Coldplay connects with astronaut to debut 'Higher Power' on space station

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) connected with Coldplay on the International Space Station on May 6, 2021 to discuss the view from orbit and debut the British rock band's new single "Higher Power."
French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) connected with Coldplay on the International Space Station on May 6, 2021 to discuss the view from orbit and debut the British rock band's new single "Higher Power." (Image credit: ESA)

Coldplay found a higher stage to debut their new single, "Higher Power." (opens in new tab)

The British rock band connected with French astronaut Thomas Pesquet with the European Space Agency (ESA) to play the song on board the International Space Station (opens in new tab) on Thursday (May 6).

"Thomas, we sent you some music because right now we aren't able to play for anybody on Earth," said lead singer Chris Martin. "So we thought we'd just play it for you."

Related: Space station soundtrack: Astronaut Thomas Pesquet shares his #Songs4Space (opens in new tab)

"It's like our one-man concert," he said. "This is like the premiere in the whole..."

"Galaxy," said lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, completing Martin's thought.

A specially-recorded music video for "Higher Power" featuring dancing alien holograms was uplinked to Pesquet ahead of the call. Pesquet, floating inside the space station's multi-window cupola, played the song back on his iPad.

The members of the rock band Coldplay react to astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency aboard the International Space Station on May 6, 2021. From left to right, Jonny Buckland, lead guitarist; Chris Martin, lead singer; bassist Guy Berryman; and Will Champion, drummer.  (Image credit: ESA)

The track, which makes reference to a "heavenly phone," going "a million miles an hour" and floating on, challenges the listener to find their own inner spaceman.

"You guys have to tell me, what's the story of the song and where did that come from and where does the alien vibe come from the album?" asked Pesquet.

"I think that we are right now able to imagine alien worlds as a way of saying what we think about life on Earth," said Martin. "It's safer to say it about aliens than it is to say it about humans, but really it's one big allegory."

The European Space Agency x Coldplay patch celebrates the call the band made to the International Space Station to debut their new single "Higher Power" and raises funds to protect Earth.  (Image credit: Coldplay)

"Very true," Pesquet replied.

"The song is about trying to find the astronauts in all of us, the person that can do amazing things," Martin said.

Before playing "Higher Power," the band took the chance to ask Pesquet about how Earth looks from orbit, its fragility and how he listens to music in microgravity. They also compared how life aboard the space station is similar to going on tour.

"I believe you are going to be on this space station for six months. How long does six months feel on a space station?" asked bass player Guy Berryman.

"As long as you are busy, it goes really fast," said Pesquet, who arrived at the station on SpaceX's Crew-2 mission (opens in new tab) on April 24 for his second long-duration stay. "And you know, it's psychological. When you reach the midway point, then you feel like it goes down the hill from there. The last months go so fast — like you're on a tour I'm guessing. You start thinking about coming back home, what you're going to do, taking a break and your loved ones. Then it felt good to come back home."

"It's like being on tour except only if we stayed on the bus for six months and didn't play any concerts," said Martin with a laugh.

To celebrate the off-planet premiere and raise funds to help save Earth, the band produced a mission patch marking the occasion.

The European Space Agency x Coldplay patch, now available for pre-order for €6 (about $7.30 U.S.) from the band's website (opens in new tab), features the band members' names, as well as Pesquet's, around a design showing the different phases of a planet (or moon) around the sun. All of the proceeds from the sale of the 2.5-by-4.5-inch (6.35-by-11.43-cm) emblem will be donated to ClientEarth, which uses the law to help protect the planet.

"Higher Power" is now available to stream or download from Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and YouTube, among other online services. A limited-edition CD single is also available from Coldplay's website.

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Robert Z. Pearlman
collectSPACE.com Editor, Space.com Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.