The coming together of veteran Brit soft rockers Coldplay and K-Pop sensations BTS was hugely anticipated after both bands put out teasers for their upcoming single. The post on social media even had an image featuring lyrics in various colours scribbled in both English and Korean text.
So we had an idea of the general sonic direction the song was headed in, but it was not until 'My Universe' dropped today on Friday morning that we realised that the weekend was on hand and a party track was already playing! Releasing both the lyrical and instrumental versions of 'My Universe,' Coldplay and BTS have strategically widened their fanbases by catering to even the EDM fans from around the world.
'My Universe' brings in every bit of the greatness that makes both BTS and Coldplay the icons they are in their own musical spheres. The synth-pop song will be the second song from Coldplay's forthcoming 15 October album Music of the Spheres, and has in many ways thrown down the gauntlet for the Brit rockers to follow up this formidable act.
Interspersing English and Korean lyrics, this love song sees the Asian singing phenomena hold their own as Coldplay bring their distinct brand of grand pop-rock to the experience.
The song is universal in its appeal as it talks of two lovers who defy all odds to be together, in many ways rounding up the unlikely collaboration of the two bands themselves.
"And they said we can't be together, because we come from different sides."
There is an unmistakable One Direction vibe to the song, reminiscent of 'Best Song Ever' in the mood of the chorus, but 'My Universe' is undoubtedly a gentle love song. It is not entirely pathbreaking in the pop sphere, but the cultural amalgam is so perfect that it will be a matter of time that the bands' non-Korean fans will be mouthing the Korean lyrics, particularly the lovely rap interplay between Suga and J-Hope. This is testimony to the effort both bands have taken to transcend the limitations of language and allow the universality of love and music to illuminate our listening experience.
Coldplay share songwriting credits with the South Korean septet's rappers J-Hope, RM, and Suga. Chris Martin's soulful vocals are more than matched with the subtle yet strong prowess of his BTS counterparts. There is a brief moment where Kim Taehyung (also called V) goes "your eyes" that is bound to drive the band's female fans into peels of excitement. There are smooth transitions between Jin and J-Hope while Suga's rapping seamlessly takes over from Martin's vocals, making the song as distinctly BTS as it is definitively Coldplay. This truly reiterated how iconic a collaboration 'My Universe' has turned out to be.
The release of the single today will be followed by a documentary special scheduled for 26 September, and an acoustic version set to release on 27 September, followed by an official music video directed by the legendary Dave Meyers. Meyers is credited with some of the most popular songs in the recent past: Coldplay's 'Higher Power,' Ariana Grande's 'Positions,' Anderson Paak's 'Lockdown,' Ed Sheeran's 'Bad Habit,' Harry Styles' 'Adore You,' and Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy.'
The lyrical video released today is in sync with the overall album theme of intergalactic grandeur of neon stars and stylish typefaces dotting the pitch blackness of the infinite sky. The doodling and writing are stereotypically Asian in terms of the kind of '80s bubblegum pop we are accustomed to from Japan and South Korea.
BTS' collaboration with the Brit rockers follows their work with Ed Sheeran (he co-wrote their hit 'Permission to Dance') and Megan Thee Stallion (for a version of their 2021 mega hit 'Butter'). Their love for Coldplay was on display when they wowed fans from around the world by covering Coldplay's 2005 hit song 'Fix You' on MTV Unplugged.
Ever since news of the forthcoming single was announced, fans on both sides of the globe have had diverse reactions to the collaboration. While many of a Coldplay fan has voiced concerns about the band seeking Top 10 hit makers (Rihanna, The Chainsmokers, and now BTS) and essentially "selling out," several others have been more welcoming of the Brit band's creative work with South Korea's best-selling artists of all time, and global pop sensations.
Martin, while speaking with Apple Music's New Music Daily, anticipated this polarising response: "We started communicating with BTS, and then we went to Korea. It's something you could look at so cynically, and we have at times, but anytime there's actual communication or music between us, it just feels so good. I unabashedly and unashamedly feel really grateful for the song, grateful for the person that inspired the song and grateful for the person we sing it with."
We are just as grateful for both Coldplay and BTS to show us that despite the business move of getting two artists at the top of their game to collaborate, 'My Universe' is at the end of the day a really good song. And we must have the humility to admit to that.
Listen to the track here.
Watch the lyrics video here