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Coldplay are a British rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist and pianist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London (UCL). After they formed under the name Pectoralz, Guy Berryman joined the group as a bassist and they changed their name to Starfish. Will Champion joined as a drummer and backing vocalist, completing the performing line-up. Creative Director Phil Harvey is often referred to as the official fifth member by the band. The band renamed themselves "Coldplay" in 1998, before recording and releasing three EPs: Safety in 1998, Brothers & Sisters as a single in 1999, and The Blue Room in the same year. The Blue Room was their first release on a major label, after signing to Parlophone.
They achieved worldwide fame with the release of the single "Yellow" in 2000. This was followed by their debut album Parachutes released the same year, which was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The band's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), was released to critical acclaim and won multiple awards, including NME's Album of the Year. Their next release, X&Y, the best-selling album worldwide in 2005, was met with mostly positive reviews upon its release, though some critics felt that it was inferior to its predecessor. The band's fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), was produced by Brian Eno and released again to largely positive reviews, earning several Grammy Award nominations and wins at the 51st Grammy Awards. On 24 October 2011, they released their fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto, which received mixed to positive reviews, topped the charts in over 34 countries, and was the UK's best-selling rock album of 2011. On 16 May 2014, they released their sixth album, titled Ghost Stories, which also received mixed to positive reviews and topped the iTunes Store albums charts in over 100 countries. On 4 December 2015, the band released their seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams, which reached the top two in most major markets, but received generally mixed reviews.
The band has won 62 awards from 209 nominations throughout their career, including nine Brit Awards—winning Best British Group four times—five MTV Video Music Awards and seven Grammy Awards from 31 nominations. Coldplay have sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. In December 2009, Rolling Stone readers voted the group the fourth-best artist of the 2000s. Coldplay have been an active supporter of various social and political causes, such as Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign and Amnesty International. The group have also performed at various charity projects such as Band Aid 20, Live 8, Sound Relief, Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, The Secret Policeman's Ball, Sport Relief and the UK's Teenage Cancer Trust.
Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland first met during their orientation week at University College London (UCL) in September 1996. The pair spent the rest of the university year planning a band, ultimately forming a group called Pectoralz. 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. 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. Coldplay have since accepted Harvey as the fifth member of the group. 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). 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.
By 1997 Martin had met then Classics student Tim Rice-Oxley. During a weekend at 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 refused 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. In 1998, the band released 500 copies of the Safety EP. Most of the discs were given to record companies and friends; only 50 copies remained for sale to the public. In December of that year, Coldplay signed to the independent label Fierce Panda. Their first release was the three-track Brothers and Sisters EP, which they had quickly recorded over four days in February 1999.
After completing their final examinations Coldplay signed a five-album contract with Parlophone in early 1999. After making their first appearance at Glastonbury the band went into the studio to record a third EP, titled The Blue Room. Five thousand copies were made available to the public in October 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.
"Yellow", Coldplay's first top 10 hit, went on to become one of their most well-known songs. It was the second single from Parachutes.
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The band initially planned to record their debut album in the space of two weeks. However, tours and other live performances caused the recording to spread out between September 1999 and April–May 2000. 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. During that period, they played on the Carling Tour, which showcased up-and-coming acts.
After releasing three 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 and peaked at number 35 position on the UK Singles Chart. 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 breakthrough single "Yellow". It was Coldplay's first release to reach the top five, rising to number four on the UK Singles Chart. "Yellow" and "Shiver" were initially released as EPs in the spring of 2000. The former was later released as a single in 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.
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. It was released on 7 November 2000 by record label Nettwerk in North America. 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. Four singles were released from Parachutes, including "Shiver" and "Yellow", and enjoyed popularity in the UK and US. The third single was "Trouble", which reached number 10 in the UK charts. It was released more than a year later in the US, and, although it did not make the Billboard Hot 100, it reached number 28 in the Alternative Songs chart. 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.
Parachutes was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in September 2000. Having found success in Europe, the band set their sights on North America, by releasing the album there in November 2000, and started the US Club Tour in February 2001. At the 2001 Brit Awards in February, Coldplay earned awards for Best British Group, and Best British Album. Although Parachutes was a slow-burning success in the United States, it eventually reached double-platinum status. The album was critically well received and earned a Best Alternative Music Album honours at the 2002 Grammy Awards. 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." After single-handedly managing the band until early 2001, Phil Harvey resigned from his role due to the stress of performing a role usually requiring a team of people. Harvey then took on the role of "creative director" and is often referred as the official fifth member by the band, while Dave Holmes took over as the band's manager.
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 in 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."
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 was still touring Parachutes. The album's title was revealed through a post on the band's official website. 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.
Coldplay toured from June 2002 to September 2003 for the A Rush of Blood to the Head Tour. They visited five continents, including co-headlining festival dates at Glastonbury Festival, V2003 and Rock Werchter. Many concerts showcased elaborate lighting and individualised screens reminiscent of U2's Elevation Tour and Nine Inch Nails' Fragility Tour. During the extended tour, Coldplay recorded a live DVD and CD, Live 2003, at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion. At the 2003 Brit Awards held at Earls Court, London, Coldplay received awards for Best British Group, and Best British Album. 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.
In December 2003, readers of Rolling Stone chose Coldplay as the best artist and the best band of the year. 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. A Rush of Blood to the Head won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Coldplay earned Record of the Year for "Clocks".
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. X&Y was released in June 2005 in UK and Europe. This new, delayed release date had put the album back into the next fiscal year, actually causing EMI's stock to drop. It became the best-selling album of 2005 with worldwide sales of 8.3 million. The lead single, "Speed of Sound", made its radio and online music store debut on 18 April and was released as a CD on 23 May 2005. X&Y entered the album charts of 20 countries at the number one position and was the third-fastest selling album in UK chart history.
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 described Coldplay as "the most insufferable band of the decade", 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". Comparisons between Coldplay and U2 became increasingly common. Chris Martin later revealed that the reviews that ranged from mixed to negative, note-worthy for their remarks on comparing them to U2, made him feel "liberated".
From June 2005 to July 2006, 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. 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. On 28 August, Coldplay performed "Speed of Sound" at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards in Miami. 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. In February 2006, Coldplay earned Best Album and Best Single honours at the Brit Awards. Two more singles were released during 2006, "The Hardest Part" and "What If". The sixth and final single, "White Shadows" was released in Mexico during June 2007.
In October 2006, Coldplay began work on their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, with producer Brian Eno. Taking a break from recording, the band toured Latin America in early 2007, performing in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. 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. The group spent the rest of the year recording with Eno.
Martin described Viva la Vida as a new direction for Coldplay: a change from their past three albums, which they have referred to as a "trilogy". He said the album featured less falsetto as he allowed his voice's lower register to take precedence. Some songs, such as "Violet Hill", contain distorted guitar riffs and bluesy undertones.
"Violet Hill" was confirmed as the first single, with a radio release date of 29 April 2008. After the first play, it was freely obtainable from Coldplay's website from 12:15 pm (GMT +0) for one week (achieving two million downloads), until it became commercially available to download on 6 May. "Violet Hill" entered the UK Top 10, US Top 40 (entering the Top 10 in the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart) and charted well in the rest of the world. The title track, "Viva la Vida", was also released exclusively on iTunes. It became the band's first number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and their first UK number one, based on download sales alone. This was also the first Number One in the UK Singles Chart to be based solely on download sales.
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. 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; the BBC called it "one of the fastest-selling records in UK history". By the end of June, it had set a new record for most-downloaded album ever. 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. On 9 November, Coldplay were named the World's Best Selling Act of 2008 at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo. They also picked up two other awards, World's Best Selling Rock Act and Great Britain's Best Selling Act. 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 EP features tracks from the Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends sessions and, as well as being available on its own, was issued as a bonus disc with later editions of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. "Life in Technicolor II" was the only single released from the EP.
Coldplay began their Viva la Vida Tour in June, with a free concert at Brixton Academy in London. This was followed two days later by a 45-minute performance that was broadcast live from outside BBC Television Centre. Released in late 2008, "Lost!" became the third single from the album, featuring a new version with Jay-Z. 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. Sound Relief is a benefit concert for victims of the Victorian Bushfire Crisis and the Queensland Floods. 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." The band denied the allegation. An unspecified settlement was ultimately reached between the parties.
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). 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". 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. 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. 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. In December 2009, Rolling Stone readers voted the group the fourth best artist of the 2000s.
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." 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, T in the Park, Austin City Limits Music Festival, Rock in Rio, and Lollapalooza festival.
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". 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". 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".
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. 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. Mylo Xyloto was released on 24 October 2011, to mixed to positive reviews, and topped the charts in over 34 countries.
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". 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. 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. On 12 January 2012, Coldplay were nominated for two Brit Awards. On 21 February 2012, they were awarded the Brit Award for Best British Group for the third time. The album was the best-selling rock album in the United Kingdom, selling 908,000 copies. The album's second single, "Paradise", was also the best-selling rock single in the UK, selling 410,000 copies. At the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards on 6 September, "Paradise" won the award for Best Rock Video. Mylo Xyloto has sold over 8 million copies worldwide.
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. 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.
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 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.
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. 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.
Speaking to Australian radio station 2Day FM, Chris Martin revealed that the title for their next album: "is much easier to pronounce." 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.”
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. 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 will be distributed by Atlantic Records in the US due to restructuring within Warner Music Group following the purchase of Parlophone Records from EMI.
On 25 February 2014, the band unveiled "Midnight", a track from their yet-to-be released album. In early March 2014, it was announced that the band's sixth album, Ghost Stories, would be released 19 May 2014. 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. 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.
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. The album was made available for pre-order on iTunes, alongside a new single titled "Magic". Two more singles from the album, "A Sky Full of Stars" and "True Love", have since been released. Ghost Stories received generally mixed to favourable reviews. The album topped the charts in the UK, the US, and most major markets. 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. 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.
On 4 December 2014, Chris Martin announced in an interview with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1 that Coldplay are in the middle of working on their seventh studio album, A Head Full of Dreams. 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." He added that, unlike their promotion efforts for Ghost Stories, the band will tour for the seventh record. In an interview with Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2, Martin hinted at the style of the album by saying that the band was trying to make something colourful and uplifting, yet not bombast. He also stated that it will be something to "shuffle your feet" to.
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. At the 2015 Billboard Music Awards on 17 May, Ghost Stories was named Top Rock Album. 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. 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.
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. The album features guest appearances from Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, Noel Gallagher, Tove Lo and Barack Obama. The album reached number one in the UK, and number two in the US, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Italy.
On 27 November 2015, Coldplay announced the first dates to their 2016 A Head Full of Dreams Tour. Latin American and European legs were listed, which included three dates at Wembley Stadium, London in June, with further dates, including their North American tour, to be added. More dates, including the North America Tour, an extra Wembley concert, and an Oceania tour, were later added gradually. On 5 December, the band headlined the opening day of the 2015 Jingle Bell Ball at London's O2 Arena. On 7 February 2016 Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. The band were joined by Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. In April 2016, the band were named the sixth best selling artist worldwide in 2015.
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. 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".
Martin once proclaimed the band's music as "limestone rock" in comparison to "hard rock". The band's music has been called "meditative" and "blue romantic"; it "[reflects] on their emotions" and Martin "endlessly examine[s] his feelings".
Appearing on X&Y, the music of "Fix You" is built around a church-style organ.
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Coldplay started out as one of many earnest post-Britpop bands. In the late 1990s, the EPs released by the band had characteristics of dream pop, setting them apart from later studio albums. The tone of the band's first studio album, Parachutes, was described as melodic pop with "distorted guitar riffs and swishing percussion" but also being "exquisitely dark and artistically abrasive". Such alternative rock style has been compared to bands like U2, Oasis, Radiohead and Travis. The band acknowledges the Scottish alternative rock band, Travis, as a major influence on their earlier material.
In their second studio album A Rush of Blood to the Head, the band drew inspiration from artists like Echo & the Bunnymen, Kate Bush, George Harrison and Muse. The songs in it were considered to contain "lush melodies and a heartbreak" and that they had a "newfound confidence." The music on their third release X&Y has been considered to be "ruminations on Martin's doubts, fears, hopes, and loves." It was particularly influenced by the artists Johnny Cash and Kraftwerk.
In Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, the group's style was moving towards art rock, being influenced by the bands Blur, Arcade Fire and My Bloody Valentine. The band experimented with different instruments including orchestras, honky-tonk pianos and further so. Mylo Xyloto carries the concept album format from the love and war-induced Viva la Vida and expands the spectrum to include electronic and acoustic elements. Lyrical influences were taken from graffiti and the German resistance group White Rose.
Regarding the band's wide international success, Parlophone's president Miles Leonard has stated that one of their "secrets" is that they have never sounded like a parochial UK artist, saying: "Some bands are very proud to be British, but sometimes come across as being very ‘British’. Coldplay never aspire to that; on one hand they sound British but on the other they sound like a huge global artist." In 2011 Coldplay were hailed as 'rock statesmen'.
Despite their worldwide popularity, the band has remained protective of how their music is used in the media, refusing its use for product endorsements. In the past, Coldplay turned down multi-million dollar contracts from Gatorade, Diet Coke, and Gap, who wanted to use the songs "Yellow", "Trouble", and "Don't Panic" respectively. According to frontman, Chris Martin, "We wouldn't be able to live with ourselves if we sold the songs' meanings like that." The song "Viva la Vida" was featured in a commercial for the iTunes Store, advertising its exclusive availability of the single as a digital download on iTunes. Additionally, Chris Martin appeared at an Apple Inc. Special Event on 1 September 2010, playing a number of songs, and also thanked Apple for their assistance in marketing "Viva la Vida". After the death of Steve Jobs, Coldplay performed four songs at Apple's Campus in Cupertino, further thanking Jobs for the support he gave them.
Coldplay supports Amnesty International and performed for them at The Secret Policeman's Ball fundraiser in 2012. Martin is regarded as one of the most visible celebrity advocates for fair trade, supporting Oxfam's ongoing Make Trade Fair campaign. He has been on trips with Oxfam to assess conditions, has appeared in its advertising campaign, and is known for wearing a "Make Trade Fair" wristband during public appearances (including at Coldplay concerts). The band were also filmed for Make Poverty History, clicking their fingers.
During the early years, Coldplay became widely known in the media for giving 10 per cent of the band's profits to charity, which they continue to do. Bassist Guy Berryman said, "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." The band also asks that any gifts intended for them are donated to charity, according to a response on the FAQ section of Coldplay's website. Martin spoke out against the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US, UK and other forces during the Teenage Cancer Trust show at London's Royal Albert Hall on 24 March 2003, where he encouraged the sell-out crowd to "sing against war". He would later endorse the US Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
In June 2009, Coldplay began supporting Meat Free Monday, a food campaign started by Paul McCartney which attempts to help slow climate change by having at least one meat free day a week. From 17 and 31 December 2009, Coldplay auctioned a quantity of significant band memorabilia, including their first guitars. Proceeds went to Kids Company, a charity which helps vulnerable children and young people in London. A month later in January 2010, Coldplay 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.
In 2011 Coldplay endorsed the song "Freedom for Palestine" by posting a link to the video. In less than a day 12,000 comments were made on that post. Some threatened to boycott the band, and a Facebook group was created that demanded an apology to Israel. The link to the song was eventually removed from their Facebook wall. According to Frank Barat of OneWorld, the link was not removed by Coldplay, but by Facebook after "thousands of people (and computer generated posts) reported it as abusive."
Album Artists (www.albumartists.co.uk) staged an exhibition of art from Mylo Xyloto at Proud Gallery in Camden to support the charity Kids Company in November—December 2012. The exhibition raised over £610,000 for the children's charity which supports disadvantaged children in London. In November 2014, Martin joined the charity group Band Aid 30, performing alongside current British and Irish pop acts on the latest version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?" to raise money for the 2014 Ebola crisis in Western Africa—this was the second time Martin has contributed to a Band Aid recording having performed in the 2004 version (Band Aid 20).
In June 2016 the band supported Vote Remain in the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. Following the Brexit result which saw 52% of the UK voting to leave the EU (despite the majority of younger people voting remain), Chris Martin stated: "This decision does not represent us or indeed most of our generation and the generation following us."
Coldplay have won numerous music awards throughout their history, including eight Brit Awards—winning Best British Group four times, five MTV Video Music Awards, three World Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, and seven Grammy Awards out of 26 nominations. 2009 was their most successful year having received seven Grammy Award nominations at the 51st Grammy Awards, and won three. Coldplay have sold over 80 million records worldwide.
They [Coldplay] began 2000 as unknowns, and ended it with a double-platinum album [Parachutes] and America their oyster
Concert album due in November
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