Yellow” is the breakthrough single that earned Coldplay international recognition. It was the second single from their debut album Parachutes and their first Top 10 hit on the UK Singles Chart. Regional singles were released for France, the United States, and Brazil.

The song was recorded at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios. The recording was rushed, so that the song could be released in time for Summer 2000. In 2001, the single was used extensively for ABC fall television promotions, and was also employed as the theme music for The Cancer Council Australia’s “Daffodil Day”, in recognition of that organization’s official flower’s yellow hue.

On VH1’s Storytellers program, Chris Martin revealed that his inspiration for the song’s title came from the Yellow Pages.[1]

The song is consistently played during home games at English Premiership club Watford.


  1. “Help is Round the Corner” – 2:38

  2. “No More Keeping My Feet on the Ground” – 4:33

Cover images

  • UK (CD)

Background and Inspiration

Yellow was written in a Rockfield studio in Wales called the Quadrangle, where Coldplay began working on their debut album, Parachutes. One night after finishing recording Shiver, the lead single of the album, the band took a break and went out of the studio. Outside, there were few lights on and the stars in the sky were visible and “just amazing”, according to the song’s co-producer, Ken Nelson. He told the band to look at the stars, which they did. Vocalist Chris Martin was inspired by the sight and the song’s main melody, consisting of a chord pattern, popped into his head. At first, Martin did not take it seriously “as he relayed the tune to the rest of the band in his worst Neil Young impersonation voice”. Martin has said, “The song had the word ‘stars’ and that seemed like a word you should sing in a Neil Young voice.” The melody “started off a lot slower”, according to drummer Will Champion, and it sounded like a Neil Young song. Not long after, despite not taking the song seriously, Martin’s idea worked out when he had developed the tempo of the verse. When guitarist Jonny Buckland started playing it and supplemented it with his ideas, they had created the riff, “and it sort of got a bit heavier”.

While composing the song’s lyrics, however, Martin could not find the right words. He was thinking of a specific word, which he deemed a missing key word in the lyrics, to fit the song’s concept. He looked around the studio and found the telephone directory Yellow Pages, which happened to be situated nearest to him. Martin later titled the song “Yellow” as a reference to the directory. He quipped, “In an alternate universe, this song could be called ‘Playboy.’ “The lyrics progressed from there with the band collaborating. Bassist Guy Berryman came up with the opening line “Look at the stars”. That night, having quickly composed the song, the band recorded it.

Release and reception

“Yellow” and “Shiver” were initially released as EPs in the spring of 2000.[9] The former was later released as a single in UK on 26 June 2000. The single includes the songs “Help Is Round the Corner” and “No More Keeping My Feet on the Ground”, the third taken from the band’s first EP, Safety.In the United States, however, the song was released as the lead single off the album. In October 2000, the track was sent to US college and alternative radio outlets.[2] The band released a limited-edition CD of “Trouble”, the third single off Parachutes, which features a remix of “Yellow”. It was pressed to 1,000 copies, and was issued only to fans and journalists.

The single, accompanied by its TV reception through its music video, received massive radio airplay, particularly at BBC Radio 1. The reaction was chiefly positive and even the newly-revitalized BBC Radio 2 played the track repeatedly. This heavy rotation continued for months after its release, eventually ending as 2000’s most-aired song. It has also became a sing-along number at various British clubs, pubs and sporting events; the song is consistently played during home games at English Championship club Watford. A month after the album was released in the United States via record label Nettwerk, “Yellow” was used as the theme song for ABC autumn television promotions. The song was also used as the theme music for The Cancer Council Australia’s “Daffodil Day”, in recognition of that organization’s official flower’s yellow hue.

The song was well-received from critics. Matt Diehl of Rolling Stone magazine has noted “Yellow” is “unrepentantly romantic”, adding that “the band creates a hypnotic slo-mo otherworld where spirit rules supreme”. “Yellow” won Best Single at the 2001 NME Carling Awards. It was nominated at the 2002 Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Billboard said that “every time that electric-guitar riff barges in, you’re hooked all over again.” In August 2009 the song was listed at #263 on Pitchfork Media’s “Top 500 songs of the 2000’s”. This song was also selected as one of many songs to hear and download in the musical reference book, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die: And 10,001 You Must Download.

Music video

A still from the “Yellow” music video.

The music video for “Yellow” was filmed at Studland Bay, near Swanage, England. The area is known for its beautiful beaches and is a National Trust location. The video is very minimalistic and simple, featuring only lead singer Chris Martin singing the song as he walks along the beach. He is wearing a raincoat with his hair wet, suggesting that it had just rained. The video is one continuous shot with no cuts. Also, the entire sequence is in slow motion.

Originally it had been intended for the whole band to appear in the video, in a sunny setting. However, band member Will Champion’s mother’s funeral was held on the day of the recording, so it was decided that only Martin would appear in the video. The weather also opposed the original plan, with harsh winds and rain instead of the sunny day that had been envisioned. It had also been originally intended for there to be moving stars in the sky, as if in a time-lapse. The directors however agreed that this would have been too distracting for the focus of the video, which was Chris Martin. The plan of time advancing was still kept, however. The video begins with the beach being somewhat dark until sunlight arrives nearly at the video’s midway point.

The video was directed by James & Alex of The Artists Company. The video was shot at 50 frames per second, twice the regular speed. At the shoot, Chris Martin had to sing the song at double speed so that the audio and visual content would sync up. The final product is slowed to 25 frames per second, giving the slow motion effect of the video.

The transition of the video from night to day was achieved through telecine. During the transfer from film to videotape, an operator manually adjusted the amount of lighting for blue in the beginning, red in the middle, and yellow at the end of the video.

Shooting was completed in a single day, with five takes for the video.[2]

Chart performance

Yellow played well in Europe, and was popular. In the United Kingdom, its midweek sales suggested that the single would reach the Top 10 of the chart. Although the band supposed “Yellow” would decline inside the Top 20, they would have considered its performance a triumph since the album’s lead single, “Shiver”, had only reached the 35th position. Since “Yellow”‘s second week sales were stronger, it eventually reached number four, giving the band their first Top 10 single in the United Kingdom. The popularity of the song in British clubs, pubs and sporting events bolstered the album to debut at number one on the UK Albums Chart.

“Yellow” achieved popularity in the United States, and was Coldplay’s first American hit. The single charted on eight different Billboard singles charts; it also topped various US modern-rock radio playlists in the spring of 2001. The single performed as it did in Europe and has helped Parachutes be certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America during the single’s stay on the chart. After Coldplay’s appearance at Sound Relief in Australia, In the charting week starting 22 March 2009, the single made a return to the Australian ARIA Top 50, after almost eight years since its last appearance in the Top 50. It re-entered the chart at number 48.

Awards and nominations

Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal

Live Performances

Coldplay has performed Yellow several times throughout their career, and it has been an audience favourite. The band had their debut performance on television on the show Later…with Jools Holland. They performed Parachutes’s lead single, Shiver, and the new song, Yellow; but it was the latter that had an immediate studio audience impact. They have also performed at the Glastonbury Festival, one of the prominent festivals in Europe. During their second appearance in July 2000, Coldplay performed “Yellow” and “effortlessly” captured over 10,000 spectators. Coldplay’s popularity at this time was still growing and “Yellow” has helped cultivate it; Martin has said it was the best day of their year. When this song is performed at concerts, large yellow balloons are dropped on the audience. The first known sighting of yellow balloons at a Coldplay concert can be dated back to 24 September 2002 at the UIC Pavilion, in Chicago, Illinois during the song “Yellow”. Chris Martin noticed the balloons in the air with a surprised look. Now, the balloons are filled with confetti, and at the end of the song Chris Martin pops one with his guitar and confetti flies everywhere.


Yellow has been covered by numerous singers worldwide, some in different languages and styles. A Chinese language version of “Yellow” was recorded by Chinese rock singer Zheng Jun in 2001, six months after the original release of the single. Singaporean singer Tanya Chua covered the song.[25] The cover band and comedy act Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine covered this as a Lounge style version on his 2004 album I’d Like a Virgin. The song has also been performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. American musicians Petra Haden and Bill Frisell covered the song, featuring it in their album Petra Haden and Bill Frisell; the cover appears in episode 3.08 of the The O.C.. In 2006, Tre Lux covered “Yellow” on the cover album A Strange Gathering. Fame Academy winner Alex Parks often performed “Yellow” and a cover appears on her debut album. English vocal troupe G4 covered the song for their second album, G4 & Friends, with “unique harmonies”. American singer-writer Brooke White covered “Yellow” on her 2006 album Songs from the Attic. White’s manager directed her to cover American hard rock band Aerosmith’s 1973 single “Dream On”, but she wanted to do “Yellow”. Since they had contradicting ideas, they compromised and ended up producing cover versions of the two. In 2009, Jem performed a cover of Yellow for Starbucks Entertainment’s Valentine’s Day compilation Sweetheart: Our Favorite Artists Sing Their Favorite Love Songs.

The song has also been covered in live performances by various artists. The progressive bluegrass trio Nickel Creek has played “Yellow” in the middle of “The Lighthouse’s Tale” at their concerts. Boyce Avenue an acoustic rock band from Florida covered “Yellow” in their album entitled “Influential Sessions”. Galway-based musicians Joe Joyce and Oisin Tierney have been known to cover “Yellow” as part of their performances, and American band The Almost has often covered “Yellow” at their live shows. American alternative rock band Brand New often covers part of the song live at the end of their song “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot”. The X Factor 2008 contestant Diana Vickers covered the song for ‘Best of British week’. During their 2010 tour, Limp Bizkit have also covered the song regularly live. U2 performed an excerpt of “Yellow” live at Glastonbury Festival 2011.

Song Facts

Lead singer Chris Martin has said that the lyrics are about being devoted to someone, wanting to do anything for them – writing a song for them, swimming across the sea for them and so on. He said that it’s not necessarily a romantic devotion, but someone that you look up to and would do anything for, a brotherly love. (thanks, Adam – Sussex, England)

The band came up with the line “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you” after looking up at the night sky. They were recording in Wales, which had a nice, clear sky.

The color yellow can have many negative implications (“Yellow Journalism,” “Yellow Fever,” a “Yellow Card” for a foul in soccer), but for Coldplay, it is a beautiful color. According to lead singer Chris Martin, “It was simply because that word sounded nice, it just seemed to fit, no other reason. None of the other colors would have sounded right really!” The Beatles were kind to the color when they used it in their song “Yellow Submarine.”

Martin initially wrote the words and melody, then the rest of the band wrote the other bits and pieces (the hook, the riff, fillsetc.). (thanks, Edward Pearce – Ashford, Kent, England)

“Yellow” is a term that can mean cowardly or afraid. From this standpoint, the singer could be afraid and nervous to show his love, until he “ran across” and “jumped across” for her. He finally got the nerve to express his love. (thanks, Stefan – Winona, MN)

This was a hit in their native England, but it didn’t do nearly as well in the US, where it took Coldplay longer to catch on. The song did have tremendous crossover appeal, however, and got lots of airplay on Modern Rock, Adult Contemporary and Pop radio stations.

The video is one continuous shot of Chris Martin walking on a beach in England. The plan was to shoot the band walking along a sunny beach with lots of people lying around, but Coldplay drummer Will Champion’s mother died shortly before the shoot. The film crew and extras were already hired, so with the band’s blessing, Martin went by himself while the other members attended the funeral. It was raining that day, so instead of using the extras, they had Martin alone on the beach. Parachutes is dedicated to Champion’s mother. (thanks, Rich – Llanelli, Wales)

The video was shot at a fast shutter speed to achieve the slow-motion. In order for Martin to sing along, he had to lip-sync to the song played at double speed.

Coldplay was in England recording other tracks for the album while this was being mixed in New York. They hated the results of the mix and flew to New York to make sure they got the sound they were looking for.

ABC Television used this song to promote their shows. The campaign featured bright yellow backgrounds.

This won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. This was nominated for Best Rock Song, but lost to “Drops Of Jupiter” by Train.

When performing this song, Chris Martin used to change the song’s melody. However, R.E.M’s Michael Stipe advised against it: “Stop doing that. People want to hear the songs the way they know them.” The Coldplay vocalist began singing all their songs in a straightforward way.

An acoustic version of Yellow is available on the God Put a Smile Upon Your Face EP, but it is incorrectly labeled as a live version.

The Oracle on Yellow

February 7, 2013 – submitted by Craig Pattison, United Kingdom

Q. Hey Oracle!

So, I came across this. Have you ever heard this version before?! It’s really beautiful!!!

My question, where and when is this from? I know the first verse and chorus is how they played it on the more recent MX tour shows, but I never knew there was this full studio version!

It’s amazing, thank you. :-))
The Oracle replies:

There are a few acoustic versions of Yellow and not just live.

The first studio version was given away via a newspaper back in 2000. It was from a radio session.

This version you love is from the Every Mother Counts compilation. A beautiful version for a great cause.

July 3, 2012 – submitted by Cameron F, United States of America

Q. I’ve heard that the song Yellow was influenced in some part by the novel Great Gatsby. I’m torn, because I’ve read that Chris was inspired by a meteor shower, but at a recent concert, the yellow lights faded to a single green light, just like in the book.

The Oracle replies:

I don’t know where you heard it was influenced by The Great Gatsby, but it wasn’t.

The story involves Chris singing in the style of Neil Young during their recording session after strumming some chords that he liked.

Speaking of The Great Gatsby, Gatz is a new show that features an enactment of the novel in its entirety – 6 hours of performance!

One of the actors, Scott Shepherd, knows the entire book off by heart. Incredible.

April 24, 2012 – submitted by Saz, United States of America

Q. Hello dear Oracle,

This is not so much a question as it is a request. I will soon be going to see Coldplay at the Hollywood Bowl and I always hoped that at a Coldplay concert I would be able to hear the song Yellow, but experience it like seen in videos with giant yellow bouncy balls. So if you could put in a good word for us Cali kids to get to experience that live, that would be fantastic. Thanks. 🙂

The Oracle replies:

I don’t need to put a good word in for you as that will definitely be happening. If you read the review of the first show in Edmonton, you’ll see the yellow balloons are still very much a feature of Yellow live.

March 28, 2012 – submitted by Ben, United Kingdom

Q. Last week I went on a geography trip to Studland Bay where the music video for Yellow was filmed – why was this beach, of all beaches chosen?

The Oracle replies:

James Frost (one half of the video’s directing team) said it was their producer who suggested it.
As is usual with videos, several locations are given as options before a scout of those places are carried out. Studland Bay was actually the first they visited and as soon as they saw it they knew immediately it was the right place to film.

April 14, 2011 – submitted by Chris K, United States of America

Q. I teach 4th grade in a Quantum learning classroom, and for some reason the beginning of Yellow from the Live 2003 world tour really calms them down in the morning. Is there a studio version of Yellow from the Live 2003 tour? The beginning of the song really helps them focus! It’s been a great opportunity to introduce the class to Coldplay. Oracle… can you help me out here?

The Oracle replies:

I take it you mean a CD studio recording of the version of Yellow from the Live 2003 DVD. The only recording of that version of Yellow is live. There is a CD as well as the DVD with 12 tracks lifted from the same shows and that does feature Yellow.

March 17, 2011 – submitted by Kim, Canada

Q. Further to Pedro’s question…so the video was not shot in real time?

The Oracle replies:

Although it looks like it was all done in one take, apart from the illusion of time passing quickly, they actually ran through the song five times and it was filmed in an hour.

March 16, 2011 – submitted by Pedro, Argentina

Q. Hi O! I know you may have asked this before, but I would like to know how was Yellow clip made? How is it possible that in a few minutes the sky turned into a light blue and Chris didn’t let footprints on the sand?!

Sorry if it’s a repeated question but it’s burning my head! Thank you!

PS: I can’t wait for the new album!

The Oracle replies:

I have been asked about the video for Yellow before but was shocked to discover from the tag cloud that I haven’t answered one since February 2009 – apparently.

Anyway, films/videos/photographs etc. can feature special effects used during shooting or they can be digitally enhanced afterward (removing footprints if necessary though I can see plenty).

In the case of Yellow, after the film was processed it went through another process called gradual grade that gave the impression of the day changing.

November 8, 2010 – submitted by Danny, United States of America

Q. Hello Oracle! I am curious about one remix of Coldplay.

I found a version of Yellow called the Alpha Remix. Did Coldplay help create this song or is it an independent song from a DJ (such as Junkie XL)?

Thanks and hope your October is going well!

The Oracle replies:

Well I guess the whole point of a remix is that someone takes a song and puts their spin on it so the band don’t get involved in the process. Please note that in my eyes Coldplay did help to “create” it as they wrote the original and that is the fundamental part; a remix is an alternative version so I wouldn’t refer to it as “independent”. Bands don’t necessarily commission remixes by the way.

There have been a few mixes that the band have really liked and gone on to use such as the Yellow Alpha remix (appeared on the Mince Spies CD) and the Thin White Duke remix of Viva la Vida (used as a musical interlude on the last tour).

January 5, 2010 – submitted by Lauren, United States of America

Q. Hey, Oracle!

In light of Jacob’s question about the intro song for the 2003 concerts, I was wondering what the song is that’s at the beginning of Yellow, like in the Live 2003 version. Or is it just a sample that was created for that purpose? I’ve always thought it was really beautiful so if there’s a full song then I’d love to hear it!

The Oracle replies:

It was a new extended intro that was indeed created for that purpose. I have mentioned before that Yellow is one of those songs that the band like to play around with live so that it doesn’t become boring for the fans and the band – as if eh? You can find it on both the DVD and CD of Live 2003.

November 11, 2009 – submitted by Daniel, Australia

Q. I’ve noticed that the version of Yellow being played in the tour so far is faster than the album and previous live versions. Any reason for this change in tempo?

The Oracle replies:

As you can imagine when you have a song that you know you are going to be playing for the rest of your career it’s good to take a different spin on it every tour. The boys consciously decided to try to keep it interesting for both fans and themselves. They did however ditch an acoustic version… If you look back to the Twisted Logic tour there was a completely different approach then too.

April 3, 2009 – submitted by Margaret, United States of America

Q. There’s quite a bit of internet banter regarding the lyrics of Yellow (throwback, I know). However… I’ve got to know. Is the correct line “for you I’d bleed myself dry” or “for you I’d plead myself tryin'”?

Please answer soon. In the meantime, I’ll be looking at the stars and marveling at how they shine for you.
Love to the Oracle.


The Oracle replies:

You’ll find the correct lyric – for you I’d bleed myself dry – in our Discography, complete with lyrics.
I quite like your alternative though!

February 16, 2009 – submitted by Siya, South Africa

Q. Yellow (Hallo)…….Watching the video for Yellow , one can easily think it was shot in ONE TAKE. Was it, or is it just cleverly shot?? Well, either way its cleverly shot…..please answer, otherwise am banging my head against the wall here……no wall deserves that!


The Oracle replies:

It was actually all down to clever techniques. It took about an hour to shoot and they ran through the song 5 times (Another interesting bit of information is the track was running at double speed, as was the camera. What you see is the film at its normal speed giving the effect of it looking slightly slower than normal). After the film was processed it went through a process called gradual grade that gave the impression of the day changing.

January 16, 2009 – submitted by Alexia, United States of America

Q. Hello Oracle!

I was just listening to Yellow by Coldplay and was wondering where they got the idea for that awsome song? Thanx:)

The Oracle replies:

It was actually inspired by a meteor shower that took place during the recording of the album Parachutes. They were at Rockfield Studios (Wales). Take a look at the guest book…

September 1, 2008 – submitted by Krine, France

Q. During Yellow, in concert, there are big balloons, like in the next tour? (thanks for the show on BBC and thanks you, Oracle).

The Oracle replies:

The balloons appeared during the last tour and the band don’t tend to repeat any effects so you won’t be seeing those again. There are other visual delights on this tour but if you loved the big yellow balloons during Yellow, you can see plenty of photos and videos of them online.

August 29, 2008 – submitted by Jody, United Kingdom

Q. On which beach was the video for Yellow filmed?

The Oracle replies:

It was Studland Bay, which is a few miles north of Swanage. The area is part of the National Trust and is renowned for being one of the most beautiful beaches in England.

August 7, 2008 – submitted by Emily, United Kingdom

Q. I saw a film a few years back where Chris and Jonny were discussing the inspiration behind the song ‘Yellow’. The camera panned to the Yellow pages and to this day my husband and I still argue over whether this was a wind up or not. Oracle, please clarify.

The Oracle replies:

Whatever you have seen or heard about how Yellow got its name; it is nothing to do with Yellow Pages. I know Chris has said on occasion that it is, but trust me, it isn’t.

July 31, 2008 – submitted by Anna, Hungary

Q. I am translating a play. There is a line about “my sister watching Coldplay. They are singing that song about the stars.” Would you happen to know which song is meant? Thanks

The Oracle replies:

That would be Yellow.


Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.

I came along,
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called “Yellow”

So then I took my turn,
Oh, what a thing to have done,
And it was all “Yellow”

Your skin
Oh, yeah, your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
Do you know, you know I love you so,
You know I love you so.

I swam across,
I jumped across for you,
Oh, what a thing to do.
‘Cause you were all “Yellow”

I drew a line,
I drew a line for you,
Oh, what a thing to do,
And it was all “Yellow”

Your skin,
Oh, yeah, your skin and bones,
Turn into something beautiful,
And you know
For you I’d bleed myself dry
For you I’d bleed myself dry.

It’s true,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And all the things that you do.