The members of Coldplay were full of doubt as they began work on their debut album. Four friends who’d met at university in London in the mid-1990s, and who’d played their first gig in 1998, Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion hadn’t been rushed into making an album by their record label. Instead, they were given a year to get their road legs with a series of small shows around the UK, and to hone their studio chops with an EP, 1999’s The Blue Room. They still weren’t totally prepared to take on a full-length album, though, and it took the steadying hand of producer Ken Nelson to guide them through. One fraught evening at Rockfield Studios in Wales, with the quartet mid-argument, Nelson could see that his young charges needed a break, and advised them all to go out and get some air. “Look at the stars, lads,” he told them. They did, and with those words ringing in the mind of Martin, the band’s songwriting dynamo, a new song began to form. As he played its soothing, uplifting melody to his bandmates, it was obvious something special was stirring. By the time they went to bed that evening, Coldplay had finished and recorded “Yellow,” the song that would propel the group to stardom. “Yellow” is crucial to Parachutes, and not just because it would go on to become Coldplay’s first big hit. It’s the song that anchors this debut—the track that makes sense of everything else. There’s a reason “Yellow” is nestled slap-bang in the middle of the album, as if it’s a counterweight; after all, it’s the big anthem that allows the record its quieter moments, such as the melancholy strums of “Sparks” and the hushed folk of “We Never Change.” Elsewhere on Parachutes, there are the soulful piano patterns of “Trouble” and the gospel-y euphoria of “Everything’s Not Lost”—both of which showed the band’s gift for stirring sing-alongs. And throughout Parachutes, you can hear a young band making music inspired by their teenage fandom: Buckland channels the atmospheric licks of The Stone Roses’ John Squire and The Verve’s Nick McCabe on “High Speed,” and there are heavy nods to Jeff Buckley on the fevered acoustic-rock of “Shiver.” The members of Coldplay might have worried that they didn’t know what they were doing in the studio, but the 10 tracks on Parachutes arrived fully formed. These were songs that felt both introspective and universal—a vibe perfectly summed up in the breezy manner which the band delivers the heartening hook at the center of opener “Don’t Panic,” as if Martin and company didn’t want to wake the people in the next room. Released in July of 2000, and heralded by the success of “Yellow,” Parachutes reached No. 1 in the UK and went on to sell more than 13 million copies worldwide (it also won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, and British Album Of The Year at the BRIT Awards). An introduction to a band who would become one of the 21st century’s biggest, Parachutes remains a remarkable record. But it’s also a snapshot of these four musicians as they’d never be again—unproven, uncertain, and unaware of just how massive they were about to become.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada