Charlie Brown


‘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.


  • 7 Lyrics

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 symbolIn 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 releaseBut 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.