Coldplay & Rihanna
Princess of China
Album: Mylo Xyloto
Chris Martin and Rihanna spar over their broken relationship in the intriguing “Princess of China”
Wary synths open the single, setting a hostile tone. Martin says it was Rihanna’s fault. She didn’t want to put work into the relationship and shut him out. She chose not to be involved. They wouldn’t even have a conversation about what was on television. Soon after the relationship was over. Despite the problems, he still loves her.
The wary synths have a solo.
Rihanna tries to defuse the situation. She notes they started off well. They would have long conversations and bonded over their love of cooking. However, a suggestion from her would be tossed aside. Then, she wouldn’t talk to him except for the occansional one word answer. It escalated from there, turning into screaming matches. She mentions they used to be a team, supporting each other. But his constant criticism and ego got in the way. (“Once upon a time somebody ran/Somebody ran away saying fast as I can/I've got to go, I've got to go!/Once upon a time we fell apart/You're holding in your hands the two halves of my heart/Oh, oh, oh/Once upon a time, we burned bright/Now all we ever seem to do is fight/On and on/And on and on and on/Once upon a time on the same side/Once upon a time on the same side, in the same game/And why'd you have to go, have to go and throw water on my flame.”)
In the chorus, Rihanna says marriage was a possibility. He dreamed of living in an apartment in New York City and she would’ve gone with them. However, he broke up with her once it got a bit rough. He couldn’t see that she only needed time and wanted to have a say in the relationship. He wrecked her dreams as well. (“I could've been a princess, you'd be a king/Could've had a castle, and worn a ring/But no, you let me go/I could've been a princess, you'd be a king/Could've had a castle, and worn a ring/But no, you let me go/And stole my star/La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la/ La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la /La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la/You stole my star/La, la la la la la.”)
The synths, now misty, dash, searching through the fog.
The wary synths return as Martin and Rihanna both say they ended up damaged after being together. (“Cause you really hurt me/No you really hurt me/Cause you really hurt me/No you really hurt me/Cause you really hurt me/Oh you really hurt me, oh/Cause you really hurt me/Oh you really hurt me.”)
Martin’s disparaging, callous vocals hide beneath his weaponized words with veiled contempt, looking for a weakness and then spearing her when she least expects it.
Rihanna’s anguished, defiant vocals are vulnerable, letting him see the wounds he already inflicted on her. Even though he may try, he won’t get to her again. She stands up for herself. Rihanna is the one who has to adapt to Coldplay’s style and is given the most the do. She carries the single with gracefulness and elegance, displaying a side of her not seen in her own music.
The battle-worn “Princess of China” fights for every inch of recognition and earns it.
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