Coldplay might think their debut album was “terrible music,” but the world didn’t feel the same. Parachutes, which turns fifteen years old today, sent Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion into international success and stardom that would last for the next fifteen years.
Parachutes was released by the label Parlophone on June 10th, 2000 in the United Kingdom and quickly reached number one on the U.K. charts. It has gone platinum eight times and won a Grammy award for best alternative music since its release.
While I don’t think many people would argue that this is Coldplay’s best album (A Rush of Blood to the Head is a clear winner for me), it’s an impressive debut.
Parachutes is a slow conversation. Each song asks the listener questions or talks to them through the melody. “High Speed“ starts out with a call for help: “Can anybody fly this thing before my head explodes or my head starts to ring?” The album is all about the I and the you. It’s a sleepy rock album that adjusts itself to your mood. Listening to “We Never Change“ on a good day may make you feel inspired, but on a bad day it could have quite the opposite effect.
While many contribute the success of Coldplay’s first album to Radiohead’s dive into experimental, less radio-friendly music, I think Coldplay would have done fine either way. “Trouble” might have replaced “High and Dry” in sleeping playlists around the globe, but I think Coldplay has always had something special and unique to bring to the table.
One of Coldplay’s greatest skills is their ability to write simple, borderline boring lyrics in an interesting, not boring way that resonate with people all around the world. It started with Parachutes and it’s carried them through all of six studio records. I would argue it’s one of the main reasons Coldplay has seen so much commercial success.
Take “Yellow,” which remains one of their most popular songs even fifteen years later, for example. There is nothing inherently special about the message in “Yellow.” It’s a song the band claims all started while Martin was impersonating Neil Young. Martin said the word “yellow” in the song means absolutely nothing, and while he tried to come up with a new word that fit, he never could. Regardless, it’s a love and encouragement song that resonates so deeply with people that it’s often used at weddings and graduations.
“For you I bleed myself dry, it’s true. Look how they shine for you.”
The band has managed to produce six studio albums all very different than their predecessor without a loss in top charting records or sold-out tours. I believe this comes back to mellow, rock melodies and strong lyrics that relate to a wide-scale audience. Some people might call this plain, boring or safe, but I think it’s just Coldplay doing their thing.
A Head Full of Dreams, their seventh studio album, is slated to come out later this year, and Martin said it will be their last… at least for now. While it’s sad to think about a possible end to our favorite band that our parents actually liked too, it’s exciting to see how far they’ve come and what they will do with the finale.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, PARACHUTES!