Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
And it was all yellow.
After several low-key releases during the back-end of The '90s, they hit the big time in 2000 with the single "Yellow", which would later be included on their incredibly successful and award-winning debut album, Parachutes. The rest of their oeuvre leading up to the mid-2000s — A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y — continued the commercial and critical success but also gave the band a reputation for their songs sounding too similar (the singles "Speed of Sound" and "Clocks" being frequently singled out for comparison).
Their fourth album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, changed this. Produced by Brian Eno, it rewrote the band's fundamentals, introducing experimentation of both the instrumental variety (ex: Ominous Pipe Organ, a honky-tonk piano, elaborate string sections) and the arrangement variety (ex: weirder time signatures, unusual song structures). Despite the predictable They Changed It, Now It Sucks! whining from some fans, it became the most paid-for downloaded album of all time.
Leaning into The New '10s, the band experimented further with Mylo Xyloto, which flaunted a more electronica-driven sound that did receive some critical pushback. Their next album, the ambient and lush Ghost Stories, was a quasi-Concept Album inspired by frontman Chris Martin divorcing with his wife of over 10 years (Gwyneth Paltrow). They followed this album with its complete antithesis — A Head Full of Dreams, arguably the happiest and most uplifting work they've released thus far.
- Apparatjik (Berryman)
- Chris Martin - The band's leader, and a rather famous celebrity. Serves as the band's lead vocalist, lead pianist, rhythm guitarist (usually an acoustic), and primary songwriter. He was married to Gwyneth Paltrow from 2003 to 2014.
- Jonny Buckland - Lead guitarist. Has a recognisable signature minimalist sound, and has been compared to The Edge.
- Guy Berryman - Bassist. He is also a member of the completely different supergroup Apparatjik.
- Will Champion - Drummer. Was sacked early in the band's career, but quickly re-hired (causing Chris to get himself drunk on Vodka as punishment.) Occasionally sings lead vocals.
Discography with singles:
- 2000 - Parachutes
- 2002 - A Rush of Blood to the Head
- 2005 - X&Y
- 2008 - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
- 2011 - Mylo Xyloto
- 2014 - Ghost Stories
- 2015 - A Head Full of Dreams
- Other singles: Brothers & Sisters, Lhunanote , Life In Technicolor II (taken from Prospekt's March - an EP with alternate versions and outtakes out of the Viva la Vida sessions), Christmas Lights, Atlas (from the soundtrack of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Miracles (from the soundtrack of Unbroken)
Look at the tropes, look how they shine for you...
- Advertised Extra: Tove Lo in "Fun". Though given a feature credit, she never sings any lines on her own and is really just a glorified backup singer.
- Album Single: Coldplay's singles include "Yellow," "The Scientist," & "Viva La Vida."
- Album Title Drop: Subverted for the most part. Every album has a Title Track, but the only ones to mention the album title are A Rush of Blood to the Head and A Head Full of Dreams. A partial example is "I don't want to follow Death and all of his friends".
- "X and Y" is a lyric in "The World Turned Upside Down," a B-side that isn't on X&Y.
- Alien Sky: Invoked in "Speed of Sound":Look up, I look up at night
Planets are moving at the speed of light
- Always a Bigger Fish: In "Lost!":You might be a big fish
In a little pond
Doesn't mean you've won
'Cuz along may come
A bigger one
- Animated Music Video:
- April Fools' Day: "Coldplay launch their own fragrance, Angst by Coldplay". Also fits under Self-Parody and Take That! (at the critics describing them as too angsty).
- Arc Symbol: Taken Up to Eleven in Mylo Xyloto. Every single song has its own symbol◊, some of them obvious but others only understandable in context (e.g. the butterfly representing "Paradise" is mentioned in the lyrics).
- As the Good Book Says...: "Viva la Vida" includes biblical references; for one example, the line about pillars of salt and sand references the story of Lot's wifenote and the parable of the wise and foolish buildersnote .
- Audience Participation Song: Many, the biggest being "Viva La Vida" ("Whoooooah oh oh oh oh!").
- Autotune: "Midnight" utilizes a soft, Bon Iver-esque vocoder on Chris' vocals that becomes more apparent when played live.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Will Champion. Hell yeah.
- Back to Front: The music video for "The Scientist" has a reverse narrative, starting at the end of the story and concluding at the beginning with every scene shown backwards.
- Badass Baritone: Chris is a tenor, but on "Yes" he mostly sings in a low baritone voice.
- Badass Beard: Everyone in the band has at least had a stubble at one point in their career, a perfect example being this picture◊ of all four of them plus Brian Eno (who was their producer at the time) from the Viva la Vida era.
- Bald of Awesome: Will Champion (sometimes).
- Being Evil Sucks: A common interpretation of "Viva la Vida".Just a puppet on a lonely string.
Oh, who would ever want to be king?
- Big Brother Is Watching You: "Major Minus", based off of the Big Bad of the Mylo Xyloto Myth Arc who is very much the Big Brother of the story.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ghost Stories seems to end on a note of acceptance from the protagonist in the finale, but in that he'll never forget the good times the relationship brought him.
- Big, Friendly Dog: One of them joins the band in the woods in the "Midnight" video.
- Viva La Vida:
Those who are dead are not dead
- The entirety of the album. "Life in Technicolor" fades into the same series of notes that "Death and All His Friends" and the hidden track "The Escapist" fades out on.
- "42" begins and ends with Chris quietly singing the same lyrics over piano.
They're just living in my head
- Ghost Stories:
Late night watching TV
- The whole album is book-ended by the hidden track "O", which has the same angelic choir as the opening track "Always in My Head".
- The song "Another's Arms", from the above album, begins and ends with the same lines.
Used to be you here beside me
Used to be your arms around me
Your body on my body
- A minor one on A Rush of Blood to the Head; both the opening and closing tracks ("Politik" and "Amsterdam", respectively) are exactly 5:19. More interestingly, they're both tuned up, with A4 at 448Hz where most music nowadays has A4 at 440Hz.
- Viva La Vida:
- Boy Band: When they first started, the group created an alter ego boy band called Pectoralz as a joke. No gigs were performed under the name.
- Break Up Song: Ghost Stories is essentially and conceptually a breakup album, considering it was made around the time when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow divorced.
- Call-and-Response Song: "Adventure of a Lifetime" turns into this in its outro.
- Call-Back: "Adventure of a Lifetime" is the band's second video involving animals discovering instruments and playing them after "Paradise" (although the "Paradise" video was just the band members in suits, "Adventure" has motion-capture monkeys).
- The Cameo: Noel Gallagher provides the epic guitar solo on "Up&Up".
- Careful with That Axe: Chris's wailing in the live b-side "Pour Me". It's brief, but incredibly disconcerting.
- Cherubic Choir: Used to beautiful effect in "O", with Chris Martin's children providing the vocals.
- Christmas Songs: "Christmas Lights" is a melancholic one about heartbreak at Christmas.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: There is a comic adaptation of Mylo Xyloto, released in early 2013.
- Concept Album:
- Mylo Xyloto has one hell of a story. It takes place in the Orwellian society of Silencia, run by Major Minus via media and propaganda. His goal is to strip the streets of sound and color to drive away creatures named feeders that use such energy to hunt. The two words in the album title are actually two names. Mylo is a silencer tasked in hunting down sparkers such as Xyloto, that create sparks with light and energy. Mylo discovers his sparker powers through Xyloto and his affiliation with the Car Kids, a sparker faction founded by Mylo's parents.
- Ghost Stories is one as well. Taking partial inspiration from Chris' rocky relationship with his wife Gwyneth Paltrow (at least at the time of the album recording), the album revolves around a man going through a dramatic and sudden breakup, with the tracks representing the man's state of mind leading up to his eventual acceptance of the situation.
- Concept Video:
- The aforementioned "Strawberry Swing".
- The video for "The Scientist", in that it uses reverse narrative.
- "Hurts Like Heaven" too, and it serves as a prequel to Mylo Xyloto's Comic-Book Adaptation.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Chris Martin tends to get a little wacky in live performances when he's not playing an instrument. Some fans also haven't the slightest idea what the hell he's even talking about in some of his interviews.
- Cue the Sun: The UK music video for "Trouble" takes place in a dimly-lit warehouse but ends with a sunrise...that turns out to be fake and part of a theater backdrop.
- Darker and Edgier:
- The original European music video for "Trouble" in comparison to the more well-known one, which has Chris singing while tied to a chair in a dark warehouse juxtaposed with footage of the rest of the band members; to specify, Buckland and Champion forcing Berryman into being tied to a chair of his own.
- Ghost Stories also counts, as it's much darker than most of Mylo Xyloto and is actually kind of depressing, with a Bittersweet Ending to contrast Mylo's Happy Ending.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The video for "Midnight", which uses both negative and thermal infrared imagery, is entirely in black-and-white except for the final shot.
- Dream Team:
- Early Installment Weirdness: The sound of Parachutes shifts towards Indie Rock at times, and the album as a whole is incredibly soft-spoken compared to its more bombastic, arena rock-y successors.
- Eaten Alive: In the music video for "Talk", the band members suffer this fate at the hands of a giant toy robot at the end. Though to be fair, one of the band members stole a knob from the robot.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "Life in Technicolor" for Viva La Vida. It originally had lyrics, which were cut out at the last minute. The non-instrumental (but still epic) version was released later as "Life in Technicolor II".
- Inverted with Ghost Stories, which has an Epic Instrumental Closer in the ambient hidden track "O".
- Epic Rocking:
- Most of the tracks from A Rush of Blood to the Head (and at least two from Parachutes) exceed five minutes in length, with its Title Track nearly reaching six.
- B-sides "Gravity" and "Up&Up" have also exceeded six minutes.
- The "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love" medley is almost seven (whereas "Chinese Sleep Chant" and "The Escapist", as hidden tracks, are considered separate to "Yes" and "Death and All His Friends" respectively).
- Live renditions get similar treatment, with the Live 2012 version of "Yellow" falling just behind the seven-minute mark and certain songs from Live 2003 extending a minute longer than their original studio recordings.
- Ethereal Choir:
- The strange child-like noises during the beginning, bridge and end of Charlie Brown can be this. Doubles as Creepy Children Singing.
- The angelic choir that appears in the first track and hidden finale of Ghost Stories; the album's finale also features Chris Martin's own children singing to this effect.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: The video for "Adventure of a Lifetime" stars a group of motion-capture monkeys discovering a Beats Pill speaker playing the song, and subsequently singing and dancing.
- Evil Brunette Twin: Used in the music video for "Magic". Chris Martin not only plays the hero, but also the villain, a mix of Stage Magician and Dastardly Whiplash.
- Excited Show Title!: Applies to the song "Lost!". All of its remixed versions are characterized by the exclamation mark at the end being eschewed for a different symbol (a question mark, an at sign, and a plus).
- Fading into the Next Song:
- Happens quite a bit in Mylo Xyloto note . It is a Concept Album, after all.
- Very subtle but still there: If you listen closely during the very last few seconds of "Viva La Vida", you can hear the intro of "Violet Hill" start up before the track truly ends. Also happens with "Life in Technicolor" into "Cemeteries of London".
- "White Shadows" into "Fix You" on X&Y.
- Filk Song: In a Played for Laughs example, Red Nose Day inspired the band to do Game of Thrones: The Musical.
- Follow the Leader: As Mitch Benn said, "Everything sounds like Coldplay now".
- Foreshadowing: The vocal harmonies that close "Viva La Vida" are heard in the final two bars of the second verse.
- Gratuitous Panning: The opening guitar of "Warning Sign" is panned to the right.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Chris and Jonny. The entire band, to a lesser extent.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: At the end of "Don't Let It Break Your Heart".
- Hidden Track:
- The band has an affinity for including extra songs omitted from the tracklist on the tail-ends of others.
- On Parachutes, "Everything's Not Lost" contains one called "Life is for Living".
- On Viva la Vida, "Yes" contains one called "Chinese Sleep Chant", and "Death and All His Friends" contains one called "The Escapist".
- On X&Y, the album-closing hidden song "Til Kingdom Come" (left off the tracklist, but credited as "+" on the disc and booklet) is uniquely given its own standalone track.
- Ghost Stories has a really weird example. The ninth and final track on the album's tracklist is listed as "O," despite the fact that the first song that plays is actually titled "Fly On." "O" is, in fact, the hidden track that plays about two minutes after "Fly On" ends.
- "X Marks The Spot" on A Head Full Of Dreams.
- The band has an affinity for including extra songs omitted from the tracklist on the tail-ends of others.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: The protagonist of "Viva la Vida" is a king that once had everything but now has nothing as he looks back on his reign and laments his fate.I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemies' eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
"Now the old King is dead, long live the King!"
One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Expect Chris Martin to make many of these about a certain color whenever "Yellow" is brought up in an interview.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: The hidden track to "Yes", called "Chinese Sleep Chant".
- Intercourse with You:
- "Yes" (the first part) can easily be interpreted as this.
- The track "Another's Arms" off of Ghost Stories has some pretty sexual lyrics as well.
- In the Style of...: Chris has retroactively admitted to "Speed of Sound" most directly stemming from listening to a lot of Kate Bush, with the song's drumbeat taking explicit leads from Bush's song "Running Up That Hill".
- Knife-Throwing Act: In the music video for "Magic", this is featured. In the extended edition of the video, Chris Martin's character is stabbed through the heart. Luckily for him, this is only a dream.
- Knight In Sour Armor: "Don't Panic" seems to be sung from the perspective of one; the narrator spends the song lamenting about the Earth being destroyed by either an apocalypse or the human race's own negligence, notes in the chorus that "we live in a beautiful world" (perhaps sarcastically), but ends the song with something of a change of heart, stating that everyone has a loved one they can hold onto.
- Line-of-Sight Name: Before the band became famous, Chris had a song in mind that began like this: "Look at the stars/Look how they shine for you/And all the things you do." Unfortunately, at the end of every few lines, he drew a blank where he felt some lyrics should go. While singing the unfinished song to a dart-playing Jonny Buckland, he noticed a copy of the Yellow Pages off to the side. You can probably figure out the rest from there.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "Fly On" is a straight example, while "Amsterdam" starts off as this but turns into a rock song near the end.
- Long-Runner Line-up: Twenty-one years and counting.
- Love Makes You Evil: "A Rush of Blood to the Head" is about the narrator burning a building to the ground to try to get his lover back. Doubles as Through the Eyes of Madness.
I'm going to buy this place and see it burnDo back the things it did to you in return
- Some thought of it more like Forrest demolishing the house Jenny grew up in.
- Lucky Charms Title: "Til Kingdom Come", while officially left off the track list, is credited as "+" in the X&Y disc label and album booklet.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
You didn't get to heaven, but you made it close!
- "42". At least, the jaunty part in the middle.
- "Shiver". It's strongly implied that the song's protagonist is following his love around, trying to keep her from freaking out.
- And of course, the song "Viva la Vida". The lyrics are not as happy as the melody suggests.
- "Don't Panic". A gentle, lovely melody about the fact that people are slowly killing the world. The music video makes it a little more obvious.
- Magicians Are Wizards: Invoked in "Magic."
- Miniscule Rocking: Happens on several albums, both as standalone songs (such as the title track on Parachutes and Chris' piano solo "Postcards from Far Away" on Prospekt's March) and ambient interludes (the title track, "M.M.I.X." and "A Hopeful Transmission" on Mylo Xyloto).
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They are around a 2, sometimes dropping down to 1 and going up to 3. They very rarely go beyond a 3. However, songs like "1.36" and "Chinese Sleep Chant" arguably reach a 5.
- Myth Arc: Mylo Xyloto has one. See Concept Album.
- New Sound Album: From indie darlings to big arena rock band, and then from that to artsy-fartsy Middle Eastern strings and 7/4 time signatures.
- Mylo Xyloto is a mashup of all of their older styles, ranging from catchy electronica ("Every Teardrop is a Waterfall") to Parachutes-esque ballads ("Us Against The World") to epic arena rock ("Charlie Brown").
- Ghost Stories ranged between ambient music ("Midnight", "O"), piano ballads ("Fly On"), more electronically-rooted music almost like trip-hop ("Another's Arms"), and EDM ("A Sky Full of Stars"). Produced by Avicii, no less.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Viva la Vida", "Midnight", "Princess of China", "The Scientist", "Hymn for the Weekend", and others.
- One-Man Band: Each band member plays one of them in the video for "A Sky Full of Stars".
- The Oner: The music video to "Christmas Lights" is all shot in a long take.
- The Power of Love: The narrator of "Amsterdam" feels like their life is in a downward spiral, but finds solace in a lover that's able to help them out of their hole.
- Product Placement: The Beats Pill in the music video for "Adventure of a Lifetime".
- Protest Song: "Violet Hill", which also offers a bit of a Take That! with the line "And a fox became God".
- Rearrange the Song: "Lost!" got rearranged three times: an acoustic version ("Lost?"), a live performance ("Lost@"), and a remixed version featuring a verse from Jay-Z ("Lost+").
- Record Producer: They drafted in the godfather of ambient music and all-around awesome guy Brian Eno for Viva La Vida. It shows.
- Before, Ken Nelson co-produced the first two albums and four tracks of the third.
- Recycled Lyrics: "If you never try, then you'll never know" appears twice on the same album, X&Y, in both "Speed of Sound" and "Fix You".
- Rewind Gag: The video for "The Scientist" plays backwards from Chris lying on a mattress on a random British street, him walking through the countryside, him getting up and walking after a massive car crash (that killed the girl he was driving with and sent said car down a hill) leaves him uninjured, the crash itself, and the events up to it, leaving him back in the car on the road with the girl buckled up properly (she had unbuckled before the crash, and was through through the windshield during it).
- Rock Opera: Mylo Xyloto is one - the story of two people (Mylo and Xyloto) who are "living in an oppressive, dystopian urban environment" meeting and falling in love. And yes, it has a happy ending.
- Mylo Xyloto is less of a rock opera and more of a nuanced story, with some basic, traceable things throughout. It really doesn't live up to the "concept album" standard set by a certain English band.
- Recurring Riff: The beginning of "Life in Technicolor" and the entirety of "The Escapist" is the same series of notes. These tracks happen to be at the start and end of Viva La Vida, respectively.
- Refrain from Assuming:
- "Adventure of a Lifetime" has commonly been referred to as "Turn Your Magic On", a line used in the verses and bridge, as well as "Alive Again", due to it being the main line of the chorus (the actual title is never said in the song).
- "Viva La Vida" doesn't include its title in its lyrics either, or even particularly suit the vibe its title gives, but has several title-esque lines in it, such as "When I Ruled The World".
- "The Scientist" also has a Non-Appearing Title, causing some people to think it's called one of the lines most emphasized in the lyrics, such as "Back to the Start", "Nobody Said It Was Easy", "Come Up to Meet You", etc. This was not aided when Evil Activities sampled "The Scientist" in a song and actually did call it "Nobody Said It Was Easy".
- The music video for "Life in Technicolor II". It is a rock concert, complete with pyrotechnics. It's also a puppet show.
- Chris Martin's guest role in an episode of Extras Chris Martin appears to film a charity appeal video together with Andy, but the only thing he's interested in is promoting the 'Coldplay Greatest Hits Album'.
- Additionally, in an interview with Ricky Gervais, Chris acts like the complete douchebag some people believe him to be.
- Chris and Jonny's appearance towards the end of Shaun of the Dead.
- The aforementioned "Angst by Coldplay" advertisement...for such an earnest band, they like this trope a lot.
- Serkis Folk: Coldplay in the video for "Adventure of a Lifetime", where they are depicted as monkeys.
- Silly Love Songs: "A sky full of stars" and Magic are two examples-
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This is the key thing that distinguishes them from the musically similar Radiohead. While Radiohead falls more on the "Cynical" side, Coldplay falls more on the "Idealistic" side. Thus, throughout their career, they have been branded a Lighter and Softer alternative to the mostly grim Radiohead.
- From "1.36": "How soon is now?/Yeah, how long is never?"
- At this performance of "Clocks" in Paris, around the 3:00 mark, Chris sings a snippet of "Madness", the then-most-recent single from Muse.
- "Us Against the World" references the gospel hymn "When the Saints Go Marching In".
- They've made several references to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Parachutes had a song called "Don't Panic", and Viva La Vida had a song called "42".
- Something About a Rose: The end of the music video for "Viva La Vida" ends with the four band members turning into rose petals.
- Something Completely Different: "Chinese Sleep Chant" is straight up shoegazing, complete with breathy vocals.
- Studio Chatter:
- A notable bit at the beginning of "Strawberry Swing".
- If you listen closely, you can hear some towards the beginning of the build-up into the distorted riff on "42".
- Surreal Music Video:
- The video for "Paradise", which has Chris in an elephant suit escaping a zoo in London, trying to hitchhike his way to another country, stowing away inside a suitcase to South Africa, getting enough money to buy a unicycle, and finding the rest of Coldplay off the side of the road who are also wearing elephant suits. And then they all play together in elephant suits. After that, it cuts to footage of the band in an actual live concert playing while wearing the elephant heads and hands. What.
- Taken Up to Eleven with the video for "Up&Up", where they take the whole surreal factor to a whole another level, which includes Chris Martin and the band being absolute giants and lying on mountains and islands, a football match being played on a sponge, a volcano spewing popcorn, a boat travelling over New York, a plane dropping the solar system via parachute, horses galloping on water, a butterfly lying on a oil rig, dolphins swimming while a city is upside down above them, a man sunbathing on the moon, a turtle swimming in a New York subway station, two skaters skating on the second stage of a Saturn V rocket, a diver diving 30,000 feet in the bloody air, skiers skiing on a bed pillow, two planes flying either up or down with mountains above them and water below them, a man ironing on top of clouds, cars racing on the rings of Saturn, seals flying over New York, divers diving sideways off a building while walking sidways and a kid on a swing that is being suspended from the International Space Station! Were they high when they made this, or something?
- The video for "The Scientist" has a very unorthodox storytelling style: it's entirely in reverse, and tells a story in backwards order. Throughout the video, Chris is shown singing the lyrics properly in the reversed footage; it reportedly took him a month to learn the song backwards.
- The video for "Midnight" was filmed entirely (save for the ending) using a thermal infrared camera with negative imagery with a whole slew of visual effects on top of that.
- Take That!: When Chris Martin made an appearance at the 12.12.12 benefit concert, he opened a rendition of "Losing My Religion" (with Michael Stipe on lead vocals) with this brilliant line:"I know you guys wanted One Direction, but it's way past their bedtime, so instead, you get 1/4 of Coldplay!"
- Talkie Bits: American poet Coleman Barks recites part of a poem called "The Guesthouse" on "Kaleidoscope", followed by Barack Obama singing "Amazing Grace".
- Textless Album Cover: A Rush of Blood to the Head.
- Honorable mention to X&Y, which is written in a code (the back card has the band and album name, still).
- Title Track: Every album thus far has had one; two in the case of Viva la Vida.
- Ghost Stories is an interesting case, considering that its title track, "Ghost Story", was a bonus track from the Target release of the album, as well as a b-side to "A Sky Full of Stars".
- Uncommon Time: The last part of "Death & All His Friends" and the chorus of "Glass of Water" are in 7/8. "Yes" also has some instrumental parts that bounce between time signatures and call to mind the band of the same name.
- "Kaleidoscope" and "A L I E N S" are in 5/4.
- What If?: In "Princess of China", the narrator and his ex wonder what would have happened if they had stayed together.
- Word Purée Title: Mylo Xyloto.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Most of their songs have vague-ish meanings.
- Now I never meant to do you wrong, that's what I came here to say.But if I was wrong then I'm sorry, I don't let it stand in our way.As my head just aches when I think of, the things that I shouldn't have done.But, life is for living, we all know, and I don't wanna live it alone.