Rock Handbook Rule #6 clearly states "a musician must come from an impoverished background, have numerous chips on his/her shoulder and be flawed in some profound way."
Attending University College of London, an institution known for turning out bankers and Parliament members, rather than malcontents, would seem to violate the rule.
Chris Martin (vocals), Jon Buckland (guitar), Guy Berryman (bass) and Will Champion (drums), all University College students, formed Coldplay in '98. That same year they released a couple of EPs ("The Safety" and "Brothers and Sisters") on indie labels that went nowhere. However, the following year they signed with Parlophone Records and recorded three more EPs ("Blue Room," "Shiver" and "Yellow").
The UK music press soon proclaimed Coldplay " the next big thing." Finally, tracks from recent EPs made an appearance on Coldplay's full-length debut "Parachutes" which led with the mid-tempo acoustic/electric "Yellow." The U.S. release came in November of '00. "Rush Of Blood To The Head" followed in '02. The next year the group released "Coldplay Live 2003" which contained versions of their best known songs and a couple previously unreleased tracks. The packaged included a bonus DVD of a live concert, with lyrics and a tour diary.
In between all this activity, Martin married actress Gwyneth Paltrow and started a family. The couple soon became inescapable at the magazine counter.
Work on Coldplay's fourth studio album began in late '06. Touring caused the project to be put on hold but by the end of '07 the album was said to be finished. "Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends," with the lead single "Violet Hill" (a Top 10 hit on the Modern Rock chart) was issued in June, '08. Just a day before the set was release Coldplay launched their 'Viva la Vida World Tour' with a free concert at Brixton Academy in London.
Considered a new direction (by Martin) for Coldplay "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends" sold, in its first week of release, a half million copies in the U.K. and 721-thousand units in the U.S. Within months the album logged over five million sales. While lead single "Violet Hill" did very well, it was "Viva La Vida" that topped the U.S. and U.K. pop charts. On the heels of that success, Coldplay issued the EP "Prospekt's March" in late '08.
Adding to the numerous accolades Coldplay received for "Viva La Vida," the album topped the 2008 Rolling Stone Readers Poll. The title track also won the Best Song category.
More awards - February 8th, 2009, was a very good day for Coldplay. First, the group was profiled on the CBS news magazine show 60 Minutes. As one might expect, the fawning coverage focused on Martin (and Paltrow). That was followed by the Grammys from L.A. Coldplay performed and Martin did a solo turn before the group walked off with the awards for Rock Song of the Year ("Viva La Vida") and Rock Album of the Year ("Viva La Vida").
Still reaping the rewards, Coldplay took home Song Of The Year honors for "Viva La Vida" at the '09 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Awards in London (the music royalties organization is worldwide).
"It's about love, addiction, OCD, escape and working for someone you don't like." That's how Martin described the lyrical themes present on Coldplay's fifth album "Mylo Xyloto," a concept album "based on a love story with a happy ending."
"Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" was the lead single from the '11 set. "Paradise" came next.
Actually, happy endings are much harder to attain.
Martin and Paltrow announced their separation on Paltrow's GOOP newsletter. "It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate," the couple wrote in a post entitled "Conscious Uncoupling." Pretentious? Ya think? Isn't that just splitting up? It was laughable.
Paltrow only added fuel to the fire when she claimed famous actresses with kids, like herself, had it tougher than other working moms. Jaws dropped around the world.
Martin, to his credit, kept relatively silent and when he did say something it was appropriately vague.
Coldplay produced "Ghost Stories," an album said to be inspired in part by Martin's feelings regarding the dissolution of his relationship with Paltrow. But it came across as a fixation. Just to push the ostentatious meter into the ozone, Coldplay 'performed' "Ghost Stories" on their NBC special just a day before the album's release.
During the opening song, "Always In My Head," Martin rose above the stage, with the help of a cable. He didn't exactly soar but he did a somersault before tackling another verse. Did this signify emotional upheaval - his own unconscious coupling? Or his determination to bravely go on? The self-serving hour was the lowest rated program in that time slot. That'll teach NBC.
But despite low ratings and a bashing by critics, "Ghost Stories" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with opening week sales of 383,000 copies in the U.S.
'15 saw the arrival of "A Head Full Of Dreams." Coldplay's seventh album contained collaborations with Beyoncé ("Hymn For The Weekend"), Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, and, somewhat surprisingly, Paltrow ("Everglow"). "Everyone who got asked to sing on our album has an important part in our lives," stated Martin. The effort debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200, behind Adele's "25."
2002 A Rush Of Blood To The Head
2008 Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
2011 Mylo Xyloto
2014 Ghost Stories
2015 A Head Full Of Dreams
Coldplay often gets compared to the likes of Radiohead. That's not necessarily a good thing.
Chris Martin does his part, wearing his heart on his sleeve, and doing it with self-awareness and a practiced school-boy charm.
Nobody expects a blazing or trailblazing album from Coldplay. But they found huge commercial success and a measure of credibility landing just left of pop. On "Viva La Vida" they give their sound some muscle and expand their aperture (under the guidance of producers by Brian Eno and Markus Dravs).
"Mylo Xyloto" is a marvelous waste of time. On one level that's exactly what entertainment is supposed to be. No enlightenment, advocacy or political agenda, just an engaging diversion from the day-to-day.