In 2000, Coldplay emerged seemingly out of nowhere to become a worldwide smash with their debut album PARACHUTES and hit single "Yellow." While oft lumped in with the Britpop crowd, they favor a more thoughtful, melodic, Travis-esque piano-centric pop approach than arena-rock chest-beaters like Oasis. Led by charismatic frontman Chris Martin, the band expanded its horizons (and its fanbase) throughout the aughts, while remaining true to its basic form. One of the only British rock bands of their era to make a major impact on the US charts, Coldplay prove that simple, memorable, straightforward pop-rock can still be striking even in the post-everything 21st century.
Things have gone ridiculously well for Coldplay since 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head. The group's global album sales have soared past the 10-million mark, putting it in the same stratosphere as megabands U2 and the Dave Matthews Band. People have offered up their bank accounts, cars, and even bodies for tickets to its shows. And, in a interesting twist, frontman Chris Martin married Gwyneth Paltrow and set the tabloid world aflame. Funny thing, then, that the British quartet's much-anticipated third album, X&Y, is all about staying grounded. In the powerful opener, "Square One," the singer insists people are fundamentally the same no matter what their stature: "You just want... Somebody listening to what you say," he sings. On "Fix You," Martin grapples with imperfection and missed opportunity: "When you love someone but it goes to waste... Could it be worse?" Meanwhile, the vibrant single, "Speed of Sound," is all about reconnecting with the spirit and soul in the face of the paparazzi's flashbulbs. Musically, the band has never sounded more adventurous, referencing everyone from Kraftwerk ("Talk") to the Pogues ("Swallowed in the Sea"), all the while sweeping aside those Radiohead-lite comparisons to embrace a massive, moving sound that makes simplicity seem sublime. --Aidin Vaziri