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The Nigerian Inspirations On Coldplay’s “Everyday Life” Album

The Nigerian Inspirations On Coldplay’s Everyday Life Album | Image:

After a 4-year hiatus, British rock band Coldplay surprised the world with their eight studio album “Everyday Life” – a double album, with the first half titled Sunrise and the other Sunset. It was released on 22 November 2019. 

The album has received positive reviews and can be regarded as one of the band’s best albums. The ingenious blend of sounds from different cultures solidifies the notion that music is indeed spiritual.

Everyday Life featured three tracks that were inspired and infused with Nigerian sounds; “Arabesque”, “Champion Of The World” and “Eko”.

  • “Arabesque” – Three Generations Of The Anikulapo-Kuti

Arabesque is the co-lead single to the Everyday Life album. It was released on 24 October 2019 alongside Orphans. It features vocals by Belgian singer Stromae and horn sections by Femi Kuti and his band.

Arabesque features three generations of the Anikulapo-Kuti family: 

Just before the outro, we get to hear a sample from Fela Kuti “Music is the weapon, music is the weapon of the future” the legendary Afrobeats pioneer chanted three times.

While Femi Kuti and his son, Made Kuti delivered an exquisite Afrobeat groove to the track.

  • “Champion Of The World” –  The Inspiring Story Of The father Of Igbo Church Music

“Champion of the World” was released on November 20th. The song is a tribute to Scott Hutchison, the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit who took his life in May 2018 after struggling with depression.

Interestingly, the song begins with an Igbo gospel hymn intro. The sample is from Harcourt Whyte’s song titled ‘Otuto Nke Chukwu N’ojija Aha Ya’.

[Intro: ‘Otuto Nke Chukwu’]
Gi nwa nke chukwu, gini ka ina ekwu
N’ihi ihe nile
Nke chukwu mere

The lyrics translate from Igbo to English as:

“You that is of God, what are we going to say?

For everything

God made it”

Harcourt Whyte has an inspiring story. His birth name is Ikoli Harcourt-Whyte. He was born in Abonnema in the old Niger Delta region in 1905.

In 1919, he was diagnosed with leprosy after symptoms were first noticed in 1918. In the early 1920s, he was sent to Port Harcourt General Hospital where he developed his talent in music and went on to form a vocalist band with forty other lepers.

In 1932, he was transferred to Uzuakoli Leprosy Hospital, Bende Division, Eastern Nigeria, where he met doctor-reverend-musician T.F. Davey from England. Whyte was encouraged by Davey, who took him on village survey tours to collect various traditional sounds. 

In 1949, after 34 years of ill health, Whyte was finally cured and discharged by Davey as “clean”. Whyte dedicated much of his life to the betterment and education of lepers who suffered the same illness as he once did.

Whyte performed sacred compositions inspired by Methodist Church hymns and Wesleyan doctrinal philosophy. His works attracted wide interest and were popular throughout the Igboland, eventually earning him the title of “father of Igbo church music”.

During the civil war, Whyte’s songs were popular as a source of courage and hope.

  • Èkó – Lagos And Tiwa Savage

Èkó is the third track on the second half of the album.

Èkó is the Yoruba name for Lagos, a state in southwest Nigeria. Èkó was the name the state bore before it was renamed Lagos by the Portuguese.

On the track, the chorus features a harmony between Coldplay’s band leader Chris Martin and Nigerian Afropop singer Tiwa Savage as the backing vocal.

Some lyrics from Èkó:

“Lagos a dream in the distance”

“In Africa

We dance in the water and hold

Each other so tight

In Africa

The mothers will sing you to sleep

And say, “It’s alright, child

It’s alright””

In an interview with Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1, Chris Martin talked about what inspired the album:

“It’s all about just being human. Every day is great and every day is terrible…It just feels kind of free. There’s so much life bursting out on the planet.

“[The album] is our reaction to the perceived negativity that’s everywhere. And there is a lot of trouble, but there’s also so much positivity and so much great life happening. So in a way, it’s just trying to make sense of things, saying what we feel and what we see.”

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