Coldplay is a world-famous British rock band, formed over twenty years ago. What was their first song?
Coldplay’s first recorded song is “Ode to Deodorant”, recorded in 1996 when the band first changed their name to Coldplay. The song is accredited to “The Coldplay”. It was recorded to cassette tape and used as promotional material by their manager, Phil Harvey.
“Ode to Deodorant” wasn’t the song that spurred Coldplay to the level of fame they enjoy today, but it was certainly a step in their journey.
Origins of Coldplay
Coldplay was first formed in 1996 by Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland. The two first met at University College London (UCL) during their orientation week. Over the next year, they planned to form a band and eventually did, naming the group “Pectoralz”.
The band went through further name changes, from “Pectoralz” to “Starfish”, then eventually to “Coldplay”. The name originally belonged to a friend, Tim Crompton’s, band, but when the other band decided they no longer wanted it, the members of the then Starfish asked if they could adopt it. The name Coldplay comes from a book of poems: Child’s Reflections, Cold Play by Philip Horky.
The band’s line-up was completed with the addition of Guy Berryman, Martin and Buckland’s classmate, and Will Champion, who joined as a drummer despite having no previous experience on that particular instrument. The position of band manager was filled by Phil Harvey, who has since been acknowledged as the honorary fifth member of the group.
Coldplay’s First Song
The first-ever song recorded by the band under the name “Coldplay” is called “Ode to Deodorant”, though the song is actually attributed to “The Coldplay”.
The lyrics are a literal interpretation of the title: “Here’s an Ode, ah, to deodorant/It’s my thing, ah it’s my favourite hygiene/It keeps me through the day.”
Phil Harvey used the promo cassette to get the band gigs which, despite the slightly strange nature of the song’s lyrics, actually worked. It took ten live gigs before the band was signed to their first record label.
Coldplay went on to record an EP titled Safety, which they recorded over the span of a weekend. The recording cost roughly $2000 and was financed by Harvey and the rest of the band. The EP was a demo for record companies, and featured the tracks “Bigger Stronger”, “No More Keeping My Feet on the Ground”, and “Such A Rush”.
From a run of about 500 copies, only 50 copies of Safety were sold in record shops. The rest were given away to record companies, family, and friends.
Safety was followed up by The Blue Room a year later in 1999, featuring some of the tracks from the first EP, with a run of 5000 copies.
A year later in 2000, the band released Parachutes under the Parlophone label. The album featured the song “Yellow”, which would become their ticket to success.
The Success of Parachutes
Parachutes was a success, topping the charts in the United Kingdom and reaching 51 on the Billboard 200. The album has since gone multi-platinum. The first release from the album was “Don’t Panic”.
The song “Yellow” was the second single release from the album and proved to be Coldplay’s breakthrough hit. It reached number four in the United Kingdom, and 48 in the United States. Its success was spurred by heavy radio play, particularly on BBC 1.
The accompanying music video for “Yellow” is a single slow-motion shot of Chris Martin walking along the beach after a downpour. It was widely played on music video TV channels, which added to the band’s exposure.
“Yellow” and Parachutes were just the start of the success story. Coldplay has gone on to become one of the best selling music artists in the world, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
They have released a further seven studio albums since Parachutes and raked in armfuls of awards, including nine Brit Awards and seven Grammys as well as a multitude of MTV awards.
Mat Whitecross, a filmmaker and music video director, released a documentary on the band called Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams in 2018 charting the band’s success from their first album to the current day.
In twenty years, Coldplay has come a long way from singing about the virtues of deodorant.