Charlie Brown

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'Charlie Brown' single artwork - as discovered on 24th November 2011

Charlie Brown is a track from Mylo Xyloto. It was released on 3 February 2012 according to's recordings section. It was rumoured on 24 November 2011 on some European music websites that Charlie Brown would be the third single from Mylo Xyloto. Both Swiss music website Hitparade[1] and respected Dutch radio station website 3FM[2] were the first websites to publish the cover art before any official announcement was made.


Development of Charlie Brown

According to the band, Charlie Brown was the first song recorded during sessions for the band's then-upcoming fifth studio album, with the intention of being included on what later became Mylo Xyloto (which, under an unofficial, working title, was simply known as LP5 at the time). The song takes its name from the fact that it originally included lyrics inspired by the comic strip Peanuts, whose protagonist was a young boy named Charlie Brown. During the writing and recording sessions of Mylo Xyloto, the song took on other names, such as "Cartoon Heart" and "Cartoon Head", before eventually being titled Charlie Brown.

Furthermore, during an online interview with the Sunday Herald Sun (Australia)[3], Coldplay described the centrepiece of Charlie Brown in the plan for Coldplay's fifth record. The article wrote: "Such was the band's ambition that the initial plan was to make two albums - one a more subdued, mostly acoustic affair, possibly as a soundtrack to an animated film, and the other a more upbeat, dance-influenced effort. The problem was that one kept intruding on the other and the band realised that creating some kind of false distinction between the projects was in fact holding them back. "We have a song called Charlie Brown, which was the centrepiece of this other record we started first," says Martin. "We were playing the riff on an accordion and Guy came in one morning and said 'I'm afraid I have to put my foot down. I don't want to speak out of turn, but I will not allow this song to be played on an accordion - that has to go in with the Mylo bunch'. So then we thought - let's just make one album."


The Official Charlie Brown symbol
In the article by Q Magazine published on 10th October 2011 entitled "First Impressions of... Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto"[4] they wrote: "The standout from their headline summer slots sounds even monumental on record; Charlie Brown is one of the best things Coldplay have done. Jonny Buckland's hypnotic guitar lines lead the way, the band channeling Joshua Tree-era, the heady holler-alongs of Arcade Fire and a teeny bit of Sigur Ros stargazing as the song launches into its adrenaline-veined climax. Whilst the music is wonderfully overblown, Chris Martin keeps the vocals cool and calculated, singing of "taking the car downtown to where the lost boys meet", which might be about nipping to Spar on Hampstead High St But probably isn't."

The Celebrity Cafe wrote on 27th January 2011: "Remember the Peanuts’ Charlie Brown? You could count on him to put a smile on your face. Coldplay named their latest single after that youthful but strong character, and painted a similar picture. In the context of their fifth album Mylo Xyloto, “Charlie Brown” fits perfect as a song that tackles “all the boys, all the girls, all the madness that occurs” in the world. As a radio song, it is a lively, upbeat anthem with lyrics anyone can relate to and sonically is one of their best songs yet. The album discusses the highs and lows of life and relationship, and this is definitely a high, even if it comes out of defeat. “When they smashed my heart into smithereens/ be a bright red rose come bursting the concrete,” croons Chris Martin. The grandiosity of the music supports its uplifting lyrics, but Chris Martin does not forget to control the music with his voice, never being outdone. That formula has been a successful one throughout the years for Coldplay, and is followed to near perfection here. The way this song is will be received by the mainstream is yet to be determined, but what is a fact is that Coldplay will help anyone who listens start their year off with a bang. 'Light a fire, a fire, a spark, light a fire, a flame in my heart. We’ll run wild; we’ll be glowing in the dark.'" [5]

on 24th March 2012, Unreality Shout gave the single a perfect 5/5 stars, publishing: (5/5 stars): It’s not hard to trace the progression of Coldplay as they venture into what is widely considered and equally as widely misinterpreted as “going commercial” for their fifth album, ‘Mylo Xyloto’. On an album themed to anti-establishmentarian revolutionaries with a fiercely anti-War message buried under your typical Coldplay fanfare, ‘Viva la Vida’s central track, the luxuriously colourful, wide-eyed spectacle of ‘Lovers In Japan’ was everything (in conjunction with ‘Strawberry Swing’) that brought the rest of the album’s dark tones to that pivotal, obligatory feeling of breaking through the clouds that personifies Coldplay’s latest offering, ‘Charlie Brown’. Further research would tell you that ‘Lovers In Japan’ was the last song recorded for the band’s fourth album, and simply listening to it would tell you that they had already started to move away from the lead-heavy melodies of songs like ‘Lost!’ and ‘Violet Hill’ and that it merges seamlessly into the vibrant incandescence of their fifth album...

A Charlie Brown physical CD release
But it’s still a misinterpretation to brand Coldplay’s recent efforts as “going commercial” - they’ve always struck a chord as somewhere between high-brow commercialism (see: ‘Fix You’, ‘Speed of Sound’) and left field alternativeness (see: ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’, ‘Strawberry Swing’) - commercial isn’t something new to Coldplay, it’s always been there. And, quite contrastingly to popular belief, this isn’t something that’s hindered them here. In terms of sound, ‘Charlie Brown’ recalls the yangqin-lead ‘Life In Technicolor II’ in it’s surging, triumphant refrain; a wonderfully spacious sound that resonates with a sense of glorious accomplishment and manages to counteract the dulcet tones of Martin, whose frequently pathos-less whining dwindle the very soul of band’s work in the past. Thankfully though, Martin overcomes the urge to slow down the pace too much when the first verse arrives, and it’s also refreshing to hear lyrics that carry some weight as something relatable yet transcendent to something imaginatively fantastical at the same time. It’s a crying shame that Coldplay’s best material isn’t the stuff that sells. ‘Paradise’ did well for the promotion of ‘Mylo Xyloto’ despite never actually raising any pulses until the dizzying, sky-scraping falsetto and football chants kicked in. Contrastingly, ‘Charlie Brown’ needs no warm-up period, and there’s no moment where the song’s momentum lapses, even in the quieter verses, thanks to Buckland’s effervescently chiming riff. A true testament to it’s sparkling resilience is that, even when otherwise hackneyed Coldplay lyrics like “All the boys, all the girls/All that matters in the world” roll around, the song still hurdles from strength to strength, swirling up a rousing finale to quite possibly the best thing Coldplay have ever recorded. [6]

And there's was this from The Student Newspaper, another positive review giving the song 4/5 stars: "Despite the fact that Coldplay are musical veterans, their latest single is fresh, exciting and sounds young and carefree. Continuing their new electro/soft-rock sound, “Charlie Brown” is a floor-filler with heart, featuring a riff that will be stuck in your head for days. The best part is, you won’t actually mind. Amid the rousing lead guitar and spangly electro-effects, Chris Martin’s voice is as distinctive as ever, harping back to the band’s earlier days. Yet this upbeat track symbolises their staying-power, proving that they’re not afraid to keep evolving and experimenting without losing that characteristic Coldplay essence. Guaranteed to fill both dance floors and stadiums, this track will make you want to ditch your studying, grab some mates and dance across the Meadows in the sun. If you’re looking for a summer anthem, this might just be it." [7]

Finally, Digital Spy also gave Charlie Brown a 5/5 star rating: "Coldplay's Chris Martin may have a regrettable sense of humour when it comes to early morning chatshows and joking about the title of their latest album Mylo Xyloto, but thankfully and rightfully that's where the criticism stops. It may be a fact that people from different parts of the world might struggle with the record's pronunciation, but should they really care when it contains gems like new single 'Charlie Brown'? "I stole a key and took a car downtown where the lost boys meet/ I took a car downtown and took what they offered me to set me free," Martin confesses over a foot-stomping beat and tapping guitar strums, before the chorus charges head-first into a blissful folk-pop hook of anthemic proportions. 'Charlie Brown' may be Coldplay's most youthful sounding cut to date, but it's their well-worn ear for a stellar riff that's the main attraction here. [8]

Music videos

On 7th December 2011, Coldplay posted a live version of the Charlie Brown video, as a prelude to the official video that would later be released in January 2011. The footage came from the headline festival appearances around the world, earlier in 2011. The live prequel also came with the message: "Happy memories of playing this song at festivals over the summer. Directed by the brilliant Mat Whitecross and Mark Rowbotham. 'Proper' Charlie Brown vid coming later... Love Will" [9]

The second, official video for Charlie Brown was released online at 8am (GMT) on 3rd February 2012 via VEVO, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the official Coldplay website. A preview of the music video in the form of a gif image was released via Coldplay's Twitter on 2nd February 2012.[10]

It was revealed on 13th December 2011 via the Coldplaying messageboard [11] that the video features 50 painted dancers and was shot in a church in Brentford, North London over a period of three days between 12th and 14th December 2011. The director of the video is long-time Coldplay friend, Mat Whitecross, who also directed the Paradise music video just two months earlier in South Africa in October 2011.

Media reports on the shooting for the studio video

It seemed like the media are getting very excited about the video, the internet is full of reports that Coldplay hired 'topless ladies' to feature in their new video for single 'Charlie Brown'. However, the maker of the Xylobands, Jason Regler, who has been involved in the video shoot from a glowband perspective, tweeted [12] this week that it wasn't as rauchy as the media would have liked (see below). He also said that the video would be released in the new year, and this matches the rumour that it is set to be released on 10 January 2012.

The Sun continued on 19th December 2011 with their series of articles drip-feeding information from the event. Their latest one reads like this: "Coldplay are hard taskmasters. Girls who applied to feature in the video for the band's forthcoming single, Charlie Brown, had to dance for EIGHT HOURS caked in luminous make-up. Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion made up for the gruelling day's work though. They footed the bill for lunch at the pub next door to the church in Brentford, West London, where filming took place – then sorted a free bar. Doubt the boozer had much Red Bull left." [13]

First performance

Coldplay first performed Charlie Brown at a friends and family gig at The Forum, Kentish Town, London on 31st May 2011. They then continued to play it at the summer festival dates of 2011, beginning at Rock im Park Festival, Nürnberg, Germany (3rd June 2011), and again at Rock am Ring the following day, which was the first live broadcast officially authorised by the band and management.[14]

The Oracle on Charlie Brown

June 27, 2013 - submitted by Tyler, United States of America
Q. How did the band feel about Charlie Brown being the theme song for UEFA Euro 2012? Because of this, were the band given anything? Such as premium seats to the matches?
The Oracle replies:
I'm sure they were chuffed but they don't get asked for permission for such things. There are licenses that cover the use of music in sports shows etc.
The band won't therefore have been offered tickets in exchange but I'm pretty sure if they had wanted to go, they would have been able to procure tickets ;-)

April 12, 2012 - submitted by Andres, Mexico
Q. Hi my dear Oracle, from Mexico saludos amigo.
My question: is this real and can I get it?
I love this song and i want this physical cd. Is it authentic?
See ya
The Oracle replies:
Yes, it's authentic but you can't buy it as it's a promo copy only so not available for purchase - sorry! If you do see it for sale on certain sites, it won't be an official release. It should not be for resale.

November 3, 2011 - submitted by Julia, United States of America
Q. Dear Oracle, why is the song Charlie Brown named Charlie Brown? Thanks!
The Oracle replies:
An earlier version of the song actually had the lyric Charlie Brown in it. It was left out of the final recording but the name stuck as the band couldn't think of an alternative.

September 9, 2011 - submitted by Ian, United Kingdom
Q. Other than the random noises, this[15] video sounds like a true studio version of Charlie Brown, did it leak?
The Oracle replies:
As I explained the other day, Charlie Brown is being used (officially) for soundbeds. It's not a leaked version as that would be a huge breach of copyright to use it. Maybe I should have explained. A soundbed is the music that runs underneath something else such as the background music when a radio DJ is talking etc. They're not random noises, they are clips from TV shows. It's NOT an advert by the way - a few question askers are still confusing trailers for commercials. The version of Charlie Brown used is an edited version of the studio recording.

September 1, 2011 - submitted by john, United States of America
Q. Hey Oracle, did Charlie Brown leak? I heard an instrumental in this football thing and a fuller version with vocals in this trailer for some tv show. Was it leased legally?
The Oracle replies:
It wasn't "leaked". Charlie Brown is being used as a sound bed on tv at the moment but that can't be done without having the full approved version and license to use it.

June 15, 2011 - submitted by Laurens, United Kingdom
Q. Dear Oracle,
I heard Charlie Brown on YouTube! It's awesome! But there's an Asian sounding part! It sounds real good but I cant figure what it really is...
The Oracle replies:
In the intro to Charlie Brown the sound you can hear is actually Chris' vocal speeded up.

June 8, 2011 - submitted by Robin van Vliet, Netherlands
Q. Dear Oracle,
At the Rock Am Ring festival Coldplay performed a new song called Charlie Brown. My question is: who is he, and why has Coldplay dedicated this song to him?
Greetings from The Netherlands!
The Oracle replies:
It's definitely not dedicated to a real person. The only Charlie Brown I know of is the comic strip creation by Charles M. Schulz. Given the lyric that led most fans to think the song was called Cartoon Heart, I'd say it's named after him.


Wooh, ooh ooh ooh

Stole a key 
Took a car downtown where the lost boys meet
Took a car downtown and took what they offered me
To set me free 
I saw the lights go down at the end of the scene
Saw the lights go down and standing in front of me

Ooh ooh ooh 

In my scarecrow dreams 
When they smash my heart into smithereens                                               
Be a bright red rose come bursting through concrete                                      
And a cartoon heart                                                                                               
Light a fire a fire a spark 
Light a fire a flame in my heart 
We’ll run wild
We’ll be glowing in the dark
Oooh ooh ooh
We’ll be glowing in the dark

All the boys, all the girls, all that matters in the world
All the boys, all the girls, all the madness that occurs 
All the highs all the lows, as the room a-spinning goes
We’ll run riot, we’ll be glowing in the dark

Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh
So we’ll soar
Luminous and wired
We’ll be glowing in the dark
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