Coldplay’s “Fix You” was always something of a hymn, and last night, the song finally got the choir it needed. On their MTV Unplugged performance, the seven members of South Korean pop powerhouse BTS delivered an angelic, meticulously arranged, goose-bump-inducing cover of the song. It was a ridiculously perfect performance that should convert any remaining skeptics of BTS, Coldplay, soaring balladry, and/or the power of the human spirit.
“This song gave us comfort,” BTS’ Jimin said, “so we wanted to prepare this cover to comfort you as well.”
In BTS’ rendition, what had been a song about one person’s grief transformed into the story of a year of worldwide suffering. Coldplay’s Chris Martin was reluctant to admit it when the song came out in 2006, but he originally wrote “Fix You” at least in part to comfort his then-wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, after the death of her father, Bruce Paltrow. (Martin even plays a keyboard that belonged to Bruce on the original recording.)
“Every album has a key song around which other things get written and without which you couldn’t do other things,” Martin told me in interviews for his 2008 Rolling Stone cover story. “On the third album, [2005’s X&Y], it was ‘Fix You.’ And all of them were an absolute fuckin’ nightmare to record, and it’s horrible, and it takes forever. I don’t know what it is — this pressure or something, because you can hear that it’s good.”
Musically, the song was inspired by the chords of the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” Martin said, while acknowledging that its emotional directness is more in the vein of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” “I don’t think we could beat that as a direct Coldplay song,” he said. “That song is very special to me, because there’s no element of it trying to be cool. It’s not trying to be edgy. If your fuckin’ granddad died, it might be something that makes you cry, you know?”
“I never feel ashamed that we’ve written it,” Martin continued. “It’s not ‘Paranoid Android.’ But sometimes you’ve got to not worry about being cool, I find, because sometimes real life isn’t that cool. And not many of us are that cool, really.”