Music

Coldplay

coldplay3Coldplay are an alternative rock band formed in London, England in 1997. The group comprises vocalist/pianist/guitarist Chris Martin, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Will Champion. Coldplay have sold 32.5 million albums, and are also known for their hit singles, such as “Yellow”, “The Scientist”, “Speed of Sound”, “Fix You”, “Viva la Vida” and the Grammy Award-winning “Clocks”.

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.

 

History

Formation and first years (1996–1999)

coldplay_announces_viva_la_vida_tracklist_424x300The members of the band met at the University College London (UCL) in September 1996. Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland were the first members of the band, having met one another during their orientation week. They spent the rest of the college year planning a band, with their efforts culminating in a band called Pectoralz. Later, Guy Berryman, a classmate of the two, joined the band without considering what musical direction it was taking. By 1997, the group performed gigs for local Camden promoters at small clubs. By that time, the band had renamed themselves Starfish. Martin also had recruited his longtime school friend Phil Harvey, who was studying classics at Oxford, to be the band’s manager.

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.

coldplay_whackAfter completing their final examinations, Coldplay signed to Parlophone for a five-album contract in the spring of 1999. After making their first appearance at Glastonbury, the band went into studio to record a third EP titled The Blue Room. 5,000 copies were made available to the public in October, and the single “Bigger Stronger”, which received airplay on Radio 1, was establishing Coldplay. However, the recording sessions for The Blue Room were tumultuous. Martin kicked Champion out of the band but later pleaded with him to return, and because of his guilt, went on a drinking binge. Eventually, the band worked out their differences and put in place a new set of rules to keep the group intact. First, the band declared an all-for-one approach: Coldplay was a democracy, and profits were to be shared equally, taking a page from bands like U2 and R.E.M. Second, the band would fire anyone who used hard drugs.

Parachutes (1999–2001)

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 BendsOK 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.

coldplay111 Having found success in Europe, the band set their sights on North America, and Parachutes was released there in November 2000. The band embarked on a US club tour in early 2001, beginning with a show in Vancouver, Canada, which was coupled with appearances on Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and The Late Show with David Letterman. Whilst Parachutes was a slow-burning success in the US, it eventually reached double-platinum status. The album was critically well-received, earning Best Alternative Music Album honours at the 2002 Grammy Awards.

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”.

X&Y (2004–2006)

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)

Coldplay-Viva La Vida [Front] The band began to work on their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, as early as December 2006, with Brian Eno and Markus Dravs as their producers. In addition, music producer Timbaland was rumoured to be collaborating. Coldplay took a break from recording and toured Latin America in early 2007, including shows in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. The band revealed that the album seemed to be shaping up with Hispanic influences, after having recorded in churches and other areas in Latin America and Spain during their tour. The group spent the rest of the year recording, mainly with Brian Eno.

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”.

Musical style

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.”

Activism

Coldplay - Violet Hill Despite Coldplay’s worldwide popularity, the band has remained protective of how their music is used in the media, refusing its use for product endorsements. In the past, Coldplay turned down multi-million dollar contracts from Gatorade, Diet Coke, and Gap, who wanted to use the songs “Yellow”, “Trouble”, and “Don’t Panic” respectively. According to vocalist/pianist Martin, “We wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves if we sold the songs’ meanings like that.” The song “Viva la Vida” was featured in a commercial for the iTunes Store, advertising its exclusive availability of the single as a digital download on iTunes. Coldplay is a supporter of Amnesty International. Chris Martin is also noted as one of the most visible celebrity advocates for fair trade, supporting Oxfam’s ongoing Make Trade Fair campaign. Martin has been on trips with Oxfam to assess conditions, has appeared in its advertising campaign, and is known for wearing a “Make Trade Fair” wristband during public appearances, including at Coldplay concerts. The band were also filmed for Make Poverty History, clicking their fingers.

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.”

Discography

  • 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

EPs

YearTitle1998Safety E.P. (500 copies)1999Brothers & Sisters EP (2500 copies)The Blue Room E.P.2000Sparks EP (Promo only)2001Trouble EP (Norway only)2006Speed of Sound EP (Japan only)

Singles

YearTitleAlbum1998“Ode to Deodorant”Ode to Deodorant (demo tape)1999“Brothers & Sisters”Brothers & Sisters EP“See You Soon”The Blue Room EP2000“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 Pretenders2004“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

Music videos

YearMusic video2000“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&”

Other releases

YearAlbum details2001Mince Spies (1000 copies)2003Remixes (1000 copies)

 

 

Notes

  1. USA Today: Coldplay, singer Chris Martin hot to make fans happy. USA Today (2008-06-11). Retrieved on 2008-07-02.
  2. Yahoo! Music: Coldplay chills out Peas, Stripes
  3. Digital Spy: Coldplay album goes platinum in three days
  4. (Roach 2003, p. 9)
  5. (Roach 2003, p. 18)
  6. (Roach 2003, p. 98)
  7. (Roach 2003, p. 82)
  8. (Roach 2003, p. 122)
  9. Ali, Mehreen F. (2005-11-26). All That Is Cold play. Dawn. Retrieved on 2008-05-01.
  10. (Roach 2003, p. 19)
  11. (Roach 2003, p. 22)
  12. Gundersen, Edna (2003-02-13). Coldplay searching for a balance. USA Today. Retrieved on 2008-05-04.
  13. Coldplay to Quit. Daily Star (2008-01-07). Retrieved on 2008-05-05.
  14. (Roach 2003, p. 26)
  15. (Roach 2003, p. 28)
  16. Washington Post: Blue-Throated Warbler
  17. (Roach 2003, p. 35)
  18. (Roach 2003, p. 42)
  19. (Roach 2003, p. 45)
  20. (Roach 2003, p. 76)
  21. Grammy Award Winners. Grammy Awards. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  22. Wener, Ben (2005-08-22). Still a few steps short of greatness. The Orange County Register. Retrieved on 2008-05-01.
  23. Danby, Andrew (2003-09-04). Coldplay Go Live. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2008-04-25. “Concert album due in November”
  24. Complete list of Grammy Award winners. USA Today (2003-02-24). Retrieved on 2008-05-01.
  25. Maclean, Graeme. Changing the World at UKULA. Ukula. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  26. It’s A Girl For Paltrow & Martin. CBS (2004-03-17). Retrieved on 2008-05-01.
  27. BBC – Rock/Indie Review- Coldplay, X&Y. BBC (2005-11-20). Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  28. EMI shares hit by profit warning. BBC News (2005-02-07). Retrieved on 2008-04-23.
  29. Coldplay’s X&Y is ‘album of year’. BBC News (2005-12-09). Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  30. Morford, Mark (2005-06-17). Is Coldplay The New Jesus? Martin & Co. make moms smile and girls swoon and offend no one in their quest to love all puppies. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  31. Sherwin, Adam (2005-04-30). Coldplay’s new single breaks sound barrier. The Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  32. Pareles, Jon (2005-06-05). The Case Against Coldplay. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  33. Lamb, Bill (2005-06-05). Coldplay Discography. Retrieved on 2008-05-03.
  34. Digital Spy: Coldplay ‘liberated’ by X&Y criticism
  35. The Daily Wrap 2005 ACL Music Festival. Austin City Limits. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  36. BBC – The Live 8 Event – Line Up and Artists. BBC. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  37. Brit Awards > 2006. BRIT Awards. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  38. Coldplay Reveal New Album Details, Timbaland Producing Ashlee Simpson, Courtney Love Blamed for Jack Osbourne’s Drug Problem. Rolling Stone (2007-09-10). Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  39. Cohen, Jonathan (2007-01-31). Coldplay Collects Singles For Vinyl Box. Billboard. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  40. Serpick, Evan (2008-02-27). Coldplay at Work on “Something Different” for Upcoming Album – Chris Martin talks about trilogy and change.. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  41. News Ticker: Guns N’ Roses, Britney Spears, Coldplay. Rolling Stone (2008-04-21). Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  42. BBC News: Coldplay song downloaded 2m times
  43. Coldplay giving away new single. BBC (2008-04-28). Retrieved on 2008-04-28.
  44. Coldplay. Coldplay (2008-04-28). Retrieved on 2008-04-28.
  45. The Billboard Hot 100
  46. BBC News: Coldplay’s new single tops chart
  47. BBC Newsbeat: Coldplay make their live return
  48. BBC News: Coldplay play open air gig at BBC
  49. BBC News: New Coldplay album tops UK chart
  50. Yahoo! Chart Watch: Viva La Download Or Death And All His CDs
  51. Kylie collaboration – too sexy for Coldplay album
  52. “Coldplay warms the renamed amphitheater”, Sacramento Bee, 2003-05-30, p. TK17.
  53. Parachutes review. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-05-06.
  54. Coldplay on MySpace. Retrieved on 2008-05-26.
  55. X&Y review. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-05-06.
  56. A Rush of Blood to the Head review. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2008-05-06.
  57. the state of coldplay” (2002-08-01). Q. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
  58. (Roach 2003, p. 78)
  59. (Roach 2003, p. 85)
  60. Gundersen, Edna (2005-06-02). Catch Coldplay. USA Today. Retrieved on 2008-04-25.
  61. Bream, Jon. “Rockin’ Politics 2005”, Star Tribune, 2005-09-11.

 

References

  • Roach, Martin (September 2003), Coldplay: Nobody Said It Was Easy, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0711998108

 

Further reading

  • Spivack, Gary. Coldplay : Look at the Stars. ISBN 0743491963.

 

External links

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