“‘Viva La Vida’ is an iconic pop anthem and I have always wanted to reimagine it in a classical-crossover style,” says Reuel of his new cover of the Coldplay classic, which premieres below with a vibrant performance video.
“This new arrangement focuses on virtuosic piano themes and high levels of energy on the choruses with percussive production overall,” Reuel tells American Songwriter of his version of the track, which sees Las Vegas-based artist ditching the original version’s vocals and swapping its string section for soaring piano.
Meanwhile, the video—directed by Patrick Drennon and Payton Ware—shows the artist performing at a grand piano as lights swirl around him and reflect off his jacket. “The video increases this musical energy with sweeping camera angles, neon visuals, quick scene cuts, and colorful lighting moving across the 7ft open grand piano during the performance,” Reuel explains.
Reuel is no stranger to meticulously-arranged crossover piano covers. His 2013 cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has racked up almost 3 million views on YouTube, and he’s spent the last few years shifting between pop, classical piano, and electronic dance music. He’s also covered Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and John Legend’s “All of Me.”
“Viva La Vida” is Reuel’s first release of 2020 following his 2018 albums Classical and First Snow and his 2019 album Transformations. The original version of the song—released on Coldplay’s 2008 album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends—topped the charts and went on to win a Grammy for Song of the Year in 2009.
Reuel’s “Viva La Vida” video also captures the composer’s passion for live performance, which he’s embraced since moving from Austin to Las Vegas a few years ago. “I got an agency in Las Vegas to sign me and I worked on cruise shows internationally which started me on a whole other trajectory of live performance instead of trying to build one show,” he said in 2018. “I really love working with this agency and everything [in] Vegas is typically on a stage. In Austin I couldn’t find that so much for my style.”
“Viva La Vida” has been sampled by the likes of Drake (in “Congratulations”) and Shawty Lo (in “Roll the Dice”), and covered by the likes of Weezer (check out this weirdly intimate concert footage of a tracksuit-clad Rivers Cuomo performing the song in 2009). While Reuel’s cover of “Viva La Vida” isn’t the first instrumental version of the track (2CELLOS’ Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser have covered it, as has violinist David Garrett), it’s unique in its up-tempo pop grandeur. Check it out below.
“Viva La Vida” is out now via Lucky Hound Music.