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The Meaning Behind Coldplay’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’ (and Other Weird Album Titles)


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While it's probably the most unusual addition to the Coldplay canon -- Rihanna guests on a song called "Princess of China" and the album has an almost dance-y feel -- the oddest thing about the band's fifth full-length just might be the meaning behind its title, Mylo Xyloto. Pronouncing it "my-low zy-le-toe" but remaining mum on the meaning for some time, lead singer Chris Martin eventually spilled the beans about what the title means... although his explanation arguably adds to the confusion.

"Music comes from a place we don't know," Martin told the New York Times. Alright, we're with you so far, Chris. "It sort of comes through the fingers and toes," he continued (not sure about that, but he would know better than most). "So we came up with the idea of, what if you had musical digits, like xylo toes?" Martin concluded.

According to the Times article, Martin immediately "shook his head, irritated that he gave up the secret so easily." So... musical toes, presumably like xylophone toes? Whether that information leak clears up anything is open for debate, but fans probably shouldn't expect normal names from a singer with a daughter named Apple.

When pressed about "Mylo," he responded, "It's just a great name. For anything." (Scottish electronic musician Mylo would probably agree). Martin also recently told The Colbert Report that the album's title came out of the "randomness of the universe."

But don't think Coldplay named this record on a whim. "We've had that title for about two years on a board and any other potential titles had to be written next to it," Martin told a British paper. "Other ones made more sense but we just liked this one, that's all we can defend it with."

Mylo Xyloto is just the latest is a long-line of head-scratching album titles. Here are some of the more inscrutable ones explained:

The White Stripes' Icky Thump: "Ecky thump!" is an exclamation of surprise used in certain parts of England... not coincidentally, roughly the region where Jack White's ex-wife grew up.

Pearl Jam's Vitalogy: Meaning "the study of life," Vitalogy was also the title of a 1920 medical book Eddie Vedder stumbled upon at a garage sale. He decided the name and old-timey cover art was perfect for their 1994 album (which was called Life at first).

The Police's Zenyatta Mondatta: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes a weird name is just a weird name. The Police's Stewart Copeland says this of their third album's strange, lyrical title: " It [was] not an attempt to be mysterious, [it was] just syllables that sound good together."

The Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa: The title to the Grateful Dead's 1969 psychedelic classic has fueled Deadhead speculation for decades, but the only thing anyone knows for sure is that the band insisted on a palindrome when they commissioned the cover art.

Pink Floyd's Ummagumma: Unsurprisingly, a lot of musical oddities came out of 1969. Long-standing rumor has it that Floyd's roadie and friend used "ummagumma" as a euphemism for sex, but band members have said the title of their third studio album actually has no meaning... at least none they can remember.

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