Always In My Head was written on an old keyboard, the same model Chris Martin owned as a child. The band’s longtime sound engineer, Dan Green, created the ambient soundscape that opens the track, while Chris’ daughter Apple provides additional backing vocals. The “boom” sound that closes the song was created by French DJ Madeon (he’s credited as adding “extra magic”).
Bassist Guy Berryman wrote the signature jam-inspired bass riff in Magic after Chris Martin encouraged him to contribute his songwriting talents to the album. Will Champion added the drum beat and they presented the composition to Chris — a deviation from the band’s usual process for starting songs — who then fleshed out the melody and lyrics. Paul Epworth, frequent collaborator with Adele, adds keyboards to the track.
Chris Martin wrote the melody for Ink after trying to re-teach himself See You Soon, a track and live favourite from the A Rush Of Blood To The Head era, on acoustic guitar. After fiddling around with chords, Ink arrived instead.
Hip hop producer Timbaland contributed drums to True Love, while Viva and Mylo era collaborator Davide Rossi contributed and arranged the track’s prominent string section. Paul Epworth, frequent collaborator with Adele, conducted recording sessions for strings.
Midnight samples an unreleased Jon Hopkins instrumental track called Amphora, written as early as 2003. During a Ghost Stories recording session in 2013, Chris Martin added a melody to the instrumental track, which happened to be playing in the studio. Chris’ vocals are distorted throughout the track using a vocoder effect.
Another’s Arms samples English singer/songwriter Jane Weaver’s track Silver Chord. Producer Mike Dean contributes additional bass to the track (credited as providing “extra magic”). The opening female voice is actually synthesizer-generated (Chris Martin joked in an interview that Oprah Winfrey sings the melody).
Chris Martin describes Oceans as a “song about trust”, and was inspired by a pebbly beach and pier in Brighton, England. An instrumental interlude with bells blends seamlessly into A Sky Full Of Stars.
Swedish DJ and producer Avicii has a writing credit on A Sky Full Of Stars, as well as contributing piano to the track. Chris Martin has also cited Katy Perry’s songs as an influence. The band debated whether to include A Sky Full Of Stars on Ghost Stories, ultimately deciding the album needed a fun, uplifting track to complete it.
The first section of O is alternatively titled Fly On. The track’s ambient second half borrows from Always In My Head, and appears again as O (Reprise) on the album’s deluxe edition and the A Sky Full Of Stars EP. Chris Martin’s children, Apple and Moses, contribute backing vocals.
After the spectacle and pop grandiosity of Mylo Xyloto came 2014’s Ghost Stories, an intimate and sparsely toured collection of (mostly) melancholy songs. Ghost Stories was largely a musical and lyrical comment on Chris Martin’s breakup, written and recorded throughout 2013 in bassist Guy Berryman’s London house-turned-studio. The 10 songs are full of subtle samples and collaborations, as well as interesting chords, drum beats, and guitar lines.