Coldplay are a British alternative rock band formed in London in 1996. The band's singer/pianist Chris Martin, guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion, met at University College London and came together from 1996 to 1998. During these two years, the band changed names from Pectoralz to Starfish and, finally, to Coldplay. Creative director and former manager Phil Harvey is often referred to as the fifth member by the band. They recorded and released two EPs: Safety in 1998 and The Blue Room in 1999. The latter was their first release on a major record label, after signing to Parlophone.
Coldplay achieved worldwide fame with the release of the song "Yellow" in 2000, followed in the same year by their debut album Parachutes, 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 many awards, including NME's Album of the Year. Their next release, X&Y, the best-selling album worldwide in 2005, received mostly positive reviews, though some critics felt it was inferior to its predecessor. Their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), the best-selling album worldwide of 2008, was produced by Brian Eno and released to largely positive reviews, earning three Grammy Awards. In October 2011, Coldplay released their fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto, which topped the charts in over 34 countries, was the UK's best-selling rock album of 2011, and received moderately positive reviews. Their sixth album, Ghost Stories, released in 2014, received mixed reviews and topped several national album charts. The following year 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. Four years later, in November 2019, they released their eighth album, Everyday Life, which received mainly positive reviews.
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 Classics student Tim Rice-Oxley. During a weekend in the English village 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 EP Safety. Most of the discs were given to record labels 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 single "Brothers & Sisters", which they had 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 second 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.
Coldplay have won numerous awards throughout their career, including nine Brit Awards, six MTV Video Music Awards, seven MTV Europe Music Awards and seven Grammy Awards from 29 nominations. They have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Three of their albums—Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y—are among the best-selling albums in UK chart history. In December 2009, Rolling Stone readers voted the group the fourth-best artist of the 2000s. Coldplay have supported various social and political causes, such as Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign and Amnesty International. They have also performed at charity projects, including Band Aid 20, Live 8, Global Citizen Festival, Sound Relief, Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, One Love Manchester, The Secret Policeman's Ball, Sport Relief and the UK Teenage Cancer Trust.
Coldplay's musical style has generally been regarded as alternative rock, pop rock, post-Britpop, and pop. Chris 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 his feelings". 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, which saw them emerge as one of the most prominent modern bands in popular music, was described as melodic pop with "distorted guitar riffs and swishing percussion" but also being "exquisitely dark and artistically abrasive". Their alternative rock style has been compared to bands like U2, Oasis, a-ha and Radiohead. The band acknowledges the Scottish rock band Travis as a major influence on their earlier material.