Parachutes (album)

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Studio album by Coldplay
Released 10 July 2000 (2000-07-10)
Recorded November 1999 – May 2000 at
Matrix, London
Wessex, London
Parr Street, Liverpool
Rockfield Studios, Rockfield
(except "High Speed" recorded summer 1999 at Orinoco, London)
Length 41:44
Label Capitol, Parlophone
Producer Ken Nelson, Coldplay, Chris Allison (track 8 only)
Coldplay chronology
The Blue Room
Mince Spies
Coldplay studio album chronology
A Rush of Blood to the Head
Singles from Parachutes
  1. "Shiver"
    Released: 6 March 2000
  2. "Yellow"
    Released: 26 June 2000
  3. "Trouble"
    Released: 26 October 2000
  4. "Don't Panic"
    Released: 19 March 2001

Parachutes is the debut album by British alternative rock band Coldplay, released by the record label Parlophone on 10 July 2000 in the United Kingdom. The album was produced by the band and British record producer Ken Nelson, excluding one track, "High Speed", which was produced by Chris Allison. Parachutes has spawned the hit singles "Shiver", "Yellow", "Trouble", and "Don't Panic".

The album was a commercial success, and was met with positive reviews. Upon release, the album quickly reached number one in the United Kingdom, and has since been certified 8× platinum. In the United States, the album peaked at number 51 on the Billboard 200, and has since been certified 2× platinum. It won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2002, and has earned the band various accolades since its release. Parachutes is number 12 on the list of the 20 biggest-selling albums of the 21st century in the United Kingdom, and was the winner of the Best British Album award at the 2001 Brit Awards. As of 2011, it has sold around 8.5 million copies worldwide.

Recording and production[edit]

The band started working on the album in 1999 and produced an EP with British record producer Chris Allison. Allison was asked to 'come in and give the band a bit of a direction sound wise. Both the band and the A&R department – both parties wanted that'.[1] Things got off to a productive start with the song 'High Speed', which ultimately proved good enough to make it onto the Parachutes album. Allison describes it thus: 'You'll notice it is quite a bit different to the other tracks, because there are other sounds going on in it: we wanted to mix a soundscape in with the classic rock sound on that particular track. I thought 'High Speed' was a really good marriage between the classic rock sound and the new sound that was developing out of it, something that was more atmospheric'.[2] Seven tracks in all were recorded during the sessions at Orinoco studios in London, three of them ended up on The Blue Room EP.

The band took a break to write more songs for the album. A few months later it was arranged that Allison and the band meet at a rehearsal room to start on the album proper. "They started up playing in the rehearsal room and they really weren't together at all. And I was very honest with them, I just sort of said 'Look this simply isn't good enough'". Allison adds, "The interesting, the most significant thing that did occur out of the fact that we didn't end up starting the album on that day of the rehearsal was that Chris Martin had not written 'Yellow' by that time".[3]

Several months later British record producer Ken Nelson was chosen, producing all but one song on Parachutes. He was introduced to Coldplay by his manager Pete (who gave him a copy of the band's Fierce Panda-distributed debut single in 1999). Nelson has claimed that, as soon as he heard vocalist Chris Martin's voice on the song "Bigger Stronger", he "realised that he was something special". Nelson was offered the job while Coldplay were performing in Liverpool with English indie rock band Gomez (whose debut album, Bring It On, was what he had produced at the time).[4]

Coldplay initially planned to record Parachutes in the space of two weeks. However, tours and other live performances caused the recording to spread out between September 1999 and April–May 2000.[5] The band began work on the album at Rockfield Studios in Wales, Matrix Studios, and Wessex Sound Studios, although the majority of Parachutes' tracks were recorded at Liverpool's Parr Street Studios. The band worked in three studio rooms at Parr Street, and tracked much of the album in one of these rooms—the project studio which producer Ken Nelson describes as "basically a demo room". The Chris Allison-produced track "High Speed" was also included on the album, and originates from earlier sessions at Orinico Studios in London. The album was mixed by American engineer Michael Brauer in New York. Coldplay's record label, Parlophone, had originally intended to use a mixing engineer for the tracks they picked as singles, but eventually hired Brauer to work on all songs on Parachutes[4] except the song 'High Speed' which was mixed by Chris Allison.

At the Liverpool concert where he was offered the production job Nelson had noted that Coldplay's performance was "very very uptight [...] they rushed through the set and it was quite difficult to listen to". Once in the studio Nelson and the band went through each song, learning how to play the piece live and deciding what tempo to play it at in an attempt to get the group to "calm down" ("Trouble", for example, had to be reworked to eliminate the cacophony included in its early versions).[4]

The album's cover features a photograph of a globe taken with a disposable Kodak camera. The globe had been purchased from W H Smith for £10; it was featured in the music videos for "Shiver" and "Don't Panic", and also accompanied the band on their tours.[6] The album was dedicated to drummer Will Champion's mother, Dr. Sara Champion, who died of cancer in 2000.[7]

Music and style[edit]

Coldplay performing "Yellow" in the 2005 Twisted Logic Tour.

Champion has explained that Nelson's production style was liberating and allowed the band to feel at ease during the recording of Parachutes (many songs from the album often featured slow tempos). The ensuing album was "a record's worth of moody and atmospheric tunes". As a nod to the moods created by the album, Champion has compared the song lyrics to the 1972 song "Perfect Day" by American rock singer-songwriter Lou Reed, stating that the "lyrics are beautiful and they're really, really happy, but the music is really, really sad. It's that kind of thing, where you can create [differing] moods through the music and lyrics."[8]

Parachutes was recognised to have an alternative rock sound similar to English band Radiohead in their Bends era. In fact, it has been suggested that the album's commercial success was due in part to a portion of Radiohead's audience being alienated by the band's experimental and more electronic-influenced Kid A album.[9]

Release and promotion[edit]

Parachutes was released on 10 July 2000 in the United Kingdom via record label Parlophone. In the United States, it was released on 7 November 2000 by record label Nettwerk.[10] The album has been made available on various formats since its initial release; both Parlophone and Nettwerk released it as a CD in 2000, and it was also released as a cassette by newfound US label Capitol in 2001. In the following year, Parlophone issued the album as an LP.[11]

The main version of the album contains 10 tracks; the tenth track, "Everything's Not Lost", segues to a hidden short track called "Life Is for Living", clocking in for a total of 7:15. The Japanese version of the album contains all main tracks, and the additional tracks "Careful Where You Stand" and "For You".

Four singles were released from the album: "Shiver", "Yellow", "Trouble", and "Don't Panic". "Shiver" served as lead single in the United Kingdom while "Yellow" was used in the United States. Upon the release of "Trouble", Coldplay abandoned their initial plan of releasing "Don't Panic" as the album's fourth single, after they deemed three singles were enough for an album. Despite this, however, it was released as a single in some European regions.[12]

Since its wide release, Parachutes has earned the band a large array of awards. The album won Best Album at the 2000 Q Awards, and was nominated at the 2000 Mercury Music Prize. The following year, the band earned Best Alternative Music Album at the Grammy Awards and Best British Album at the BRIT Awards.[13][14]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 72/100[15]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[16]
Entertainment Weekly B+[17]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars [18]
NME 9/10[19]
Pitchfork Media 5.3/10[20]
PopMatters positive[21]
Q 4/5 stars[22]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[23]
Stylus C[24]
Village Voice mixed[25]

Parachutes was generally well received in Europe. Michael Hubbard of MusicOMH noted that it is an album of "remarkable depth, especially when one considers the youthful ages of the band members"[26] while The Guardian newspaper described the album as "one of the year's most uplifting albums", adding that it features "elegant songs, classic guitars and gorgeous singing".[27] NME awarded the album 9 out of 10, saying that "...all told, this is an incredible debut album".

The album also received generally positive reviews among international critics. A review in Billboard magazine claims that Parachutes "brings nothing new to the table", writing that its "musical reference points are immediately recognizable and difficult to overlook". Despite this, the review adds, "Coldplay seems talented enough to transcend this early identity crisis", referring to them as a newly introduced band in the United States.[28] Matt Diehl of Rolling Stone magazine said that the album "ultimately rises above its influences to become a work of real transcendence".[23] MacKenzie Wilson of AllMusic commented that it introduces the band as "young musicians still honing their sweet harmonies", adding, "Parachutes deserved the accolades it received because it followed the general rule when introducing decent pop songs: keep the emotion genuine and real."[16] Robert Christgau picked two songs from the album ("Yellow" and "Don't Panic") as choice cuts ((choice cut)).[29]

Pitchfork Media was less enthusiastic and rated the album 5.3 out of 10. Spencer Owen views the album as "harmless and pretty" but "nothing else", noting that it will bring Coldplay "a windfall of cash and international popularity".[20] The Village Voice similarly writes that "there's little on Parachutes that demands attention or punctures the pensive spell, and, unlike Travis's, Coldplay's hooks are slight."[25]

Commercial performance[edit]

Parachutes performed well in the United Kingdom. The popularity of the songs in British clubs, pubs and sporting events bolstered the album to debut at number one on the UK Albums Chart.[30] It has been certified eight-times Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry, with sales of around 2,400,000 units, to date.[31] In July 2011, Parachutes climbed from No. 184 back to No. 48 in the album's 318th charting week there.[32] As of February 2012, the album had sold 2,559,678 copies in the UK, making it the third biggest selling Coldplay album behind A Rush of Blood to the Head (2.8 million) and X&Y (2.6 million).[33]

Parachutes has reached number 51 on the US Billboard 200, and has peaked at number one on the Billboard Heatseekers. Over two million copies have been shipped to the United States, leading to being certified two-time Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[34] It has also been certified three-time Platinum in Australia by the Australian Recording Industry Association,[35] and two-time Platinum in Canada by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.[36]

Impact and legacy[edit]

Coldplay continue to perform songs from Parachutes, such as "Yellow," in live performances.

According to the British trade paper Music Week, Parachutes was one of the most-impressive debut albums ever, spawning the hit singles "Shiver", "Yellow", and "Trouble". With nearly 2.4 million units sold in the United Kingdom alone, it has placed at number 12 on the country's list of 20 biggest-selling albums of the 21st century.[37] The album was placed at number 25 in Channel 4's 100 greatest albums of all time, and in 2006 at number 33 in NME's 100 greatest British albums.

Despite the album's critical and commercial success, Chris Martin said that Coldplay didn't like the album. He also commented that they look beyond Parachutes: "We know that's terrible music and we always try to think about what we can do next."[38]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin.

No. Title Length
1. "Don't Panic"   2:17
2. "Shiver"   5:00
3. "Spies"   5:19
4. "Sparks"   3:47
5. "Yellow"   4:29
6. "Trouble"   4:31
7. "Parachutes"   0:46
8. "High Speed"   4:14
9. "We Never Change"   4:09
10. "Everything's Not Lost" (5:39 / includes hidden song "Life Is for Living" 1:37) 7:17
Total length:


Charts and certifications[edit]


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