Coldplay is an English rock band from London. Formed in 1997, Coldplay achieved worldwide fame with their 2000 single “Yellow”, followed by the success of their debut album, Parachutes. The group comprises vocalist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion.
Coldplay’s early material was often compared to acts such as Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, while also drawing comparisons to U2. Since the release of Parachutes, Coldplay have also drawn influence from other sources, including Echo and the Bunnymen and George Harrison on A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) and Johnny Cash and Kraftwerk for X&Y (2005), the band’s third release.Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is the fourth studio album by English alternative rock band Coldplay, released 17 June 2008 on Parlophone Records. Recording sessions for the album took place during June 2007 to April 2008 and featured production by Jon Hopkins, Rik Simpson, Markus Dravs, and Brian Eno.
Coldplay have been active supporters of various social and political causes, such as Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign and Amnesty International. The group has also performed at various charity projects such as Band Aid 20, Live 8, and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Formation and early years (1996–1999)
The members of the band met at Ramsay Hall, a residence hall at University College London 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 year planning a band, with their efforts culminating in an *NSYNC-inspired boy band called Pectoralz. Eventually Guy Berryman, a classmate of the two, joined the ranks without consideration of what musical direction the band was taking.
By 1997, Coldplay were performing small club gigs for local Camden promoters. By that time, the band had renounced their earlier boy-band flavoured aspirations, and changed their name to Starfish. Martin also had recruited his erstwhile school friend Phil Harvey, who was studying classics at Oxford, to act as band manager. Harvey managed the band until the release of their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head.
Finally, in early 1998, the band’s line-up was complete when Will Champion joined the band to take up percussion duties. The multi-talented Champion had grown up playing piano, guitar, bass, and tin whistle; he quickly learned the drums, despite having no previous experience with that instrument. At the time, the band still performed under the name Starfish. Eventually , a mutual friend of the band – Tim from the band ‘The HIgh Wire’ (not Tim Rice-Oxley, as previously reported), gave the band permission to use the name “Coldplay”, which he had rejected for his band as he thought it was “too depressing”. The name also comes from a collection of poems by Philip Horky.
On May 18, 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 indie label Fierce Panda. The result was the three track EP Brothers & Sisters which was quickly recorded over four days in February 1999. The disc was released in April and was limited to only 2,500 copies. Interest in the band was slowly growing across the UK, helped by regular airplay from BBC Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq and BMG Music Publishing, which had signed the band to a development deal.
After 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. The disc was released in October, and 5,000 copies were made available to the public. Its success in establishing Coldplay was aided immensely by the single “Bigger Stronger”, which got airplay on Radio 1.
The recording sessions for The Blue Room were tumultuous. Martin kicked Champion out of the band but later pleaded with him to return and due to his guilt, Martin (a self-proclaimed non-drinker and non-smoker) 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 A-ha, U2 and R.E.M. Second, the band would fire anyone who used hard drugs.
In November 1999, Coldplay focused efforts on their debut album. The band spent the New Year by completing album tracks “Yellow” and “Everything’s Not Lost”. They also played on the NME Carling Premier 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, the single placed at a modest #35 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 band released the breakthrough single, “Yellow”. The song shot to #4 on the UK Singles Chart and placed the band 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 alt-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 40,000 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.
Having found success in Europe, the band set their sights on North America. Parachutes was released 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. Parachutes was a slow burning success, and was certified with double-platinum status in the United States. The album was also 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 working in October 2001 to begin work on their second album. With much anticipation, Coldplay released A Rush of Blood to the Head in August 2002.
The opening track, “Politik”, was written days after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The album spawned many popular singles, notably “In My Place”, “The Scientist”, and “Clocks”.
Coldplay toured for over a year, from June 2002 to September 2003, visiting five continents including co-headlining festival dates at Glastonbury Festival, V Festival, and Rock Werchter. The tour showed the band’s progression into a bona fide stadium act. Many shows included elaborate lighting and individualised screens reminiscent of U2’s Elevation tour. During the extended tour, Coldplay also recorded a live DVD and CD, Live 2003, at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion. The compilation featured a new song, “Moses”.
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’ 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 two trophies at the 2003 Grammy Awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Coldplay earned Record of the Year honours for Clocks. The album was also named to Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums at number 473.
2004 was a quiet year for Coldplay, as they spent most of the year out of spotlight resting from touring and recording their third album. In May, Coldplay teased fans with a new song and music video on their official site to celebrate the birth of Apple, Martin’s daughter with his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Famed producer Sir George Martin introduced the promo as Coldplay and their producer, Ken Nelson, performed as The Nappies, a satirised rap/glam rock outfit. Martin joked that this music had been inspired by Jay-Z.
Coldplay’s third album, X&Y, was released on 6 June 2005 in the UK. 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 28 countries worldwide and was the second fastest selling album in UK chart history. Two other singles were released that year: “Fix You” in September and “Talk” in December. In May 2006 the band released “The Hardest Part” in several countries outside the UK. Despite the commercial success, the critical reaction to X&Y was less unanimous in its praise than the reviews for its predecessor.
From June 2005 to July 2006, Coldplay went on their Twisted Logic tour, which has included festival dates like Coachella, Glastonbury and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. For the 2006 tour, the band completed a third visit in the same tour to North America with dates from late January (Seattle) to early April (Philadelphia).
In July 2005, the band appeared at Live 8 in Hyde Park, where they played a rendition of The Verve’s “Bittersweet 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. In his acceptance speech, lead singer Chris Martin raised rumours of a band split when he announced in manner “This (award) means so much to us, especially now. It’s going to be a few years before you see us again.” The band’s label have refuted these claims as they have two more albums in contract.
Viva La Vida (or Death and All His Friends) (2008)
The band began to work on their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, in October 2006, with Brian Eno as producer. 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”. He said the album featured less falsetto as he 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 6 May. “[[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 became the band’s first number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and their first UK number one, based on download sales alone. 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; the BBC called 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. In October 2008, Coldplay won two Q Awards for Best Album for Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and Best Act in the World Today. The band followed up the album with the Prospekt’s March EP which was released on 21 November 2008. The EP features tracks from the Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends sessions and, as well as being available on its own, was available as a bonus disc with later editions of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. The song “Life in Technicolor II” was released as a single on 9 February 2009.
On 16 June 2008, 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. “Lost!” became the third single from the album, featuring a new version with Jay-Z. During an interview with Zane Lowe for BBC Radio 1 on 16 October, Martin suggested that the band were trying to book Knebworth House in Hertfordshire for a concert in 2009. Coldplay performed the opening set on 14 March 2009 for Sound Relief at the Sydney Cricket Ground and then played a sold-out concert later that same night. Sound Relief is a benefit concert for victims of the Victorian Bushfire Crisis and the Queensland Floods. Appearing with Coldplay at the Sydney concert were Eskimo Joe, Hoodoo Gurus, Icehouse, Josh Pyke, Little Birdy, The Presets, Wolfmother, You Am I, Kings of Leon and additional artists.
On 20 January 2009, it was announced that Coldplay had been nominated for four BRIT Awards: British Group, British Live Act, British Single (“Viva la Vida”) and British Album (Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends). At the 51st Grammy Awards on 8 February 2009, Coldplay won three Grammys in the categories for Song of Year for “Viva la Vida”, Best Rock Album for Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, and Best Vocal Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for “Viva la Vida”.
On 1 May 2009, the band announced on their official website that they would be giving away a live CD, entitled LeftRightLeftRightLeft, at the remaining concerts of their Viva La Vida Tour. The album is also available as a free download from their website beginning 15 May 2009. The nine tracks were recorded at various shows during the tour.
Political and social activism
Despite Coldplay’s large worldwide popularity, the band have 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 Martin, “We wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves if we sold the songs’ meanings like that.”
Coldplay are a supporter of Amnesty International. Chris Martin is also noted as one of the most visible celebrity advocates for “fair trade”, supporting Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign until its dissolution in 2005 after the G8 summit in Gleneagles. 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.
Martin was outspoken against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and he endorsed Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. Although he is not a U.S. citizen, Martin’s wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, is; both currently live in London and Los Angeles.
In the band’s early years, Coldplay were 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”. The band also asks that any gifts intended for them are donated to charity, according to a response on the FAQ section of Coldplay’s website.
Coldplay parodied their own highly publicised stance on political and social issues with a cameo in the 2004 film Shaun of the Dead, appearing on TV within the film to support the charity “Zombaid” (a pun on Live Aid), a charity dedicated to giving zombies better political rights. Martin also played himself on an episode of Extras in which he shamelessly took advantage of a public service announcement shoot to promote a fictitious Greatest Hits album.
No chart position held. (UK); No chart position held. (US)2500 original copies in circulation
No chart position held. (UK); No chart position held. (US)5000 copies in circulation