Who Sounds like Coldplay?

One of the most successful mainstream bands in the music world, Coldplay has sold over 80 million records to date worldwide. Led by frontman Chris Martin, the band has been nominated for and won a multitude of awards and has routinely been applauded for not only their music, but their social awareness and generous spirit as well.

With six studio albums to date, the pop-rock quartet from London shows no signs of slowing down and continues to tour across the world. Driven by a unique sound and beloved by millions of fans, Coldplay continues to top the charts.

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For a band that has been described as anything from melodic to meditative, Coldplay utilizes a range of musical styles to set themselves apart from other bands in the music industry.

Various influences have played a role in Martin’s songwriting and the band’s musical stylings. Scottish rock band Travis, as well as U2, Radiohead, Oasis, Genesis, and a-ha, have all greatly inspired and shaped the band that Coldplay has become.

Coldplay has evolved its sound over the years, from distorted guitar riffs and whispering drums to even being called artistically abrasive in their early days. Martin and his lyrical wordplay routinely draws upon emotions, doubts, fears, hopes, and, of course, love, to construct a sound that, while remaining uniquely their own, has influenced a great deal of bands that have followed in their footsteps.

Some of these bands that sound like Coldplay include:

  • Keane
  • Imagine Dragons
  • The Fray
  • One Republic
  • Thirteen Senses

Other bands like Coldplay range from A Fine Frenzy, The Temper Trap, and Maroon 5 to The Script, Snow Patrol, and Starsailor. The use of the piano as a centerpiece in concert and recording, a certain level of showmanship in live performances, and dynamically constructed melodies are common elements that most artists similar to Coldplay share.


Formed in 1996 at University College London, the band consists of Chris Martin on lead vocals, Jonny Buckland on lead guitar, Guy Berryman on bass, and Will Champion on drums and backing vocals. Having released a series of EPs that gained droves of fans across the United Kingdom, the band signed with Parlophone and released their debut album in 2000, called Parachutes.

Martin has since achieved further celebrity status, marrying actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2003. Though divorced in 2015, the couple have two children together.


First playing together as a duet called Pectoralz, Martin and Buckland soon added classmate Berryman and renamed the band Starfish. Performing around Camden in small clubs, the band soon hired another classmate, Phil Harvey, to be the group’s manager. Champion filled out the roster, and though he had never played drums before, he was an accomplished musician and soon picked it up.

Renaming themselves Coldplay, the band released their first EP Safety in 1998 and signed with independent label Fierce Panda, who would assist in the release of the three-track EP titled Brothers and Sisters. The band then signed with Parlophone and released one more EP, The Blue Room, before debuting their freshman album Parachutes.

Propelled by the immensely popular singles “Shiver” and “Yellow,” Parachutes debuted at number one on the U.K. charts. While the album took a bit longer to achieve the same success in the United States, it eventually went double-platinum.

Coldplay took home awards for Best British Group and Best British Album that year at the Brit Awards in 2001, and eventually won a Grammy in 2002 for Best Alternative Music Album, as well. This success drove the band back into the studios for their sophomore album, released in August 2002.

A Rush of Blood to the Head emerged as a highly successful follow up for the band, reaching four-times platinum status. The single “The Scientist” earned regular radio play, and the album was again both critically acclaimed and well received by the public.

Coldplay toured extensively in 2002 and 2003, visiting five continents and headlining festivals around the world. The band took home both top awards at the Brits again, and added two more Grammys for Best Alternative Album and Record of the Year, for the single “Clocks.”

After taking a break from touring and recording, Coldplay returned in 2005 with a new album titled X & Y. The single “Speed of Sound” soon rocketed up the charts, and the album was the third-fastest selling album in U.K. chart history at the time.

X & Y marked a departure from their earlier sound, as the band experimented with more electronic music and synthesizers with the help of new producer Danton Supple. Their success continued though, as the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold over eight million copies in the first year alone.

2008 would bring Viva la Vida, also known by its full name Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. Recorded with famed producer Brian Eno, who had worked with U2 in the past, the album proved to be another commercial and critical success for Coldplay.

Winning a Grammy for Best Rock Album, it was also nominated for Album of the Year but ultimately lost to Robert Plant and Alison Krause’s Raising Sand. Notable for its foray into various themes and musical styles, Viva la Vida has since gone on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide.

In 2011, Coldplay released the album Mylo Xyloto, which was preceded by the single “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.” The band’s third album to debut at number one on the Billboard charts, it has since sold over eight million copies worldwide. While performing well commercially, the concept album/thematic rock opera has received mixed reviews and, though nominated, failed to bring the band further awards.

Three years later, the band released Ghost Stories in 2014, which debuted at number one across the charts and became certified platinum, with over three million sales worldwide. The band has plans to drop a new album titled A Head Full of Dreams. sometime in the near future.


Coldplay’s music tends to fall into a variety of musical styles and sounds. Their early songs featured moody and atmospheric tunes, with contrastingly happy lyrics set to melodic sounds. By their sophomore release, the music had grown to include both ballads and acoustic choices with heavy use of guitar and piano.

On X & Y, the band experimented with more synthesized sounds and delved a bit into electronica, while keeping to the themes of self-doubt and working through fears. More recent albums continue to evolve the band’s sound, while focusing on meaningful lyrics and impassioned musical undertones, mixed with real world themes about revolution, dystopian ideas, and, by Martin’s own admission, the ideas of past actions and the capacity for unconditional love.


  • Parachutes (2000) – Debut album featuring singles “Yellow,” “Shiver,” and “Don’t Panic.” Certified two-times platinum in the U.S. and eight-times platinum in the U.K., peaking at 51 on the Billboard 200 and winning the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2002.
  • A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) – Features the hit singles “Clocks” and “The Scientist.” The album has sold an estimated 15 million copies worldwide, reaching four-times platinum status in the U.S. alone. Won the 2003 Grammy for Best Alternative Album, while “Clocks” won Record of the Year at the 2004 Grammys.
  • X & Y (2005) – Certified three-times platinum in the U.S. and features the band’s first top-ten single in the U.S., “Speed of Sound.” Sold more than eight million copies in the first year alone.
  • Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008) – Worldwide sales of over 10 million. A direct departure from previous albums, utilizing art rock and indie pop while focusing on themes of love, war, and revolutions.
  • Mylo Xyloto (2011) – Considered to be a concept album utilizing a thematic opera story-telling technique. Sold over eight million copies worldwide and features the single “The Speed of Sound.”
  • Ghost Stories (2014) – Features the singles “Magic,” “Midnight,” and “A Sky Full of Stars.” Nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys. Sold over three million copies worldwide.

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