Pop ‘stache described the collaboration between musicians Coldplay and Rihanna on “Princess of China” from 2011’s Mylo Xyloto as “head-scratching.” Still, we haven’t figured out the motivation behind the pairing.
The broken love story trails along a pulsating beat that is strong throughout, relying on Coldplay’s signature piano-electronic sounds to propel it to greatness. Its narrative even starts with the words, “Once upon a time,” before allowing two sides of the story to be told separately but also in tandem. It soon unfolds into a story of despair where both sides look back at what could’ve been.
Vocalist Chris Martin rings in a few beginning lines talking of, “I’ve got to go,” and, “Two halves of my heart,” until Rihanna claims, “All we ever seem to do is fight,” before they join in the pre-chorus to spell out, “Why’d you have to go,” together.
Although the song’s rhyming is relatively elementary, its story is substantial.
The chorus, “Could’ve had a castle/You’d be a king/Could’ve had a castle/And worn a ring,” definitely carries emotional strength, but it’s also something Martin’s daughter, Apple, could’ve written.
It’s the daunting “oh” sounds that are creepy and electric between verses and tie in the empty effect the song aims to sell. This is the success in the song amid its abnormal qualities wherein. This all leads to the channeling anger in the final lines that repeat, “’Cause you really hurt me,” which remain simple, but when placed atop a thick electronic mix, they really stream the right energy.
Part of the reason why critics speculated “Princess of China” was a gimmick is because it interrupts the flow of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto. The album is a concept about a feud between characters Mylo and Xyloto. This song’s focus is on a tainted love story.
Although the damage is never properly balanced in a traditional story of heartbreak, it seems here that both “she” and “he” have been victimized and resent the potential they previously had. Yet they remain completely vague in describing what happened. This collaboration is filled with loopholes.