Yellow (song)

Yellow (song)

:"For a song with an identical title, see Yellow (Nicholas Tse song)."Infobox Single
Name = Yellow

Artist = Coldplay
from Album = Parachutes
B-side = "Help Is Round the Corner"
"No More Keeping My Feet on the Ground"
Released = June 26, 2000
June 2001 (re-release) December 26, 2000 (U.S.)
Format = 7", cassette, CD, EP
Recorded = Rockfield Studios
Genre = Alternative rock
Length = 4:29
Label = Parlophone
Writer = Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin
Producer = Ken Nelson, Coldplay
Last single = "Shiver" (2000)
This single = "Yellow" (2000)
Next single = "Trouble" (2000)
Misc =

"Yellow" is a song by English alternative rock band Coldplay. The band wrote the song, and co-produced it with British record producer Ken Nelson for the their debut album, "Parachutes". The song's lyrics are references to band vocalist Chris Martin's unrequited love and its musicscape is built on a varied instrumentation.

The song was released as the second single from the album, and the lead single in the United States. The single has reached number four in the United Kingdom, giving the band their first Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart.

Helped by heavy rotation and usage in promotions, the song has thrusted the band to massive popularity. "Yellow" has since been covered by various artists worldwide, and remains one of the band's most popular songs.

Background and inspiration

"Yellow" was written in a Rockfield studio in Wales called the Quadrangle, where Coldplay began working on their debut album, "Parachutes".cite web|url=|title=Recording Coldplay's Parachutes|last=Inglis|first=Sam|month=October | year=2000|work=SOS|accessdate=2008-09-05] One night after finishing recording "Shiver", the lead single of the album, the band took a break and went out of the studio.cite news|url=|title=Coldplay Escapes City For "Yellow" Single, Video|last=Basham|first=David|date=2000-10-16|publisher=MTV|accessdate=2008-09-09] Outside, there were few lights on and the stars in the sky were visible and "just amazing", according to the song's co-producer, Ken Nelson. [cite web|url=|title=BRITs 25 Song Award: Yellow - Coldplay|publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation|accessdate=2008-09-05] He told the band to look at the stars; the band did, and feeling generally inspired the song's main melody, consisting of a chord pattern, popped into the head of Chris Martin, the band's vocalist. At first, Martin did not take it seriously "as he relayed the tune to the rest of the band in his worst Neil Young [a Canadian singer-songwriter] impersonation voice". Martin has said, "The song had the word 'stars' and that seemed like a word you should sing in a Neil Young voice."Roach, p. 39] The melody "started off a lot slower" according to Will Champion, the band's drummer, and sounded like a Neil Young song. Not long after, despite not taking the song seriously, Martin's idea worked out when he had developed the tempo of the verse. When Jonny Buckland, the band's guitarist, started playing it and supplemented it with his ideas, they had created the riff, "and it sort of got a bit heavier".

While composing the song's lyrics, however, Martin could not find the right words. He was thinking of a specific word to fit the song's concept, which he deemed a missing key word in the lyrics. He looked around the studio and found the telephone directory "Yellow Pages", which happened to be situated nearest to him, hence the title.cite web|title=Coldplay Revive TV Show|date=2005-06-01|publisher="Rolling Stone"|accessdate=2006-12-18|url=] [cite news|url=|title=Coldplay Tells Stories At Intimate New York Gig|last=Cohen|first=Jonathan|date=2005-05-17|work=Billboard|publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc|accessdate=2008-09-05] The lyrics progressed from there with the band collaborating. The band's bassist Guy Berryman came up with the opening line "Look at the stars". That night, having quickly composed the song, the band recorded it. According to Martin, "In an alternate universe, this song could be called 'Playboy.'"

Recording and production

The band and Nelson produced the track. Nelson was acquainted with the band's music through the former's manager. Nelson's manager gave him a copy of an EP and single by Coldplay, and showed interest in working with them after seeing the band perform live. "Yellow" was initially recorded upstairs in the project studio, basically a demo room in Liverpool's Parr Street Studios. The track was later mixed in New York.

Nelson and the band encountered problems in producing some aspects of the song. According to Champion, "... it was really difficult to record, because it worked at about five or six different tempos. It was a tough choice of choosing which tempo to play, because sometimes it sounded too rushed, and sometimes it sounded as if it was dragging..." The band was trying to get the tempo correctly, according to Nelson, "because a beat either side of the tempo we picked didn't have the same groove". To improve the song, they recorded this part live and Buckland overdubbed his guitar. They recorded it two or three times until Nelson and the band were happy at the output. The backing vocals were recorded in the control room of Quadrangle.

Nelson used an analogue 2-inch type tape in recording most of the tracks in the album. As recording progressed, "Yellow" was one of a couple of songs that they "couldn't quite get on analogue". They recorded different versions but it did not satisfy their taste. So Nelson used Pro Tools to "to get the feel of [the track] just right"; once all takes were recorded into the computer, "we then put it down to the 2-inch, which I found was a great way to do it", according to Nelson.

Music and lyrics

filename=Coldplay - Yellow.ogg
description="Yellow" builds its music from an acoustic guitar.

The song opens with an acoustic guitarpart that sounds very similar to "Lift" an unreleased song by Radiohead, backed by a mimicking electric guitar, then forwards to the lead guitar line. It then goes back to the acoustic section. Its instrumentation is varied, including the drums, cymbals, and the occasional hi-hat and ascending bass guitar.Roach, p. 40] "Yellow" features Martin's falsetto, and nearly spoken-words whispers. Martin, after the song's mixing, felt that his voice were "too subdued, too quiet".

Martin has explained of the song: "'Yellow' refers to the mood of the band. Brightness and hope and devotion." The references of some of the song's lyrics, including the swimming and drawing a line, "are all metaphorical slants on the extent of his emotional devotion". The drawing of a line refers to Martin's habit of writing lists, and underlining those important things on the list. Martin has commented that the song is about devotion, referring to his unrequited love (since Martin was single when writing the song). Despite its lyrical theme, however, most people have considered "Yellow" as a happy song.Roach, p. 41]

Release and reception

"Yellow" and "Shiver" were initially released as EPs in the spring of 2000.cite book|last=Bogdanov|first=Vladimir|coauthors=Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas|title=All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul|publisher=Backbeat Books|year=2002|pages=235|isbn=087930653X|url=,+Shiver+and+Yellow&sig=ACfU3U1f3huYe59vVqYCKIiBMXlFvMlcVw|accessdate=2008-09-07] The former was released as a single in UK on June 26, 2000. The single includes the songs "Help Is Round The Corner" and "No More Keeping My Feet", the third taken from the band's first EP, "Safety". [cite web|url=|title=Yellow|work=Billboard|publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc|accessdate=2008-09-09] In the United States, however, the song was released as the lead single off the album. In October 2000, the track was sent to US college and alternative radio outlets. The band released a limited-edition CD of "Trouble", the third single off "Parachutes", which features a remix of "Yellow". It was pressed to 1,000 copies, and was issued only to fans and journalists.cite news|url=|title=Coldplay Ready Second Album As 'Trouble' Heats Up|last=Moss|first=Corey|date=2001-12-18|publisher=MTV|accessdate=2008-09-22] The single, accompanied by its TV reception through its music video, has received massive radio airplay particularly at BBC Radio 1. The reaction was chiefly positive and even the newly-revitalized BBC Radio 2 played the track repeatedly. This heavy rotation continued for months after its release, eventually ending as 2000's most-aired song. It has also became a sing-along number at various British clubs, pubs and sporting events;cite journal|last=Spitz|first=Marc|month=October | year=2002|title=Look at the Stars|journal=Spin|pages=75|url=|accessdate=2008-09-07] the song is consistently played during home games at English Championship club Watford. A month after the album was released in the United States via record label Nettwerk, "Yellow" was used as the theme song for ABC autumn television promotions. [cite web|url=|title= How to get ahead in music: Make an ad!|last=Byrne|first=Ciar|date=2005-11-23||accessdate=2008-09-07] The song was also used as the theme music for The Cancer Council Australia's "Daffodil Day", [cite news|url=|title=Charity blossoms|last=Ligerakis|first=Maria|date=2001-07-10||accessdate=2008-09-07] in recognition of that organization's official flower's yellow hue.

Critics were positive towards the song. Matt Diehl of "Rolling Stone" magazine has noted "Yellow" is an "unrepentantly romantic", adding that "the band creates a hypnotic slo-mo otherworld where spirit rules supreme". [cite web|url=|title=Coldplay: Parachutes|last=Diehl|first=Matt|date=2000-10-03|work=Rolling Stone|accessdate=2008-09-07] "Yellow" won Best Single at the 2001 "NME" Carling Awards. [cite news|url=|title=Coldplay, U2, Eminem Honored With NME Awards|last=Basham|first=David|date=2001-02-06|publisher=MTV News|accessdate=2008-09-06] It was nominated at the 2002 Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

Commercial performance

"Yellow" played well in Europe, and was popular. In the United Kingdom, its midweek sales suggested that the single would reach the Top 10 of the chart. Although the band supposed "Yellow" would decline inside the Top 20, they would have considered its performance a triumph since the album's lead single, "Shiver", have only reached the 35th position. Since "Yellow"'s second week sales were stronger, it has eventually reached number four, giving the band their first Top 10 single in the United Kingdom.Roach, p. 42] The popularity of the song in British clubs, pubs and sporting events bolstered the album to debut at number one on the UK Albums Chart.

"Yellow" achieved popularity in the United States, and is Coldplay's first American hit. [cite journal|last=Matos|first=MichaelAngelo|month=May | year=2001|title=Coldplay|journal=Spin|pages=64|url=|accessdate=2008-09-07] The single has charted on eight different "Billboard" singles charts; [cite news|url=|title=New Coldplay Single Debuts Monday|last=Cohen|first=Jonathan|date=2002-06-14|work=Billboard|publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc|accessdate=2008-09-07] it also topped various US modern-rock radio playlists in the spring of 2000. The single has performed as it did in Europe and has since helped "Parachute" being certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America during the single's presence on the chart. [cite journal|last=Eisenbeis|first=Hans|month=July | year=2001|title=The Empire Strikes Back: A New Generation of Britpop|journal=Spin|pages=103|url=|accessdate=2008-09-07]

Music video

The music video for "Yellow" was filmed at Studland Bay. The video is minimalistic, featuring only Martin singing the song as he walks along the beach. He is wearing a raincoat with his hair wet, suggesting that it had just rained. The video is one continuous shot with no cuts. The entire sequence is in slow motion.

The music video for the single was conceived and produced by Coldplay. Originally, it had been intended that the whole band to appear in the video, in a sunny setting. However, Champion's mother's funeral was held on the day of the shooting, so it was decided that only Martin would appear in the video, which was also the immediate explanation of his mood during this part. The weather also opposed the original plan, with harsh winds and rain instead of the sunny day that had been envisioned. It had also been originally intended for there to be moving stars in the sky, as if in a time-lapse. The directors however agreed that the moving stars would distract the focus of the video from Martin.

The video was directed by British directing duo James & Alex of The Artists Company. The video was shot at 50 frames per second, twice the regular speed. At the shoot, Chris Martin had to sing the song at double speed so that the audio and visual content would be in sync, a common yet difficult practice of music videos. The final product is slowed to 25 frames per second, giving the slow motion effect of the video. The transition of the video from night to day was achieved through telecine. During the transfer from film to videotape, an operator manually adjusted the amount of lighting for blue in the beginning, red in the middle, and yellow at the end of the video.

Live performances

Coldplay has performed the song several times throughout their career, and it has been an audience attention-getter. The band had their debut performance on television on the show "Later...With Jools Holland". They performed "Parachute"'s lead single, "Shiver", and the new song, "Yellow"; but it was the latter that had an immediate studio audience impact.Roach, p. 35] They have also performed at the Glastonbury Festival, one of the prominent festivals in Europe. At their second appearance in July 2000, Coldplay performed "Yellow" and "effortlessly" captured over 10,000 spectators. Coldplay's popularity at this time was still growing and "Yellow" has helped cultivate it; Martin has said it was the best day of their year. [Roach, p. 36]

Covers and versions

"Yellow" has been covered by numerous singers worldwide, some in different languages and styles. A Chinese language version of "Yellow" was recorded by Chinese rock singer Zheng Jun in 2001, six months after the original release of the single. Singaporean singer Tanya Chua covered the song. [cite news|url=|title=Singer Tanya Chua discovers her 'self' |last=So Kit-Ying|first=Chloe|coauthors=Chu Lap-Yin, Alex|date=2008-04-24|publisher=Hong Kong 101 Project|accessdate=2008-09-07] The cover band and comedy act Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine covered this as a Lounge style version on his 2004 album "I'd Like a Virgin". [cite web|url=|title=Coverville 195: Cover to Cover Interview: Richard Cheese|date=2006-04-05|publisher=Coverville|accessdate=2008-09-07] American musicians Petra Haden and Bill Frisell covered the song, featuring it in their album "Petra Haden and Bill Frisell"; [cite web|url=|title=Petra Harden fails to live up to potential|last=Horowitz|first=Andrew|date=2005-01-21|work=The Michigan Daily|accessdate=2008-09-07] the cover appears in episode 3.08 of the "The O.C.". In 2006, Tre Lux covered "Yellow" on the cover album "A Strange Gathering". Fame Academy winner Alex Parks often performed "Yellow" and a cover appears on her debut album. English vocal troupe G4 covered the song for their second album, "G4 & Friends", with "unique harmonies". [cite web|url=|title=G4 to land at Apollo|date=2005-11-22|work=Manchester Evening News|accessdate=2008-09-07] American singer-writer Brooke White covered "Yellow" on her 2006 album "Songs from the Attic". White's manager directed her to cover American hard rock band Aerosmith's 1973 single "Dream On", but she wanted to do "Yellow". Since they had contradicting ideas, they compromised and ended up producing cover versions of the two. [cite news|url=|title=CNS Exclusive: "American Idol" Star Brooke White Discusses Tour And Fundraising Campaign|last=Tormo|first=Jennifer|date=2008-08-24|publisher=All Headline News|accessdate=2008-09-07]

The song has also been covered in live performances by various artists. The progressive bluegrass trio Nickel Creek has played "Yellow" in the middle of "The Lighthouse's Tale" at their concerts. Galway-based musicians Joe Joyce and Oisin Tierney have been known to cover "Yellow" as part of their performances, and American band The Almost has often covered "Yellow" at their live shows. American alternative rock band Brand New often covers part of the song live at the end of their song "The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot".

Impact and legacy

Brian Hiatt of "Rolling Stone" magazine has deemed the song a career-making record. Roach has claimed in his book, "Coldplay: Nobody Said It Was Easy", that although "Shiver" earned the band their debut UK Top 40 single, it was "Yellow" that has changed "everything", and that it "exemplifies so much of what had made Coldplay so popular". In the US, after it was being used in promos of ABC, the band grew in popularity which continued in 2001. According to Barry Walters in his review of Coldplay's second album, "A Rush of Blood to the Head", for "Spin" magazine, the band is still known in the United States for their "surprise smash" "Yellow". [cite journal|last=Walters|first=Barry|month=September | year=2002|title=The Chilling Effect|journal=Spin|pages=125|url=|accessdate=2008-09-07] In a review in "Billboard" magazine, it reads: "After one single ('Yellow') and its accompanying album ("Parachutes" ... ), Coldplay have already been anointed heir to the Brit-rock throne." [cite web|url=|title=Parachutes: Coldplay|work=Billboard|publisher=Nielsen Business Media, Inc|accessdate=2008-09-12] "Yellow" has since been regarded as the centerpiece song in the album. "Yellow" has inspired British singer Liam Gallagher of the rock band Oasis, as he has told Coldplay, to write songs again.

Track listing

#"Yellow" – 4:29
#"Help Is Round the Corner" – 2:38
#"No More Keeping My Feet on the Ground" – 4:33



*cite book|last=Roach|first=Martin|title=Coldplay: Nobody Said it was Easy|publisher=Omnibus Press|year=2003|isbn=0711998108|url=|accessdate=2008-09-05

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