Saturday, 24 November 2012

Coldplay 'Yellow'

Chart Peak: 4


Coldplay are the latest critically acclaimed rock band to be signed to Parlophone Records... Following in the footsteps of label-mates Radiohead, Supergrass and Blur, Coldplay crossed-over into the pop chart with their 2nd single 'Yellow' in July 2000 and look forward to further success with their debut album released this summer.
Spoiler: that album went on to do quite well. As of February 2012 it had sold over 2.5 million in the UK, comfortably more than any Blur, Radiohead or Supergrass album and it's not even their biggest seller! Coldplay are the biggest-selling UK album act never to have released a best of or hits compilation. All that seemed a long way away in the early months of what we still called The Year 2000, when they released 'Shiver', a single I didn't buy but was pleasantly surprised to see entering the chart as high as 35. I had bought their first major-label release, the Blue Room EP, although I only got the CD version and not the now seriously valuable 12" version. 'Yellow' became the first in a long run of Coldplay records I bought but don't play very often: not because I don't like them (I'd have stopped by now) but because the band soon became so ubiquitous it felt like a busman's holiday to listen to their music in my own time.

I don't to go too far down the "only like the early stuff" route, not least because in this case it would be patently untrue, but the early Coldplay recordings, dashed off in cheap studios by a band who couldn't safely assume they'd even get to make a second album, certainly have a different quality about them from what went afterwards. I actually think it's rather to their credit that the band picked up on the possibilities of bigger budgets and slacker schedules that their success allowed them on subsequent sessions, but this single has a rawness about it that they could never really repeat; it's the apparent limitations of the recording (it has extraordinarily lo-fi production values for a 21st-century Top 5 hit) that help save it from sappiness. It doesn't wholly matter that the lyrics don't wholly make sense, and that we never really know what is yellow (Chris Martin has given various explanations over the years, one of which may even be true): Martin's full-throated vocal persuades us he knows. And that final downward swoop, though possibly R.E.M. inspired, is one of my favourite pop moments of that year.

Also appearing on: Now 47, 48, 53, 54, 55, 61, 62, 63, 70, 71, 79, 81, 82
Available on: Parachutes

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