Back in 2002 when my middle school self was intrigued by the video for Coldplay’s The Scientist, little did I know that college radio was helping to launch their career. But what I would’ve been even less likely to guess was that 13 years later Coldplay would be featured as one of President Obama’s picks on the President’s Summer Playlist.
As with many bands who make it big, they got their start at college radio and CMJ. Their debut album Parachutes peaked at No. 13 on the CMJ charts in January, 2001. A Rush Of Blood To The Head was swept up by a rush of college radio support and broke into the top 5. It reached its peak at No. 4 on October 8, 2002.
Coldplay reached the apex of their college radio career 10 years ago when X And Y peaked at No. 3 on August 9, 2005.
CMJ Chart For The Week Of August 9, 2005
ARTIST & TITLE
|1||1||WHITE STRIPES Get Behind Me Satan||V2|
|2||2||GORILLAZ Demon Days||Virgin|
|3||4||COLDPLAY X And Y||Capitol|
|4||72||SUFJAN STEVENS Illinois||Asthmatic Kitty|
|5||3||SLEATER-KINNEY The Woods||Sub Pop|
|6||5||FOUR TET Everything Ecstatic||Domino|
|7||6||DRESSY BESSY Electrified||Transdreamer|
|8||7||STEPHEN MALKMUS Face The Truth||Matador|
|9||8||SPOON Gimme Fiction||Merge|
|10||10||TEENAGE FANCLUB Man-Made||Merge|
|11||20||LALI PUNA I Thought I Was Over That: Rare, Remixed And B-Sides||Morr|
|12||22||FRANK BLACK Honeycomb||Back Porch|
|14||15||DROPKICK MURPHYS The Warrior’s Code||Hellcat|
|15||13||OASIS Don’t Believe The Truth||Epic|
|16||11||ALKALINE TRIO Crimson||Vagrant|
|17||31||BRIAN ENO Another Day On Earth||Rykodisc|
|18||12||MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK Commit This To Memory||Epitaph|
|19||23||CLOUD CULT Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus||Earthology|
|20||28||BILLY CORGAN TheFutureEmbrace||Warner Bros.|
At this point, Coldplay had already moved well beyond the typical scope of college radio, and just continued to grow in the following years. But even as they became a staple of mainstream pop culture and Chris Martin’s celebrity increased, they still managed to to stay a part of the college world.
Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends hit No. 13 on July 15, 2008, and Mylo Xyloto came close to cracking the top 10, peaking at No. 11 on November 21, 2011. Even their latest album Ghost Stories made a solid chart dent, landing at No. 33 on June 10, 2014.
Even though making it on the President’s Summer Playlist probably means a band is no longer relevant to college radio (not to belittle Obama’s taste in music), Coldplay has defied the odds and consistently made it on the CMJ Charts. College radio can be very unpredictable, sometimes it will turn its back on artists it once supported when they get too big or change their sound. But no matter how big Coldplay has become, they still receive support from one of the places where they got their start.