Artist of the Week: Coldplay
Coldplay was always destined for greatness. Comprised of Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion, the four-man quartet from London had a vision to create music that would leave a legacy for people to remember them. This notion was evident even before they released their debut album Parachutes in 2000, and it rings true to this day.
Now established as one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, Coldplay is reveling in the wake of the release of their sixth studio album Ghost Stories. The project is be a culmination of the work they have put in over the years, featuring their growth as not only musicians, but also as individuals. Take a trip through their musical journey as we’ve highlighted the most important aspects of Coldplay’s career. From topping the music charts to helping the less fortunate, Coldplay is making a world of difference one day at a time.
1. Forming Coldplay
Coldplay’s history begins at University College London, where lead vocalist Chris Martin and guitarist Jonny Buckland started their own group called Pectoralz in 1996. The addition of bassist Guy Berryman brought a new band name, Starfish, before Will Champion joined later as their drummer. The group renamed themselves Coldplay, and with the assistance of their manager and de facto fifth member Phil Harvey, they began working toward their dream of becoming a successful band in the music industry.
2. Being Influenced by U2 and Radiohead
Coldplay’s influences share a telling theme as to why the group has done so well for themselves. Quite simply, they have become one of best bands in music because they followed the careers of other highly talented and successful bands. Coldplay cites U2, Radiohead, the Beatles, and Travis as major influences during their earlier years, as they attempted to emulate the professionalism and musicianship of their predecessors.
3. Perfecting the Post-Britpop Sound
Even though Coldplay started to see their potential as a group grow, they weren’t the only band on the block that was vying for a spot as the next big thing in the 1990s. Groups like Keane, Doves, and Snow Patrol were also on the rise. Coldplay were able to separate themselves from the pack by perfecting the Post-Britpop sound, a stylistic movement that emerged in the late '90s. Based on alternative rock but with an indie rock sensibility, the sub-genre became Coldplay’s calling card early on. Though they have tweaked their musical focus a bit since then, Coldplay is still the poster child for Post-Britpop in 2014.
4. Releasing Their Debut Album Parachutes
While the release of two teaser EPs brought Coldplay moderate exposure by 1999, their first real test came on their debut album Parachutes. Backed by the singles “Yellow” and “Trouble,” the project highlighted the group’s rich instrumentation and penchant for songs about love. The melodies were moody, yet each record relied a hopeful tone that came through in Chris Martin’s vocals. Ironically, Coldplay aren’t too proud of their debut album despite its success. “We know that's terrible music, and we always try to think about what we can do next,” Chris Martin said in 2006. Regardless, “Yellow” is still a huge favorite for fans at their concerts.
5. Continuing Their Success on Subsequent Albums
Coldplay has only gotten better with time, with their following releases delivering some of the best music of the last decade. Their second album A Rush of Blood to the Head and their 2008 release Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends were both included in Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of the 2000s list. A number of their songs have also been held in high regard, including “Clocks,” “The Scientist,” “Fix You,” and “Viva la Vida.” One listen to these records and it’s clear Coldplay put a lot of time and effort into creating music that has lasting value.
6. Topping the Charts
With a large and loyal following tied to their music catalog, Coldplay has enjoyed unprecedented success on the charts. All five of their albums debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, with their last three releases also topping the charts on the Billboard 200. Each one of their albums has also sold a million copies in both the UK and the U.S., with total worldwide sales estimated around the 60 million mark. And that’s not even including their performance on the singles charts. Fourteen of their songs have cracked the top 10 in the UK, with their 2008 release “Viva la Vida” reaching No. 1 at home and in the U.S.
7. Honored From the United Kingdom to America
Acceptance speeches have been become second nature for Coldplay, who have won various awards over the years. Their current tally for Grammy awards stands at seven, including winning Record of the Year for “Clocks” in 2004 and Song of the Year for “Viva la Vida” in 2009. Just as impressive is their success at the Brit Awards. All told, they have won eight awards, including the high honor of Best British Group three times.
8. Influencing Other Notable Artists
Along with their own legacy intact, Coldplay has influenced a number of artists throughout the years. From Leona Lewis to The Fray, these artists have drawn from the group’s very melodic base, as well as Chris Martin’s exceptional songwriting. Even rap stars like Jay Z and Future have taken inspirational cues from Coldplay, which shows just how much musical range the group has.
9. Making a Difference by Donating to Charity
Coldplay are considered one of the most charitable musical acts worldwide. During their career, they have donated to over two dozen different charities, including Red Cross, Kids Company, City of Hope, and MusiCares. Most recently, Coldplay donated £260,000 to Sport Relief, a nationwide event that raises funds to help people in both the UK and the world’s poorest countries.
10. Their New Album Ghost Stories
Coldplay released their sixth album Ghost Stories on May 19. The follow-up to their 2011 release Mylo Xyloto, the band initially shared two singles from the project, “Magic” and “Midnight.” Both songs highlight somewhat of a darker tone from Coldplay, while still possessing the creative spirit that longtime fans know and love. At nine songs in length, Ghost Stories is Coldplay’s shortest album yet, but the range of emotions encapsulated within that collection is profound. Coldplay has grown into one of the biggest rock bands on earth, and that affords them the luxury of putting out an album that revisits the raw, unpolished moments of earlier albums like X&Y. Still, the production from major names like Daniel Green, Rik Simpson, Paul Epworth, Jon Hopkins, and Kanye West collaborator Mike Dean is pristine. Chris Martin's vocals are as beautiful as ever, and fans get a portrait of the more personal side of a band that will go down in history.
July 16, 2014 via Pepsi