A Rush of Blood to the Head

A Rush of Blood to the Head

The members of Coldplay began work on their second album determined to show that they were no one-album wonders. The group’s 2000 debut Parachutes, and its calling card anthem “Yellow,” had made the British quartet one of the breakthrough bands of the new millennium, but as far as Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion were concerned, that was all done and dusted. The real work started now. They already had an early contender in their back pocket—the thumping wide-screen epic “In My Place” had been written and road tested while they toured Parachutes. It provided a sonic template for the record that would become 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head, which found the band moving away from the acoustic intimacy of Parachutes and into something more grand and majestic. For Martin, it was an album that needed to live up to those that had previously raised the bar for what rock music could be, chiefly Radiohead’s The Bends and U2’s The Unforgettable Fire. Ironically, Coldplay’s panoramic masterpiece was made in one of the tiniest rooms in Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios, where much of the band’s debut had been recorded. There, they worked day and night, with Martin writing like a man possessed, resulting in more than 30 songs that would need to be whittled down into an album. While Parachutes was introspective and thoughtful, here Martin looked up and out, trying to make sense of an uncertain world and writing a collection of uplifting classics in the process. The opener, “Politik,” features a stomping two-chord pattern that eventually opens its wings into a soaring, jubilant outro; written the day after 9/11, the song set the tone for both Coldplay’s daring new sound and the album’s recurring themes of love and mortality. These are songs injected with a sense of adventure, from the eastern-tinged riffs of “Daylight”—which nods to the monumental sounds of The Big Music-era groups such as Echo & The Bunnymen and Simple Minds—to the horizon-stretching chorus of “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” to the restraint that underpins the minor-chord poignance of the title track. Even when the band members had enough songs to ensure that Coldplay’s legacy would be more than just “Yellow,” they kept going. Late on, Martin brought in a fully formed ballad for the ages: “The Scientist”, which would become A Rush of Blood to the Head’s centerpiece song. But they still weren’t done. Asking their label to push the release date back so they could work on one more track, they added “Clocks,” with its yearning vocals, driving rhythm, and hypnotic piano repetitions. Coldplay’s second record was complete. It was the album that sent Coldplay stratospheric, turning these polite young men with a successful debut in the bank into one of the biggest bands in the world. Released in August 2002, two months after Coldplay headlined Glastonbury for the first time, the album went on to sell more than 17 million copies and earned a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album in 2003. A record about finding hope in dark times had connected on the biggest scale imaginable. Coldplay would never look back.

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