Top 40 Smash Taps: “Violet Hill” and “Lost!”

These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.

Coldplay was already a significant band on the pop culture firmament when they released their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, in the summer of 2008, in part because they had spent years signalling with all their collective being that they were prepared to be the next iteration of U2. What’s more, they were clearly ready to be a sappier, softer version, perfect for all those people who craved rock ‘n’ roll bombast, but wanted a little less guilt about world issues served with their soaring chords. The various attempts undertaken by Coldplay members to downplay the U2 comparison took a serious hit with Viva la Vida, which included music legend (and crossword favorite) Brian Eno among the producer credits, just as he was for sales sensation The Joshua Tree. And the lead single, “Violet Hill” was politically aware enough to be considered the band’s first anti-war protest song, complete with criticism of Fox News. To drum up interest in the then forthcoming album, Coldplay released the song as a free download on their website, an offer that was apparently taken up a couple million times, which might be part of the reason it only had enough sales oomph (paired with airplay) to make it to #40 on the Billboard chart.

That was only a warm-up, anyway, as the next single from the album became the band’s first (and, to date, only) #1 hit in the U.S. Subsequent singles from the album didn’t do much, but one of those, called “Lost!” in its album version, got a boost when Coldplay performed a version of it with a guest appearance by Jay-Z at the Grammys. The resulting acclaim and demand inspired them to release a live recording of the collaborative version, now entitled “Lost+” to differentiate from the sadly unadorned version on the album. It wound up outdoing the original, becoming, by a whisker, the band’s fifth Top 40 song and the second to peak at the number that meant it just barely qualified for the designation.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton

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