With five successful albums releases (all of which debuted at #1 on the UK album chart) - and a scheduled sixth album release in May 2014 (Ghost Stories) - Coldplay have also achieved great success with their singles, such as Yellow, Speed of Sound, the Grammy-winning Clocks and the US and UK #1 single Viva la Vida.
Coldplay’s early material was often compared to that of Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, while also drawing comparisons to U2 and Travis. Since the release of the band’s debut album, Parachutes (2000), Coldplay has 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).
Frontman Chris Martin credits 1980s Norwegian pop band a-ha for inspiring him to form his own band.
Coldplay never intended to become England’s favorite rock & roll sons when their signature rock melodies ruled the charts throughout 2000. The quartet yearned to mess around a bit, plucking their own acoustics for fun while attending the University College of London. All had been playing instruments since their early teens and had been influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan, The Stone Roses, Neil Young, and My Bloody Valentine.
They never imagined taking reign of the UK’s ever-changing rock scene. Each member had come from a solid household of middle-class parents who encouraged music. Chris Martin, the eldest of five siblings, began playing the piano as a young child. He started playing in bands around age 15 and sought solace in the words of Tom Waits. Jonny Buckland, on the other hand, was into the heavy guitar work of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix and was playing guitar by age 11. Scotland native Guy Berryman was into funk instead of indie rock, therefore leaving him to play bass. The multi-instrumentalist Champion had not planned to be a drummer until he joined Coldplay. He favored playing guitar, bass, and the tin whistle, but caught on to playing percussion when the band became official.
When they burst onto the scene, Coldplay were heart-wrenching like Travis, passionate like Jeff Buckley, and as fresh as Oasis. They played their first gig at a festival for unsigned bands in Manchester, and the Safety EP was issued shortly thereafter. The Brothers & Sisters EP was issued by Fierce Panda and released a year later. (Both releases saw only 500 pressings.) Their sweet melodies and swooning lyrics landed Coldplay a UK deal with Parlophone in April 1999, and the five-track limited edition Blue Room EP followed that autumn. With nods from the media, the dream pop foursome was hailed as the next Travis, thanks to their simplistic acoustics and charming personas. Two more EPs, Shiver and Yellow, arrived in Spring 2000.
The band has released 5 albums with the latest sixth album scheduled for release in May 2014: Parachutes (2000), A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), X&Y (2005), Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), Mylo Xyoto (2011) and in May 2014, Ghost Stories (2014).
Their full-length debut album, Parachutes, earned the band a Mercury Music Prize nomination in the UK. It saw a US release in November 2000, and a month later Yellow, was chosen as the theme song for all promo spots for the American TV network ABC. The well-received hype surrounding Coldplay continued throughout 2001 as well; they were nominated for three Brit Awards and embarked on a sold-out ten-date tour of the US. Rumors of a split consumed most of the US tour. Martin frequently battled nasty colds and voice exhaustion, which led Coldplay to cancel a series of American dates and scrap a European tour. With all gossip aside, Coldplay resumed playing in Summer 2001 and earned additional success with second single Trouble.
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)
By the autumn, they had headed into the studio for a second album. Rumour had it that it might be Coldplay’s last album, since the band members felt they might not capture such brilliance again. A Rush of Blood to the Head was released in August 2002. The CD/DVD package Live 2003 was issued a year later. Capturing the band’s show at the Horden Pavilion in Sydney, Australia, it highlighted Coldplay’s monumental success worldwide with A Rush of Blood to the Head. Martin specifically earned a higher notch on the celebrity scale by marrying actress Gwyneth Paltrow in December 2003. Paltrow gave birth to the couple’s first daughter, Apple Blythe Alison Martin, the following April.
Fatherhood did not stop Martin from working, as Coldplay began recording material for a third album within weeks. Previously recorded material with long-time producer Ken Nelson was scrapped early on, while producer Danton Supple (Morrissey, The Cure) joined Coldplay to complete the recording of X&Y. Speed of Sound marked Coldplay’s first single from their long-awaited third effort in Spring 2005; the album followed in June, topping the charts around the world, including America and Britain.
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008)
Coldplay’s fourth album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was released on June 12, 2008 in the United Kingdom, with the first single Violet Hill having been previously released as a free download through their official website for a week from April 29, 2008. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was produced by Brian Eno, mixed by Markus Dravs, and drew influence from the time the group spent in South America.
The album received lots of positive feedback for its originality in melodic acoustics and slightly less ‘synth-dependent’ riffs. It offered a great insight into how significantly the band’s music had adapted and developed to themselves and the public.
Charity duet (single) for World AIDS Day (2008)
Barely a week before the album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was released, a duet with Kylie Minogue, which was intended to be used on the album, was scrapped with the comment that ’it’s just too sexy […] also we haven’t quite finished it’. The track, Lhuna was subsequently released as a charity single to promote World AIDS Day 2008 on December 1, 2008.
Mylo Xyloto (2011)
Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, was released on October 24, 2011, with the first two tracks from the album - Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall and Paradise - were released on June 3, 2011 and September 12, 2012 respectively. The album was no.1 in over 34 countries, and has sold over 8m copies worldwide.
Ghost Stories (2014)
The band’s sixth album, Ghost Stories, was officially released on May 19, 2014. Prior to the release, Coldplay made the full album available to stream via iTunes, with an animation of the album artwork designed by Mila Fürstová, one week ahead of the official release date. The first track from the album, Midnight was released on February 25, 2014. The album was recorded at The Bakery and The Beehive studios in London, England. Ghost Stories entered the Billboard 200 as Number 1 and marked Coldplay’s fourth straight number 1 studio album, selling 383,000 copies in the US in the week ending May 25, 2014 - of which 64% came from digital downloads according to Billboard.
Coldplay are one of very few current British music acts to achieve major success in North America. Despite their large 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 had 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.” On the other hand, Yellow has been used to back TV trailers for “The Simpsons” and Viva la Vida featured on an iTunes TV advert.
Political and social activism
Since 2002, Coldplay have been active supporters of various social and political causes. They have been visible advocates of 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.
Official website: www.coldplay.com
Edited by simonmoran on 28 May 2014, 15:35
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