Coldplay (Contemporary Musicians)
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 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 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 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 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. 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 wantednbridled togetherness. Wayne Coyne can sing sad things and you're like, 'Oh I feel a bit sad'. But then he can make everyone feel happy. There's this unifying thing with their music. It's allembracing. I love that."
Coldplay formed in 1996 when Will Champion, a University College of London (UCL) student studying anthropology, met fellow schoolmates Johnny Buckland, 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 band's 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 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. The third track, "Don't Panic," and the fifth track, "High Speed," would later appear on the band's 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 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 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 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 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.
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.
Parachutes, Parlophone, 2000.
Melody Maker, May 31, 2000; June 28, 2000; July 19, 2000; December 20, 2000.
Select, January 2000; August 2000.
Coldplay Official Website, http://www.colplay.com (January 13, 2001).
Flavour, (January 13, 2001).
RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (January 13, 2001).
Spiderwebs, (January 13, 2001).
Wall of Sound, http://www.wallofsound.com (January 13, 2001).