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Coldplay

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Coldplay
Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, Guy Berryman and Will Champion gets ready to take a bow after performing live.
Coldplay getting ready to take a bow after performing at the BBC's Broadcasting House in 2021
Background information
Also known as
  • Pectoralz (1996)
  • Starfish (1997)
  • Los Unidades (2018)
OriginLondon, England
Genres
Years active1996–present
Labels
Associated acts
Websitecoldplay.com
Members

Coldplay are a British rock band formed in London in 1996. They consist of vocalist and pianist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, drummer Will Champion and creative director Phil Harvey.[3] They met at the University College London and began playing music together from 1996 to 1998, first calling themselves Pectoralz and then Starfish.

After releasing Safety EP independently in 1998, the band signed with Parlophone during the next year. Their debut album, Parachutes (2000), included the breakthrough hit "Yellow" and received a Brit Award for British Album of the Year, a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album, as well as a Mercury Prize nomination. Their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), won the same accolades while also spawning the singles "Clocks" and "The Scientist", with the former winning a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The band's third album, X&Y (2005), was the best-selling of the year worldwide, topping the charts of over 30 countries. On their fourth record, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), Coldplay achieved the distinction once again and explored new musical territory following the completion of what they considered a trilogy. It earned them a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album and their first Album of the Year nomination, while title track "Viva la Vida" went number-one in both the United Kingdom and United States, marking the first time a British group did so in the 21st century.

Since then, Coldplay further diversified their sound with subsequent albums Mylo Xyloto (2011), Ghost Stories (2014), A Head Full of Dreams (2015), Everyday Life (2019) and Music of the Spheres (2021). Each one presented a specific theme and added new musical styles to the band's original repertoire, including electronica, ambient, pop, R&B, funk, classical, jazz fusion, and progressive rock. They have also been noted for dazzling, euphoric live performances,[4] with critics stating that it is where the band "come alive and make the most sense". To celebrate their 20th anniversary, they released previously unseen footages in 2018 through a career-spanning documentary directed by long-time collaborator Mat Whitecross.

With 100 million albums sold worldwide, Coldplay are the most successful band of the 21st century and one of the best-selling music acts of all time.[b] According to Fuse, they are also the sixth-most awarded group in history. Other notable achievements include the fifth-highest-grossing tour of all time, three of the 50 highest-selling albums ever in the United Kingdom, the most number-one records in the country without ever missing the top,[7] most nominations and wins for a band in Brit Awards history and becoming the first British group to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Coldplay are considered one of the most influential bands of the century as well, with Forbes describing them as the standard for the current alternative scene. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included A Rush of Blood to the Head on their list of "200 Definitive Albums" list and the single "Yellow" is part of the "Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" exhibition, being responsible for changing the direction of mainstream rock for the following years. In spite of their popularity and impact, Coldplay have also earned a reputation as polarizing pop rock icons.

History[edit]

1996–1999: Formation and first years[edit]

Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland first met during their orientation week at University College London (UCL) in September 1996.[8] The pair spent the rest of the university year planning a band, ultimately forming a group called Pectoralz.[9] Guy Berryman, a classmate of Martin and Buckland, later joined the group. By 1997, the group, who had renamed themselves Starfish, performed gigs for local Camden promoters at small clubs.[10] Martin also had recruited his longtime school friend Phil Harvey, who was studying classics at the University of Oxford, to be the band's manager.[11] Coldplay have since accepted Harvey as the fifth member of the group.[1] The band's line-up was completed when Will Champion joined to take up percussion duties. Champion had grown up playing piano, guitar, bass, and tin whistle; he quickly learned the drums (despite having no previous experience).[9] Initially, the band rehearsed in Jonny Buckland's bedroom in a flat, with neighbours who were able to tolerate the noise.[12] The band finally settled on the name "Coldplay", which was suggested by Tim Crompton, a local student who had been using the name for his group.[1]

By 1997, Martin had met Classics student Tim Rice-Oxley. During a weekend in the English village Virginia Water in Surrey they asked each other to play their own songs on the piano. Martin, finding Rice-Oxley to be talented, asked him to be Coldplay's keyboard player, but Rice-Oxley declined, as his own band, Keane, was already active. Days after, this event would shape the second line-up of Keane and keep Coldplay's unaltered, thus leaving both bands as quartets.[13] In 1998, the band released 500 copies of the EP Safety.[14] Most of the discs were given to record labels and friends; only 50 copies remained for sale to the public. In December of that year, Coldplay signed to the independent label Fierce Panda.[14] Their first release was the single "Brothers & Sisters", which they had recorded over four days in February 1999.[14]

After completing their final examinations, Coldplay signed a five-album contract with Parlophone in early 1999.[15] After making their first appearance at Glastonbury, the band went into the studio to record a second EP, titled The Blue Room.[16] Five thousand copies were made available to the public in October,[17] and the single "Bigger Stronger" received BBC Radio 1 airplay. The recording sessions for The Blue Room were tumultuous. Champion was briefly fired from the band, but Martin later pleaded with him to return after kicking him out, and because of his guilt, went on a drinking binge. Eventually, the band worked out their differences and put in place a new set of rules to keep the group intact. Inspired by bands like U2 and R.E.M., Coldplay decided that they would operate as a democracy. Additionally, the band determined they would fire anyone who used hard drugs.[18]

2000–2001: Parachutes[edit]

The band initially planned to record their debut album over the span of two weeks. However, due to tours and other live performances, the recording took place between September 1999 and April–May 2000.[19] The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios, Matrix Studios, and Wessex Sound Studios with producer Ken Nelson, although the majority of Parachutes' tracks were recorded at Liverpool's Parr Street Studios (where they accessed three studio rooms). The mixing process on all songs for the album was done by American engineer Michael Brauer in New York.[20] During that period, they played on the Carling Tour, which showcased up-and-coming acts.[21]

Coldplay performing "Yellow", the band's first global hit single from their 2000 debut album Parachutes, during a concert in 2005

After releasing two EPs without a hit song, Coldplay had their first Top 40 hit with the lead single from Parachutes, "Shiver", which was released in March 2000, the same week Coldplay played The Forum in Tunbridge Wells supporting the band Terris. "Shiver" went on to peak at the number 35 position on the UK Singles Chart.[22] June 2000 was a pivotal moment in Coldplay's history: the band embarked on their first headlining tour, including a showing at the Glastonbury Festival. The band also released the single "Yellow",[23] it was Coldplay's first release to reach the top five, rising to number four on the UK Singles Chart.[23] The minimalistic music video for "Yellow" was filmed at Studland Bay in Dorset, and featured Martin singing the song in one continuous shot as he walks along the beach.[24] "Yellow" and "Shiver" were initially released as EPs in the spring of 2000.[25] The former was later released as a single in the United Kingdom on 26 June 2000. In the United States, the song was released as the lead single from the then-untitled debut album. In October 2000, the track was sent to US college and alternative radio outlets.[26]

Coldplay released their first studio album, Parachutes, on 10 July 2000 in the United Kingdom via their record label, Parlophone. The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart.[27] It was released on 7 November 2000 by record label Nettwerk in North America.[28] 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 US label Capitol in 2001. In the following year, Parlophone issued the album as an LP.[29] Four singles were released from Parachutes, including "Shiver" and "Yellow", and enjoyed popularity in the UK and US.[30] The third single was "Trouble", which reached number 10 in the UK charts.[31] It was released more than a year later in the US, and reached number 28 in the Alternative Songs chart.[32] In December 2001, the band released a limited-edition CD, Mince Spies, featuring a remix of "Yellow" and the Christmas song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". It was pressed to 1,000 copies, and was issued only to fans and journalists.[33]

Parachutes was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in September 2000.[34] Having found success in Europe, the band set their sights on North America,[35] by releasing the album there in November 2000, and started the US Club Tour in February 2001.[36] At the 2001 Brit Awards in February, Coldplay earned awards for Best British Group, and Best British Album.[37] Although Parachutes was a slow-burning success in the United States, it eventually reached double-platinum status.[38] The album was critically well received and earned a Best Alternative Music Album honours at the 2002 Grammy Awards.[39] Chris Martin claimed, after the release of Parachutes, that the album's success was intended to elevate the band's status to the "biggest, best band in the world".[40] After single-handedly managing the band until early 2001, Harvey resigned from his role due to the stress of performing duties usually requiring a team of people. He became the group's "creative director" and is often referred as their unofficial fifth member; Dave Holmes replaed him as the band's manager.[41]

2002–2004: A Rush of Blood to the Head[edit]

After the success of Parachutes, Coldplay returned to the studio in September 2001 to begin work on their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, once again with Ken Nelson producing. Since the band had never stayed in London before, they had trouble focusing. They decided to relocate to Liverpool, where they recorded some of the songs on Parachutes. Once there, vocalist Chris Martin said that they became obsessed with recording. "In My Place" was the first song recorded for the album. The band released it as the album's lead single because it was the track that made them want to record a second album, following a "strange period of not really knowing what we were doing" three months after the success of Parachutes. According to Martin "one thing kept us going: recording 'In My Place'. Then other songs started coming."[42]

The band wrote more than 20 songs for the album. Some of their new material, including "In My Place" and "Animals", was played live while the band were still touring Parachutes.[33][43] The album's title was revealed through a post on the band's official website.[44] The album was released in August 2002 and spawned several popular singles, including "In My Place", "Clocks", and the ballad "The Scientist". The latter was inspired by George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass", which was released in 1970.[45]

Coldplay's live performances during their 2002 tour were noted for their use of strobe lighting.

Coldplay toured from 26 March 2002 to October 2003 for the A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. They visited five continents, including co-headlining festival dates at Glastonbury Festival,[17] V2003 and Rock Werchter. Many concerts showcased elaborate lighting and individualised screens reminiscent of U2's Elevation Tour and Nine Inch Nails' Fragility Tour.[46] During the extended tour, Coldplay recorded a live DVD and CD, Live 2003, at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion.[47] At the 2003 Brit Awards held at Earls Court, London, Coldplay received awards for Best British Group, and Best British Album.[37] On 28 August 2003, Coldplay performed "The Scientist" at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and won three awards.[48]

In December 2003, readers of Rolling Stone Magazine chose Coldplay as the best artist and the best band of the year.[49] At that time the band covered the Pretenders' 1983 song "2000 Miles" (which was made available for download on their official website). "2000 Miles" was the top selling UK download that year, with proceeds from the sales donated to Future Forests and Stop Handgun Violence campaigns.[50] A Rush of Blood to the Head won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards.[51] At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Coldplay earned Record of the Year for "Clocks".[39]

2005–2007: X&Y[edit]

Coldplay performing in Barcelona during their Twisted Logic Tour in 2005

Coldplay spent most of 2004 out of the spotlight, taking a break from touring and releasing a satire music video of a song from a fictional band titled The Nappies while recording their third album.[52] X&Y was released in June 2005 in UK and Europe.[53] This new, delayed release date had put the album back into the next fiscal year, and the late release was blamed for a drop in EMI's stock.[54][55] It became the best-selling album of 2005 with worldwide sales of 8.3 million.[56] The lead single, "Speed of Sound",[57] made its radio and online music store debut on 18 April and was released as a CD on 23 May 2005.[58] X&Y entered the album charts of 20 countries at the number one position[59] and was the third-fastest selling album in UK chart history.[60]

Two other singles were released that year: "Fix You" in September and "Talk" in December. Critical reaction to X&Y was mostly positive, though slightly less enthusiastic than that of its predecessor. The New York Times critic Jon Pareles infamously described Coldplay as "the most insufferable band of the decade",[61] whereas NME awarded the album 9/10 calling it "Confident, bold, ambitious, bunged with singles and impossible to contain, X&Y doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does reinforce Coldplay as the band of their time".[62] Comparisons between Coldplay and U2 became increasingly common.[63][64] Martin said the critical review of the album by the New York Times made him feel liberated as he "agreed with a lot of the points... so, in a way, it was liberating to see that someone else realised that also."[65]

From June 2005 to March 2007, Coldplay went on their Twisted Logic Tour, which included festival dates like Coachella, Isle of Wight Festival, Glastonbury and the Austin City Limits Music Festival.[66] In July 2005, the band appeared at Live 8 in Hyde Park, where they played a rendition of the Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony" with Richard Ashcroft on vocals.[67] On 28 August, Coldplay performed "Speed of Sound" at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards in Miami.[68] In September, Coldplay recorded a new version of "How You See the World" with reworked lyrics for War Child's Help!: A Day in the Life charity album.[69] In February 2006, Coldplay earned Best Album and Best Single honours at the Brit Awards.[70] Three more singles were released during 2006 and 2007, "The Hardest Part", "What If" and "White Shadows".

2008–2010: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends[edit]

In October 2006, Coldplay began work on their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, with producer Brian Eno.[71] Taking a break from recording, the band toured Latin America in early 2007, finishing the Twisted Logic Tour by performing in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.[72] After recording in churches and other venues in Latin America and Spain during their tour, the band said the album would likely reflect Hispanic influence.[73] The group spent the rest of the year recording most of the album with Eno.[74]

Martin described Viva la Vida as a new direction for Coldplay; a change from their past three albums, which the band felt was a "trilogy" that they had finished.[75] He said the album featured less falsetto as he allowed his voice's lower register to take precedence.[75] Some songs, such as "Violet Hill", contain distorted guitar riffs and bluesy undertones.[75]

Coldplay on stage in Dallas, Texas, during their Viva la Vida Tour

"Violet Hill" was confirmed as the first single, with a radio release date of 29 April 2008.[76] After the first play, it was freely obtainable from Coldplay's website from 12:15 pm (GMT +0) for one week until it became commercially available on 6 May.[77][78][79] "Violet Hill" entered the UK Top 10, US Top 40 and charted well in the rest of the world.[80] The title track, "Viva la Vida", was also released exclusively on iTunes, it became the band's first number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100,[81] and the UK Official Charts.[82] Coldplay performed the song live for the first time at the 2008 MTV Movie Awards on 1 June.[83] "Viva la Vida" became iTunes' best-selling song of 2008.[84]

Upon release, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends topped the album charts worldwide and was the world's best-selling album of 2008.[85] It hit number one on the UK album chart despite having come on the market only three days previously. In that time, it sold 302,000 copies, being "one of the fastest-selling albums in the country's history".[86] By the end of June, it had set a new record for most-downloaded album ever.[87][88] In October 2008, Coldplay won two Q Awards for Best Album for Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and Best Act in the World Today.[89] On 9 November, Coldplay were named the World's Best Selling Act of 2008 at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo.[90] They also picked up two other awards: World's Best Selling Rock Act and Great Britain's Best Selling Act.[91] The band followed up Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends with the Prospekt's March EP, which was released on 21 November 2008. The extended play features songs from the album sessions and was originally made available on its own, while the album got re-issued with all EP tracks included on a bonus disc. "Life in Technicolor II" was the only single released.

Coldplay performing at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom in October 2008

Coldplay began their Viva la Vida Tour in June, with a free concert at Brixton Academy in London.[92] This was followed two days later by a 45-minute performance that was broadcast live from outside BBC Television Centre.[93] Released in late 2008, "Lost!" became the third single from the album, featuring a new version with Jay-Z called "Lost+". After performing the opening set on 14 March 2009 for Sound Relief at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Coldplay headlined a sold-out concert later that same night.[94] Sound Relief is a benefit concert for victims of the Victorian Bushfire Crisis and the Queensland Floods.[95] On 4 December 2008, Joe Satriani filed a copyright infringement suit against Coldplay in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Satriani's suit asserted that the Coldplay song "Viva la Vida" includes "substantial original portions" of the Satriani song "If I Could Fly" from his 2004 album, Is There Love in Space?. The Coldplay song in question received two Grammy Awards for "Song of the Year."[96] The band denied the allegation.[97][98] An unspecified settlement was ultimately reached between the parties.[99]

Coldplay were nominated for four awards at the 2009 Brit Awards: British Group, British Live Act, British Single ("Viva la Vida") and British Album (Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends).[100] At the 51st Grammy Awards in the same year, Coldplay won three Grammy Awards in the categories for Song of Year for "Viva la Vida", Best Rock Album for Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, and Best Vocal Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for "Viva la Vida".[101][102] A live album entitled LeftRightLeftRightLeft was recorded at various shows during the tour. LeftRightLeftRightLeft, released on 15 May 2009, was to be given away at the remaining concerts of their Viva la Vida Tour. It was also released as a free download from their website.[103] Following the Viva la Vida Tour, Coldplay announced another "Latin America tour" to take place in February and March 2010, in which they were to visit Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia.[104] In October 2009, Coldplay won Song of the Year for "Viva la Vida" at The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Awards in London.[105] In December 2009, Rolling Stone readers voted the group the fourth best artist of the 2000s,[106] they were also included in Q's list of artists of the century.[107] In December 2010 the band released "Christmas Lights". The song received very positive reviews, and the music video features a cameo from actor Simon Pegg, a close friend of Chris Martin, who plays a violin-playing Elvis impersonator in the background.[108]

2011–2012: Mylo Xyloto[edit]

Coldplay playing at MuchMusic in Toronto, September 2011

The band finished recording the new album in mid-2011. When Martin and Champion were interviewed by BBC Radio and asked about the album's lyrical themes, Martin replied "It's about love, addiction, OCD, escape and working for someone you don't like."[109] When asked whether or not their fifth album would be out by the summer, Martin and Champion said that there was plenty of work to be done before releasing it. They confirmed several festival appearances before its release date, including a headlining spot at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival,[110] T in the Park,[111] Austin City Limits Music Festival,[112] Rock in Rio,[113] and Lollapalooza festival.[114]

In an interview on 13 January 2011, Coldplay mentioned two new songs to be included on their upcoming fifth album, "Princess of China" and "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall".[115] In a February interview, Parlophone president Miles Leonard told HitQuarters that the band were still in the studio working on the album and that he expected the final version would appear "towards the autumn of this year".[116] On 31 May 2011, Coldplay announced that "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" was to be the first single for the fifth album. It was released on 3 June 2011. The band also presented five new songs at festivals during the summer of 2011, "Charlie Brown", "Hurts Like Heaven", "Us Against the World", "Princess of China" and "Major Minus".[117]

On 12 August 2011, Coldplay announced via their official website that Mylo Xyloto was the new album title, and that it would be released on 24 October 2011.[118] On 12 September the band released "Paradise", the second single from their upcoming album Mylo Xyloto. On 23 September 2011, tickets for Coldplay's European tour officially went on sale. Demand proved to be very high with most venues selling out in seconds.[119] Mylo Xyloto was released on 24 October 2011, it received mixed to positive reviews and topped the charts in over 34 countries.[120][121][122]

The laser and light effects from the group's Mylo Xyloto Tour

On 19 October 2011, Coldplay performed songs at Apple Inc.'s private memorial event for Steve Jobs, including "Viva la Vida", "Fix You", "Yellow" and "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall".[123] On 26 October their "Amex Unstaged" concert at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid, Spain, was streamed by YouTube as a live webcast directed by Anton Corbijn.[124] On 30 November 2011, Coldplay received three Grammy Award nominations for the 54th Annual Grammy Awards which took place on 12 February 2012 in Los Angeles, and the band performed with Rihanna at the ceremony.[125][126] On 12 January 2012, Coldplay were nominated for two Brit Awards.[127] On 21 February 2012, they were awarded the Brit Award for Best British Group for the third time.[128] The album was the best-selling rock album in the United Kingdom, selling 908,000 copies.[129] The album's second single, "Paradise", was also the best-selling rock single in the UK, selling 410,000 copies.[129] At the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards on 6 September, "Paradise" won the award for Best Rock Video.[130] Mylo Xyloto has sold over 8 million copies worldwide.[120]

Coldplay headlined the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012, where they performed alongside other artists including Rihanna and Jay-Z.[131] To tie in with their performance at the closing ceremony, the group gave permission for bands who were participating in the Bandstand Marathon the opportunity to perform their 2008 single "Viva la Vida" to celebrate the end of the games.[132]

In October 2012, the music video for Coldplay's song "Hurts Like Heaven" was released. The video was based on the story of Mylo Xyloto, a boy who grew up in tyranny ran by Major Minus. The fictional comics entitled Mylo Xyloto continued on the story portrayed in the music video when the series was released in early 2013. A concert documentary film and live album Coldplay Live 2012 chronicles their tour in support of the Mylo Xyloto album. The film premiered theatrically for one night only, 13 November 2012, and was released on CD and home video on 19 November 2012.[133]

On 21 November, after a concert in Brisbane, Australia as part on the group's Mylo Xyloto Tour, Coldplay hinted they were set to take a three-year break from touring.[134] Coldplay performed two shows with Jay-Z in the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, on 30 December and New Year's Eve, and were set, which ended the Mylo Xyloto Tour. The Mylo Xyloto Tour was named the fourth-highest-grossing tour worldwide of 2012 with more than $171.3 million earned in ticket sales.[135]

2013–2014: Ghost Stories[edit]

Speaking to Australian radio station 2Day FM, Chris Martin revealed that the title for their next album would be "much easier to pronounce."[136] Martin debunked speculation that they were taking a break from touring by saying, "This three-year break idea only came about because I said at a gig in Australia that we might not be back there for three years. That's probably true, but that's just how a world tour works. No chance are we taking a three-year break."[137]

On 9 August 2013, Coldplay announced the release of their song "Atlas", which featured on the soundtrack for the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.[138] Its release got pushed back to 6 September 2013 (everywhere but the UK) and 8 September (UK). In December 2013, it was announced that future Coldplay releases would be distributed by Atlantic Records in the US due to restructuring within Warner Music Group following the purchase of Parlophone Records from EMI.[139]

On 25 February 2014, the band unveiled "Midnight", a track from their yet-to-be released album.[140] In early March 2014, it was announced that the band's sixth album, Ghost Stories, would be released 19 May 2014.[141] Ghost Stories is a spiritually driven album that revolves around two major themes mentioned by Chris Martin. The album explores the idea of past actions, and the effects they can have on your future and one's capacity for unconditional love.[142] The band took a different approach for their sixth studio album in contrast to their previous studio albums, with Martin inviting the band to contribute original songwriting material for the album, as opposed to building songs off his ideas as they had done during previous recording sessions.[143]

From April to July, Coldplay embarked on a six-date Ghost Stories Tour in support of the album, playing 'intimate' shows in six cities: the Beacon Theatre in New York City on 5 May, Royce Hall in Los Angeles on 19 May, Casino de Paris in Paris on 28 May, Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo on 12 June, Enmore Theatre in Sydney on 19 June, and closed the tour at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 2 July 2014.[144] The album was made available for pre-order on iTunes, alongside new single "Magic".[145] Two more singles from the album, "A Sky Full of Stars" and "True Love", have since been released. Ghost Stories received mixed to positive reviews.[146] The album topped the charts in the UK, the US and most major markets.[147][148] It received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album, and "A Sky Full of Stars" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.[149] In December 2014, Spotify named Coldplay the most-streamed band in the world for 2014, and third most-streamed artist behind Ed Sheeran and Eminem.[150]

2015–2018: A Head Full of Dreams[edit]

On 4 December 2014, Chris Martin announced in an interview with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 that Coldplay were in the middle of working on their seventh studio album, A Head Full of Dreams.[151][152] Martin stated it might be the band's final album and compared it to Harry Potter; "It's our seventh thing, and the way we look at it, it's like the last Harry Potter book or something like that."[153] He added that, unlike their promotion efforts for Ghost Stories, the band will tour for the seventh record.[153] In an interview with Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2, Martin hinted at the style of the album by saying that the band were trying to make something colourful and uplifting, yet not bombastic. He also stated that it will be something to "shuffle your feet" to.[154]

On 11 December 2014, the band unveiled a new song, "Miracles", which was written and recorded for the World War II drama film Unbroken directed by Angelina Jolie.[155] At the 2015 Billboard Music Awards on 17 May, Ghost Stories was named Top Rock Album.[156] On 26 September, Coldplay performed at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park's Great Lawn in New York, an event organised by Chris Martin that advocates an end to extreme global poverty.[157] Coldplay, along with Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Pearl Jam, headlined the festival, which was broadcast on NBC in the US on 27 September and the BBC in the UK on 28 September.[157]

Speaking on Nick Grimshaw's Radio 1 Breakfast Show on the BBC on 6 November, Coldplay confirmed 4 December as the release date of A Head Full of Dreams, and a new song from the album, "Adventure of a Lifetime", premiered on the show.[158] The album features guest appearances from Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, Noel Gallagher, Tove Lo and Barack Obama.[158] The album reached number one in the UK, and number two in the US, Australia and Canada among others, where it was kept off the top spot by Adele's 25.[159][160] The music video for "Adventure of a Lifetime" featured the band performing as chimpanzees. They were provided consultation with renowned performance capture actor Andy Serkis.[161]

The band performing "Adventure of a Lifetime", during their headline setlist at Glastonbury 2016. The performance was their fifth at the festival, and a record-setting fourth as headliners.

On 27 November 2015, the first dates to their 2016 A Head Full of Dreams Tour were announced. Latin American and European legs were listed, which included three dates at Wembley Stadium, London in June.[162] The North America Tour, an extra Wembley concert, and an Oceania tour, were later added. On 5 December, the band headlined the opening day of the 2015 Jingle Bell Ball at London's O2 Arena.[163] On 7 February 2016 they headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.[164][165] The band were joined by Beyoncé and Bruno Mars.[166] In April 2016, the band were named the sixth best selling artist worldwide in 2015.[167]

On 26 June 2016, Coldplay closed the final day of the Glastonbury Festival in England. Their performance included a duet with Barry Gibb, the last surviving member of the Bee Gees.[168] During the band's second night at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on 18 July, Coldplay were joined onstage by Michael J. Fox to recreate a Back to the Future scene. Martin sang "Earth Angel" before introducing Fox onstage to join the band in performing the Chuck Berry classic "Johnny B. Goode".[169]

The band performed a full set in India for the first time as part of the Global Citizen Festival in Mumbai on 19 November 2016. This performance was attended by 80,000 people and also featured many Bollywood stars during the concert.[170][171] The same month, Coldplay announced in interviews with Absolute Radio and Magic Radio in London that they would be releasing new songs in a new EP called the Kaleidoscope EP. Described as being made from a leftover "bag of ideas" from the recording of A Head Full of Dreams, Martin stated that it would be released in "a couple of months".[172][173] The band officially announced that the EP would be released in 2017.[174]

Coldplay playing the second of three sold-out concerts at Stade de France in Paris in July 2017

On 22 February 2017, the band released a long-awaited and teased collaboration track with EDM duo The Chainsmokers called "Something Just Like This". Reaching number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100, it was the lead single from Coldplay's thirteenth extended play Kaleidoscope, released on 14 July 2017. Together, they debuted the song live at the 2017 Brit Awards with Chris Martin also performing a tribute song to the late George Michael.[175] On 2 March, Martin's birthday, the band released a track from the EP, "Hypnotised".[176] Two further releases from the EP, "All I Can Think About Is You" and "Aliens", came out on 15 June and 6 July 2017 respectively.[177][178] On 15 August 2017, Coldplay announced that a live album covering the A Head Full of Dreams Tour would be released.

On 8 October 2017, Coldplay debuted live their new song called "Life Is Beautiful" at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, California. It was written in support after the earthquake that affected Mexico on 19 September. Part of the band's show was broadcast at the end of Estamos Unidos Mexicanos, a benefit concert taken place at Mexico City's Zócalo, which included "Fix You", "Viva la Vida", "Adventure of a Lifetime" and their new song. Martin stated that the proceeds from the song and concert would be donated to relief efforts for Mexico and other countries.[179]

The A Head Full of Dreams Tour was finished in November 2017. Grossing over $523 million, in 2017 it was listed as the third-highest-grossing concert tour of all time.[180] The promised live album, which is titled Live in Buenos Aires, came out on 7 December 2018. Its footage covers the final concert of the tour in La Plata and a second release named Love in Tokyo was made available at the same time exclusively for the Japanese market. On 30 November 2018, Coldplay released Global Citizen – EP 1 under the name Los Unidades. It includes "E-Lo", a song with Pharrell Williams featuring Jozzy. Proceeds from the EP was donated towards efforts to end global poverty.[181]

2019–2020: Everyday Life[edit]

On 26 September 2019, Global Citizen announced that Coldplay would perform at Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream on 26 September 2020.[182] On 18 October 2019, mysterious black-and-white posters began appearing in various countries around the world, with the band in vintage-style clothing and a date showing 22 November 1919. The band also changed their profile pictures on social media to a sun and moon, making fans speculate an imminent release of new material.[183] On 19 October 2019, a cryptic 5 second teaser was released on social media with orchestral music in the background.[184] On 21 October 2019, in a letter sent to fans, the band announced their eighth studio album titled Everyday Life.[185] It would be a double album, with the first half titled Sunrise and the second half titled Sunset.

Coldplay performing at the ALTer EGO concert in January 2020

On 23 October 2019, the album tracks were revealed in advertisements in the band members local newspapers in the UK, including north Wales' Daily Post (with whom Jonny Buckland once had a holiday job), and Exeter's Express & Echo (the newspaper of Chris Martin's hometown).[186] "Orphans" and "Arabesque" were then released as the album's lead singles on 24 October 2019 on the Annie Mac show on BBC Radio 1, with the latter song being the first Coldplay song to feature profanity.[187] The album was released on 22 November 2019 and marked by a double concert in Amman, Jordan.[188] The concert, which streamed live to YouTube, was performed at sunrise and sunset, corresponding with the subtitles of the album's two halves.[189]

Martin had earlier said that the band would not tour to promote the album until they could work out "how our tour can not only be sustainable (but) how can it be actively beneficial", and hope that it would be entirely carbon-neutral.[190] However, Coldplay performed a one-off show on 25 November 2019 for the charity ClientEarth at London's Natural History Museum. The band played beneath Hope, a giant 128-year-old skeleton of a blue whale in the museum's great hall.[191] The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with 81,000 copies sold, making it the band's eighth consecutive UK number-one album. It was also the third fastest-selling album of 2019, behind No.6 Collaborations Project and Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.[192] On 24 November 2020, Coldplay received two nominations for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards, with one of them being Album of the Year, their first nomination in the category since Viva la Vida.[193] On 21 December 2020, "Flags" was released internationally, the song was originally included as a Japanese bonus track of Everyday Life.[194]

2021–present: Music of the Spheres[edit]

On 29 April 2021, Coldplay announced a new single called "Higher Power" to be released on 7 May 2021 with a video livestream coinciding with the release of the single to be aired from the International Space Station.[195][196] Chris Martin stated in an interview with Zane Lowe that the band would be working with Max Martin and his team on both the song and the new album. He said, "Max is our producer right now for everything we do".[197] On 4 May 2021, Coldplay were announced as the opening act for the 2021 Brit Awards, where they would be performing "Higher Power".[198]

Coldplay with Ed Sheeran at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire in 2021

On 22 May 2021, their pre-recorded performance at Glastonbury Festival was broadcast online.[199] The band also showcased a new song called "Human Heart", featuring R&B duo We Are King.[200] On 8 June 2021, the "official" music video for "Higher Power", directed by Dave Meyers, premiered on YouTube, following a simpler music video featuring the band performing the song while dancing with CGI alien holograms that premiered on 7 May 2021.[201] On 20 July 2021, Coldplay announced that their new album Music of the Spheres would be released on 15 October 2021, and also announced a track titled "Coloratura", which was released 23 July 2021.[202]

On 13 September 2021, they announced with South Korean pop group BTS the second single, "My Universe", which was released on 24 September 2021.[203] The song debuted at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, being their highest-peaking single since "Something Just Like This"[204] and later went on to debut at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.[205] A short documentary about the collaboration with BTS was later released on 26 September 2021 on the official BTS YouTube channel.[206]

Music of the Spheres debuted at number one the UK Albums Chart,[207] becoming the fastest selling album in the country since Ed Sheeran's 2019 No.6 Collaborations Project.[208] The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart,[209] and reached number one on both the Top Alternative Albums and the Top Rock Albums charts.[210] On 14 October 2021, Coldplay announced their eighth concert tour, the Music of the Spheres World Tour, which will begin in San José, Costa Rica, in March 2022 and will visit three continents, with more tour dates to be announced in the future.[211] On 23 November 2021, "Higher Power" was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards.[212] In December 2021, Martin said Coldplay would release three more albums until 2025 during an interview for BBC, with one of them being "kind of a musical" and the last being self-titled.[213] However, he added the band will remain active with smaller releases and worldwide touring after 2025.[214]

Artistry[edit]

Creative process[edit]

Bassist Guy Berryman once explained that the band often have a title and concept in mind before the music arrives, which serves to provide a "framework into which we can work thematically".[215] During an interview for YouTube in 2019, lead vocalist Chris Martin described their way of making songs as "a series of doors" where he usually brings initial ideas to guitarist Jonny Buckland, who either disapprove them or give his input.[216] The same happens from Buckland to Berryman and then drummer Will Champion, allowing all band members to express themselves artistically. This process, however, is known to not always be linear, given how tracks like "Magic" and "Adventure of a Lifetime" started through the bass and guitar riffs from Berryman and Buckland respectively.[217] When asked about avoiding explicit language in the lyrics, Champion have said that "sometimes there are more elegant ways of saying something", and "while swear words are extremely useful at times, [...] if you overuse them it lessens their impact".[216]

Critics noted what is described as a pattern "between overt bids for mainstream success and more self-consciously artsy prestige pieces" as well.[218] Buckland commented that "Knowing that the big [album] is coming allows us to go a lot smaller" and "be much more insular about what music we make sense".[215] Meanwhile, the band are also known to try different aesthetics for the promotion cycle of each record, with James Hall from The Telegraph talking about how over the years Coldplay's look "has morphed from skinny indie kids (Parachutes) to chorus members of Les Misérables (Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends), to a sepia-tinged 1919 jazz band (Everyday Life).[219] Furthermore, Martin added on the matter by saying "There's great security in looking over at [Buckland] and seeing he's wearing the same coloured shoes as me. I suppose it's the same reason why the army wears a uniform, so that you feel part of a clan. And when we are all dressed that way, I just feel very much like [everything] is OK, because I am part of this team".[220]

Musical and lyrical style[edit]

Coldplay have explored many music styles throughout their career, with their sound being considered alternative rock,[221] alternative pop,[222] pop rock,[223] post-Britpop,[224] soft rock,[225] and pop.[226] After winning a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album in 2009, Martin jokingly stated in his acceptance speech that they were "limestone rock", in comparison to "hard rock".[227] In the late 1990s, the EPs released by the band had characteristics of dream pop,[228] setting them apart from future releases. Their first studio album, Parachutes (2000), was described as "melodic pop" that combined "bits of distorted guitar riffs and swishing percussion", being "exquisitely dark and artistically abrasive" as well.[229] Berryman called it "a quiet, polite record",[220] and Champion compared the lyrics to Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", saying they are "quite moody" but with "twists that imply optimism", making them ultimately "beautiful and happy" while the music is "really, really sad". He added that it is the "kind of thing where you can create differing moods through the sound and lyrics".[230]

2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head, on the other hand, is full of "plaintive strums and weary arpeggios",[231] along with a sense of urgency and heartbreak.[232] During an interview, Martin commented that the record's title means "doing something on impulse".[231] The album is also noted for having larger,[233] darker and colder sounds than its predecessor.[234] Critics praised Coldplay for showing a "newfound confidence" as well.[235] This style was kept for the band's third album, X&Y (2005),[236] although with the addition of electronic influences and extensive use of synthesizers,[237] having a grander scale in terms of both sound and existential themes.[238] Craig McLean, from The Guardian, called it "the work of an increasingly driven, punchier band", describing its overall melodies as "heartfelt stuff, with thumping guitar lines and emotive piano".[220] The lyrics on the record have also been considered to be "ruminations on Martin's doubts, fears, hopes, and loves. His words are earnest and vague, so listeners can identify with the underlying concepts in the songs".[239]

Champion with a timpani and church bell.
Champion with the timpani and church bell used in "Viva la Vida".

With Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and the subsequent Prospekt's March EP (both released in 2008), Coldplay further diversified their style and explored new territory following the completion of what they saw as a trilogy of albums.[240] The band experimented with many different instruments,[241] including electric violins, tack pianos, santoors and orchestras, all while using more layered productions.[242] They also tried distinct song structures and vocal identities at the suggestion of producer Brian Eno,[243] drawing influences from oriental, Hispanic, African and Middle-Eastern sounds.[240] The title track, "Viva la Vida", is considered baroque pop and fourth single "Strawberry Swing" has been noted to feature psychedelic inspirations.[244] They dabbled in shoegaze on hidden track "Chinese Sleep Chant" as well.[245] Lyrics are more universal in comparison to previous material, with the subject matter being more collective as the band "delves into love, life, war and death".[246] Martin also commented the revolution themes came from Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables.[247]

Those themes, along with some of the oriental influences, remained in 2011's Mylo Xyloto,[248] a concept album that follows the story of two characters in the style of a rock opera.[249] It expanded the spectrum of Coldplay's sound by including more electronic elements than before and featuring mostly upbeat tones for the first time, resulting in a pop rock style with "modern, urban and dance" melodies.[249] According to Champion, the band originally wanted to make an acoustic record, so when "Paradise" started to take shape, they decided to start a second album. However, the two of them ultimately became a single body of work, with songs like "Charlie Brown" and "Us Against The World" getting reworked into their current versions.[250] Berryman added that they approached the project with "a lot of confidence".[249] Lyrically, Martin said that he was inspired by old school American graffiti, the White Rose movement and "being able to speak out or follow your passion, even if everybody seems against it".[251] A comic book which ties and tells the record's plot was released in partnership with Mark Osborne as well.[252]

For Ghost Stories (2014), Coldplay adopted a melancholic and somber style reminiscent of their debut,[253] but this time incorporating electronica,[254] R&B,[255] synth-pop and ambient influences.[256] Its overall melodies are also noticeably darker and more minimalistic than Mylo Xyloto,[257] having sparse arrangements that reflect their desire to "keep a sense of space" without "being afraid of silence" or "layering too many sounds".[258] The project is considered a break-up album as well,[259] exploring how past events in one's life (their ghosts) affect the present. Martin called it a "journey of learning about unconditional love" after his divorce with Gwyneth Paltrow.[260] One year later, A Head Full of Dreams was released with similar style but featuring bright and uplifting tones instead,[261] making contrast with its predecessor while also introducing elements of disco and funk,[262] particularly in lead single "Adventure of a Lifetime". In the lyrics they worked on subjects of unity, dreaming, parenthood, forgiveness, healing and thankfulness.[261]

In 2017, the band made Kaleidoscope EP available as a companion piece to the album,[263] including a live version of "Something Just Like This", their EDM collaboration with The Chainsmokers, and Brian Eno's returning production on "A L I E N S". Meanwhile, tracks such as "All I Can Think About Is You" and "Hypnotised" mixed Coldplay's newfound pop style with their alternative rock roots,[264] setting the template for Everyday Life (2019), which saw a return to the experimentation and organic sounds of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends while having new influences from gospel, blues and classical music.[265] The song "Arabesque", which was released as the lead single along with "Orphans", was particularly noted to draw from jazz fusion and afrobeat inspirations as well.[266] The band continued their lyrical themes of positivity, equality, hope, legacy and humanity, but also included racism, police brutality, gun control, loss, pain, references of war in terrorism-inflicted countries and refugee crisis, being their first album to feature profanity.[267]

This multi-style approach was also present in 2021's Music of the Spheres,[268] although now leaning more towards their pop sounds. According to Martin, the planets and space imagery are a canvas to explore the human experience: "It's really another record about life as a human person, but given this freedom that comes when you pretend it's about other creatures in other places".[269] He also was inspired by the Star Wars film franchise, which made him wonder what other artists could be like across the universe after watching the fictional Mos Eisley cantina band perform. Champion further added that while Everyday Life was about "making the big questions personal", this album takes "the personal" and make it "into big questions". New musical influences include "Human Heart" and "Coloratura", with the former being an acapella collaboration with We Are King and Jacob Collier, while the latter is a progressive rock ballad running at 10 minutes and 18 seconds, making it the band's longest song to date.[270]

Influences[edit]

Brian Eno in 2015.
Brian Eno influenced Coldplay's ambient and electronica sound.

Coldplay's music have been compared with U2, A-ha, Oasis, R.E.M. and Radiohead,[271] they acknowledge Scottish band Travis and American singer Jeff Buckley as major influences on their early material as well,[272] which was mostly produced by Ken Nelson.[273] Martin is also said to be a fan of Take That,[274] mentioned "spending three years trying to sound like Eddie Vedder" before Buckley,[243] and commented that he listened many hymns during his youth due to a religious upbringing. During a 2021 interview, he cited Belgian singer-songwriter Stromae as another influence: "He is one of our heroes you know, he is one of those people that comes along and completely inspires you all over again".[275]

Buckland, on the other hand, stated that The Stone Roses were one of the reasons why he learned to play guitar.[276] In 2020, he shared on social media playlists with some of his favorite tracks and artists from each decade, including The Velvet Underground, Carole King, Joy Division, Talking Heads, Kate Bush, Donna Summer, Björk, Beastie Boys and many others.[277] He said during an interview in the next year that his favorite song of all time is "Teardrop" by Massive Attack as well.[278] Meanwhile, Berryman is known to be inspired by artists like James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Kool & the Gang and The Funk Brothers.[279] He further added that his musical taste is "hard to condense it down" but "could not live without The Beatles or Motown".[280] As for Champion, he commented that knowing how to play piano since he was eight years old gave a different perspective on drums, which he only learned to play after joining the band.[281] During his youth, he also listened to Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and traditional Irish folk music.[282] Champion named Ginger Baker, Dave Grohl and John Bonham as some of his favorite drummers as well.[281]

For A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), they drew inspiration from Echo & the Bunnymen,[283] George Harrison,[284] and Muse.[285] Their third studio album, X&Y (2005), was particularly influenced by Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and Johnny Cash. The song "Til Kingdom Come" was originally written as a collaboration with the latter before he passed away.[286] Aside from Nelson, the band also began to work with Danton Supple for the record.[287] In 2008's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, Coldplay's style was moving towards art rock, being inspired by My Bloody Valentine, Blur and Arcade Fire.[288] After partnering with Brian Eno and Jon Hopkins, they started to incorporate elements of ambient music and electronica into their compositions.[289] The two producers returned in Mylo Xyloto (2011), though the former had a more direct role by helping to write the songs.[290]

In 2014, Ghost Stories saw the group collaborating with Paul Epworth.[291] Producers Tim Bergling and Madeon were involved as well,[292] which resulted in some tracks having a more "danceable flavor", especially the single "A Sky Full of Stars".[293] Made available in 2015, A Head Full of Dreams featured producing and songwriting duo Stargate.[294] Other long-time partners include Davide Rossi, Bill Rakho, Rik Simpson and Daniel Green: the latter three are referred as "The Dream Team" on Everyday Life (2019) and all four work with the band since Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.[2] For their ninth album, Music of the Spheres (2021), Coldplay invited producer Max Martin.[295] The song "People of the Pride" is noted for having an orchestral introduction inspired by a Beyoncé performance at the Global Citizen Festival,[296] while "Coloratura" drew comparisons to Pink Floyd.[270]

Live performances[edit]

Coldplay at the Wembley Stadium in 2016.
Coldplay at Wembley Stadium during the A Head Full of Dreams Tour in 2016. The band also have two additional small stages where they perform an acoustic set.[297]

Coldplay are known to "make sure each tour is its own dazzling, light-up spectacular",[298] with their visual shows making use of lasers, fireworks, confetti cannons and interactive LED wristbands.[299] The latter is considered a signature piece of their performances as the band is credited with popularizing its use.[300] When reviewing Live in Buenos Aires (2018), Sam Sodomsky from Pitchfork stated that it "makes a strong case for the legacy of one of the 21st century's most enduring live acts",[298] a perspective echoed by The Guardian's Alexis Petridis when describing the band's setlists as "a bullish reminder of how [they] got, and then stayed, huge".[301] Both reviewers also commented on how Martin always interacts with the public between each song's performance.

The band are known for occasionally covering other artists, including "De Música Ligera" by Soda Stereo during the A Head Full of Dreams Tour,[302] and "Nothingman" by Pearl Jam during a one-off 2021 concert at Climate Pledge Arena.[303] For Ghost Stories Tour, on the other hand, they performed at more intimate venues such as Royal Albert Hall and the Beacon Theatre.[304] The concerts used new features like a laser harp and the reactable.[305] A similar approach was used for Everyday Life (2019) over their environmental concerns,[306] with the band making small public shows for charity and a special concert at the Amman Citadel in Jordan.[307] While reviewing the latter, Dan Stubbs from NME concluded that "on stage is where Coldplay come alive and make the most sense".[308]

Public image[edit]

Coldplay are polarizing pop rock icons,[309] being widely praised and criticized by music reviewers as well as the public.[310] They have been noted to maintain a close relationship with fans through videos, letters and social media,[311] becoming one of the most followed bands in the world on Twitter (23.5 million) and Instagram (14.5 million),[312] ranking at third and seventh place respectively.[313] They are also known to tease upcoming releases through easter eggs and clues around the world.[314] On a survey published by the Daily Mirror listing the most popular and unpopular artists in the United Kingdom, Coldplay were among the 20 most voted acts on both lists, the only other bands with the same distinction were ABBA and U2.[315] In 2000, Alan McGee described them as "bedwetters music", a comment he would later apologize for in 2020. Buckland answered saying "We are trying to be who we are, you know. But that’s about it. Pretending to be 'a bit mad' would just be sad".[316]

Journalist Jon Pareles called Coldplay "the most insufferable band of the decade", describing the X&Y album as "faultless to a fault, with instrumental tracks purged of any glimmer of human frailty".[317] On the other hand, Idolator's Carl Williott in 2015 compared it to the works of Phil Collins, noting that in spite of how "such perfectionism is always considered corny in its time", "they had cachet in subsequent eras because the production values, songcraft and sheer talent stood the test of time".[318] Coldplay have often been accused of "sticking to a formula" as well.[319] Conversely, some critics have argued that even though they "never totally break out from the conventions of a genre", they do "travel" between them.[320] Furthermore, when writing for The Guardian in 2019, Ben Beaumont-Thomas commented how "from genre-spanning albums to collaborating with Brian Eno and Beyoncé, they are far more radical than people give them credit for",[321] a sentiment echoed by NME's Charlotte Krol while reviewing Everyday Life (2019).[267]

Uproxx have stated Coldplay "will always be an irresistible target for a certain kind of person" because "they epitomize mainstream pop rock more than any other act from the past twenty years", adding that "mainstream bands are the easiest music entities to mock" and how "it is presumed that there is nothing to 'get' with this band", but "if that was actually true, they wouldn't be so polarizing".[322] Similarly, The Independent commented that they are "often positive, distinctly uncontroversial and inoffensive" while "in the modern world (especially online), if you're not causing outrage you may as well not exist".[323] In a special article titled "25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going", The New York Times selected "Hymn for the Weekend" and concluded that Coldplay's "brand of wide-screen pop attracts easy put-downs" such as "edgeless" and "corny", but "like Phil Collins, Michael McDonald, ABBA or any number of desperately 'unhip' artists, their image will evaporate, while their songs will weather the years".[324]

Legacy[edit]

Achievements[edit]

Coldplay are considered the most successful band of the 21st century.[325] With over 100 million albums sold globally, they are one of the best-selling artists of all time.[b] Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y all rank amongst the best-selling albums of United Kingdom's history,[326] the latter was also the third fastest selling record ever in the country upon release.[327] In 2008, "Viva la Vida" became the first song by a British group to top Billboard Hot 100 since "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls in 1997.[328] The track was praised as one of the best songs of the decade by Rolling Stone and BBC America as well.[329][330] Its parent album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was the best-selling of the decade in the digital download format.[331] Meanwhile, 2011's Mylo Xyloto topped the charts of over 34 countries around the world during its first week of availability.[332] In 2013, Coldplay were named the most influential British celebrities in the world by Forbes,[333] they were also the most googled band of 2016.[334] One year later, they finished the A Head Full of Dreams Tour, which is currently the fifth-highest-grossing tour of all time.[335] In 2021, Coldplay headlined the Glastonbury Festival for a record-extending fifth time,[336] and became the first British group in history to debut at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 with "My Universe".[337]

The band have won numerous awards throughout their career as well, including nine Brit Awards, being the most awarded and nominated group of all time in the ceremony.[338] They are the first act in history to win British Album of the Year three times and British Group four times,[339] scoring the most nominations for both of these categories. Coldplay have also won seven Grammy Awards from thirty-six nominations, receiving Song of the Year and Record of the Year once, while being nominated for Album of the Year twice.[340] In 2009, they received a NRJ Award of Honour for their career accomplishments and impact on the music industry.[341] Their song "Atlas", released as part of the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack in 2013,[342] was nominated at the 19th Critics' Choice Awards and shortlisted for the 87th Academy Awards.[343] The members of the band were named Songwriters of the Year by the Ivor Novello Awards, and ASCAP London Music Awards in 2003 and 2010 respectively as well.[344][345] In 2016, Coldplay were honoured with a Godlike Genius Award from the NME Awards, which recognize "careers of music icons who have been pioneers in the industry".[346] They have won seven Billboard Music Awards, two silver prizes at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and one American Music Award, being ranked as the sixth most awarded group of all time by Fuse as of 2014.[347]

Impact[edit]

According to Forbes, Coldplay have become the standard for the current alternative scene and "through consistent performing and adventuresome work, they continue to grow into one of the finest live bands in all of music".[348] 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head has been ranked as one of the best albums of all time by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,[349] NME,[350] and Rolling Stone.[351] The latter publication named "The Scientist" as the 50th-best song of the 21st century,[352] while placing "Clocks" and "Fix You" at number 490 and 392 respectively on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[353] In the Recording Academy's 20th anniversary review of Parachutes, Jon O'Brien labeled it the band's most influential album to date, impacting the work of artists such as the Fray, Snow Patrol and OneRepublic.[354] He also noted that "Coldplay, and to a lesser extent Travis, helped to open the floodgates for those who didn't subscribe to the Rock N' Roll Star way of thinking". Meanwhile, their breakthrough single "Yellow" is considered one of the best tracks of the 2000s decade by Pitchfork and was included in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll" exhibition for being one of the most successful and important recordings in music.[355] When discussing key events in the history of rock, The Guardian mentioned the band set the direction of mainstream rock for years to come by releasing the song and "ushered in a fresh timbre of songwriting: yearning melancholy, buoyed by a sense of uplift".[356] In 2011, VH1 ranked them among the greatest musical acts in history,[357] while ten years later they were in Parade's "100 Best Rock Bands of All Time" list as the youngest group inside the Top 50.[358]

Coldplay are also regarded as one of the most influential bands of the 21st century,[359] inspiring the work of artists like Ed Sheeran,[360] Harry Styles,[361] Dua Lipa,[362] BTS,[363] Imagine Dragons,[364] The Killers,[365] Bruno Mars,[366] Justin Timberlake,[367] Kanye West,[368] Finneas O'Connel,[369] Jacob Collier,[370] Future,[371] Mumford & Sons,[372] David Guetta,[373] Jon Bellion,[374] Twenty One Pilots,[375] Leona Lewis,[376] Alessia Cara,[377] The Chainsmokers,[378] Lauv,[379] Shawn Mendes,[380] Mike Will Made-It,[381] H.E.R.,[382] American Authors,[383] The Script,[384] Morat,[385] Alok,[386] Travis Scott,[387] Sheppard,[388] Ian Sweet,[389] John Mayer,[390] Sigrid,[391] J Balvin,[392] Brandy,[393] Maren Morris,[394] Rammstein,[395] Swedish House Mafia,[396] and more.[397] Their songs have been widely sampled by other musicians,[317] including Drake,[398] Frank Ocean[399] and Chance the Rapper,[400] being also covered by acts such as Lady Gaga,[401] Sam Smith,[402] Kacey Musgraves[403] and more.[404] According to U2 lead vocalist Bono, Coldplay were among the major influences for the band's thirteenth album Songs of Innocence (2014).[405] Music arranger and producer Mattias Bylund explained that he made "Coldplay-type rhythm chords" for Taylor Swift's "Wildest Dreams".[406] Xylobands creator Jason Regler stated that he conceived the idea for the flashing wristbands while in one of the band's concerts.[407] Artists like Jay-Z and Swift have followed the trend and incorporated their own versions of the product on live performances.[300] The British Phonographic Industry have also reported that Coldplay are one of the acts that most helped to boost British music exports across the world, with 2016 and 2020 being their years of most notable contribution.[408]

Other activities[edit]

Philanthropy[edit]

Coldplay donates 10 percent from all of their profits to charity,[409] the fund is set in a bank account that none of the members are able to access.[410] They currently endorse over thirty organizations,[411] including Amnesty International, Migrant Offshore Aid Station and the Global Citizen Festival.[412] The band have also been vocal about fair trade, supporting Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign by collecting over 70,000 signatures for the "Big Noise" petition at live performances from the A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour and Twisted Logic Tour.[413] They have partnered with the Make Poverty History movement as well.[414] In 2009, Coldplay auctioned many significant memorabilia, such as Martin's first guitar and the globe from Parachutes' album cover.[415] Signed lithographs were also sold and proceeds went to Kids Company, helping vulnerable young people in London.

Make Trade Fair shown on Chris Martin's piano.
Make Trade Fair, abbreviated as MTF, shown on Martin's piano.

The band performed a slightly modified version of "A Message", entitled "A Message 2010", at the Hope For Haiti Now telethon special, raising money for the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[416] Berryman commented that "You can make people aware of issues. It isn't very much effort for us at all, if it can help people, then we want to do it".[417] In 2012, Album Artists staged an exhibition made up of artwork from Mylo Xyloto at Proud Gallery in Camden, it raised over £610,000 for Kids Company.[418] Two years later, Martin joined the charity group Band Aid for a second time, performing alongside current British and Irish acts on a new version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?", which had its money raised for the Ebola crisis in Western Africa.[419] In February 2016, the band partnered with Album Artists once again, this time auctioning pieces made by Pilar Zeta for their seventh studio album A Head Full of Dreams.[420]

Coldplay have also contributed to the Plastic Oceans Album by Artists' Project Earth, the record was released on 20 February 2018 at the Ocean Plastics Crisis Summit in London and raised awareness along with funds to counter the plastic pollution.[421] On the same year, they released Global Citizen – EP 1 under the pseudonym Los Unidades, all royalties were directed to the organization's efforts of education and advocacy towards the end of extreme poverty.[422] In 2020, the band released a music video for "Trouble In Town", which was inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm and had its proceeds from streaming and publishing donated to the Innocence Project and the African Children’s Feeding Scheme.[423] They declared support to The Ocean Cleanup in March 2021 as well,[424] sponsoring two watercrafts that collect plastic from polluted rivers before it reaches the sea in Malaysia. Months later, the band announced a long-term partnership with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every ticket sold at the Music of the Spheres World Tour, which is part of their efforts to make touring more sustainable. The endeavour will be carried through a global reforestation agreement and is set to begin in California, Romania, Haiti, Brazil and the Andes.[425]

Politics and activism[edit]

Super Bowl 50 halftime show ending.
The ending of Coldplay's Super Bowl 50 halftime show performance.

Martin, who lives in the United States, spoke out against the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by country along with other military forces during a Teenage Cancer Trust concert at London's Royal Albert Hall, encouraging the sold out venue's crowd to "sing against war".[426] He also showed support to Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry,[427] and Barack Obama in 2004 and 2008 respectively.[428] One year later, the band started to take part in Meat Free Mondays, a food campaign started by Paul McCartney which attempts to help slow climate change by having at least one meat free day a week.[429] In 2011, Coldplay endorsed the song "Freedom for Palestine" by posting a link to the music video on their social media, they received over 12,000 comments in less than day, with fans both agreeing and disagreeing with the message.[430] Some threatened to boycott them and created a group demanding an apology to Israel. The post was eventually deleted, however, Frank Barat of OneWorld stated that it was actually removed by Facebook after "thousands of people and computer generated posts reported it as abusive", rather than the band's management.[431]

Coldplay have advocated for the LGBTQ community as well, sparking controversy with their performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.[432] The band was accused of promoting the "gay agenda" by conservatives for the show's final moment,[433] where the audience flipped over rainbow-colored placards that read "Believe In Love".[434] They are also among the artists that signed a public letter supporting the Equality Act in the United States.[435] In June 2016, Coldplay were in favour of "Vote Remain" at the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. Following the Brexit result, which saw 52% of the country voting to leave the European Union despite the majority of younger people voting to remain, Martin commented that "This decision does not represent us or indeed most of our generation and the generation following us".[436] A year later, they performed at Ariana Grande's One Love Manchester benefit concert, which was organized in response to the Manchester Arena bombing and raised funds to help victims of the attack, as well as their families.[437] Months later, they performed as special guests at the Concert for Charlottesville following the events of the Unite the Right rally.[438] In November 2019, the band released Everyday Life, which saw them voicing more prominently their stance against racism, police brutality and gun violence.[267]

Endorsements[edit]

Despite their worldwide popularity, Coldplay have remained notoriously protective of how their material appears in the media, allowing its use only on rare occasions.[439] In 2002, it was reported they turned down over $85 million in contracts from companies that include Gatorade, Diet Coke, and Gap.[440] Martin said "We would not be able to live with ourselves if we sold the songs' meanings like that".[439] However, they do agree to use advertisements in order to promote the music itself, with the first case being "Viva la Vida" in 2008, when the band signed a deal with Apple and promoted the single's exclusive availability on iTunes Store.[441] Additionally, Martin appeared at one of the company's events in September 2010.[442] After the death of Steve Jobs, Coldplay performed four tracks at the Apple Campus in Cupertino, further thanking the support he gave in marketing the song.[443]

Coldplay's Target commercial in 2014.
Target commercial where Coldplay promoted Ghost Stories in 2014.

Six years later, they took part in a Target commercial which promoted the exclusive deluxe edition of Ghost Stories (2014).[444] Meanwhile, the music video for "Adventure of a Lifetime", which was directed by Mat Whitecross and recorded at The Imaginarium, had a Beats product placement.[445] The company was allowed to use some parts of the video on their commercials as a return for covering the budget. In 2018, director Jon M. Chu revealed that he sent a letter directly to the band laying out all his reasons in order to get permission for using "Yellow" on Crazy Rich Asians.[446] After they agreed to have it in the movie, a Chinese-language cover was commissioned as well.

In 2021, Coldplay announced a major partnership with German multinational BMW as part of their efforts to make touring as sustainable as possible.[447] They further elaborated by commenting on how the company's technology, which includes the first recyclable car batteries in the world, is able to power live performances almost entirely from renewable energy, incorporating solar installations, the use of a kinetic floor in each venue and generators powered by hydrotreated vegetable oil.[448] As part of the deal, the band also gave creative contributions in the marketing for two of the company's electric cars and allowed the song "Higher Power" to be used in television advertisements.[447]

Band members[edit]

  • Chris Martin – lead vocals, keyboards, piano, rhythm guitar, harmonica
  • Jonny Buckland – lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, piano, harmonica
  • Guy Berryman – bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, mandolin, santoor, harmonica
  • Will Champion – drums, backing vocals, keyboards, piano, guitar, tin whistle, church bells, percussion
  • Phil Harvey[a] – manager (1998–2002), creative director (2005–present)

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Tours[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Coldplay officially recognise Harvey as their fifth member and he is listed as such in their album's liner notes since A Rush of Blood to the Head.[1][2]
  2. ^ a b The term "records" is for album and single sales combined.[5] Coldplay, however, sold 100 million copies in albums alone, while Parlophone have not disclosed the amount of records.[6]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]