Princess of China

Album: Mylo Xyloto (2011)
Charted: 4 20

Songfacts®:

  • This song features a string loop and a Hip-Hop arrangement, making it one of the band's less Coldplayesque tunes. Maybe frontman Chris Martin was influenced by his pal Jay-Z with whom he worked on the Prospekt's March track, "Lost+?"
  • Lyrically this song finds Martin writing from a female point of view. He told NME: "I found that with Viva La Vida, I enjoyed writing from someone else's perspective to actually get out what I was feeling. That song is from a girl's perspective. I wonder what that says about me?"
  • The song features Rihanna duetting with Chris Martin. The Coldplay frontman admitted to The Sun that it took him a while to finally muster up the nerve to ask the Bajan superstar to contribute some vocals. "The album is designed as a whole piece. It has boy and girl lead characters and top of our list for the girl part was Rihanna ... but it took a while to pluck up the courage to ask her," he said. "We did a show in Las Vegas and I met her and said, 'Do you think there's any chance?' I was very Hugh Grant-like and spluttering about it."
  • Rihanna's vocals surprised Martin. "She has such an amazing voice and it's so different to mine. When the vocal happened I thought, 'Wow, you sound different' but I think that's also because she was singing a different song to what we are used to hearing from her and it is written by a bloke from Devon [England]," he said.
  • Rihanna's guest appearance marked the first time Coldplay teamed up with a star vocalist to appear on an official full-length album track.
  • Will Champion almost ended up singing on the song before Rihanna was roped in. The Coldplay drummer previously sung on the "Viva La Vida" b-side "Death Will Never Conquer" during the their Viva La Vida Tour. Martin told MTV News: "Well, our new record is sort of a story; it's not quite a musical, but it's dangerously close. There's a bit of a love-story thread, so we really needed someone to sing even higher than me," he explained. "[It's] hard, but very possible. You need to be a female really. For all Will's good intentions, he [can't do it] ... So, in like a dream scenario, we had a song that I'd secretly kind of written to see if Rihanna would want to sing it," Martin continued. "And then the rest of the band wanted to keep it, so we came up with the idea of asking her to sing it with us, and, to our great surprise, she said OK."
  • Coldplay's link up with the Bajan star also came out of a desire to keep reinventing their sound and it turned out to be Martin's favorite bit on Mylo Xyloto: "When the song came out, it sort of asked for her to be on it. And I think at this point, we have nothing to lose, and so we've been trying some new things and trying to break down the perceived boundaries between different types of music," explained Martin. "Because from where we're sitting, it seems like you can try and sound any way you like nowadays. You don't have to be in a rock box or a hip-hop box or a pop box, and I think it's fun when you embrace that idea."
  • During an interview with Maxim, Martin said that the track was penned years before it eventually found its way onto Mylo Xyloto. "It was when she was doing Rated R," he said, "but it took so long - there's still this tribalism in music where we're rock and you're hip hop, and sometimes it takes a while to get across those barriers."

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