Before Coldplay became one of the most world-famous bands of the 21st Century, a couple of significant changes occurred in their early years. Initially, Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland created a band called Pectoralz in 1996 during their university studies at UCL. Over the next two years, band members were recruited; in 1997, Guy Berryman joined as the bassist and the following year saw Will Champion complete the band as a drummer and backing vocalist. The band’s name also altered a couple of times. Unable to settle on the perfect name, Pectoralz became Starfish in 1997. However, in 1998, they finally decided on a band name which would skyrocket them to musical fame, Coldplay.
Since 2000, Coldplay have released 7 albums – and each one has been as great a success as the last. The first album was released in 2000: Parachutes. Consisting of ten tracks, this album was the band’s initial unveiling of their “limestone rock” sounds, as Martin describes. Undoubtedly, Coldplay display several stereotypical rock elements such as bass guitar, heavy drum beats and sections of intricate guitar riffs in their albums; however, emotional and somewhat calming elements are also added. In turn, this created multi-layered tracks showcasing both their rock-influenced musicality alongside their emotionally engaging lyrics and “meditative” synthesised sounds.
‘Yellow’ is one of the most well known tracks of their debut album, highlighting the emotional and alternative rock aspects of the band’s style. The track starts in a typical rock-esque fashion with a persistent guitar melody and accompanying drum beats. However, this soon changes to reveal powerful lyrics about love whilst the instrumental backing eases off, allowing the emotion to become the main feature. There are several exchanges of importance between the rock instrumental and emotionally dominating lyrical sections, highlighting the band’s balance of the two and their ability to give both the time to be appreciated. After listening to this track as well as the entire album, it was clear Coldplay were on the road to musical success.
Following the success of their debut album, Coldplay went on to release A Rush of Blood to the Head album in 2002 and their X&Y album in 2005. 2005 saw the creation of a personal favourite and the clearest example of the Coldplay rock-and-emotions blend: Fix you. The track starts with an organ inspired keyboard chord progression, lulling listeners into a hypnotic trance along with slow moving, poignant lyrics. This hypnotic style continues until a prominent piano melody, backing vocalist and guitarist are introduced to add a second layer to this track. After two and a half minutes, the emotionally powerful lyrics take a step back and allow a contrasting hard-rock instrumental section to develop, including repeating guitar chords, heavy drumming and symbol crashes. It is clear to see how Coldplay bring together these two contrasting styles as the finale of this track incorporates both styles to produce an amazing merge of musical technique and evocative lyrical genius.
The success of Coldplay is one to be truly admired. Whilst the band won 8 Brit Awards, 5 MTV Video Music Awards and 7 Grammy Awards, they have not let fame go to their heads. Instead, they continuously donate 10% of the band’s profits to charity, and refuse to sell their songs for “product endorsements”. Coldplay have also inspired thousands to listen to the pleas of charities and trusts and help in the effort to support such organisations as MTF (Make Trade Fair) and Teenage Cancer Trust.
Over the past 10 years, Coldplay have released seven albums. After 2005, the band went on to release Viva la Vida in 2008, Mylo Xyloto in 2011, Ghost Stories in 2014 and, most recently, A Head Full of Dreams in 2015. Unsurprisingly, with each new album, a new tour was announced and 2015 saw the start of the Coldplay world tour of their latest album. I was lucky enough to go and see their concert in Wembley Stadium in July 2016 and it was one of the greatest musical showcases I have ever seen.
Their live vocals were unquestionable, matching the same high standard of tonality and pitch on each of their albums. The special effects, fireworks, confetti canons and light-up wristbands for each audience member added to the breathtaking atmosphere they created with their undisputed vocals. Singing a varied selection of songs including ‘Yellow’, ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’ and ‘Clocks’ from previous albums, the concert was a true celebration of Coldplay’s outstanding musical ability, emotionally unique and hypnotic style and charitable hearts which inspire all.