The Hardest Part

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The Hardest Part” is the fourth single from Coldplay’s 2005 album, X&Y. The song was released to UK radio and download sites on 3 April 2006 and was released internationally on CD in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia in May and June 2006. The international version of the single was made available in the UK on 19 June 2006. In France and the French speaking portions of Belgium and Switzerland “What If” was released instead of “The Hardest Part”, and a Belgium commercial CD featured the same B-side, “How You See the World” recorded live at Earls Court.

Like the previous single from X&Y, “Talk”, had been a tribute to Kraftwerk, “The Hardest Part” was intended by Coldplay as a stylistic nod to R.E.M.. In fact, according to the band, they felt “The Hardest Part” resembled R.E.M.’s 1991 hit “Losing My Religion” so much that they almost left it off the album.


Contents

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Release


Coldplay released The Hardest Part in the US and UK on 3 April 2006 as the fourth single of their third album. The single was pressed with a B-side, How You See The World, recorded live at Earls Court. The international version of the single was made available in the UK on 19 June 2006. Regional singles were released for Canada, Europe, Australia, and a different version for Taiwan. Promotional singles were released in the UK and US. The track peaked at number 37 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.

Although the song did not chart on the UK Singles Chart, as the song was released as a radio-only song, the single peaked on the Italian charts on 11 May 2006 at number 19 and spent a week in the chart. Afterward, the song peaked on the New Zealand Charts at number 34 on 21 August 2006.

In 2009, a live piano version of The Hardest Part appeared on Coldplay’s live album LeftRightLeftRightLeft.


Production and composition


The previous single from X&Y, Talk, was a tribute to the German band Kraftwerk; similarly, The Hardest Part was intended by Coldplay to acknowledge American band R.E.M. When asked why the song paid a tribute to R.E.M.’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, Chris Martin said: “I’ve lost all respect for fame, but I haven’t lost all respect for respect. So the one great thing about being famous is that I get to meet people who I respect. Our relationship is akin to a dog and its master. I’ll always look up to him.”

The band felt the track resembled R.E.M.’s 1991 single, “Losing My Religion”. The Hardest Part was left out of the album track list when the band sent an early version of the album to their record label, Parlophone. The track, however, was included when X&Y was finalized. When asked about the song’s meaning, Martin referred to it as a “terrible song, good video”. He does not give any reason for this statement, other than a short explanation of how the video was recorded.

The Hardest Part features a piano ballad sound. The song starts with a repeating two-note piano riff, and features an instrumentation of a singsong guitar. It also includes a slow tempo with a drumming rhythm. The track ends with the band playing the repeated instrument riffs.


Media reception


Critics were positive towards the song. In the Entertainment Weekly review of the album, music contributor David Browne wrote that the song “is imbued with the sense of regret and letting go that we’ve heard from the band before, but with added musical muscle.”

Michael Hubbard of MusicOMH wrote: “A Message and The Hardest Part sound like companion pieces, both big songs.” Critic Kelefa Sanneh of Rolling Stone noted that the song gets “less catchy as it goes along”. Adrien Begrand from PopMatters wrote that “The Hardest Part” is a “pleasant slice of R.E.M. style pop.” Cameron Adams of the Herald Sun reported that the song sounded “like the Smiths meets REM.” David Cheal of The Daily Telegraph noted, “…’The Hardest Part’ is lovely, straightforward, instantly accessible pop-rock”.


Track listings

  1. “How You See The World” (live from Earls Court)

Cover images

Music video

“The Hardest Part” Music video

The music video for “The Hardest Part” was shot on 3 March 2006 in St. Petersburg, Florida at a yacht marina. The video is similar to Weezer’s video for Buddy Holly, in that uses a clip from a short-lived 80s program “Attitudes” on the Lifetime network, and has the band digitally inserted. The band essentially plays beside a stage where an 84-year-old lady and her 25-year-old male friend put up an incredible act of athleticism, despite her age. Actress Linda Dano, who played “Felicia Gallant” on the soap opera Another World, is also featured via the Attitudes footage. The video was directed by Mary Wigmore. Another version of the video features a cameo from Chris Martin’s father, Anthony Martin, but was never broadcast. It premiered on Wednesday, 22 March at 11:05 p.m. on Channel 4 in the UK.


Chart Performance


In the U.S., “The Hardest Part” entered Billboard’s AC chart, peaking at #37. It’s being played on Triple A radio, reaching #18 on the Radio & Records Triple A chart.


The Oracle on The Hardest Part


September 10, 2010 – submitted by Kaley, Ireland

Q. Q.Yet another question for you Oracle.

I was watching the Hardest Part music video. Was that an actual gig that Coldplay went to or was it set up for the music video?

Much love!

The Oracle replies:

The Hardest Part video’s live performance was set up purely for the video; technically some audience members are extras.

August 17, 2009 – submitted by Karen, United States of America

Q. Dear Coldplay

A question, and a heartfelt thanks to you…

I’m wondering why you selected my grandmother’s (Barbara Moseley) dance video for your song The Hardest Part? I have loved your music since the beginning, and was so happy when you chose her video for so many reasons I can’t explain here.. I will forever be in your debt for bringing her back to me in this way. Your music is poetry brought to life…most sincerely, Karen

The Oracle replies:

Wow! Awesome to hear from you Karen. How strange that I just read a question asking if Barbara was in fact a stunt woman!

It wasn’t actually the band who chose the clip; it was the video’s director Mary Wigmore.

I have answered a couple of questions about your Grandmother that you may have missed so have a look here and here. Thanks for getting in touch!

June 5, 2009 – submitted by Andy, New Zealand

Q. Dear Oracle,

On the new album, whose lovely voice is it doing the harmonies on The Hardest Part? When I saw the show I do not remember anyone else being on stage, but perhaps I was just distracted by Chris?

Gratefully yours,

Andy

The Oracle replies:

I sort of answered this only yesterday but perhaps I wasn’t clear. Anyway, as Chris performs this song from Stage B it’s easy to miss that Will is singing backing vocals behind his drums on the main stage.

June 4, 2009 – submitted by Andrew, United States of America

Q. Oh wise Oracle,

I just went to the Darien Center concert yesterday and it was by far the best concert I have ever been to in my life. I was wondering though, how come Chris played The Hardest Part acoustically? Hope you answer!

P.S. – When the band came and played in the back area of the crowd it was amazing I could have reached out and touched them!

The Oracle replies:

This started back on Saturday 30 August 2008 when Coldplay performed an intimate live concert for BBC Radio 2. Chris announced that they were playing it that way as the band were divided on their opinion of the song. Two members like it; two don’t so he and Will performed it acoustically. It then became a part of the live show and proves to be a popular version.

April 15, 2009 – submitted by Kiran, Canada

Q. At a BBC radio gig, Chris started playing the Hardest Part on his own, then called it an ego trip. He went on to say two of the guys liked The Hardest Part (one of them being him, I assume) and that two of the guys weren’t too fond of it. So who’s on what side?

The Oracle replies:

Chris and Will are on the pro side with Jonny & Guy on the other. All members favour the acoustic version though.

October 31, 2008 – submitted by Whisp, New Zealand

Q. Hello. we were recently priviledged enough to stumble across Coldplay’s “Hardest Part” video and to let Barbara the 84 year old dancer into our lives. Is there anywhere that we might obtain some further information about the legend herself (and perhaps a tad about Spencer her tanned, g-string clad companion)? thanks oracle, you’re a champ. Whisp and Thong xxx

The Oracle replies:

That video was made 16 years after Barbara (R.I.P) and Spencer appeared on the Attitudes show. There’s not much information about the pair, which is a shame, but you can see a variation of the routine here.

September 4, 2008 – submitted by Ana, Mexico

Q. Chris recently said that two of the Coldplays did not like the hardest part and other 2 who like it.

Who are those who like it?

The Oracle replies:

You refer to last Saturday (30th August) when the band played a gig at the BBC theatre. Chris remarked that only 2 of them liked the song. As he and Will started he turned around to Guy & Jonny who weren’t participating and gestured that it was obvious which 2 didn’t.

However, I know die-hard fans may be confused as Chris has commented in the past that The Hardest Part was a terrible song, good video.

Unfortunately Ana as you’re from outside the U.K you won’t be able to watch footage from the show, but you can read about it and see photos on the Radio 2 website.

August 15, 2008 – submitted by Miriam, United States of America

Q. I was wondering- in Coldplay’s music video The Hardest Part, was it the bands idea to to have that those 80’s dancers in it? How did that come up and is it supposed to be funny? I was trying to find an “inner meaning” but I can’t seem to find one.

The Oracle replies:

There isn’t an inner meaning. Basically Mary Wigmore, the video’s director had been waiting for the right project to come along so she could use the footage. It was originally from a U.S talk show called Attitudes. The clip was taken from a 1990 episode in Miami featuring Gene & Barbara (the latter died a few years ago) and was spliced with the band’s performance. It is supposed to be funny but of course no way patronizing to the amazing dancers.


Lyrics


And the hardest part
Was letting go not taking part
Was the hardest part
And the strangest thing
Was waiting for that bell to ring
It was the strangest start

I could feel it go down
Bittersweet I could taste in my mouth
Silver lining the clouds
Oh and I
I wish that I could work it out

And the hardest part
Was letting go not taking part
You really broke my heart, oh
And I tried to sing
But I couldn’t think of anything
And that was the hardest part, oh, oh

I can feel it go down
You left the sweetest taste in my mouth
You’re a silver lining the clouds
Oh and I
Oh and I
I wonder what it’s all about

I wonder what it’s all about

Everything I know, is, wrong
Everything I do
It just comes undone
And everything is torn apart
Oh and thats the hardest part
That’s the hardest part
Yeah that’s the hardest part
That’s the hardest part.