Denise Carite (Katy Perry's "Pendulum").
Argentinian jazz pianist Federico Vindver, who co-wrote all but one track on Kanye West's Jesus Is King.
Swedish pop producer Max Martin.
The band recorded the song in London, Stockholm, and Los Angeles with Max Martin and his fellow Swede, Oscar Holter. It is Coldplay's first collaboration with Martin, whom they described as "a true wonder of the universe." Chris Martin first met the hitmaker at a Rihanna concert in the mid-2010s and they became friends.
Coldplay told BBC Radio 2's Zoe Ball this synthpop banger originated with them "trying to imagine what music might sound like on other planets, and trying to imagine being those other acts, so we're not thinking of ourselves as being the band Coldplay from England."
Chris Martin came up with the title first, but tried in vain to find the melody and lyrics to go with it. Then one day early in 2020 the singer was staying in a place where "the sink was very resonant." Martin started playing drums on the sink and came up with a beat, which he recorded on his phone. Then he went to the keyboard and the song landed using that sink beat.
"So thank you to that sink," Martin added. "That's great plumbing."
Chris Martin wanted to use the "Higher Power" title for a while. "If you go on my phone, there's like 15 abandoned 'Higher Powers' that aren't that good. Voice notes," he told Apple Music's Zane Lowe. "And then it just dropped through that song."
Coldplay previewed "Higher Power" during a special link-up with French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet on board the International Space Station prior to its release on May 7, 2021. Branded as a form of "extraterrestrial transmission," the song's premiere followed a conversation that touched on similarities between life on tour and life on the ISS. "Really it's one big allegory," Martin told him about 'Higher Power." "The song is about trying to find the astronaut in all of us, the person that can do amazing things."
During the first verse, Chris Martin says "I'm like a broken record" twice, before repeating it backwards. This illustrates how everything is going wrong for him until he gets divine power after calling God on his "heavenly phone."
Paul Dugdale (Adele, Ed Sheeran) directed the music video, which sees Coldplay perform on an empty lot as holograms of alien-like beings dance around them.
The band played the song live for the first time on the May 9, 2021 Coldplay-themed episode of American Idol. Chris Martin acted as a mentor to help contestants prepare for their Coldplay cover performances.
Dave Meyers (Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish) directed the video, which sees Coldplay perform on the planet of Kaotica. The imaginary world is populated by robot dogs, giant holograms, and a street-gang of dancing aliens portrayed by Seoul's Ambiguous Dance Company.
Meyers said the clip is a metaphor for how isolated everyone has felt amid the global pandemic. "Right now, we all feel alienated, far removed from our world, almost like we're on an alien planet," he explained. "And ultimately we find love in the streets and that euphoria shoots us off into the stratosphere of our own energy and higher power."
The intergalactic video is the first of a planned three-part "melodic orbit" entitled Music of the Spheres. Chris Martin said the music for this song and the rest of the album came to life after he watched the Star Wars movies and wondered what music on other planets sounds like.
"It led us to imagining this whole other place called 'the spheres,' which is like a group of planets, like a solar system with lots of different places and creatures and stuff," he said. "And what I found is when you've imagined a place like that, you can sort of become any artist within that. It's a very freeing thing to take yourself out of Coldplay and just think: 'OK, I'm not even human, what does music sound like?"