|Studio album by Coldplay|
|Released||6 June 2005|
|Recorded||January 2004 – April 2005|
|Genre||Alternative rock, post-Britpop|
|Producer||Danton Supple, Coldplay, Ken Nelson (4 tracks)|
|Singles from X&Y|
X&Y is the third studio album by British alternative rock band Coldplay, released 6 June 2005 in the United Kingdom via the record label Parlophone. The album, which features influences of electronic music, was produced by the band and British record producer Danton Supple. Development of the album was often troubled; the album's original producer, British record producer Ken Nelson, was supposed to produce much of the album, however, many songs written during their sessions were ditched due to the band's dissatisfaction. The album's cover art is a combination of colours and blocks, which is a representation of the Baudot code.
The album contains twelve tracks and an additional hidden track, "Til Kingdom Come". It is omitted from the track listing on the album sleeve, but listed as "+" on the disc label and inside the album booklet. It was originally planned for American singer-songwriter Johnny Cash to record it with lead singer, Chris Martin, but Cash died before he was able to do so. The song "Talk" appeared on the main track listing, although it was thought to have been downgraded to a B-side for the album's subsequent single releases, after it leaked online in early 2005.
Originally titled Zero Theory, X&Y was released after a considerable amount of hype and was a significant commercial success, reaching the top spot of many charts worldwide, including the United Kingdom and United States, the latter being their first. With accumulated sales of 8.3 million units in 2005 alone, X&Y was the best-selling album released in 2005 worldwide. By 2011, the album had sold over 13 million copies worldwide.
Overall reaction to the album has been generally positive, though some critics cited it as being inferior to its predecessors. The album spawned the singles "Speed of Sound", "Fix You", "Talk", "The Hardest Part", "What If" and "White Shadows".
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 3 Composition
- 4 Packaging
- 5 Release and promotion
- 6 Critical reception
- 7 Commercial performance
- 8 Track listing
- 9 Charts
- 10 Certifications
- 11 References
- 12 External links
In March 2004, Coldplay announced details about "X&Y" while the album was being recorded. Initial plans were to stay out of the public eye throughout the year. Vocalist Chris Martin stated, "We really feel that we have to be away for a while and we certainly won't release anything this year, because I think people are a bit sick of us." This plan, however, was not due to the pressure their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, had induced but they were trying "to make the best thing that anyone has ever heard".
Prior to the announcement, Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, and British record producer Ken Nelson had started recording demos while in Chicago, Illinois. The band then entered a London studio in January 2004.
The band spent eighteen months working on the album. The released album is the third version which the band had produced during their late sessions, and some have even considered it as their fifth album. The band was not satisfied with the outputs of their initial sessions with Nelson, who produced the band's previous two albums. As a result, they towed the songs from those sessions away, and Nelson was fired, making him banned from producing a Coldplay album.
The initial set release date was 2004, and the band had to delay the album to January 2005. But as the new target date was approaching, the band again discarded songs, which they deemed "flat" and "passionless". Sixty songs were written during these sessions, fifty-two of which were ditched. The band started rehearsing the songs for a planned tour, but felt the songs sounded better live compared to their recorded versions: "We realized that we didn't really have the right songs and some of them were starting to sound better because we were playing them than they did on record, so we thought we better go back and record them again." Guitarist Jonny Buckland has said that the band had pushed themselves "forward in every direction" in making the album, but they felt it sounded like they were going backwards compared to their earlier works.
In search of perfection, Coldplay had to "step it up a few notches and work hard at it to get it right". The band chose Danton Supple, who mixed the bulk of A Rush of Blood to the Head, to oversee the production of X&Y. When January went, the band had to finish the album; they were conscious of the pressure as "expectations for the record grew larger" and "completing it became tougher and tougher". Finally, the band was settled with the song "Square One", which Martin has described as "a call to arms" and a "plea" to each of them "not to be intimidated by anything or anyone else". Once finished, the band felt like they could do their own songs and not have to think of anyone else's demands. During this month, the band was into the final weeks of production and had put the finishing touches on the tracks.
Drummer Will Champion later admitted that the band was not in a rush in completing the album "because the prospect of touring again was so daunting that we felt we should take our time, and also we wanted to make sure that it was the best it could possibly be". The band had no deadline, according to him, which caused them not to feel pressured into finishing something. Once a proper deadline was imposed onto the band, they became more productive than previous sessions. At this juncture, the band had written "about 14 or 15 songs". Martin added that the reason why they ended up late was that they "... kept [adding] finishing [touches to] the record until it was way too late ... [they] don't listen to it at the moment, because [they would] just find something to go back and change."
Coldplay has cited various influences in the album. The German electronic music pioneer Kraftwerk is evident on the song "Talk", which borrows its synthetic hook from 1981's "Computer Love". Also present is 1970s electronic music from the likes of English musician David Bowie and Brian Eno. Eno, who would later produce Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and Mylo Xyloto, played backing synthesizer on the track "Low". The first single, "Speed of Sound", also takes inspiration from the drumbeat of English singer-songwriters Kate Bush's song "Running Up that Hill". According to Jon Pareles of The New York Times, the band attempts to "carry the beauty of 'Clocks'" across the album, borrowing some of its features to songs like "Speed of Sound". The opening track "Square One" features the famous motif from Also Sprach Zarathustra, known better as the title theme of Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The three-note sequence is used as a synthesizer hook, as well as a part of the chorus, showcasing Chris Martin's trademark falsetto voice.
"Fix You" features an organ and piano sound. The song starts with a hushed electric organ ballad, including Martin's falsetto. The song then builds with both an acoustic guitar and piano sound. The sound then shifts with a plaintive three-note guitar line, ringing through a bringing rhythm upbeat tempo. Its instrumentation is varied with the sound of church-style organs hovering throughout the background, piano notes, acoustic and electric guitar riffs, drums, and a singalong chorus. "The Hardest Part" features a faster piano ballad sound, and starts with a repeating two-note piano riff, and features an instrumentation of a singsong guitar. It also includes a slow tempo with a drumming rhythm. The track ends with the band playing the repeated instrument riffs. "Talk" is built around a simple guitar lick by Jonny Buckland. The track includes a hypnotic pace, with Will Champion adding a metronomic beat to the drums. The song features a synthesizer hook notable from Kraftwerk's "Computer Love". It also adds a chiming note to more abrasive riffs during the breakdown near the end of the song. "Speed of Sound" is a similar song musically based on the piano. The song benefits from an insistently ornate keyboard riff and a busy but less-hummable chorus, in which the song builds into a huge drum beat and a synthesizer-heavy chorus, which also includes an upbeat tempo.
Lyrically, X&Y made an apparent shift from its predecessors. On their previous works, Martin sang mostly in the first person "I", but moves to the second person "you". Accordingly, the songs on the album are reflection of Martin's "doubts, fears, hopes, and loves" with lyrics that are "earnest and vague".
The lyrics tend to focus significantly around the idea that everything is broken, out of place or missing; this can be observed in the lyrics of many of the album's songs, most notably "Fix You" ("When you lose something you can't replace") and also in "X&Y" ("When something is broken, and you try to fix it, trying to repair it, any way you can") and "Talk" (Are you lost or incomplete? Do you feel like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?"). This theme is also reflective of the random, incomprehensible pattern on the album's cover (until you "fix" it using the Baudot Code).
The artwork for X&Y was designed by graphic design duo Tappin Gofton, formed by Mark Tappin and Simon Gofton. The image, which is visualized through a combination of colours and blocks, is a graphical representation of the Baudot code, an early form of telegraph communication using a series of ones and zeros to communicate. The code was developed by Frenchman Émile Baudot in the 1870s, and was a widely used method of terrestrial and telegraph communication.
The alphabet of the code is presented in the liner notes of X&Y, but if deciphered, the code actually reveals the characters 'X 9 Y', a fact outlined in Marcus du Sautoy's book 'The Num8er Mys7eries'. It is unclear whether this is a genuine mistake, as the symbol for '9' is very similar to the symbol for '&', or whether it was entered to confuse any deciphering fans. The track listing, included on the booklet, CD, and back of the album, uses "X#" on tracks 1–6, and "Y#" on tracks 7–12, rather than the conventional track numbering system. This is a reference to the title of the album. Many pages in the booklet include photos of the band working on the album. The final page of the booklet contains the slogan "Make Trade Fair", the name of the international organization which Chris Martin continues to support. The band dedicates the album to "BWP" that is presented also inside the liner notes; it stands for Bruce W. Paltrow, the late father of Martin's wife, Gwyneth Paltrow. All singles released from the album feature their titles in the same code on their respective covers. Martin sometimes wears coloured tape on his hands while on stage, as a reference to the album.
Release and promotion
X&Y was initially intended for a 2004 release, although early news reported it would not be released until 2005; however, because of personal preferences, songs recorded in several sessions were scrapped and had pushed the expected release date to January 2005. However, the new date went by and the band had to set another schedule. By early 2005, the album, rumoured to be called Zero Theory, had a target release date between March and May 2005. By early April, the band had finalized the track listing of the album. Eventually, the album was released on 6 June 2005 in the United Kingdom via record label Parlophone. It was issued on 7 June in the United States by Capitol Records. The album has been released with the Copy Control protection system in some regions. In 2008, Capitol released a remastered version of the album on two 180-gram vinyl records as a part of the "From the Capitol Vaults" series.
Around three months prior to the album release, Coldplay began performing several songs from the album during live performances. The band made a headlining performance at public radio station KCRW-FM's annual A Sounds Eclectic Evening, staging five songs from X&Y and some of their old favourites. For the song "The Scientist", Martin sang one of its verses backward, a technique he learned in shooting its music video.
The album has four main singles that were released internationally: "Speed of Sound", "Fix You", and "Talk" in 2005, and "The Hardest Part" in 2006. A fifth single, "What If", was released in June 2006 to radio stations in France and the French-speaking portions of Belgium and Switzerland. A commercial CD was also released in Belgium and features the same B-side as "The Hardest Part" ("How You See the World" recorded live at Earls Court), which was released in other European markets as well as Japan and Australia. This single features the "Tom Lord-Alge Mix" of "What If" as the A-side which differs from the usual album version. Finally, in June 2007, "White Shadows" was released as a radio-only single in Mexico, to coincide with the band's 2007 Latin America Tour. This also complemented the special "Tour Edition" of the album that was released in these regions.
X&Y received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 72, based on 33 reviews. Blender hailed it as Coldplay's "masterpiece." NME described it as "confident, bold, ambitious, bunged with singles and impossible to contain," and added that it reinforces Coldplay as "the band of their time". Q magazine found it "substantially more visceral and emotionally rewarding experience than both its predecessors." James Hunter of The Village Voice said that it is remarkably "accomplished, fresh, and emotional". Uncut assertively called it "an exceptional pop record". Spin magazine's Mikael Wood praised Coldplay for "recasting their nerdy-student Britpop as Important Rock Music" without having to compromise Martin's unpretentious songwriting style. In his review for Allmusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised it as "a good record, crisp, professional, and assured, a sonically satisfying sequel to A Rush of Blood to the Head", stating it as "impeccable" and "a strong, accomplished album".
In a less enthusiastic review for Entertainment Weekly, David Browne felt that Coldplay's attempt at more grandiose music works "only part of the time", even though he found their effort to mature commendable. Alexis Petridis, writing in The Guardian, said that some of the songs are "mostly beautifully turned", but marred by lyrics that are "so devoid of personality that they sound less like song lyrics". Pitchfork Media's Joe Tangari called it "bland but never offensive, listenable but not memorable." Mojo wrote that the album is "awash with cliches, non-sequiturs, and cheap existentialism; at times it all becomes nigh on unbearable". In a negative review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau named X&Y "dud of the month" and called Coldplay a "precise, bland, and banal" band with predictable melodies and impassive lyrics.
The band has received some criticism from some music critics for the similarities between the lead single, "Speed of Sound", and "Clocks", one of the band's most popular songs to date. Kelefa Sanneh of Rolling Stone magazine was less contented with X&Y, writing it "is something less exciting" compared to A Rush of Blood to the Head that "was a nervy bid for bigness". Sanneh notes that the album is "the sound of a blown-up band trying not to deflate" and "a surprising number of songs here just never take flight". Despite such, he compliments the album for featuring "lovely ballads that sound, well, Coldplay-ish".
The album earned the band several awards. In 2006, it won the Best British Album accolade at the BRIT Awards, and International Album of the Year at the Juno Awards which Coldplay shared with American hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas. X&Y had scored Coldplay their third consecutive Mercury Prize nomination. It was also nominated for Best Rock Album at the 48th Grammy Awards, but it lost to U2's album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. X&Y was voted the 32nd best album of the year in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll for 2005.
X&Y was a commercial success in Europe. The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart (making it Coldplay's third consecutive number-one debut) with sales totalling 464,471 the third highest opening sales week in UK history, behind Take That and Oasis.
To date, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has certified the album eight-times platinum. The album placed at number nine on the list of United Kingdom's 20 biggest-selling albums of the 21st century, published by the British trade paper Music Week. As of February 2012, the album had sold 2,666,980 copies in the UK, making it the second best selling Coldplay album behind A Rush of Blood to the Head.
The American press have considered X&Y a landmark achievement of Coldplay. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 737,000 copies despite the highly competitive retail week. The album gave the band their first US number-one album by debut, and its initial sales surpassed the band's previous album releases; Parachutes amassed over 6,500 copies in its debut and A Rush of Blood to the Head with sales of under 141,000. X&Y became the second highest first week sales in the United States for 2005, behind American rapper 50 Cent's second album The Massacre, which sold over one million units in its first week of release. X&Y also emerged as the biggest-selling debut under rock genre. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has since certified the album three-times platinum for accumulated shipments of over three million units. In Canada, the album debuted at #1 and sold 105,000 copies in its first week, making it the biggest-selling debut of 2005 in Canada. It ended up being certified 5× Platinum in December 2008 for shipping of 500,000 copies. Altogether, the album emerged as 2005's best-selling album worldwide, accumulating over 8.3 million units despite the aggregate three percent fall of sales. According to EMI, by the end of 2006 it sold 9.9 million copies.
|5.||"Talk" (Berryman, Buckland, Champion, Martin, Hütter, Bartos, Schult)||5:11|
|7.||"Speed of Sound"||4:48|
|10.||"The Hardest Part"||4:25|
|11.||"Swallowed in the Sea"||3:58|
|12.||"Twisted Logic" (actually only 4:31 long, followed by silence until 5:01)||5:01|
|13.||"Til Kingdom Come" (hidden track)||4:10|
|14.||"How You See the World" (only available in some Japan first press)||4:04|
Tour edition DVD
To coincide with Coldplay's tour of Australia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, the album was re-released in those territories as a "Tour Edition", which also includes all the B-side tracks and music videos of X&Y's singles on a bonus DVD:
|Audio only section|
|1.||"Things I Don't Understand"||4:56|
|3.||"The World Turned Upside Down"||4:33|
|4.||"Pour Me" (Live at the Hollywood Bowl)||5:01|
|1.||"Speed of Sound" (video)|
|2.||"Fix You" (video)|
|4.||"The Hardest Part" (video)|
|5.||"X&Y Track-by-track interview"|
Tour edition CD
In addition a rare "Japan Tour Special Edition" (Cat. No. TOCP-66523) was released in 2006. This is the only "Tour Edition" which has the bonus disc as a CD (CD extra) (Cat. No. NCD-3013), and without Copy Control. All other "Tour Editions" have Copy Control protection. The track listing is exactly the same as in other "Tour Editions".
|Argentina (CAPIF)||3× Platinum||120,000x|
Latin American Tour Edition
|Australia (ARIA)||6× Platinum||420,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Platinum|
|Belgium (BEA)||2× Platinum||100,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||5× Platinum||500,000^|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||Platinum||40,000^|
|France (SNEP)||2× Platinum||400,000*|
|Germany (BVMI)||3× Platinum||600,000^|
|Greece (IFPI Greece)||Gold||10,000^|
|Ireland (IRMA)||8× Platinum||120,000x|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)
Includes Special Edition
|Portugal (AFP)||2× Platinum||40,000x|
|Spain (PROMUSICAE)||2× Platinum||200,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||2× Platinum||80,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||9× Platinum||2,400,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||3,000,000^|
|Europe (IFPI)||5× Platinum||5,000,000*|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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- "Top Oficial AFP – Top 30 Artistas – Semana 25 de 2006" (in Portuguese). Artistas-espectaculos.com. Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- "Russian album certifications – Coldplay – X&Y" (in Russian). National Federation of Phonogram Producers (NFPF).
- "Spanish album certifications – Coldplay – X&Y" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España.
- "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2006" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden.
- "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Coldplay; 'X&Y')". Hung Medien.
- "British album certifications – Coldplay – X and Y". British Phonographic Industry. Enter X and Y in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
- "American album certifications – Coldplay – X&Y". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
- "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2010". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
- Official website
- XFM Album Playback with Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland
- Yahoo! Music Interview: X&Y From A To Z
- Marcus du Sautoy: How do you decode the new Coldplay album cover?, The Guardian, 2 June 2005