Coldplay achieved worldwide fame with the release of their single “Yellow”, followed by their debut album, Parachutes (2000), which was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Its follow-up, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), was named NME’s Album of the Year. Their next release, X&Y (2005), received a generally positive reception. The band’s fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), was produced by Brian Eno and released again to largely favourable reviews. All of Coldplay’s albums have enjoyed great commercial success.
Coldplay’s early material was compared to acts such as Jeff Buckley, U2, and Travis. Since the release of Parachutes, Coldplay have drawn influence from other sources, including Echo and the Bunnymen Kate Bush and George Harriso on A Rush of Blood to the Head, Johnny Cash and Kraftwerk for X&Y and Arcade Fire and My Bloody Valentine on Viva la Vida. Coldplay have been an active supporter of various social and political causes, such as Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign and Amnesty International. The group have also performed at various charity projects such as Band Aid 20, Live 8, and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Formation and first years (1996–1999)
The band’s lineup was complete when Will Champion joined the band to take up percussion duties. Champion had grown up playing piano, guitar, bass, and tin whistle; he quickly learned the drums, despite having no previous experience. Eventually Tim Rice-Oxley, a mutual friend, permitted the band to use the name “Coldplay,” which he had used for his band but then thought the name was “too depressing”. Rice-Oxley was also offered the position as Coldplay’s keyboard player, but he refused since he was already committed to the band Keane.
In 1998, the band released 500 copies of the Safety EP. Most of the discs were given to record companies and friends; only 50 copies remained for sale to the public. In December, Coldplay signed to the independent label Fierce Panda. Their first release was the three-track Brothers and Sisters EP, which they had quickly recorded over four days in February 1999.
In March 1999, Coldplay focused efforts on their debut album, recorded at Rockfield Studios with producer Ken Nelson. They also played on the Carling Tour, which showcased up-and-coming acts. After releasing three EPs without a hit song, Coldplay scored their first Top 40 single, “Shiver”. Released in March 2000, it reached a modest #35 on the UK Singles Chart and earned the band their first airplay on MTV. June 2000 was a pivotal moment in Coldplay’s history: the band embarked on their first headlining tour, which included a triumphant return to Glastonbury. More notably, the group released the breakthrough single, “Yellow”. The song shot to #4 on the UK Singles Chart and placed Coldplay in public consciousness.
Coldplay released their first full-length album, Parachutes, in July 2000, which debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart. Along with critical acclaim, Parachutes was sometimes criticised for bearing a strong resemblance to the music of alternative rock band Radiohead in their The Bends–OK Computer era. “Yellow” and “Trouble” earned regular radio airplay on both sides of the Atlantic. Parlophone originally predicted sales of 400,000 units of Parachutes; by Christmas, 1.6 million copies had been sold in the United Kingdom alone. Parachutes was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in September 2000.
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2001–2004)
Coldplay returned to the studio in October 2001 to begin work on their second album, once again with Ken Nelson producing. A Rush of Blood to the Head was released in August 2002. The album spawned several popular singles, notably “In My Place”, “Clocks”, and the ballad “The Scientist”.
Coldplay toured from June 2002 to September 2003 for the A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. They visited five continents, including co-headlining festival dates at Glastonbury Festival, V2003 and Rock Werchter. Many shows included elaborate lighting and individualised screens reminiscent of U2’s Elevation tour. During the extended tour, Coldplay recorded a live DVD and CD, Live 2003, at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion.
In December 2003, they were named by readers of Rolling Stone magazine as the best artist and the best band of the year. At that time Coldplay covered The Pretenders’ 1983 hit “2000 Miles”, which was made available for download on their official site. It was the top selling UK download that year, with proceeds from the sales donated to Future Forests and Stop Handgun Violence campaigns. A Rush of Blood to the Head won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Coldplay earned Record of the Year for “Clocks”.
Coldplay spent most of 2004 out of the spotlight, resting from touring, and recording their third album. In terms of particular musical influences for it, bassist Guy Berryman said, “We were listening to lots of different stuff during the early stages [of X&Y] from Bowie, Eno and Pink Floyd to Depeche Mode, Kate Bush and Kraftwerk. And U2 as we usually do.” In May, Chris Martin and his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, celebrated the birth of a daughter, named Apple.
X&Y was released in June 2005 in UK and Europe. This new, delayed release date had put the album back into the next fiscal year, actually causing EMI’s stock to drop. It became the best-selling album of 2005 with worldwide sales of 8.3 million. The lead single, “Speed of Sound”, made its radio and online music store debut on 18 April and was released as a CD on 23 May 2005. The album debuted at #1 in 22 countries worldwide and was the third-fastest selling album in UK chart history. Two other singles were released that year: “Fix You” in September and “Talk” in December. The latter is set to the melody of “Computer Love”, which was released in 1981 by the German synthpop band Kraftwerk and had in the previous year been revived by Norwegian guitarist Erik Wollo. Despite the commercial success, the critical reaction to X&Y was less enthusiastic than that of its predecessor, with New York Times critic Jon Pareles describing Coldplay as “the most insufferable band of the decade”, while others compared them to U2. Chris Martin later revealed that the negative remarks made him feel “liberated”.
From June 2005 to July 2006, Coldplay went on their Twisted Logic Tour, which included festival dates like Coachella, Isle of Wight Festival, Glastonbury and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. In July 2005, the band appeared at Live 8 in Hyde Park, where they played a rendition of The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” with Richard Ashcroft on vocals. In September, Coldplay recorded a new version of “How You See the World” with reworked lyrics to War Child’s Help: A Day in the Life charity album. In February 2006, Coldplay earned Best Album and Best Single honours at the BRIT Awards.
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2006–present)
Chris Martin described Viva la Vida as a new direction for Coldplay: a change from their past three albums, which they have referred to as a ‘trilogy’. Martin has also revealed that this album features much less of his falsetto, and he has allowed his voice’s lower register to take precedence. Some songs, such as “Violet Hill”, contain distorted guitar riffs and bluesy undertones. “Violet Hill” was confirmed as the first single, with a radio release date of 29 April 2008. After the first play, it was freely obtainable from Coldplay’s website from 12:15 PM (GMT +0) for one week (achieving two million downloads), until it became commercially available to download on May 6. “Violet Hill” entered the UK Top 10, US Top 40 (entering the Top 10 in the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart) and charted well in the rest of the world. The title track, “Viva la Vida”, was also released exclusively on iTunes; it has since become the band’s first #1 on the Hot 100 and also their first UK #1, based on download sales alone. On 16 June, Coldplay began their Viva la Vida Tour with a free concert at Brixton Academy in London. This was followed two days later by a 45-minute performance that was broadcast live from outside BBC Television Centre.
On 15 June 2008, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends topped the UK album chart, despite having been on sale for only three days. In that time, it sold 302,000 copies — making it “one of the fastest-selling records in UK history”. By the end of June, it had set a new record for most-downloaded album ever. The band have said that they will release another album in late 2009, that will feature a collaboration track with Kylie Minogue, called “Lunar”.
Coldplay’s musical style has been defined as alternative rock, being compared to Jeff Buckley and Oasis, while on their MySpace profile, Coldplay describes their musical style as “very heavy soft rock”. The band’s music has been called “meditative”; it “[reflects] on their emotions” and lead singer/songwriter Martin “endlessly examine[s] his feelings”. Martin’s lyrical wordplay has been called feminist, similar to Andrew Montgomery of Geneva.
The tone of the band’s first studio album, Parachutes, was defined as melodic pop with “distorted guitar riffs and switching percussion”. It was also described as being “exquisitely dark and artistically abrasive”. In a review for A Rush of Blood to the Head, the songs were considered to contain “lush melodies and a heartbreak” and that they had a “newfound confidence.” The music on X&Y has been considered to be “ruminations on Martin’s doubts, fears, hopes, and loves.”
In the band’s early years, Coldplay was also widely noted in the media for their claim to give 10% of the band’s profits to charity. Bassist Guy Berryman said, “You can make people aware of issues. It isn’t very much effort for us at all, but if it can help people, then we want to do it.”
- Parachutes (2000)
- A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
- X&Y (2005)
- Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008)
Compilations and live releases
- 2003: Live 2003
- 2007: The Singles 1999-2006
|Year||Title||1998||Safety E.P. (500 copies)||1999||Brothers & Sisters EP (2500 copies)||The Blue Room E.P.||2000||Sparks EP (Promo only)||2001||Trouble EP (Norway only)||2006||Speed of Sound EP (Japan only)|
|Year||Title||Album||1998||“Ode to Deodorant”||Ode to Deodorant (demo tape)||1999||“Brothers & Sisters”||Brothers & Sisters EP||“See You Soon”||The Blue Room EP||2000||“Shiver”||Parachutes||“Yellow”||“Trouble”||2001||“Don’t Panic”||2002||“In My Place”||A Rush of Blood to the Head||“The Scientist”||2003||“Clocks”||“God Put a Smile upon Your Face”||“2000 Miles”||Christmas cover of The Pretenders||2004||“Moses”||Live 2003||“One I Love”||2005||“Speed of Sound”||X&Y||“Fix You”||“Talk”||2006||“The Hardest Part”||“What If”||2007||“White Shadows”||2008||“Violet Hill”||Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends||“Viva la Vida”||“Lost?” 1|
|Year||Music video||2000||“Shiver”||“Yellow”||“Trouble”||2001||“Don’t Panic”||2002||“In My Place”||“The Scientist”||2003||“Clocks”||“God Put a Smile upon Your Face”||2005||“Speed of Sound”||“Fix You”||“Talk”||2006||“The Hardest Part”||2008||“Violet Hill”||TBA “Viva la Vida&”|
|Year||Album details||2001||Mince Spies (1000 copies)||2003||Remixes (1000 copies)|
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- The Billboard Hot 100
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