Everything you never knew about Coldplay’s Paradise!


The most accurate and up to date information on Paradise!

Paradise is the third track from Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, and the second single, following on from the earlier release in 2011 of Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.




Paradise was debuted at 7:48am on The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 on 12 September 2011 – two minutes before its scheduled play at 7.50am. The song was released on 12th September, 2011 at 8:30am BST as the second single to the album.

According to Coldplay.com, the single was not initially chart eligible in the UK, because it was available on iTunes as an “instant grat” (immediate download) with the album. The song became eligible to chart in the UK on 30th October after the album’s release, entering the UK Singles Chart at #14, and was met with generally positive reception from critics. On 1st January 2012 after 10 weeks in the singles chart, it was confirmed as #1 following consistent sales leading up to the Christmas period. [1]

First introduction

Paradise was first introduced immediately after the announcement of Mylo Xyloto on 12th August 2011, and was announced as the second single off the album.

A 30 second studio preview clip of Paradise appeared on TuneTribe[2] on the morning of 10th September 2011, two days before its official release. This was followed by the full version on the official Coldplay YouTube channel, ColdplayTV, on 12th September 2011:

Cover Art

The single cover for Paradise predominantly features an abstract crayon piece that enmeshes different shades of blue. The artwork includes butterfly and an Archimedean spiral, both of which are a recurring theme in the Coldplay concerts, wardrobes and official webpage. The single artwork was praised for being “an important piece of a jigsaw puzzle built around the theme used by Coldplay to promote the Mylo Xyloto album”.

Chart performance

The Official Paradise symbol

Paradise had huge success on charts worldwide. Following release on 12 September 2011, Paradise was revealed chart ineligible in the United Kingdom, having been offered as and ‘instant grat’ (immediate download) for anyone who pre-ordered the parent album, Mylo Xyloto. The release of the album on 24 October 2011 saw Paradise debut at number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart with sales of 27,277 copies; having sold 118,547 copies in the six weeks of chart ineligibility. It was not eligible for the chart, having been used as an inducement for fans to pre-order Mylo Xyloto.

After being made purchasable at 59p (instead of 99p) on the UK’s iTunes Store and being played on the X Factor final, Paradise regained momentum in the UK and skyrocketed up the single chart to #2 on December 18, 2011 becoming the band’s highest charting single since their 2008 number-one hit Viva La Vida – later becoming 2012’s first UK number-one on Sunday January 1, almost four months after its release. It moved 14-17-20-13-11-12-7-2-5-1 on it’s way to #1. It was also a top 10 hit in many countries in Europe. It reached number-one in Norway. In the US, it reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Had Paradise been eligible for the chart since its release, it would have shattered the record for most weeks in the Top 40 before reaching number one, a record held by Celine Dion’s Think Twice which was on its 13th week in the Top 40 (and its 16th in the Top 75) when it reached number one in 1995. [3]


On November 30th, 2011, Paradise was nominated for a Grammy Award, in the category Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The winner will be announced on February 12, 2012 at the 54th Grammy Awards. Coldplay also contributed the track Paradise to the 2012 Grammy nominees album compilation, which also features tracks by fellow Grammy nominees Katy Perry (“Firework”), Adele (“Rolling In the Deep”), Foster the People (“Pumped Up Kicks”), Mumford and Sons (“The Cave”), Maroon 5 (“Moves Like Jagger” Featuring Christina Aguilera), and Foo Fighters (“Walk”). The album was released on Universal Republic on 24th January 2011, with a portion of sales benefitting the Grammy Foundation and MusicCares Foundation.


In the article by Q Magazine published on 10th October 2011 entitled “First Impressions of… Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto”[4] they wrote: “The second single to be released from the album sounds much better in the context of the record – a mid-tempo bridge between the relative surge of Hurts Like Heaven and Charlie Brown. And, if the fuzzy stomp of those hip hop synths jarred with your impression of Coldplay (well, they wouldn’t work on Yellow, would they?), then they make perfect sense on Mylo Xyloto as a whole, revisited on the first thirty seconds of Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall and punctuating the Rihanna-assisted hollers of Princess Of China.”

First live performance

Paradise was first played in front of a Television studio audience on the night of 9th September, 2011. It was shot for France 2’s Taratata, a Parisian music show [5]. It was also played at both the Austin City Limits Taping event on 15th September 2011 (for a 31st December 2011 airing) and then the following day at the Austin City Limits Festival (shown below):

Paradise video

Coldplay initially announced that the single’s music video would be directed by Hype Williams (who previously directed the first version of the “Viva la Vida” music video) but that version was scrapped after shooting and the band decided instead to record a new version directed by long-time collaborator Mat Whitecross.

The video was released on 19 October 2011. In the video, a man dressed as an elephant (played by Chris Martin) escapes from a zoo in London and attempts to hitch-hike his way to another country (doing so finally by stowing away inside a suitcase). An aerial shot reveals that his initial destination was Cape Town, South Africa. He is then seen wandering around Johannesburg, at one point, walking past Nelson Mandela Bridge and a set of railway tracks in Braamfontein. He then earns enough money by busking (which appears to be ZAR 67.05, roughly equivalent to USD 8.40) on the street for a unicycle, and after a seemingly hopeless wander comes across three other elephants (the rest of Coldplay) playing the song in the veld (South African grasslands). The video shifts to the band playing a live show at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg before returning to the desert where they run towards the camera.

The music video was shot on location in London, Cape Town, the Klein Karoo in the Western Cape and Johannesburg.

At the release of the first play of Paradise, Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyles let slip that Coldplay were working on a video on Monday and Tuesday (12th and 13th September, 2011). This was partly-confirmed by a tweet from a user from the RED Cameras and Filmmakers forum that said: “RED EPIC-X #00031 flies to London for Coldplay Music Video Shoot with Hype Williams”. [6]. However this shoot was never released.

See also (in-detail):

  • Director Mat Whitecross on the Paradise video (20111110)‎

Critical reception

The song was met with positive reviews from the majority of music critics. Billboard.com gave a positive review calling the track “another slice of hug-warm ecstacy” and gave praise to the the “boiling strings, rattling synthesizers, and bass-heavy-beats” saying “it shows they know how to bring a few new tricks to the table”. Both Q and Rolling Stone offered similar praise. Altsounds.com gave a similar review remarking that there are “Drums that you would expect in a Rihanna song and melodies you would expect from a band like Friendly Fires and the ‘oohs’ from 3Oh!3 is what you first hear. That is, of course, until Chris Martin’s vocals come into play and there is no doubt in your mind that this is Coldplay. A wonderful chorus of “para-para-paradise” reminds you just how good they really are. It will remain with you for weeks to come, like that new piece of clothing you just can’t get enough of”. About.com said, in a three and a half star review, that “even when Coldplay sound a bit like they are spinning their wheels musically, it can still have quite beautiful moments. The huge opening fanfare of “Paradise” is simply gorgeous” but felt the rest of the song didn’t hold up as well as it could have. NME gave a more mixed reaction to the song, and felt that “It’s hard to say what the band is aiming for with the song. To replicate the epic football stadium “moment” of ‘Yellow’? The energy of a ‘Viva La Vida’? If so it doesn’t quite work on either count.”

Media reviews

Odd electro noises are accompanied with classical strings in the typical window sill fashion sense before everything else steps onto the “Paradise” stage. Drums that you would expect in a Rihanna song and melodies you would expect from a band like Friendly Fires and the ‘oohs’ from 3Oh!3 is what you first hear. That is, of course, until Chris Martin’s vocals come into play and there is no doubt in your mind that this is Coldplay. A wonderful chorus of “para-para-paradise” reminds you just how good they really are. It will remain with you for weeks to come, like that new piece of clothing you just can’t get enough of. Some would argue that this is perhaps a little bland from the Coldplay boys. For example, is there really any defining riff? The answer, I’m afraid to say, is no. There isn’t a whole lot of creativity or originality chucked into the blender of musical production. But, let’s be honest now, who gives a crap?! Not me, for sure. Yes, it is a little different from the normal Coldplay formula, incorporating a large amount of electro elements into their songs, but it still upholds this sense of emotional window sill experiences. The heart and soul of Coldplay remains the same, it’s just the body that has changed. Maybe it isn’t as handsome as its predecessor, but I’m not that shallow – it’s all about what’s on the inside. So, in short, as Mr. Micawber would say, Coldplay have retained themselves. They’ve safeguarded the essence of Coldplay in this second single, “Paradise”. It’s still Coldplay, it’s still brilliant – it always will be. It’s not the same, necessarily, but it’s still brilliant. And that’s all that matters. [7]

“Yawn”. Before the new album is released later this month (with it’s terrible title – what the hell does ‘Mylo Xyloto’ actually mean?!), the band have released another piece of pathetically pretentious posturing. The trouble with Coldplay is they seem to be hell bent on the idea that more is more. It’s not. Over-production suffocates decent songwriting, though they left that far behind after ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’. Paradise begins with a church organ and fluttering strings – a shallow attempt at grandure – though the booming synth bass adds a modern twist to the sound. Otherwise, they’ve thrown everything at this track: epic piano and guitar riffs, orchestral strings, synth effects, a sing along chorus sung by a stuttering Chris Martin. What also annoys is the unnecessary self referencing of Every Teardop… in the second chorus – it just smacks of “head up own arse” syndrome. What’s the obsession with epic grandure? It’s as if adding more layers will help them reach some sort of musical nirvana, when in fact a return to the raw simplicity of their earlier work would be far more preferable. Coldplay may be in paradise but their latest work is far from sublime. 2/5 [8]

It said something that the optimistic euphoria of Coldplay’s last single ‘Every Tear Drop Is A Waterfall’ was more palatable when it was covered by Robyn. The music-makes-it-all-better sentiment and the day glo rhythms felt slightly forced coming out of Chris Martin’s mouth, whereas there was an ease and conviction to the whole thing when Ms Carlsson was delivering the same lines. ‘Mylo Xyloto’ is set to reverberate with more pop sensibilities- Rihanna is to make an appearance on ‘Princess Of China’, so it’s no surprise that new single ‘Paradise’ takes the normal Coldplay model and gives it a chart-friendly make over. There’s the dropped drum beat, the vaguely dubstep-like bassline and the “Para-para-paradise” hook of the chorus. This is all played over a New Age-ish sounding backing; strings, the familiar simple piano riff and, eventually, a choir who intone a “Woah-oh-oh-oh” line. It’s hard to say what the band is aiming for with the song. To replicate he epic football stadium “moment” of ‘Yellow’? The energy of a ‘Viva La Vida’? If so it doesn’t quite work on either count. ‘Paradise’ feels both slightly listless and muddled. The “hip” new sonic treatments sound out of date (there’s a mid-noughties vibe about the whole thing) and the chorus comes off as a weak facsimile of what Coldplay have done effortlessly in the past; specifically that people-uniting aspect. Whilst Coldplay’s pop makeover may be – for them at least- quite revelatory, it feels like Chris Martin’s populist songwriting tendencies have been clipped. Ultimately it feels like a few steps back rather than forward. 6.2/10. [9]

Coldplay once again aim for a stadium-sized sound and achieve it on ‘Paradise,’ the new single from their upcoming album ‘Mylo Xyloto.’ While many of Coldplay’s best songs are built around the voice of singer Chris Martin, ‘Paradise’ makes a lasting impression before Martin offers a single word. The minute-long introduction builds with strings and keyboards before a slow, hypnotic beat enters the picture. Martin sings a third-person narrative about a girl whose life hasn’t measured up to her expectations: “When she was just a girl / She expected the world / But it flew away from her reach / So she ran away in her sleep.” Martin references the band’s last single with the lines, “Life goes on, it gets so heavy / The wheel breaks the butterfly / Every tear, a waterfall / In the night, the stormy night / She closed her eyes,” before launching into an epic sing-along chorus, “She dreams of para, para, paradise.” After a guitar solo, the song fades out with soft humming and a brief piano section, a nicely understated ending to a captivating song. 4.5/5 [10]

The evolution of music is something that is as old as time, and so is the evolution of sound within a particular act. No music act should ever cling to the same rock when it comes to music or be in a position where they’re resting on the same credentials thirty years on from now (if they’re still lucky enough to be around), and neither should any act ever be content with staying on one rock for their entire career, so it therefore stands to reason that no act should ever shoe-horn themselves into a position where growth, maturity and musical exploration is impossible. Exploration of sound is imperative, if not for the continued interest or popular media then for the continued interest of their most loyal listeners. Perhaps not noticeably, Coldplay’s progression from their MOR-rock beginnings spent dwelling in U2’s shadow have always been a step – or maybe a deliberately low-key shuffle – in the right direction, when you manage to ignore the fact that the album that should’ve followed the brilliant ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’ shouldn’t have been ‘X&Y’, until of course, U2 themselves strayed into MOR-rock territory. And possibly because of it’s high ambitions, buzz single ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ got by because it didn’t so much clunk along in the same piano-led fashion Coldplay are renowned for – it had a charming gallop to it despite being their mostly easily digestible lyrical affair thus far, and added with it’s spacial freshness and faultless musicianship, it gave the impression that the band had learnt how to create an accompaniment which could home Chris Martin’s vocals at last, rather than making them sound like they put a downer on everything the band put their hands to. Suffice to say a lot has been resting on the shoulders of the proper lead single ‘Paradise’, and on it’s opening you could be led to thinking Coldplay’s earlier learnings have gotten the better of them and already spoiled it, but the orchestral strings are simply one of many a nod to past Coldplay with nods to future Coldplay maintaining the balance. Not to say that the song is perfect: without pillaging too much to say it’s an outright influence, ‘Paradise’ boasts a thumping percussion loop and bass making an entrance like a wrecking ball backed up with high-flying strings, only to be removed when the whining echo of Gwyneth Paltrow’s beaux adds a pathos-less verse about a girl or something, before being joined once again by the post-apocalyptic verve. Once the song climaxes, Martin’s falsetto creates grandiose at a volume and pace that hasn’t ever been seen by the band before – they tried it on ‘Fix You’ (most of ‘X&Y’ in fact) and somewhat succeeded in terms of the song’s connotative value, but the unnecessarily depressing ordeal of having to actually listen to it can’t keep people awake long enough to be pissed off anymore. That’s where ‘Paradise’ succeeds – it’s bold and dramatic with chilling harmonies and well-placed passing noise, proving that the band as musicians are flawless, but it’s still no hard task to tell a Coldplay song from a U2 song or a Radiohead song. Martin’s lyrics and his slow-paced delivery only really resolve to the listener’s forgiveness at one point – the chorus, and that only arrives half-way through and is only held together by a sequence of “Ohhh” chanting from the rest of the band. [11]

The Oracle on Paradise

February 25, 2014 – submitted by Gerardo, Mexico
Q. Hi Oracle,
Since I saw the Paradise video I’ve had this question in my head and right until this moment I took the time to put it together and send it to you.
What is this picture?
I thought that was at the recording of the Paradise video, as it says in the caption, but it never came up. I hope you can answer this question as I’m sure I’m not the only Coldplay fan that noticed this.
The Oracle replies:
This Paradise video never made the light of day – I’ve never seen it – and was replaced with the wonderful Mat Whitecross video.

September 11, 2013 – submitted by Kaylie, United States of America
Q. Did Chris have to learn to ride a unicycle for the Paradise video?
The Oracle replies:
No, he already knew how to ride one.

August 14, 2013 – submitted by Maren, Germany
Q. Dear Oracle,
I have another question about underground scenes in Video PARADISE. We all know it was recorded at Belsize Park Station but this station has no escelator and in Min 0:40, Elephant Chris is standing between signs Northern Line and Bakerloo Line. As you know Elephant wants to go to Heathrow. Only Piccadilly Line goes there. So he has to change. My question: Was it recorded also in Charing Cross Underground (because of Northern and Bakerloo Line) and he changes at Piccadilly Station to Heathrow?? Sorry for my bad English.
The Oracle replies:
Well, the first thing to tell you is that a video isn’t necessarily factually correct. That means that artistic license can be used to create illusion. The elephant appears to make that journey but that doesn’t mean he actually did. You are right that Belsize Park Underground station doesn’t have an escalator.
If I was going to Heathrow from Belsize Park, I would take the Northern Line to Leicester Square and change for the Piccadilly Line there. However, it is indeed Charing Cross station that we see our elephant stood between signs for the Northern & Bakerloo line. London has several airports and none of them would require getting off at Charing Cross station. This is where the artistic license comes in.
The video is shot and edited to tell a story but shouldn’t be taken as 100% accurate.
Some scenes look better with the benefit of those aesthetic choices (the escalator for sure).
I’d never really paid attention to the details or inaccuracies but you went to a lot of trouble so I hope I made sense of it for you.

May 9, 2013 – submitted by Jamie, United Kingdom
Q. Hi, The Oracle.
I’ve always wondered, why did Coldplay choose Belsize Park Underground Station to record part of the Paradise video, and was the station closed to the general public when they were filming? If so, how long for?
I hope you can answer this question
The Oracle replies:
Our second London tube question of the day.
Belsize Park station (ooh – Princess of China remix has just come on Kiss radio as I type this) is the closest Underground station to The Bakery, that’s why it was used.
It wasn’t closed to the public – none of the Underground shots involved closing the stations.

March 28, 2013 – submitted by Maria, Italy
Q. Hi Dear Oracle. Hope everything’s ok over there 😉
I got excited reading that Life Of Pi won as Best Soundtrack at Oscars 2013… so is it true that Paradise is part of it? If yes I’ll be more excited. actually! And you? Thanks a lot xxx MC
The Oracle replies:
No, Paradise was used as a trailer for the film but the Oscar was given to Mychael Danna for the Best Original Score.

November 21, 2012 – submitted by Katelyn, United States of America
Q. Is there any personal meaning behind the writing of Paradise to the band?
The Oracle replies:
There was a newspaper that reported the song was inspired by the ‘everyday childhood disappointments’ experienced by Chris’ daughter.
He himself said: “Paradise is about a girl really, the female half of the album, just about being a bit lost in the world and escaping through fantasy.”
Don’t forget, the band also said the album is more of a concept album than anything.

November 8, 2012 – submitted by Ben, United Kingdom
Q. Dear Oracle,
At the end of the Paradise video when the Chris elephant meets the rest of the ‘elephant band’ in the savannah, is it actually the band members in the costumes or just actors?
The Oracle replies:
Yes, it really was the whole band involved in being the elephant band. That was a long, hot day!

October 9, 2012 – submitted by Pepijn, Netherlands
Q. Dear Oracle,
Today I found this awesome video from the directors of the Strawberry Swing video. They made an alternative music video for Paradise and I LOVED it. So I was wondering, has Coldplay had anything to do with this video?? I have, I think, never seen it anywhere on the website. I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with everyone.
Greetings from Holland.
The Oracle replies:
Yes, that was the first incarnation of the Paradise video before Chris came up with the concept for the award-winning elephant video that became the official video for the song.
I like Shynola’s work but am so happy with the band’s final decision as Paradise is still my favourite Coldplay video so far.

January 9, 2012 – submitted by Olivia, Canada
Q. Paradise is absolutely one of my favorite songs, but lately I’ve started to ponder over the meaning. The dictionary says paradise is a place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness. I think that paradise is different for everyone and that it is always beautiful, but somewhat unattainable. O mighty oracle, what is your definition of paradise? From a Candian Coldplayer, Olivia
The Oracle replies:
Paradise does represent different thing to different people but you can’t re-write its dictionary definition. You’re right in some ways as a place of extreme beauty, delight or happiness may not always be achievable. The first meaning of paradise I encountered was at church when at primary school. Heaven was commonly referred to as paradise – I suppose it fits – though these days that’s the last thing I would think of when thinking of my own paradise. The Maldives is the closest I came to feeling I was in a real paradise but then I also visited a local island where locals lived and it was anything but in comparison. It opened to my eyes to how man-made and false paradise can be too.

November 7, 2011 – submitted by Isa, Brazil
Q. Hey Oracle.
I don’t know already this questions but,
where (or who was) the idea of elephants on Paradise?
Thank You, Isa.
I’m pretty sure that Phil & the band came up with the idea…

October 20, 2011 – submitted by France, Canada
Q. Hi Oracle,
I saw the Paradise video and it made my day. And what a day it was…
Can you share a funny story about the shoot? I am sure that there is one… an elephant does not blend well in our busy cities.
The Oracle replies:
As it was filmed in different locations it was pieced together over quite a time.
The South African outdoor shots were filmed on 7th October and the live performance was the following night at the Johannesburg gig.
The week after when they got back to London, Chris shot the underground scenes. I do have a funny story (well, I think it’s funny) from that day.
On 11th October, Shaun Weston (from Bristol) wrote on twitter, “I rode a Charing Cross escalator with Chris Martin today. He was dressed as an elephant. Anyone else see him, or was I dreaming?”

I know a few people saw Chris that day and it did surprise a few fans.

October 20, 2011 – submitted by Jessica, United States of America
Q. Dearest Oracle,
I am in love with the song Paradise and rightly so I am also in love with the music video for it. I have a question though. Why does Guy have a different elephant suit than everyone else? I noticed that his suit is darker than the rest and doesn’t have elephant feet/shoes. Also why doesn’t Guy’s elephant have any identifying features like Johnny’s has his trademark hat and Will’s has a pair of glasses? Also why does Will’s elephant have glasses? I don’t recall ever seeing him wear glasses during performances.
Thank you Oracle!
p.s. I want to tell the band that I loved that they used elephants over any other animals, they’re the best, both the band and elephants.
The Oracle replies:
See, the fact that Guy’s elephant doesn’t have elephant feet makes him different and so maybe that’s his defining difference?
I actually wonder if there’s more to a passing nod to The Banana Splits, a late 60’s children’s entertainment combo. They had an elephant who wore glasses – although Snorky (the bespectacled one) wasn’t the drummer; he was the keyboard player.
I have seen Will wear glasses – granted not during a performance but that wouldn’t be practical anyway given the power machine that he is. Can you imagine attempting Politik and avoiding glasses steaming up or flying off? No, I didn’t think so…
One of The Banana Splits doesn’t have his animal’s feet, so maybe as with Guy, the normal feet is another nod?

October 20, 2011 – submitted by Darren, United Kingdom
Q. Hi Oracle, hope you are well did Chris really get on the tube at Belsize Park and Sit on the tube with norms (normal peoples) and no one knew it was him? Or was it a stunt a phant?
The Oracle replies:
He really did get on the tube. There’s been a lot of questions about the video so read the next couple also…

October 19, 2011 – submitted by Brian K, United States of America
Q. Just watched the Paradise video and was wondering, can Chris really ride a unicycle?
The Oracle replies:
You saw it with your own eyes; it wasn’t a trick. Chris takes things seriously so I doubt him not unicycling was ever in question. I think that man could quite possibly do anything he sets his mind to!

September 5, 2011 – submitted by Sebastien, Switzerland
Q. Dear Oracle, Do you know if the new single Paradise will be aired on a radio before its release date? Thank you a lot! Greetings from Switzerland! Sébastien
The Oracle replies:
Given the single is out next week it’s not looking likely that it’ll be played before.

August 25, 2011 – submitted by Jory, United States of America
Q. Great Oracle! Here is my question, have you got the chance to hear Coldplay’s unreleased single Paradise? What is your opinion about the song. Cheers!
The Oracle replies:
I LOVE it. Eduardo from Mexico was a little concerned that Charlie Brown was being ditched in favour of Paradise but he needn’t be. The Billboard interview mentions that Charlie Brown was always planned to follow ETIAW as a single but perhaps too obvious a choice. It goes on to say that Paradise is more representative of what’s to come on the album as a whole.

Lyrics (official)

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach so
She ran away in her sleep
And dreamed of
Para-para-paradise, Para-para-paradise, Para-para-paradise
Every time she closed her eyes

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
And the bullets catch in her teeth
Life goes on, it gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear a waterfall
In the night the stormy night she’ll close her eyes
In the night the stormy night away she’d fly

And dreams of
Oh oh oh oh oh oh-oh-oh
She’d dream of
Oh oh oh oh oh oh-oh-oh-oh

And so lying underneath those stormy skies
She’d say, “oh, ohohohoh I know the sun must set to rise”

This could be
Oh oh oh oh oh oh-oh-oh
This could be
This could be
Oh oh oh oh oh oh-oh-oh-oh