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One of the better moments in the last few stumbling seasons of The Office came when James Spader’s Robert California offered his thoughts on the Black Eyed Peas: “It’s rock and roll for people who don’t like rock and roll; it’s rap for people who don’t like rap; it’s pop for people who don’t like pop.” Not to begin this thing inauspiciously by comparing Coldplay to the Black Eyed Peas, but similarly structured criticisms could be applied: they’re alternative music for people who don’t like alternative music, a British artist for people who don’t like British artists, sad music for people who don’t like sad music. These characterizations don’t necessarily have to be a problem, but it seems like we’ve all had a hard time accepting them. After all, if you try to be everything to everybody, there’s a good chance that at least some of the population wants a punching bag.

Even as a band that emerged and almost immediately embarked upon an unwavering path of commercial and critical success across five albums, almost any review you read of Coldplay’s music seems to either qualify them as “middle of the road,” or at least somehow address how a band that has remained so big for so long has done so without what the reviewers in question would qualify as a specific personality (these latter reviews probably lean more towards the “everyman” or “universal” descriptors than the likes of “bland”). Given, this is primarily an issue within more indie-oriented music coverage, where perhaps Coldplay does pose a problem, albeit one that has more to do with our expectations and perceptions than it does with any promises made by the band themselves.

The simple truth is that Coldplay has, from their inception, been weighed down by how obviously they’re influenced by their superior forebears. They’re the lite-R.E.M., lite-U2, lite-Radiohead, etc., etc. It seems that somewhere along the way, it was decided that if Coldplay’s sound quoted these bands, then they would be expected to be as daring as those bands have been, to push the boundaries of their sound in unforeseen ways. A sort of double standard has developed in covering Coldplay: We get cranky that they remain comfortable in the shade provided by the shadows of older artists, and yet we keep them in those shadows ourselves, getting all bent out of shape when the “experimental” Coldplay albums don’t turn out to be as much of a slap in the face as Kid A. Not everyone has it in them to spin off the face of the planet in as glorious a fashion as Yorke & co., nor should we expect or want that from everyone. The most detrimental and time-wasting element of how Coldplay has been discussed since their rise to fame is that fact that we can’t seem to assess them on their own terms. We rate Coldplay through rubrics designed from the bands Coldplay grew up listening to, not Coldplay themselves.

The result: “inoffensive.” Seemingly every review of a Coldplay album includes the word, and a healthy sprinkling of synonyms throughout. It’s not just rock critics — there was also the infamous Travelodge survey that ranked Coldplay as the artist most British people found best to fall asleep to, achieving the dubious victory of beating Michael Buble. (A lesser-mentioned, interesting sidenote/counterpoint to this conversation: Radiohead was also listed in the Top Ten of this list.) Used to such excess, describing a band as inoffensive becomes a shorthand, condescending way to dismiss them outright, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. Thirteen years since Coldplay released Parachutes, does anyone know what we’re supposed to do with Coldplay, how we are supposed to perceive them? As a solid but occasionally middling alternative band? As a mainstream rock band too timid to drift out into the weirder edges of their music? As a pop artist that savvily incorporates strains of their artsier idols?

My point with all this is that throughout their existence, an ongoing frustration has overshadowed Coldplay’s music, as we’re continually flustered with a band failing to live up to standards they never set for themselves (well, OK, sometimes they have made comparisons that didn’t do them any favors). Maybe it’s always been a matter of circumstance. Coldplay came out of the same post-Britpop movements that birthed bands like Elbow and Doves. Many British bands from this era had a lot shared DNA, a dose of melancholy, heavily atmospheric music, and, yes, a debt to Radiohead’s ’90s output. Out of the bunch, Coldplay was always more destined for immediate stardom: clean-cut guys fronted by a clean-voiced dude who would later marry Gwyneth Paltrow, compared to the Guy Garveys or Jimi Goodwins of the world, all shaggier and possessing craggier, more whiskey-soaked vocals at a young age. Their peers would go on to craft plenty of their own impassioned, chiming guitar anthems, but Coldplay would beat them to the punch. As thanks, they were an easy group to blame when we started getting that slew of weepy piano hits from the likes of Keane and the Fray.

All this might seem a sort of odd, half-endorsement leading into a feature that’s supposed to function as a celebration of a band’s catalog. It’s not intended as such, but for a band so many try to write off as harmless, talking about Coldplay comes with a surprising amount of baggage. Nearly fifteen years in, the prejudices of these years carry. Even in these poptimistic halcyon days supposedly devoid of genre-tribalism, Coldplay remains the sort of band you admit to liking with a smirk and an “I know, I know.” With an apology. This is a list that tries to say goodbye to all that, to consider Coldplay’s music for artistic merit and staying power rather than oscillating hipness, to move away from assumptions of what their trajectory should have looked like and appreciate them for the consistently excellent pop artists they are.

Start the Countdown here.

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Comments (112)
  1. I can honestly say this is almost exactly how I feel about the Coldplay discography. I would say, myself, that I like “Parachutes” more than I like “A Rush of Blood to the Head” but that’s a minor qualm. Way to go guys.

  2. Big fan of their first two, but I remember my wife putting on Vida La Whatever in the car back when it came out and thinking, “Man, how in the hell did this band get so bad?” So, needless to say, I’d bump that album down to #3… a very distant #3.

    Or perhaps #4, after the early EPs.

  3. I love, LOVE, Viva La Vida. I do not feel like I have to apologize for liking that record at all.

  4. I would just have them all tied at #7. Never did like this band, but to each their own.

  5. Parachutes is unlike anything else they’ve released and therefore should easily be #1. After that, I spose Rush of Blood, then the whole big pileup with seagulls flying over it at #3.

    Come to think of it, it’s actually pretty downright disturbing that you didn’t put Parachutes at #1.

    • I can agree with you on Parachutes. Not only because it’s different, but because it’s simply better than the rest. I hold Parachutes to the ‘Classic Albums of My Formative Adolescent Years’ esteem… mostly because Trouble and Shiver ended up on many overplayed CD mixes in my car.

    • I totally agree. It’s a close one between their first two, but Parachutes usually takes the cake for me because of how subtle it is compared to the rest of their catalog. It was the last time they sounded good, without knowing they sounded good. There’s been a sense of strutting their stuff with every album since, like that hot girl in school that knows everyone is looking at her as she walks down the hall. Parachutes is that girl in junior high, when she had a subtle beauty that few people noticed, but the ones that did really paid attention.

      Anyway, I’ve always had a soft spot for Coldplay. They’ve soundtracked some good times in my life. Seen them live twice, and without a doubt they are one of the best live acts I’ve seen.

      Mylo is definitely their worst though.

      • It was just raw and inspired, like a warm chowder on a cold day. Not polished like some fancy Vichyssoise that each album increasingly morphed into as the band progressed.

        I don’t mind Coldplay. They’re sorta like an alternative music starter kit you take camping or something…. and obviously a completely different band today then they were at the start of their career. They simply set out to make stadium filled sounds nowadays which is fine for them, I guess? Parachutes on the other hand was intimate and unguarded. I always hope each time when I hear news of upcoming releases that they’ll reach back to that sound for another go round, but instead we just get very fleeting reminders buried in one or two of their tracks which dissipates with each new album.

        • Exactly. I don’t mind much of the stadium filler sounds they put out now, in fact some of those songs are probably my favorites when it comes down to it, but as an overall album, Parachutes just seems better because of its intimacy. As is always pointed out, Coldplay kind of became a “band for everyone.” But with Parachutes, it sounds like a band playing just for you. Which is what makes it stand out.

          • what a great comment. Parachutes was just for me. Now their albums are for everyone. That’s pretty much how I felt about early Kings of Leon…or anything that gets the “sellout” label. I for one looooooove to make fun of Coldplay and if anyone says that’s their favorite band I always think of this sketch (with Aziz in the record store where around 2:50 a customer asks for the Bravery, Killers, Jet and the Garden State Soundtrack http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YN1mKiQbi4g ) but I have listened to all their albums and truth be told (which I thought #tbt meant on instagram) I enjoy them

  6. Really, Viva La Vida number 1? That record seems so disjointed to me. If anything, I’d rather see Mylo Xyloto at number 1. That was actually a really under appreciated album; if you take the name “Coldplay” off of that record, I think people would like it more.

    But really, A Rush of Blood should be number one. That album is so natural and solid. There’s nothing forced about it.

  7. Very strange list. Im a huge Coldplay fan, id have to say their best is Viva La Vida. their worst is My Mylo Xyloto. Period.

  8. So Polarizing!!

  9. Coldplay’s my favorite band and seeing this article made me instantly defensive. I hate 80 percent of all writing about Coldplay because it’s redundant and often focuses on the same talking points (Eno, Paltrow, Radiohead, angry NYTimes reviewer, references to the Fray or Snow Patrol) but the music. This was pretty good.

    I agree. Viva la Vida is Coldplay’s best album. Whenever I hear the “I liked their first two albums” crowd, it’s obvious they haven’t listened to the music. Your comment about their music getting “brighter” was a good one. By incorporating visual elements to their shows (from their silly French costumes to massive explosions of paper butterflies or bright wristbands), their live shows have become truly satisfying spectacles. Writing about Coldplay but ignoring how their music is designed to be performed is a pretty big omission. Which is why I prefer Mylo Xyloto to Parachutes. In a live setting, MX gives the band more chances to be themselves, which are worldclass performers.

    X&Y is easily my least favorite album. But as a fan, it’s my favorite to think about. The band’s stated objective is to “bring passionate music to the mainstream”. Upon reaching a global audience, I sort of admire Coldplay raising the stakes even higher than they had after the worldwide success of A Rush of Blood…The music itself is overlong and lyrically uninteresting. But just because they didn’t know how to be a global pop band doesn’t mean they don’t earn points from me from not shying away from that distinction. Their success demanded that they be bigger and they gave it their best shot. They failed. But that’s not the worst thing. Crafting an opinion of Coldplay based on it fails to see how the work fits into a bigger, more satisfying picture. Everything X&Y does wrong they changed with Viva la Vida. Which is growth most bands can aspire to achieve.

    • Pretty sweeping generalization you’re working with there. I’ve listened to X&Y and Viva la Vida in full, and in all honesty, I just find those albums to be uninspired (X&Y in particular), cheesy (Viva), not as affecting, and with worse songwriting in general – very similar, actually, to my feelings on late 80′s / early 90′s U2 turning into “Vertigo”-era U2. “Brighter” music, perhaps, but I don’t see that as necessarily being a good thing. That said, I only saw them live after Rush of Blood came out, so I can’t comment on the rest of your opinion. And no, I never listened to Mylo beyond the radio songs.

    • I consider myself a big fan of Coldplay and have spent good time listening to all of their albums. While I don’t “hate” any, I am still a hardcore “Their First Two Albums” kind of guy. I don’t fault them for changing things up, you bring up good points about trying new things and evolving. But evolution in and of itself does not always equal a better product. I just think they were a more rifined and artistic band in the beginning. It doesn’t bug me that they aimed for mainstream success or that they actually got it, it just so happens that by doing so they’ve watered down their greatness slightly. When you stretch yourself out to please everyone, the songs themselves get a little thinner. Just how it works.

      • A little clarification…Since this is an albums ranking, I hope its obvious that I’m speaking in regards to their construction of an album. While that has suffered slightly as the years have gone on, there is no question that they always have at least a couple perfect/near-perfect pop gem examples on every release (and not always the singles).

      • I disagree. The only difference is that they expanded their sound. But their songwritting has actually matured. I mean, look at Yellow. How many sensible guy rock songs aren’t about listing things that sound romantic? “the stars shine for you, I drew a line for you, whatever else for you”. It’s well crafted enough, but it’s thin and not very original.

        At least when they went full on mainstream, they decided to do more with that kind of songwriting than sad sack guy rock songs. Strawberry Swing and Lovers In Japan to me sound way more artistic than anything in the first two albums (and I say this as someone who loved the second album back in the day), because they were very much dependent of translating britpop/indie formulas to a pop songwriting (because really, they were always a pop band, even if the indie inflections were bigger early on).

    • I feel like you’re dead on Robert. Nicely said.

    • No matter what band is being debated, I can’t help but rankle at the words “it’s obvious they haven’t listened to the music,” whenever a differing opinion is being considered. I understand they’re your favorite band, dude, and you’re probably more of an authority on them than I am, but that kind of talk ALWAYS comes off pretentious.

      • To be fair, I’m not sure one can pretentiously like Coldplay. Maybe unapologetically or casually or closetly. At least, not on a website like Stereogum. But I hear your point lol.

        I’ll say this about the “First Two Albums” debate. Whether or not someone enjoys Coldplay’s first two albums moreso is their choice. It’s a matter of preference. But to dismiss Coldplay’s later releases, often times via reflex, isn’t fair. Coldplay never aspired to be indie artists. The sound they captured in Parachutes does not reflect their ambitions as performers or entertainers. I’m glad they then left it behind I’d compare it to Christopher Nolan. Someone could easily argue that Momento is his best film. But Christopher Nolan shouldn’t have kept making artistic independent films. He belongs in the blockbuster space. As a society of casual moviegoers, we’re better off that Nolan showcases his talents in a way that’s ultimately accessible and entertaining that the masses can enjoy. Coldplay does too. Coldplay is better at making pop albums than rock albums. They perform pop albums better than rock albums. Therefore, I’m more excited about the music they’ve put out recently, because they are better suited to their strengths and add a thoughtful and necessary contribution to modern pop music.

        • You’ve just made amazing sense. All is forgiven!

        • Good points. Though I still prefer those first two albums, you are probably right in the sense that if they had continued along that path initially, it may not have yeilded very favorable results. Like you said, they recognized their strengths, and figured they’d be better off as a “pop” act, which obviously has played out well for them.

          Regardless, their evolution as a band is respectable. They always have me interested in what’s next, no matter how much I liked/disliked their previous effort.

    • The thing about their shows and music getting brighter and the public and critical perception of them shifting accordingly is a fairly elegant point you made, especially because I remember Speed Of Sound being the moment you could sense a general change in reputation and popularity for them, and the Mark Romanek video is a good case of exemplifying what you said. I don’t like X&Y, but it’s clear it was a transitional album that led to them becoming the biggest band in the world with their following work, and of course, with significant changes, also come many differing perspectives on how much it worked. But I do think their ambitious sound tends to works better than their more intimate work did, even though that wasn’t without its merits either.

  10. #1 Parachutes/Rush of Blood

    #45,967 All of the other ones.

  11. Best thing they’ve ever done is the final 10 seconds of Cemeteries of London. A truly haunting piano riff.

  12. Great overall writeup. Coldplay is definitely one of those bands that gets unfairly panned in indie circles, mostly because of how universally appealing they are. (We all know how big of a “no no” that can be to raging hipsters.) I’ve enjoyed every one of their albums, some more than others, and seeing them live is a religious experience. Their first album is a milestone for me as a music fan, one that helped turn me away from the garbage I digested through high school. One of those bands where I feel forever in their debt. I’ll continue being a fan for man years.

    Having said that, do we all agree that the Rihanna track on Mylo was pretty crappy? Nothing waters down a good time more than the sound of her voice, in my opinion.

    • Rihanna > Coldplay, dude. And I’m not even a Coldplay hater, but really.

      Now watch me get downvotes for preferring a top 40 pop star over a rock band…

      • I like you, Renaton…

        but downvote. Rihanna needs to retire her sorry ass.

        • Nope, Rihanna needs to continue to be a popstar that releases catchy singles. Nothing more, nothing less.

          • I don’t hate cuz of her top 40 pop star status. I’m guilty of enjoying a flamboyant Katy Perry tune on occasion. I just think you are hearing “catchy” where I’m hearing mind-numbingly obnoxious. Even when I hear a song of her’s I don’t know, I’ll usually be grooving to the beat until her cheesegrater of a voice drops in. Not that she can’t sing, she can. I just don’t like listening to her sing. Her voice has become one of my least favorite things in pop music.

          • CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE

          • ‘Ella, ‘ella, ‘ella…eh eh eh

        • My problem with Rihanna is that, although I’m well aware who she is, I could never identify her on a track solely by voice. It just sounds like the most generic, bland type of voice, like the standard go-to for a hook on a popular rap song. Blends right into the wallpaper.

          • Well, because of her “go-to for a hook” voice, I think there are a lot of clones. There was a time I didn’t mind her. Then she thought it was a good idea to oversaturate herself into the pop world and released like 4 albums in a year and a half or some crap and was the hook to every crappy pop-hop song everywhere and I just couldn’t take it anymore.

            It may have something to do with working at a record store during that boom as well. I couldn’t avoid it even when I tried. I was all…

          • I’m not a big Rihanna fan, but I think her voice is instantly recognisable to be honest

      • Rihanna is dope, and I upvoted you. Solidarity.

  13. I remember being kinda disappointed by Rush of Blood when it came out, but revisiting that album today… man, those last two tracks are phenomenal

  14. Rush, Parachutes, Mylo, Viva, X&Y in my humble opinion. Also, this is my favorite series on Stereogum. I vote Depeche Mode and/or U2 for the next one.

  15. I use to hate Coldplay but I started liking them after l got Viva La Vida and I loved it. I went back through their catalogue and it’s grown on me.

  16. From Worst to worst.

  17. “For a band so many try to write off as harmless, talking about Coldplay comes with a surprising amount of baggage.”

    Here’s to hitting the nail right on the head!

  18. everything they do sucks. What’s next, Maroon 5 worst to best?

  19. A lot of people seem to forget that Coldplay could have made $$$$$ just as easily if they’d devolved into 4-chord lite rock titans like Train/Maroon 5/Lifehouse. Viva la Vida reaffirmed that Chris Martin actually puts thought into the music and lyrics he writes. Definitely deserves the #1 spot.

    • I agree, the ambition of Viva La Vida alone make it better than everything else they have done. That and Brian Eno. The songwriting is still basic Coldplay at it’s heart, but the production and arrangements aimed to soar, and while it’s uneven (something we can say about any Coldplay album, really), the results that work have them really exceeding expectations.

    • very true. They easily could’ve taken the easy way out, but you at least have to appreciate the fact that they want to better themselves with each album. It’s this ambition that a majority of their contemporaries lack.

    • Good point. Definitely a pop for people that don’t like pop band.

    • That’s setting kind of a low bar.

    • Yeah, I agree.

      I think Coldplay doesn’t want to be a Radiohead or a U2. Rather, they want to be what they are: arguably the world’s biggest pop band. However, they’re still willing to unabashedly reach for it, and honestly, that gives them a lot of credit with me.

  20. From start to finish, Parachutes is by far their best album.

  21. I was all ready to agree with every facet of this list, and then I saw that Viva had eked out Rush for the top spot. It’s really a minor gripe, because as pointed out, the top three are VERY close together. I just really love the urgency present throughout most of A Rush of Blood to the Head.

  22. This article didn’t get nearly as trolled as I thought it would.

    And no complaints, really. Would have gone with Parachutes but to each his own.

  23. The onus rests securely on those who insist that musical quality is objective, even mostly.

    I know it’s hard, but I think we should all try to internally admit this.

    • Yes, it’s a matter of taste and sensibilities. I happen to prefer Coldplay when they are aiming to be the biggest band on the world and try to make their music match their goal in ambition. I still remember that when Violet Hill came out, it felt a band confident enough to try to take over the world. But I can see how lots of people prefer the first two albums. I’m not a fan of Coldplay, but I do not think they deserve the ire they get.

  24. Not one of those “first two albums only” people but.. Rush of Blood to the Head tho.

  25. yeah, I’m totally a “first two albums” fan of Coldplay. I think they just got too big for their britches and became cocky. They really wanted to be U2 and that was quite annoying. The first album is beautiful in its simplicity and the second built a little bit more, but felt like a good transition. After that they were too arena for my tastes.

  26. Not only do I agree with Viva La Vida at #1, but I actually think it’s the album that had the best singles. Violet Hill, Viva La Vida (infringement and all) and Strawberry Swing are a pretty selection of songs. Plus, Frank Ocean version of Strawberry Swing made that song retroactively even better (and it was already a big contender to best Coldplay song to being with).

  27. I haven’t played Coldplay in ages, and as someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time browsing department stores or listening to the radio, I haven’t really heard them by accident much either. So I put on Rush of Blood while I read this cos it seemed like the prototypical Coldplay album to an indifferent non-fan. I was I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying it. I’d say there’s no reason for strong disdain or ardent and undying love for this band. Seems fine and sometimes good/very good. That’s about it.

  28. A rush of blood is #1 for me.
    Parachutes ( + its amazing B Sides ) #2
    X&Y #3
    I only like the song Chinese Sleep Chant for Viva La Vida. I sorta wished they went into that direction.

    • Funny, I actually fancied Rush Of Blood To The Head’s B-sides. 1.36, Crests Of Waves, and One I Love in particular.

  29. Coldplay are doomed to be one of the most unfairly trolled and underrated albums of our generation. I can’t exactly pin point how or why, maybe it was that scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, or maybe it was the Radiohead lawsuit, either way it is severely undeserved. I do believe the direction they’ve gone is not where they should have, but I do understand it. I think they were tired of the Radiohead/U2/Muse comparisons so they went away from the rock and alternative sound and looked for some love from the top 40 and hip hop crowds. That being said it’s very commendable that they didn’t stop searching for a new sound or didn’t sell out on artistic direction to make millions like other top 40. If you listen to Coldplay as a pop band I think it would be fair to call them the best pop band since The Beatles. Maybe…

    My list is quite different from yours, but they definitely all hold value.
    7. Prospektors March
    6. Mylo Xylo
    5. Early EP’s
    4. Rush Of Blood
    3. Viva La Vida
    2. X&y
    1. Parachutes

  30. My list, for what it’s worth:
    7. Mylo Xyloto
    6. Prospektors March
    5. EP’s
    4. X&Y
    3. Viva La Vida
    2. Parachutes
    1. A Rush Of Blood to the Head

    I really feel Rush of Blood is a classic album, one of the best of the early 2000′s. Everything else is kind-of average for me, but I do find myself enjoying one song from each album. (“Violet Hill,” “Fix You”)

  31. A Rush of Blood to the Head is their finest. I haven’t listened to Coldplay much as of late, but I will return and listen to ARoBttH solidly every single time. Also, on a Coldplay related note, Til Kingdom Come makes me cry every single time.

  32. vanilla albums from vanilla to vanilla

  33. I genuinely enjoy Parachutes to this day. It’s their best album by far. Admittedly I tuned out after X&Y (I didn’t care for Viva La Vida or Mylo Xyloto at all). It’s got this strange mellowness and sentiment that just fits so many occasions for me. Beyond a re-ordering of the top 3, I would say this a solid list.

  34. I love X and Y, much more than Viva La Vida or MYlo Xyloto, X and Y is a perfect stadium rock album, with well-written songs.

    • X&Y is their best album – agreed. Viva I can enjoy a bit, but Mylo is pure crap except for maybe two songs that don’t annoy me.

  35. I’m also in the first two albums camp. And yes, I’ve listened to all of their records, rather intensively actually. Those first two albums were just dripping with feeling…you felt every bit of Chris Martin’s heartache right along with him. Every time I listen to either one, I *feel* so much. And I don’t feel anything when I listen to any of the albums that followed. Sure, they’re fun and all, but they give me no feeling.

    I much prefer the longing, heartbroken Chris Martin to the “ain’t it great just to be alive” Chris Martin.

  36. I tell myself all the time that Steregum’s “Best to Worst” posts won’t distract and bait me for comment. BUT I CAN’T HELP MYSELF. How could Parachutes not be #1. Shiver and Yellow are by far their best songs—still to this day. Okay. I’m done.

    • I am convinced that this article was written by one of those die hard fans, someone who works for Coldplay, or at least gets payed by their management team or label. It gives excuses for Coldplay, masking reviews on albums that have been given shitty reviews by other more legitimate sources, saying certain comments such as “they were discovering there potential” or “this song opened doors for the band”. Kinda like what some critics wrote about Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” trying to praise artists for there risk taking, Mylo Xoloto went for experimentation and looking for a different sound and the end result was a CD that is later going to be used as a Frisbee or as decoration on a “hip” pub or bar. At the end we all know that a shit album is a shit album. Only the test of time will prove me and others wrong, put there is just one universal truth:

      Coldplay’s finest album is either between Parachutes or A Rush of Blood to the Head. It becomes obvious when you see or witness a Coldplay set list, which are normally filled with these 2 albums. I don’t know how much you got payed to try to sugar coat the below than average Mylo Xoloto, but ranking Viva La Vida as their best album shows either you’re not a Coldplay fan or you’re no into music and just follow trends.

      • Actually, doesn’t picking Viva La Vida mean you ARE a Coldplay fan, since hipsters and indies tend to overlook and group everything post-Rush as one big mess, when being able to judge the subsequent albums individually show dedication in listening to them as stand-alone works in their own merits?

    • Those aren’t even the best songs on Parachutes. Trouble, Spies, High Speed, and Don’t Panic all say hello.

      • Don’t forget Sparks. I melt.

        • Considered putting it on there, but I didn’t want to list half the album – same thing with Everything’s Not Lost, too. All things considered, I actually think Shiver is one of the worst on the album, even though I still like it. Yellow falls somewhere in the middle.

  37. I think ‘Parachutes’ is without a doubt their best album, but I’m surprised there’s not more love here for the EPs. To be honest, I’ve only listened to ‘Brothers & Sisters’ but those songs are as intimate, inspired, and catchy as anything on ‘Parachutes’.

  38. I think this is an interesting list. You hit the nail on the head in the Viva La Vida piece – the band doesn’t have to be U2 or Radiohead, it’s Coldplay. Coldplay is now its own archetype. Martin has proven that he is a hugely talented melodicist, and they are still releasing very good music that operates in a totally different sphere to their early stuff.

    I think Viva is their best album, leaving Parachutes in the dust. A selection of absolutely brilliant melodies on that record. But then, I’ve always been a sucker for ‘pleasure centre’ music. I don’t want to be challenged so much as I want to bombarded with sounds that scream ‘enjoy me’. That’s the direction the band has taken since the late ’00s. You’re right that the good stuff on Mylo still feels vital too. Martin retains the melodic knack. How long can it continue?

    It’s a real achievement to remain pop-relevant for as long as they have. That they are able to back that up with highly enjoyable music on a consistent basis makes me happy.

    • I think the sad vs. happy aspect is what divides the fans and casual listeners so much. When they were out writing sad love songs, indie kids liked them. When they became successful and it reflected on their music, with happier and more celebratory music, a lot of those indie kids started to reject them. For some reason, there is still some notion that sadness/melancholy = artistic credibility and success/happiness = boring, predictable and bad.

      • I wouldn’t go that far. Vampire Weekend are certainly “happy” music and are relatively successful, especially for an indie band, and they were #1 on ‘gum’s mid-year list. Plus bands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! amd Arctic Monkeys.

        • Those bands never went full on mainstream and they are not as downright pop as Coldplay.

        • Also, those bands also didn’t start as sad sack love song bands. They were always going for a more dynamic sound. Coldplay slowly walked away from the more intimate nature of their first albums, and the more they did, the more indie fans drifted away. But the change doesn’t mean they are sell outs or something like that. They just went from sad, low key pop to happy, flashy pop.

          Also, not only aren’t those bands as pop as Coldplay, they never tried to sound as BIG, so really, there isn’t a comparison.

  39. So Neil Young’ s list couldn’t include soundtracks like Deadman even though it was 100% Neil Young and new material, but Coldplay can have a non-existant album created from 3 eps, and include an ep of remixes ? What do I know, I’d have X&Y at #1 :)

  40. Two things: X&Y is painfully low on this list AND Mylo Xyloto is without a doubt their worst album.

  41. Wow…first of all, why did you include E.P’s in a list of albums??EPs are totally different in that they are approached differently and given far less weight than albums by the artists. So I don’t consider them – they are afterthoughts, some enjoyable, and others not.
    Why rip on X&Y? I admit, after my first listen, I put the album away because I did not like it…listened against 6 months later and loved it….here is my list, and the RIGHT list…

    5. Mylo – just crap in my opinion…it sounds almost like a kids album filled with childrens fun sounds and toy pianos and just very convoluted….almost surreal but not in an interesting way, but in an elementary sort of way.
    4. Viva – I like it, but didn’t blow me away or mean a lot to me – its a fine album, nothing more and nothing less.
    3. Parachutes – a nice album, with some great highlights…but basic and not much “out on a limb” or “pushing the envelope” in it….I like the solid songs, but it isn’t even close to ground breaking or interesting.
    2. Rush – Great album….pretty damn solid.
    1.X&Y – every song is solid is both solid, beautiful and has motion…not to mention lyrics that hit everyone somewhere.

  42. Agree almost totally with Ryan’s placings and the well-considered words. It doesn’t make sense to me that Mylo Xyloto and Viva La Vida can *both* be produced (or co-produced) by Brian Eno– MX is underwritten & overcooked, splashy & gaudy stadium pop with few lasting hooks (just as well Rihanna stepped in). VLV is their Abbey Road, a textbook example of how to experiment with taste and restraint– a brilliant record that still sounds fresh now, and to me clearly their best song-for-song.

  43. I’m a big fan of Coldplay and even I can barely get through X&Y – all the criticism is totally warranted in my book. Completely bland and vanilla; underwritten soft ‘arena’ rock. Lyrics are easily their worst (and that’s saying something). Luckily they went and released their best album afterwards.

  44. Eno might be a pioneer but all the songs he’s involved in fucking sucks. Just look at Souvlaki by Slowdive. 6 great Slowdive songs and 3 worthless Eno songs.

  45. Wouldn’t really include E.P.s as albums, but small hash. Best album is A Rush of blood to the head, followed by Parachutes and then Viva La Vida. Good pop band to mediocre pop band ( latest record), but first 2 records-great pop band.

  46. Ranking Coldplay records is probably similar to trying to decide what prison faction would be the most pleasant to be raped by.

  47. Can’t think of too many more ‘sell out’ bands. Ok, so they went for what they wanted. But it still gripes. As said above, Parachutes was intimate and brilliant. A total theme for me in Uni. I passed up a trip to Cancun to fly back home and watch them with a few hundred people only for Chris to get sick and end up missing out on both. Luckily, I saw the makeup show and it was ace. Then I heard the preview of Rush Of Blood To The Head on the radio and upon hearing Clocks thought to myself, ‘Wow, they’re gonna be big’. Knowing their lack of ‘rock n roll’ lifestyle, it was pretty easy to predict. I saw them 4-5 more times, ultimately a second X&Y show soley because Ashcroft was supporting. I decided whilst walking out on ‘Fix You’ that I wasn’t going to be seeing them live anymore. Fact is, they don’t play any of the good stuff from the first two anymore. Shiver was epic live, for instance. The crowd went from indie-kids and geniune music fans to 14 year old girls and 30-something couples by ’05. A shame so many good tunes aren’t being played by a band that aren’t broken up or dead.

  48. coldplay blows

  49. I love coldplay it’s my favorite band, no dought about it. And I don’t see why people would comment or post things only negative, when if you don’t have anything nice to say keep it to yourself, unless it’s absolutely necessary. It’s just mean and gets annoying.

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