In an interview last month, Chris Martin explained the concept of Coldplay’s forthcoming album, Mylo Xyloto, as an album-long love story, “a kind of romance in an oppressive environment.” What might that environment be, Vulture wondered, and would it involve a GOOP dinner party? This week, finally, some more details from Martin: “The album is designed as a whole piece. It has boy and girl lead characters and top of our list for the girl part was Rihanna.” Believe it or not, Rihanna actually agreed to be on the album. Even better? The track list, released this week, indicates that her song is called “Princess in China.” A Coldplay rock opera starring Chris Martin and Rihanna, set in China! We can’t bear to wait until October 25 for this masterpiece, and so, with the help of the track list and a few early album previews, Vulture has divined the plot of Mylo Xyloto. Read on for romance, intrigue, and teardrops of unnatural size.
1. “Mylo Xyloto”
Mylo, the boy protagonist played by Chris Martin — and named, surely, from Gwyneth Paltrow’s leftover Baby Names list — is a lonely teenager who dreams of taking risks and finding acceptance and other ambiguous happiness. Given his last name, he probably lives in the future, where they name people based on trades (the future is like the past in that way), so we’ll assume he’s a xylophonist.
2. “Hurts Like Heaven”
Coldplay debuted this song at Lollapalooza in August, and while the audio isn’t great, we can make out a few lyrics, specifically: “You use your heart as a weapon, and it hurts like heaven.” Aha! Mylo has met the girl character. It’s hard to make out much else from the video, other than that (a) it’s upbeat and (b) there’s a Homer Simpson–y looking light guy doing the running man in the background. So we’ll guess that Mylo meets his lady love in a Future-Teen Discotheque, where Simpsons Dancing is all the rage. He falls hard.
From the album’s second single, released yesterday: “When she was just a girl / she expected the world / but it flew away from her reach / so she ran way in her sleep / Ooooooooo.” Enter the Rihanna character, as yet unnamed, but obviously very unhappy. Why won’t you open your heart to Mylo, Unnamed Rihanna Character?
4. “Charlie Brown”
Oh dear: Mylo’s love is totally unrequited. And he can’t taste peanut butter. And he made an ill-advised trip downtown to hang with “lost boys” who metaphorically smashed his heart and maybe actually smashed his head into the pavement. Still, Mylo believes that his love for Unnamed Rihanna Character (URC) will set him free.
5. “Us Against the World”
Mylo remains pretty certain that his love for URC will set him free. He plays some xylophone to convince her.
Being a citizen of the Future, Mylo can time travel; he takes a trip back to 2009 to distract himself from URC, who was totally unpersuaded by that xylophone. He sees Avatar and realizes that the real 2154 is a nice time to live, despite his crappy romantic situation.
7. “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”
Reinvigorated by his time travels, Mylo returns home, puts on “I Will Survive,” and dances around his living room. (In the future, Gloria Gaynor sounds like Coldplay.) URC “can hurt him bad,” but still he “raises the flag,” etc. He plays some more xylophone.
8. “Major Minus”
URC has fallen in with the wrong crowd — specifically, the Disney version of Captain Hook and his pirate gang, who have fallen through a worm hole, landed in 2154, and are now releasing “ticking crocodiles” (that’s in the song, we swear) into the wild. URC, entranced by the magical ticking sound, follows one such crocodile away from town and toward a haunted lagoon. But fear not: Mylo is close behind and will save his beloved.
The pirates kidnap URC and take her into space. Oops, Mylo.
10. “Princess in China” (Featuring Rihanna)
URC, who will henceforth be known as the Princess, awakes in an unknown time and land (spoiler: the land turns out to be China). She is frightened but also slightly enthused, because China resembles her Para Para Paradise and she woke up with a cool crown on her head.
11. “Up in Flames”
Mylo, distraught and alone at the haunted lagoon, sets fire to Captain Hook’s pirate ship. More xylophone, but this time with sadness.
12. “A Hopeful Transmission”
Suddenly, Mylo sees a flash through the sky and correctly assumes it to be the UFO that abducted the Princess. He follows the trail all the way to the Great Wall, where he finds the Princess … who is dying of a broken heart, because Mylo took so long to find her. She loved him all along!
13. “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”
Reunited atop the Great Wall, Mylo sings a tearful goodbye to the Princess and vows to honor her memory by living his life to the fullest.
14. “Up With the Birds”
Martin claims that Mylo Xyloto has a happy ending, so, here goes: The Princess, reincarnated as a bird, comes to find Mylo after many years. Mylo recognizes her instantly and, unable to adopt her given the strict anti-pet laws in 2154, builds a magnificent treehouse in China, where he and Princess live the rest of their days in perfect bird-man harmony. Final xylophone.
Coldplay Reveal Mylo Xyloto Track Listing [Idolator]