Alarms are tricky. There's no right way to choose a sound to jar you awake in the morning. When setting an alarm (often past 11PM, with regret), the one silver lining for me is the option to choose a song from my music library instead of a preloaded jingle. It saves me the trouble of listening to 6-10 generically named original music compositions (what does Hillside sound like?) and imagining myself startled awake by them. Not only that, but I have a pre-existing relationship with the music in my library. Songs I know evoke memories and emotions that can set the tone for a day. I can get sick of even my favorite music, but it's like discovering a song for a second time when I select it as a morning alarm. Perhaps it's because I only set alarms for special occasions, but it's a fun process. So here I share five songs from my morning alarm playlist and the kind of days they bring.
1. Apocalypse Dreams, Tame Impala
First line: "This could be the day that we break through / this could be the day that all our dreams come true".
This song might have been designed for an alarm. It's loud, picks up right away, and the lyrics are almost comically optimistic in an AM sense. Definitely a song I have used to wake me up before a race. The upbeat tempo makes it doubly suitable for a pump-up song. I also used this song to wake me up to surf before work. It's a ton of effort to wake up in the dark then work a full day, but at the same time the opportunity feels like a dream come true (if I can really get out of bed).
2. Adventure of A Lifetime, Coldplay
First line: "Turn your magic on / to me she'd say / Everything you want's a dream away"
Admittedly, I had no idea the first line was "Turn your magic on" until I looked it up to write this. It sounds like jumble, and the first intelligible words to me were always the second piece about dreams. Maybe my subconscious has always understood, and that's why I find it a great wake-up song. The message of Soulja Boy's "Hop up out the bed, turn my swag on" delivered in Coldplay lite. Also, the dream theme works nicely for our purposes. This was my recent theme song. It was released about a month ago, and captured in an obvious way how I felt about traveling to marathon in Spain. 10/10 woke me up for a very early train to San Sebastian.
3. 24 Hours, Sky Ferreria
First line: "The seconds run away / minutes passed/ at speeds we can run at ".
The first sound is this song is literally an alarm clock, making it an obvious choice as just a slightly more artistic way to do the job in the morning. I set this as an alarm a lot when I first started working. I loved the album "Night Time, My Time" a the time. This song represents waking up right away into a freight train day. How I felt going from the lackadaisical, job-seeking post-grad lifestyle into working full time and commuting into New York.
4. Is This Love, Bob Marley
First line: "I want to love ya"
Some songs are so popular and engrained in your imagination, you could recognize their melodies half asleep. I think that's why Bob Marley works as an alarm. The laid-back rhythms also gently shake you awake, as opposed to sharp, sudden alert. I used this song as an alarm to get to a particularly dreadful 5AM flight from JFK. I decided to take the subway at 3:00AM instead of a cab to save a buck. I waited for a long time at Fulton Street, and then was a little unnerved at being the only female in the train car for 50 minutes. I wanted to fall back asleep, but I needed to stay alert. I listened to this song on repeat the whole time and found a lot of comfort in it. I wasn't traveling for leisure. I was driven by a kind of love (albeit not romantic, like Bob Marley's) to be there for a friend. The repetitive chorus just reminded me in an ultra-soothing way why I was awake and on the A-Train so early.
5. Two Of Us, The Beatles
First line: "Two of us riding nowhere / spending someone's hard earned pay / You and me Sunday driving / Not Arriving / On our way back home".
The lyrics in this song take a minute to get to the heart of the matter, but the drum starts right away. Practically, this is great for an alarm. Then there are the positive associations. With the Beatles, this runs deeper than any other music. I wasn't even into music before the Beatles, and Two of Us always brings me back to driving to horse shows with my dad. I set this as my alarm to make a 6AM flight home to New York, (in total a 14+ hour journey) after going to sleep at midnight and feeling quite ill. I was feeling homesick and ready to be on my way, so the memories and words of this song made even 4AM feel okay.