Artistic Response to War: Coldplay’s “Violet Hill”

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Coldplay – Violet Hill

From their 2008 album, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, the alternative British rock band, Coldplay, takes on more serious tones to put a spotlight on the themes of love, loss, and war. One important trait of this particular album is that its true meanings are not blatantly expressed from just the music videos; preferably it allows the stories to unfold through somber lyrics and lets the listeners/viewers interpret the songs alongside visual representations in their own way. With it’s marching beat, “Violet Hill,” the very first of the band’s anti-war pieces, gives listeners a point of view of war conditions from a reminiscing veteran who was on his way to be drafted but carried much emotional baggage along the way. Political responsibilities for war are expressed through allusions, “When the future’s ‘architectured’ by a carnival of idiots on show, you better lie low…,” serving as a warning to other potential recruits not to get caught and have their fate determined by deceiving politicians. Two important themes in Violet Hill stand out and coordinate with those of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” which includes unrequited love as mentioned from the refrain, “If you love me, won’t you let me know,” as well as the idea of maintaining one’s honor through possible death, “Bury me in armor when I’m dead and hit the ground.” The song responds to war in a way that intends to evoke compassion for those who serve whether voluntarily or not. Although the concept of war from a soldier’s raw point of view may seem ugly to some, the hostility the situation still manages to highlight the allure of humanity these courageous men so outwardly display over their camouflage.