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Coldplay

Coldplay

Rock group

From the time of British-bred sensation Coldplay's first major-label release in the summer of 2000, music journalists have written that the band doesn't quite fit in with the current popular-music landscape. Their soulful, haunting, intelligent songs have set them apart from bubblegum pop stars, aggressive rap artists, and what Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly described as "the hordes of thuggish, blustering nu-metal bands or Identikit junior-league punk outfits." Much has been made in Britain's music press of lead singer Chris Martin's clean-living ways and general distaste for alcohola far cry from the lifestyle of a stereotypical rock star. The band has shied away from corporate endorsements, choosing to promote causes that address world poverty or environmental issues rather than lending their music to commercials selling cars or sneakers or computer software. In spite ofor perhaps because ofthe ways in which they differ from their peers, Coldplay has become a sensation, selling millions of records, earning numerous major awards, and garnering praise from music critics all over the world. In an article in Maclean's magazine, Coldplay guitarist Jon Buckland explained that connecting to listeners on an emotional level "is the most important thing in music for us. We're not really the cool, detached kind of people; we're really passionate about what we're doing." At Coldplay's official Web site, Martin further explained the band's reason for being: "We were trying to say that there is an alternative. That you can try to be catchy without being slick, poppy without being pop, and you can be uplifting without being pompous.... We wanted to be a reaction against soulless rubbish."

The birth of a sensation

The members of Coldplay met and became friends while living in the same dormitory at the University College of London (UCL) in the mid-1990s. They formed a band, originally naming themselves Starfish. When friends of theirs who were playing in a band called Coldplay no longer wanted to use the name, Starfish officially became Coldplay. The name was taken from a book of poetry called Child's Reflections, Cold Play. The group comprises bassist Guy Berryman, guitarist Buckland, drummer Will Champion, and lead singer, guitarist, and pianist Martin. Martin had wanted to be a musician since the age of eleven. He explained to Katherine Turman of Mother Jones that when he began attending UCL, he was more interested in finding bandmates than in studying his major, ancient history. Asked by Turman whether he started his education thinking he would become an ancient history teacher, Martin jokingly responded, "That was my real dream, but then Coldplay came about!" Three of the four members did complete their university education (Berryman dropped out partway through), with much of their free time spent writing music and rehearsing.

"Our sound will change, but all we care about is melody and emotion."

Chris Martin, Coldplay e-zine, www.coldplay.com, November 2003.

In April of 1998 Coldplay went into the recording studio with the intention of recording a demo CD to use as a calling card for introducing the band to record labels. The recording session went so well that the band decided to release the three songs as an EPa recording of a few songs, shorter in duration than a regular full-length albumthat was titled Safety. They made five hundred copies, most of which were given to radio stations, newspapers, music magazines, family members, and friends. In the audience at one of Coldplay's live shows in a London club was Simon Williams, a music journalist and the founder of independent record label Fierce Panda. Williams was so impressed by the band that he signed them to his label. With the label's financial backing, Coldplay returned to the studio in February of 1999 to record the EP Brothers and Sisters. With this release, Coldplay began earning the attention of England's music reviewers and radio hosts. In 1999 the influential British magazine New Musical Express (NME ) labeled Coldplay the new band to watch, and Steve Lamacq of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Radio 1 gave Coldplay's music plenty of airtime, helping the song "Brothers and Sisters" enter Britain's pop music charts at number ninety-two.

Making a Difference

While many of Coldplay's songs concern personal subjects like love, heartbreak, and insecurity, Martin and the rest of the band have also focused on global issues, particularly speaking out for fair trade as part of Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign (www.maketradefair.com). Oxfam is a collection of non-governmental organizations working all over the world to reduce poverty and improve lives.

During 2002 Oxfam invited Coldplay to tour Haiti and see firsthand the problems experienced by farmers in a developing nation, and to learn about the impact the World Trade Organization (WTO) has had on these farmers. In an interview with Mother Jones, Martin confessed that he and the other members of Coldplay knew almost nothing about world trade issues before their visit to Haiti: "We hadn't any idea about it. But you go on a trip and learn how the importing and exporting of goods around the world works, and you realize it's a huge crisis." Appalled by the dire poverty in Haiti and convinced that social activism, particularly when practiced by a world-famous band, could make a difference, Coldplay began discussing world trade and promoting Make Trade Fair whenever possible. The band members have explained to anyone who will listen that WTO rules allow inexpensive American and European crops, grown by farmers who receive financial help from their governments, to flood the markets in poor nations, making it much harder for farmers in places like Haiti and Mexico to sell their own crops.

The members of Coldplay have also supported environmental causes. At their Web site, Coldplay has asked fans who wish to write them letters to send emails, in part because such transmissions are "easier on the environment" than traditional paper letters. In addition, the band has joined with a United Kingdom company called Future Forests to plant ten thousand mango trees in India. As explained on the Future Forests Web site, "the trees provide fruit for trade and local consumption and over their lifetime will soak up the carbon dioxide emitted by the production and distribution of Coldplay's best-selling album A Rush of Blood to the Head. " Numerous environmental experts believe that harmful carbon dioxide emissions coming from sources such as factories, cars, and furnaces have begun to change Earth's climate and, if not curbed, will lead to devastating consequences produced by global warming.

At the band's Web site, bassist Guy Berryman explained why he and his bandmates feel compelled to promote these causes: "Anyone in our position has a certain responsibility. Odd though it may seem to us, a lot of people ... read what we're saying, see us on TV, buy our records and read the sleeves, and that can be a great platform. You can make people aware of issues. It isn't very much effort for us at all, but if it can help people, then we want to do it."

Brothers and Sisters made an impression not only on radio listeners and music critics but also on Dan Keeling of Parlophone Records. Keeling signed Coldplay to the label in 1999, and the band went into the studio to record their first major-label effort. This EP, The Blue Room, was released in the autumn of 1999. Thanks to an intense touring schedule, continued support from Radio 1, and the band's ongoing polishing of their musical skills, Coldplay's fan base widened. Parlophone felt the band was ready for a higher profile, and the group began to record their first full-length CD, Parachutes.

Coldplay gets hot

In March of 2000 Coldplay released "Shiver," the first single from Parachutes. "Shiver" made a splash, reaching number thirty-five on England's music charts, but it was the second single from Parachutes that catapulted Coldplay to stardom. "Yellow," released in June of 2000, became a genuine hit in both England and the United States, where it came to the attention of the public as a video on MTV and then went into heavy rotation at radio stations all across the country. Thrilled with their newfound international success, the band nonetheless worried about overexposure. During their 2001 visit to Live 105, an alternative rock radio station in San Francisco, a station employee showed Buckland the station's current playlist, with "Yellow" in the number-one spot. In the week prior, the station had played "Yellow" fifty-one times. Buckland remarked to Entertainment Weekly in March of 2001, "It's cool. But fifty-one times? That's, like, seven times a day. Even I'd get sick of it."

Far from getting sick of Coldplay's music, however, critics and fans celebrated the arrival of a band with a seemingly endless supply of soaring melodies, emotional outpourings, and pensive but ultimately upbeat lyrics. Parachutes was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in 2000, and in 2001 the album earned two BRIT Awards (similar to the Grammy Awards in the United States) for best British group and best British album. The following year Parachutes won the Grammy Award for best alternative music album. In the band's biography on the Coldplay Web site, Champion explained that their success has been "all on our own terms. We have 100 percent control over any aspect of whatever we do, and that's really important to who we are and the music we make." All band members share in the songwriting credits, co-produce their recordings, and oversee production of their videos and the selection of artwork for their CDs. Even the photograph on the cover of Parachutes, of a spinning globe lit from within, is credited to Coldplay.

Following the album's release in the summer of 2000, Coldplay hit the road, touring the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. The tour proved exhausting, with the 2001 U.S. tour plagued by bad weather and illness among band members. Several cancelled shows inspired rumors that the band was on the verge of a breakup, but such gossip was unfounded. By the end of the tour, Coldplay's members were in dire need of a long rest, but they had accomplished their mission: they had brought their music to the masses, and the masses were happily singing along.

What a Rush

Emotionally and physically drained from the long months of touring, Coldplay returned home for a respite before beginning work on their second album. Amid speculation that their second album could not meet the expectations generated by the first, band members made statements to the press that they would rather release no album at all than release a substandard recording. According to the Coldplay Web site, after a few months of recording, "Everyone was happyexcept the band." Buckland recalled in the band's online biography: "We were pleased with it, but then we took a step back and realised that it wasn't right. It would have been easy to say we'd done enough, to release an album to keep up the momentum, but we didn't." They went back to a small studio in Liverpool where much of Parachutes had been recorded, and took another stab at it. This time, they found exactly what they were looking for. "Songs like 'Daylight,' 'The Whisper,' and 'The Scientist' splurged out over two weeks, and we recorded them very quickly," Martin remembered. "We just felt completely inspired, and felt we could do anything we liked."

The extra effort paid off, and A Rush of Blood to the Head was released in the summer of 2002 to a chorus of positive reviews. Hollywood Reporter summed up the feelings of many: "It's an even better album than the first, a superb collection of sonically and lyrically adventurous songs that have the kind of hooks that burrow into your brain on a first hearing and a depth that resonates long afterward." Coldplay earned a slew of awards for their sophomore album, including three MTV Video Music Awards in 2003, a Grammy Award for best alternative music album in 2003 and, for the song "Clocks," a Grammy for record of the year in 2004. The band also won, once again, the BRIT Awards for best British group and best British album.

Mary Kaye Schilling wrote in Entertainment Weekly about the nearly constant radio play of A Rush of Blood to the Head, and described it as being "stalked by Coldplayin restaurants, yoga class, even the toilet at the gas station, for crying out loud." Even in the midst of international success and abundant media coverage, however, Coldplay managed to keep a relatively low profile, and band members could still go about their daily lives without worrying about being recognized and swarmed by fans. Their anonymity was threatened, however, when frontman Martin began dating American actress Gwyneth Paltrow (1973) in the summer of 2002, bringing the singer a new level of celebrity. In December of 2003, the couple announced Paltrow's pregnancy and, soon after, their marriage. Their daughter, Apple Blythe Alison Martin, was born in May of 2004.

After another intense round of touring to support the release of A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay attempted to take a break from the spotlight, returning to England and the recording studio to create their third album. In the meantime they released Live 2003, a CD and DVD package chronicling a concert performed in Sydney, Australia, with the DVD featuring additional behind-the-scenes coverage of the tour. MacKenzie Wilson of the All Music Guide Web site described the release as "a resilient, bright package of glorious rock & roll."

For More Information

Periodicals

Browne, David. "Uncommon Coldplay." Entertainment Weekly (March 16, 2001): p. 32.

Deziel, Shanda. "Music: Hot and Cold." Maclean's (October 7, 2002): p. 62.

Diehl, Matt. "Matt Diehl Talks to the Rest of the Band." Interview (August 2003): p. 119.

Scheck, Frank. "Coldplay." Hollywood Reporter (August 14, 2002): p. 12.

Schilling, Mary Kaye. "Coldplay: The New Romantics." Entertainment Weekly (December 26, 2003): p. 36.

Sinclair, Tom. "Even Better Cold." Entertainment Weekly (October 25, 2002): p. L2T5.

Turman, Katherine. "Chris Martin: Fair Trade's Charm Offensive." Mother Jones (January-February 2004): p. 78.

Web sites

Coldplay Official Web site. http://www.coldplay.com (accessed on May 7, 2004).

"Coldplay: Bio." MTV.com. http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/coldplay/bio.jhtml (accessed on May 3, 2004).

"Coldplay's Forest: Tree Tubes." Future Forests. http://www.futureforests.com/acatalog/Future_Forests_Coldplay_s_Forest__Tree_Tubes_151.html (accessed on May 7, 2004).

Wilson, MacKenzie. "Coldplay." All Music Guide. http://www.allmusic.com (accessed on May 7, 2004).

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Coldplay

Coldplay

Pop group

Coldplay ushered in 2000 at the top of the British pop rock scene. The band's single "Yellow" reached the number four spot on the British pop charts and helped make their 2000 debut release, Parachutes, the top-selling album in the United Kingdom. In the United States Coldplay made waves with their music video for "Yellow" on MTV. The group's success was marked by a 2000 Mercury Music Prize nomination for album of the year and five New Musical Express (NME) nominations, including best band, best album, best single, and best newcomer. Though often compared to Radiohead and the Verve, Coldplay has found success with its own brand of "melodic Brit pop that strives for significance with a capital s," Matt Diehl commented in Rolling Stone.com.

If timing is everything, Coldplay stepped onto the scene at the perfect moment. British pop music had been dominated by the news of a possible Oasis breakup, Travis had not released the follow-up to their highly successful 1999 album The Man Who, and Radiohead had released an ambient soundtrack that received mixed reviews. Coldplay brought their sometimes moody though optimistic tunes to the British music scene with the simple desire to write songs to please an audience. Group member Chris Martin told Roy Wilkinson in an interview for Select that after watching The Flaming Lips perform, he realized that "when they play they set out to make as many people in the same room as happy as possible. Seeing [them] just gave me the manifesto I wanted—unbridled togetherness."

Coldplay formed in 1996 when Will Champion, a University College of London (UCL) anthropology student, met fellow schoolmates Johnny Buckland, who was majoring in mathematics and astronomy, and Chris Martin, who was studying ancient world history. Martin and Champion first met as teammates playing hockey for their college team. Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman joined later when the four crossed paths in their dormitories. Berryman was studying engineering and was the only one of the four to leave UCL without completing a degree. The four friends shared similar upper middle class backgrounds, which included boarding schools, sports, and two professional working parents.

In April of 1998, Coldplay went into Sync City Studios in London, England, to record a demo to shop to record companies. The band recorded "Bigger Stronger," "No More Keeping My Feet On The Ground," and "Such A Rush." Once the songs were completed, Coldplay and the band's friend Phil Harvey were so pleased that it was decided that the session should be released as an EP. Harvey, who financed the demo session, helped the band manufacture 500 Safety EPs to be distributed around London in May of 1998. After providing hundreds of free copies to radio stations, music press, family, and friends, they had about 50 remaining copies for sale to fans.

In February of 1999, Coldplay went into the studio to record their second EP, Brothers & Sisters, at Station Studios in London for the independent Fierce Panda label. Fierce Panda had spotted Coldplay at a gig at the Camden Falcon in December of 1998. Simon Williams, Fierce Panda founder and music journalist, was in the audience and was so impressed with the group that he signed them soon after the show. Coldplay cut three songs, "Brothers & Sisters," "Easy to Please," and "Only Superstition." The Brothers & Sisters EP was released in April of 1999 with 2,500 copies for distribution. NME named Coldplay the new band to watch for 1999. Steve Lamacq of Radio 1 supported the EP by giving it regular airplay, which helped Coldplay crack the British charts at number 92. The EP managed to make its way to Dan Keeling at Parlophone Records. Keeling immediately recognized Coldplay's commercial promise and signed the band to the Parlophone label in 1999.

In the fall of that year Coldplay went back into Sync City Studios and Orinoco Studios to record their debut Parlophone EP. Released in October of 1999, The Blue Room included two previously released songs, "Bigger Stronger" and "Such A Rush" from the Safety EP. Two other tracks, "Don't Panic" and "High Speed," would later appear on the band's debut full-length album. After receiving positive critical reviews for their previous release Brothers & Sisters, Coldplay found continued support from BBC Radio1. The band toured steadily, playing several festivals in the United Kingdom and supported headlining acts like Muse and Catatonia. The group quickly surpassed the quality of their previous material, and Parlophone was anxious for the band to return to the studio. The label was convinced that Coldplay could record a breakthrough song to help support a full-length album release.

Shiver Hit the Charts

A seasoned and confident Coldplay entered the Parr St Studios in Liverpool in mid-1999. The first single the band recorded for the session was "Shiver," which was released with "For You" and "Careful Where You Stand" on the B-side. "Shiver" was released in March of 2000 and immediately climbed to number 35 on the British charts. While Coldplay had become more at ease with their music and their growing fame, it did not seem to compromise who or what they were really about. They continued to walk the streets without being recognized and were remarkably candid in interviews.

For the Record …

Members include: Guy Berryman , bass guitar; John Buckland , lead guitar; Will Champion , drums; Chris Martin , guitar, lead vocals, keyboards, piano.

Formed in London, England, 1996; released self-financed Safety EP, 1998; signed with Parlophone Records, 1999; released first U.K. top 40 hit, "Shiver," 2000; released first full-length album, Parachutes, 2000; tour of U.K., Europe, and the United States, 2000-01; released A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2002; released X&Y, 2005.

Addresses: Website—Coldplay Official Website: http://www.coldplay.com.

Parlophone decided that the band's next track, "Yellow," had a shot at reaching the top of the charts, and it would be best to release the song as a single, then follow up with a full-length debut. Martin told Flavour online about the inspiration his bandmates received for "Yellow": "We were in the studio in Wales doing our album and it was the most amazing night. … We were just messing around, looking at the sky and … we got really inspired." The bandmates shared songwriting credits on all of Coldplay's songs. When Parlophone released "Yellow" in June of 2000, it immediately rose to number four on the British charts. "Yellow" played well in Britain and later crossed the Atlantic on MTV 1. In addition to the hit single, the band recorded "Help Is Round The Corner" and "No More Keeping My Feet" in a pressure-induced recording session at Parr St. Studios in February and March of 2000.

The full-length LP Parachutes was released in July of 2000 on Parlophone and went straight to number one on the British pop charts. Coldplay was the favorite to take home the highly coveted 2000 Mercury Music Prize, but lost the award to Badly Drawn Boy. While the band toured the United Kingdom, MTV put the video for "Yellow" on regular rotation in the United States. With MTV airing the band's video, Parachutes quickly climbed the U.S. charts and received frequent airplay on mainstream commercial radio. Coldplay quickly took the title of the top British band in 2000, and the group was poised for success in the United States. Coldplay released the single "Trouble" in October of 2000. It was the final track the band recorded for the album in Liverpool.

Though Badly Drawn Boy won the Mercury Music Prize, Coldplay had taken the spotlight with their well-timed appearance on the British pop music scene. At the end of 2000 Parachutes remained a top seller, and the band played to sold-out shows in Britain while preparing for their first tour of the United States in 2001.

Had Coldplay folded their tents and gone home following the success of Parachutes, no one could have blamed them, and the pressures to follow up their initial success with another hit nearly caused the group to disband. However, the group prevailed, and raised the bar on their career trajectory with A Rush of Blood to the Head. Released in 2002, the album firmly placed the group in the rock music pantheon, largely based on the sonic consistency of the album and its centerpiece single "In My Place," along with the single and accompanying video of "The Scientist." Working again with the co-producers Ken Nelson and mixer Mark Pythain, Coldplay crafted a treasure of a recording that gained entrance into the collections of hipsters, trendsetters, and wannabes alike.

A Rush of Blood to the Head earned Coldplay status as a household name. They received three 2003 MTV Video Music Awards for best group video, breakthrough video, and best direction in a video for "The Scientist." Band member Chris Martin married actress Gwyneth Paltrow in a small private ceremony in California. The group also won the 2003 Grammy Award for Record of the Year for "Clocks." Coldplay released the live album Live 2003 to ecstatic reaction from fans, prompting an All Music Guide critic to gush: "Live 2003 is a delightful listening experience. Coldplay treat fans to a new song, ‘Moses.’ Chiming guitars and Chris Martin's hushed vocals give this song a classic feeling. … and fans will be impressed by Coldplay's progression in style and sound."

In 2005 Coldplay released its third studio effort, X—Y. The first single from the release, "Speed of Sound," made its debut at number eight on the Billboard Top 100 chart, making Coldplay the first British band since the Beatles to debut a top ten single on the U.S. charts. The album itself debuted at number one in 22 countries and topped the Billboard Top 200 chart with first-week U.S. sales topping 737,000 units.

Selected discography

Singles and EPs

Safety (EP), self-released, 1998.

The Blue Room (EP), Parlophone, 1999.

"Brothers & Sisters," Fierce Panda, 1999.

"Shiver," Parlophone, 2000.

"Yellow," Parlophone, 2000.

Albums

Parachutes, Parlophone, 2000.

A Rush of Blood to the Head, Parlophone, 2002.

Live 2003, Parlophone, 2003.

X—Y Parlophone, 2005.

Sources

Periodicals

Melody Maker, May 31, 2000; June 28, 2000; July 19, 2000; December 20, 2000.

Select, January 2000; August 2000.

Online

All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (November 8, 2007).

Coldplay Official Website, http://www.coldplay.com (January 13, 2001).

Flavour, http://www.flavour.lookon.net (January 13, 2001).

RollingStone.com,http://www.rollingstone.com (January 13, 2001).

Spiderwebs, http://www.spiderwebs.fsnet.co.uk (January 13, 2001).

Wall of Sound, http://www.wallofsound.com (January 13, 2001).

—Tiger Cosmos and Bruce Edward Walker

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Coldplay

COLDPLAY

Formed: 1998, London, England

Members: Chris Martin, vocals/piano (born Devon, England, 2 March 1977); Will Champion, percussion (born Hampshire, England, 31 July 1978); Guy Berryman, bass (born Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, 12 April 1978); Jon Buckland, guitar (born London, England, 11 September 1977).

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "Yellow," "In My Place," "Clocks"


In an American pop scene that flirted with but quickly turned on hyped British bands like Blur, Oasis, and the Prodigy, Coldplay reached the hearts of middlebrow America with a down-to-earth persona, feel-good lyrics, and stately, atmospheric pop.


Chris Martin learned piano as a youngster and began playing in bands at fifteen, with music serving not only as a passion but also as a way of facing down his shyness. The foursome met at University College London in the mid-1990s. Martin and Jon Buckland started writing songs together and from the start believed their artistic synergy would take them far. Guy Berryman joined later, as did Will Champion, a guitarist who moved to drums to accommodate Buckland, also a guitarist.

The group released a pair of independent-label EPs, Safety (1998) and Brothers and Sisters (1999). Their touring in England and promising material caught the attention of Parlophone, which released the group's next EP, Blue Room (1999). The disc contains "Such a Rush" and "High Speed," which would show up on their debut album, Parachutes (2000).

Parachutes makes ample use of Buckland's breezy, sometimes twangy guitar chords. Martin offers comforting words, singing "I'll be there by your side" on "Shiver," and "I promise you this / I'll always look out for you" on "Sparks." With a pronounced accent and a relaxed tenor, Martin sounds a little like Dave Matthews. "Don't Panic" recalls the tagline from the sci-fi novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by British author Douglas Adams. With a shuffle beat and whimsical falsetto vocals, the song also shares the book's fatalism about the state of the universe.

But the album's highlight is the soothing "Yellow," which, despite its dreamy tempo and sentimental lyrics, became a sleeper hit on Top 40 radio. The ballad's invasion of rock radio was surprising, and some critics dismissed it as easy-listening music for young professionals. But the album's superb melodies and original fusion of acoustic and electronic rock won over the group's peers, who awarded Parachutes the 2001 Grammy for best alternative music performance.

However, the sudden demands of constant gigs caught up with Martin, who had to cut short a U.S. tour in 2001 with throat problems. The group retreated to the studio to work on a follow-up. The result was A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), in which the group avoided the sophomore slump that affected so many of its compatriots who sought international success.

Like its predecessor, the album sold more than 1 million copies. This album features a larger dose of Martin's piano, but with co-producer Ken Nelson returning, it maintains the group's trademark ethereal groove. The ballad "In My Place" uses abstract lyrics but manages to be moving nonetheless with the rousing coda, "Come on and sing it out, now, now." The majestic "Politik" begins with piano chords before kicking into an intense, guitar-and-drum-propelled anthem. Martin indulges in falsetto wailing and simple piano arpeggios on second single "Clocks," whose pulsating beat made it an unlikely dance-club hit. Another standout, the Beatle-esque "The Scientist," highlights Martin's echoing piano and cryptic but seductively delivered lyrics.

Confirmation of Coldplay's surprising U.S. success came with its 2003 tour, which included several dates in the Midwest. The band members kept ticket prices reasonable, between thirty and thirty-five dollars, aimed for mid-size venues, and made themselves available to the press and sponsors. On tour the group unveiled a new song, "Moses," that became a favorite and raised hopes for future work.

Meanwhile, like their fellow Atlantic-crosser Bono of U2, Martin became involved in political causes, attaching himself to Oxfam, which believes that saving small Third World farmers requires an international effort to raise the price of many basic foodstuffs.

Coldplay helped make the case that soft music does not have to be treacly or banal. The group also showed that British bands can still appeal to mainstream America if they're willing to start modestly and engage in the necessary back-slapping.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Parachutes (Parlophone/EMI, 2000); A Rush of Blood to the Head (Capitol/EMI, 2002).


ramiro burr

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Coldplay

Coldplay

Pop group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Coldplay ushered in 2000 at the top of the British pop rock scene. The bands single Yellow reached the number four spot on the British pop charts and helped make their 2000 debut full-length release Parachutes the top selling album in the United Kingdom. Stateside, Coldplay made waves with their music video for Yellow on MTV. The groups success was marked by a 2000 Mercury Music Prize nomination for album of the year and five New Musical Express (AME) nominations including best band, best album, best single, and best newcomer. Though often compared to Radio-head and the Verve, Coldplay has found success with its own brand of melodic Brit pop that strives for significance with a capital s, Matt Diehl commented on Rolling Stone.com .

If timing is everything, Coldplay stepped onto the scene at the perfect moment. British pop music had been dominated by the news of a possible Oasis breakup, Travis had not released the follow-up to their highly successful 1999 album The Man Who, and Ra-diohead had released an ambient soundtrack that received mixed reviews. Coldplay brought their some-times moody though optimistic tunes to the British music scene with the simple desire to write songs to please an audience. Martin explained to Roy Wilkinson in an interview for Select of an epiphany he had when watching The Flaming Lips: When they play they set out to make as many people in the same room happy as possible. Seeing The Flaming Lips just gave me the manifesto I wantedunbridled togetherness. Wayne Coyne can sing sad things and youre like, Oh I feel a bit sad. But then he can make everyone feel happy. Theres this unifying thing with their music. Its all-embracing. I love that.

Coldplay formed in 1996 when Will Champion, a University College of London (UCL) student studying anthropology, met fellow schoolmates Johnny Buck-land, majoring in mathematics and astronomy, and Chris Martin, who was studying ancient world studies, over a game of pool. Martin and Champion first met as teammates playing hockey together for their college team. Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman joined later when the four crossed paths in their dormitories in Ramsey Hall at UCL. Berryman was studying engineering and was the only one of the four to leave UCL without completing a degree. The four friends shared similar upper middle class backgrounds, which included boarding schools, sports, and two professional working parents.

In April of 1998, Coldplay went into Sync City Studios in London, England, to record a demo to shop to record companies. The band recorded Bigger Stronger, No More Keeping My Feet On The Ground and Such A Rush. Once completed, Coldplay and the bands friend Phil Harvey were so pleased with songs, it was decided that the session should be released as an EP. Harvey, who financed the demo session, helped the band manufacture 500 Safety EPs to be distributed around London in May of 1998. After providing hundreds of free copies to radio stations, music press, family, and friends, they had about 50 remaining copies for sale to fans.

In February of 1999, Coldplay went into the studio to record their second EP, Brothers & Sisters, at Station Studios in London for the independent Fierce Panda label. Fierce Panda had spotted Coldplay at a gig at the Camden Falcon on December 7, 1998. Simon Williams, Fierce Panda founder and music journalist, was in the audience and was so impressed with the group, he signed them soon after the show. Coldplay cut three songs: Brothers & Sisters, Easy to Please, and Only Superstition. The Brothers & Sisters EP was released in April of 1999 with 2,500 copies for distribution. NME named Coldplay the new band to watch for 1999. Steve Lamacq of Radio 1 supported the EP by giving it regular airplay, which helped Coldplay crack the British charts at number 92. The Brothers & Sisters EP managed to make its way to Dan Keeling at Parlophone Records. Keeling immediately recognized Coldplays commercial promise and signed the band to the Parlophone label in 1999.

In the fall of that year, Coldplay went back into Sync City Studios and Orinoco Studios to record their debut Parlophone EP. Released in October of 1999, The Blue Room included two previously released songs, Bigger Stronger and Such A Rush from the Safety EP. The third track, Dont Panic, and the fifth track, High

For the Record

Members include Guy Berry man, bass guitar; John Buckland, lead guitar; Will Champion, drums; Chris Martin, guitar, lead vocals, keyboards, piano.

Formed in London, England, 1996; released self-financed Safety EP, 1998; signed with Parlophone Records, 1999; first U.K. top 40 hit, Shiver, March 2000; Yellow hit number four position on the U.K. charts, and first full-length album, Parachutes, released, 2000; tour of the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., 2000-01.

Addresses: Record company Parlophone Records. Fan clubP.O. Box 29481, London NM1 0FX. Website Coldplay Official Website: http.-//www.coldplay.com.

Speed, would later appear on the bands debut full-length album. With positive critical support of their previous release Brothers & Sisters, Coldplay found continued support from Radiol. The band toured steadily playing several festivals in the United Kingdom and supported headlining acts like Muse and Catatonia. Coldplay quickly surpassed the quality of their previous material and Parlophone was anxious for the band to return to the studio. The label was convinced that Coldplay would record a breakthrough song to help support a full-length album release.

Coldplay went into Parr St Studios in Liverpool in mid 1999. The band was both seasoned from constant touring and confident with the ease by which they had hit the charts and received positive reviews in the press. The first single the band recorded for the session was Shiver, which was released with For You and Careful Where You Stand on the B-side. Shiver was released in March of 2000 and immediately climbed to number 35 on the British charts in March of 2000. While Coldplay became more confident in their music and their impending fame, it did not seem to compromise who or what they were really about. They continued to walk the streets without being recognized and were remarkably candid in interviews.

Parlophone decided that the bands next track, Yellow, had a shot at reaching the top of the charts, and it would be best to release the song as a single, then follow up with a full-length debut. Martin told Flavour online about the inspiration his bandmates received for Yellow: We were in the studio in Wales doing our album and it was the most amazing night in beautiful countryside. We were just messing around, looking at the sky and I know it sounds a bit naff, but we got really inspired. The whole song came about in the night, it was weird. The bandmates share songwriting credits on all of Coldplays songs. When Parlophone released Yellow in June of 2000, it immediately rose to number four on the British charts. Yellow played well in Britain and later crossed the Atlantic on MTV 1. In addition to hit single, the band recorded Help Is Round The Corner, and No More Keeping My Feet in a pressure-induced recording session at Parr St. Studios in February and March of 2000.

The full-length LP Parachutes was released in July of 2000 on Parlophone and went straight to number one on the British pop charts. Coldplay was the favorite to take home the highly-coveted 2000 Mercury Music Prize, but lost the award to Badly Drawn Boy. While the band toured the United Kingdom, MTV put the video for Yellow on regular rotation in the United States. With MTV backing the band with the video clip, Parachutes quickly climbed the charts stateside and received frequent airplay on mainstream commercial radio. Coldplay quickly took the title of the top British band in 2000, and the group was poised for success in the United States. Coldplay released the single Trouble on October 23, 2000. It was the final track the band recorded for the album in Liverpool.

Though Badly Drawn Boy won the Mercury Music Prize, Coldplay had taken the spotlight with their well-timed appearance on the British pop music scene. By the end of 2000, Parachutes remained a top seller and the band played to sold out shows in Britain while preparing for their first tour of the United States in 2001.

Selected discography

Singles and EPs

Safety (EP), self-released, 1998.

The Blue Room (EP), Parlophone, 1999.

Brothers & Sisters, Fierce Panda, 1999.

Shiver, Parlophone, 2000.

Yellow, Parlophone, 2000.

Albums

Parachutes, Parlophone, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Melody Maker, May 31, 2000; June 28, 2000; July 19, 2000; December 20, 2000.

Select, January 2000; August 2000.

Online

Coldplay Official Website, http://www.colplay.com (January 13,2001).

Flavour, http://www.flavour.lookon.net (January 13, 2001).

RollingStone.com , http://www.rollingstone.com (January 13, 2001).

Spiderwebs, http://www.spiderwebs.fsnet.co.uk (January 13,2001).

Wall of Sound, http://www.wallofsound.com (January 13, 2001).

Tiger Cosmos

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Coldplay

Coldplay

Rock group

Members include Guy Berryman (born April 12, 1978, in Fife, Scotland), bass; Jonny Buckland (born September 11, 1977, in London, England), guitar; Will Champion (born July 31, 1978, in Hampshire, England), drums; Chris Martin (born March 2, 1977, in Devon, England; married Gwyneth Paltrow, 2003; children: Apple), vocals, piano. Education: All attended University College, London, England.

Addresses:

Record company—Capitol Records, 1750 N. Vine St., Los Angeles, CA 90028–5209. Websitehttp://www.coldplay.com.

Career

Group formed in London, England, mid–1990s; made debut with Safety EP, 1998; released first album, Parachutes, 2000; released follow–up album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2002.

Awards:

Brit Award for best British group, 2001; Brit Award for best British album, for Parachutes, 2001; New Music Express Carling Award for best new artist, 2001; New Music Express Carling Award for best single, for "Yellow," 2001; New Music Express Carling Award for Session of the Year, for a live BBC show, 2001; Brit Award for best British group, 2003; Brit Award for best British album, for A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2003; Grammy Award for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal, Recording Academy, for "In My Place," from Coldplay Live 2003, 2003; Grammy Award for best alternative music album, Recording Academy, for A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2003; MTV Video Music Award for best group video for "The Scientist," 2003; MTV Video Music Award for breakthrough video for "The Scientist," 2003; MTV Video Music Award for best direction for "The Scientist," 2003; Grammy Award for record of the year, Recording Academy, for "Clocks," 2004.

Sidelights

British rock quartet Coldplay burst onto the music scene with its debut album Parachutes, released in 2000. Fresh, heartrending, and passionate, the album proved popular on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, capturing honors at both the Brit Awards and the Grammy Awards. Since then, Cold-play has become one of Britain's leading musical exports, filling venues across the United States with fans yearning to hear their searing love songs and haunting ballads. In 2002, the band released its second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, which also captured top musical honors. Ironically, lead singer Chris Martin credits the band's insecurity for its success. "I think our strength is not being sure if we're ever good enough, and so we're always trying to write a better song—or get a better suit," Martin told Sound & Vision writer Mike Mettler.

Martin is backed up by guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman, and drummer Will Champion. The four met in the mid–1990s at University College in London and became steadfast friends. Music had always been a part of Martin's life. As a youngster, he banged out songs on the family piano and joined his first band at 15. He grew up the oldest of five kids. Likewise, the other band members had been involved with music most of their lives. Soon after meeting, Martin and Buckland started writing songs together. Buckland had taken up the guitar after he discovered the psychedelic pop band the Stone Roses. Berryman liked Buckland and Martin's work and added his bass, which he had taken up at age 13. Champion thought the trio had a lot of potential and wanted to join. He ended up on drums, though he had never played them before. Growing up, Champion had concentrated on guitar, bass, and piano, but those positions were already filled.

Eager and anxious to see what they could come up with, the group rehearsed nearly every night during those first years. "We used to play in bathrooms, the basement, even in the park," Martin said in the group's biography posted on its website. "Anywhere we could find to play." The bandmates all lived in the same residence hall and stole the name Coldplay from another resident. It was the name his own band used, but he decided it was too depressing.

Eventually, all of those rehearsals paid off and the young men felt confident enough to make a recording, which they called Safety. The 500–copy, independently produced EP, released in 1998, earned the band a performance slot in the 1998 In the City music festival in Manchester, England, which featured unsigned bands. At the festival, they were discovered by Simon Williams, who offered to produce Brothers and Sisters on his Fierce Panda label. That EP was released in 1999 and Coldplay subsequently signed with Parlophone Records, who in the past had signed the Beatles and Queen. That year, Coldplay also released a 5,000–copy EP, The Blue Room, which included five new tracks.

In 2000, Coldplay released its first album, Parachutes, which quickly shot to the top of the British charts. It remained in the top ten for more than 30 weeks. For a rock album, it had a quieter sound than most bands, yet was full of raging emotion. "We were trying to say that there is an alternative," Martin said on the band's website. "That you can try to be catchy without being slick, poppy without being pop, and you can be uplifting without being pompous. Because we're sometimes playing quieter stuff, it's hard to sound like we're trying to change things, but we wanted to be a reaction against soulless rubbish."

Their approach worked. In sum, the album sold about five million copies worldwide and earned them a stack of honors. At the 2001 Brit Awards (the British Grammys), the band went home with both the Best British Group and Best British Album awards. That same year, Coldplay also won three NME (New Music Express) Carling Awards, for Best New Artist, Best Single ("Yellow"), and Session of the Year, for a live BBC show. Before releasing their album, the band had been playing in small pubs across Britain, but after the success of Parachutes, band members headed to the United States for their first headlining tour.

In October of 2001, the band started work on its second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. By Christmas, the producers were satisfied that the album was complete. Coldplay members, however, felt the album needed something more. "There was a feeling it was almost going too smoothly," Buckland related on the band's website. "We were pleased with it, but then we took a step back and realized that it wasn't right. It would have been easy to say we'd done enough, to release an album to keep up the momentum, but we didn't." In the end, Buckland is glad they went back to the studio so they would have an album they were satisfied with and would be proud to tour with for two years.

The resulting album, released in August of 2002, was a bit more upbeat from the first and chock full of emotional beauty and maturity. By September, it sat atop both the UK and Canadian LP charts. Once again, the band's efforts proved award–winning. At the 2003 Brit Awards, A Rush of Blood to the Head captured awards for Best British Group and Best British Album. Coldplay also won two Grammy Awards, one for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "In My Place" and Best Alternative Music Album. The band spent 2003 on tour. Coldplay also collected several video awards at that year's MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, and Best Direction, all for "The Scientist."

Coldplay has used its position in the rock world to promote its own political ideologies. Lead singer Martin has become a champion spokesman for Ox-Fam, a British humanitarian organization that campaigns for fair–trade practices in an effort to reduce worldwide poverty. After traveling to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to find out what some global–trade policies do to real people, the band was hooked on the cause. At concerts, Martin's piano often has the words "Make Trade Fair" scrawled across it. He scribbled the OxFam web address on his hand during the MTV Video Music Awards so he would be sure to include it in his winning speech. Martin also plugs the cause relentlessly during Coldplay's shows. Before a 2003 concert in Mexico City, the band visited with local farmers in the town of Santa Isabel Tepetzala. In 2003, Martin attended a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting and presented the WTO with a four–million–signature petition seeking trade–rule reform; signatures had been collected at shows.

"Anyone in our position has a certain responsibility," Berryman noted on the band's website biography. He said the band has a great platform through its television appearances, records, and notoriety. "You can make people aware of issues. It isn't very much effort for us at all, but if it can help people, then we want to do it."

Martin used the 2004 Grammy Awards to stump for another cause. During the ceremony, Coldplay won the Record of the Year award for "Clocks." When Martin accepted the award, he took the opportunity to do a little political campaigning. According to Scotsman writer Tracey Lawson, Martin accepted the award by saying, "We would like to dedicate this to Johnny Cash [the late country singer] and to John Kerry, who hopefully will be your president some day." He also used the Brit Awards to call for an end to military action in Iraq.

Viewed as a cutting–edge alternative rock band in the United States, Coldplay remains wildly popular there, but often takes a beating back home. British tabloids love to poke fun at the clean–cut, public–educated rock stars, whom they label as terminally boring. There are no bad boys of rock 'n' roll here. Berryman, after all, earned a degree in engineering and Martin, whose degree is in ancient world studies, is thought to be the dullest of all. Martin reportedly loves cricket and rarely drinks. When he started dating actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the press had a heyday. The couple met in October of 2002 backstage at a Coldplay concert. According to Independent writers Ian Burrell and Andrew Gumbel, one British tabloid described the couple as "anti–starlet Paltrow (no wheat, no dairy, no fun) hooked up with anti–rock star Martin (no sex, no drugs, even less fun)." The couple had a daughter, Apple Blythe Alison Martin, born May 14, 2004. They plan to raise her in London. Martin did, however, generate some headlines in July of 2003 when he allegedly chased down a photographer in Australia. Though Martin was arrested, the charges were eventually dropped.

Q magazine's Gareth Grundy told the Independent that the band is getting a bad rap for its good–boy image. "People probably say they are boring because they are not cool and everybody likes to like things that are cool. But whether they are cool or not they are a really great band, both on record and live."

According to Time magazine writer Josh Tyrangiel, rock manager Alan McGee, the man who discovered Oasis, dubbed Coldplay "music for bed wetters." Martin, however, defended the group to Entertainment Weekly writer Mary Kaye Schilling: "We take s*** for being boring. It just means that instead of doing coke or partying with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, we lock ourselves away and think of a new chord."

Sitting around thinking about their music, however, is precisely what has made Coldplay so successful. They take the time to be involved in every aspect of album production, down to shooting their own album cover art. Even though their albums are produced with a major label, Coldplay members remain ardently independent in their approach. They keep tabs on everything from the videos to the artwork. They want to have a hand in everything that has their name on it.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, it is Coldplay's songs that makes them so popular. Speaking to Sound & Vision, Martin talked about what makes a good song good. "Songwriting is the crux, but the best records … are those where the sounds fit the song. There's no use putting amazing techno sounds on a song that just needs to be played on a blues harp; similarly, there's no point in having a nice oboe sound on a Nirvana record. But I'm not pretending to be an expert, because I sometimes hear our stuff and think, 'Ecch.'"

Selected discography

Safety EP, independently produced, 1998.

Brothers and Sisters EP, Fierce Panda, 1999.

The Blue Room EP, Parlophone, 1999.

Parachutes, Parlophone, 2000.

"Yellow" (single), Parlophone, 2000.

A Rush of Blood to the Head, Capitol, 2002.

Coldplay Live 2003, Capitol, 2003.

"Clocks" (single), Capitol, 2003.

Sources

Periodicals

Entertainment Weekly, December 26, 2003–January 2, 2004, pp. 36–37.

Independent (London, England), February 10, 2004, pp. 20–21.

Rolling Stone, October 16, 2003, p. 30; December 25, 2003/January 8, 2004, p. 83.

Scotsman, February 10, 2004, p. 7.

Sound & Vision, July/August 2001, p. 17.

Time, September 2, 2002, p. 71.

Time International, March 12, 2001, p. 58.

Online

"Biography," Coldplay, http://coldplay.com/biogpage.php (May 15, 2004).

"Coldplay," Rock on the Net, http://www.rockonthenet.com/artists–c/coldplay.htm (May 27, 2004).

LisaFrick

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