Coldplay are a British rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist and keyboardist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London (UCL). After they formed under the name Pectoralz, Guy Berryman joined the group as bassist and they changed their name to Starfish. Will Champion joined as drummer and backing vocalist, completing the lineup. Creative director Phil Harvey is often referred to as the fifth member by the band. The band renamed themselves "Coldplay" in 1998, before recording and releasing three EPs: Safety in 1998 and Brothers & Sisters and The Blue Room in 1999. The Blue Room was their first release on a major label, after signing to Parlophone.

Muse are an English rock band from Teignmouth, Devon, formed in 1994. The band consists of Matt Bellamy (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards) and Dominic Howard (drums, percussion). Muse released their debut album, Showbiz, in 1999, showcasing Bellamy's falsetto and a melancholic alternative rock style. Their second album, Origin of Symmetry (2001), expanded their sound, incorporating wider instrumentation and romantic classical influences, and earned them a reputation for energetic live performances. Absolution (2003) saw further classical influence, with orchestra on tracks such as "Butterflies and Hurricanes", and became the first of five consecutive UK number-one albums. The album has a noticeably darker and heavier tone musically, with a lyrical focus on theological and apocalyptic concepts.

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