And while the news may have left some fans a tad, uh, puzzled, Coldplay say the collaboration was born out of a desire to keep reinventing their sound — not to mention necessity — as they told MTV News this past weekend at the Austin City Limits Festival.
"Well, our new record is sort of a story; it's not quite a musical, but it's dangerously close. There's a bit of a love-story thread, so we really needed someone to sing even higher than me," frontman Chris Martin laughed. "[It's] hard, but very possible. You need to be a female really. For all [drummer] Will [Champion]'s good intentions, he [can't do it] ...
"Can't get that high, not these days," Champion added.
"... So, in like a dream scenario, we had a song that I'd secretly kind of written to see if Rihanna would want to sing it," Martin continued. "And then the rest of the band wanted to keep it, so we came up with the idea of asking her to sing it with us, and, to our great surprise, she said OK."
And as is the case with pretty much everything on Xyloto (due October 25), "Princess of China" finds the band expanding their sonic palette and pushing musical boundaries ... which, they'll have you know, is exactly the point these days. Because, after more than a decade of albums — and sales of more than 50 million worldwide — they feel they've earned the right to try something new.
"Well, her bit on our record is my favorite bit ... when the song came out, it sort of asked for her to be on it. And I think at this point, we have nothing to lose, and so we've been trying some new things and trying to break down the perceived boundaries between different types of music," Martin explained. "Because from where we're sitting, it seems like you can try and sound any way you like nowadays. You don't have to be in a rock box or a hip-hop box or a pop box, and I think it's fun when you embrace that idea."