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Coldest Winter (song)

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"Coldest Winter"
Song by Kanye West
from the album 808s & Heartbreak

"Coldest Winter" is a song by American hip hop artist Kanye West, from his fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak. It was produced by West, with co-production from No I.D. and additional production from Jeff Bhasker.[1] The track was covered by a cappella group Pentatonix on their 2016 album A Pentatonix Christmas.[2] It is about the passing of Kanye's mother Donda West. Kanye has performed the song on several occasions. The music video was officially released on February 24, 2010, which includes a revamped version for the audio.

Composition and recording[edit | edit source]

The vocal chorus from 1983 track "Memories Fade" by Tears for Fears is re purposed within the song.[3] Co-producer No I.D. revealed that he was the one who came across "Memories Fade" when sitting around listening to records from the 1980s and played it for West - as soon as No I.D. heard West make usage of the track, he knew it was special.[4] "Coldest Winter" is centered around the passing of Kanye's mother Donda that occurred in November 2007 - she was very important to Kanye, since he was quoted after her death as saying to MTV: "My mother was my everything".[5] When performing at Madison Square Garden on November 24, 2013 during The Yeezus Tour, West went into the story of how he wrote it after her death.[6]

Release[edit | edit source]

On October 16, 2008, an excerpt of the track was released by West on the radio station Power 106 in Los Angeles, around one month before the featuring album was released.[7] A slightly revamped version of it was used when West released the music video in February 2010.[8]

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

Consequence of Sound branded the song's position as the closing track as showing in conjunction to West's previous three studio albums that: '808s slams the door on it all, explaining why there’s so much hate, self-aggrandizing, and animosity on everything of his that’s come out since'.[9] Pitchfork pointed out 'the 909 and descending synth' of "Coldest Winter" as being 'among the sonic highlights' of the album.[10]

Live performances[edit | edit source]

After West had finished performing the track on October 26, 2013 in Los Angeles during The Yeezus Tour, a beast with red eyes appeared.[11] When West performed the first concert in New York City on the same tour, the song was part of his set list.[12] As well as this, he performed it when taking The Yeezus Tour to Madison Square Garden on November 24, 2013 and went into the story of writing about his mother passing away after it happened.[6] At the 2015 Hollywood Bowl, West performed the song live with fake snow, which gathered notable attention from his fanbase.[13] The snow was unleashed above the audience during the performance.[14]

Music video[edit | edit source]

The music video was released on the internet on February 24, 2010 and was directed by Nabil Elderkin.[15] Elderkin gave a heads up on how haunting it is two days before the release.[16] A revamped version of "Coldest Winter" was used for the audio of the video.[8] Stereogum wrote in response to this version being used by describing the new track as feeling so cold that it is: "Total beat wraith."[17] In the music video, a bride is depicted running through a forest in slow motion and West doesn't appear at all.[15] Elderkin said of West's approach to his videos at the time:

He didn't want to be in 'Paranoid,' to be honest. There was more Kanye in 'Paranoid' [originally], and I took him out. He's just cool right now with putting out visuals that fit the song without having to be in it. I think he's in that place in his life where right now he just wants to make art.[18]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 808s & Heartbreak. Roc-A-Fella Records (Media notes). Kanye West. 2008. 0-06025-1791919-8.
  2. "Pentatonix's Chilling Cover of Kanye West's "Coldest Winter" May Make You Cry". One Country. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  3. "Tears for Fears: 10 Best Samples". Billboard. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  4. "No I.D. Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records". Complex. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  5. "Kanye West's mom died in 2007. Judging by his tweets, it seems to still haunt him". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "15 Thoughts On Kanye West's Defiant (And Nuts) Madison Square Garden Yeezus Show - Kanye West Yeezus - 3". Vibe. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  7. "Kanye West's Messy Album Releases: A Brief History From College Dropout to YE". W Magazine. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Video: Kanye West: "Coldest Winter"". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  9. "Dusting 'Em Off: Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  10. "Kanye West: 808s and Heartbreak Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  11. "Things I Overheard At The Yeezus Tour". BuzzFeed. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  12. "Concert review: Kanye West startles, appalls during 'Yeezus' show at Barclays". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  13. "Kanye West performs 808s & Heartbreak in full for the first time - watch". NME. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  14. "Can we talk about Kanye West's uncharacteristically endearing '808s' show at the Hollywood Bowl?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Kanye West Returns With 'Coldest Winter' Video". Billboard. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  16. "Kanye West's New 'Coldest Winter' Video Is 'Haunting,' Director Says". MTV. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  17. "Kanye West's "Coldest Winter" Is Maybe Even Too Cold!". Stereogum. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  18. "Kanye West Didn't Want To Be In 'Coldest Winter' Video". MTV. Retrieved October 2, 2018.

External links[edit | edit source]

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