Clocks (song)

"Clocks" is a song by British rock band Coldplay. It was written and composed, as a collaboration between all the members of the band, for their second album A Rush of Blood to the Head. Built around a piano riff, the song features cryptic lyrics concerning themes of contrast and urgency. Several remixes of the track exist and its riff has been widely sampled.

Single by Coldplay
from the album A Rush of Blood to the Head
  • "Crests of Waves"
  • "Animals"
Released24 March 2003 (2003-03-24)
RecordedMay 2002
  • 5:07 (album version)
  • 4:10 (radio edit)
Coldplay singles chronology
"The Scientist"
"God Put a Smile upon Your Face"
Music video
"Clocks" on YouTube

The record debuted to critical and commercial success, with critics mainly commenting on the song's piano melody, and winning the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. It was released in the United Kingdom as the third single from A Rush of Blood to the Head, where it reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart. It was released in the United States as the album's second single, it reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Considered to be one of Coldplay's signature songs, "Clocks" continues to garner critical acclaim, and is often placed on lists ranking the greatest songs of the 2000s and of all time, including being ranked 490th on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list in 2010.[1]

Background and writing

"Clocks" was written and composed during the late stages of production of Coldplay's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. A riff popped into Chris Martin's mind late one night in Liverpool when he came into the studio, where he then developed it on piano. According to Martin, "Clocks" was inspired by the English rock band Muse.[2] Martin presented the riff to the band's guitarist, Jonny Buckland, who then added a layer of guitar chords to the basic track:[3] "He picked up his guitar [a sure sign that he likes a song] and played these brilliant chords ... It was like a chemical reaction process."[4]

Before writing and composing "Clocks", the band had already written 10 songs for the album.[3] However, because A Rush of Blood to the Head was nearing completion, they thought it was too late to include the new song on it.[4] Hence, they recorded a demo and saved it with other unfinished tracks, labelling it "Songs for #3"; the band intended these tracks for what would be their third album.[3]

By June 2002, Coldplay were ready to present the new album to their record label Parlophone. However, Martin felt it was "rubbish"; they were so far from being completely satisfied with the album that both the band and Parlophone delayed the release.[4] After a headlining tour, Coldplay went on working "Songs for #3". Phil Harvey, the band's manager and a friend of Martin, heard it and pressed him to rework "Clocks" immediately. Harvey pointed out that, with its lyrics that speak of urgency, its meaning contradicted Martin's idea of stashing the track.[3][4] Thus persuaded by Harvey, Martin then further developed "Clocks", while other band members supplemented his work with their ideas based on the main piano track, adding bass and drums. Coldplay recorded the song very quickly[2] because the schedule of A Rush of Blood to the Head had already been delayed; the album was released two months later.[4]


"Clocks" is an alternative rock song, with elements of psychedelic rock.[5] It features a repeating piano melody and a minimalist, atmospheric soundscape of synthesizer pads, drums, electric guitar, and bass guitar.[6] Martin applied an ostinato, with emphasis that imitates a three against two polyrhythm, as well as a descending scale on the piano chord progression, which switches from major to minor chords.[7][8]

The themes of the lyrics include contrast, contradictions and urgency.[4] According to Jon Wiederhon of MTV News, "Martin seems to address the helplessness of being in a dysfunctional relationship he doesn't necessarily want to escape."[3] The lyrics are cryptic; the ending lines of the second verse emphasise contradicting emotion: "Come out upon my seas/Cursed missed opportunities/Am I a part of the cure/Or am I part of the disease?"[3] The song's title also "metaphorically alludes" to its lyrics, "pushing one to wonder about the world's obsession with time while connecting it to the theory: make the best of it when we’re here, present and alive."[9]

The song is in the key of A major, with a main chord progression of E - Bm - Fm.[10][11]


Release and music video

Coldplay released "Clocks" in Europe on 24 March 2003 as the album's third single. The single was issued with two B-sides: "Animals", which was one of the band's favourite songs performed on tour but was not included in the album, and "Crests of Waves". The single's cover, created by Sølve Sundsbø—as with the album and its other singles—is a portrayal of Chris Martin.[12] Across the United States, while preparing "The Scientist" as the album's second release, Coldplay's US label felt the song failed to "provide enough of a blood rush for American listeners"; instead, they released "Clocks" as the second single in the US.[13]

A music video was filmed in support of the song. It was directed by British film-maker Dominic Leung, and shot at Docklands' ExCeL Building in London.[12] It features the band performing the song, with a laser show, in front of a staged audience, mostly local college students. Stage effects and blue-red light transitions give the video a surreal feel, while a stoic crowd make up the audience.


The song received acclaim from music critics. Rob Sheffield, in his review of the album for Rolling Stone magazine, said that "[guitarist] Buckland shines in excellent psychedelic rockers such as ... 'Clocks.'"[5] David Cheal of The Daily Telegraph said that "Clocks" features a "hypnotic piano riff, a pounding, almost frantic rhythm, and a contagious tune, all building to a gorgeously serene climax with Martin's floaty voice singing."[14] Scott Floman, music critic for Goldmine magazine, described the song as "a stunningly pretty piano rocker, absolutely perfect and is simply one of the finest songs of the decade."[15]

"Clocks" won the Record of the Year at the 2004 Grammy Awards.[16] It was nominated for Best Single at the 2003 Q Awards.[17] "Clocks" was ranked at number 68 on Pitchfork's Top 100 Singles of 2000-04.[18] It was ranked at number 155 on Pitchfork Media's 500 Greatest Songs of the 2000s list.[19] In October 2011, NME placed it at number 148 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[20] In February 2013 the song was voted by listeners of BBC Radio 6 Music as the greatest song released during the 10 years the station had been broadcasting.

The single was successful in radio throughout 2003[9] and appeared on several singles charts worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number nine[21] and in the United States rose to number 29.[22] It also reached number seven in Canada and number 28 in Australia.


"Clocks" has been regarded as one of the finest achievements of Coldplay.[23] The song's piano progression remains the band's signature creation.[24] According to The New York Times, the opening piano arpeggios of "Clocks" have been widely sampled.[8] Also, many of the songs in X&Y feature influences from "Clocks". Brian Cohen of Billboard magazine noted that "Clocks" served as a "launching pad" for songs featured in X&Y, "several of which echo that track either in structure or feel."[25] "Speed of Sound", the first single from Coldplay's third album, X&Y, is similar to "Clocks",[24][26] in that the two songs have the same descending chord progression. According to The New York Times, American singer Jordin Sparks's 2008 single "No Air" "breathes life into the overfamiliar piano line" from "Clocks".[27] The song "Should I Go" by American singer Brandy, from her album Afrodisiac, samples the piano riff of "Clocks",[28] as does Mexican singer Alejandro Fernández's 2007 single "Te Voy A Perder". In 2009, French DJ David Guetta in collaboration with Kelly Rowland released the song "When Love Takes Over", which has a piano introduction like that of "Clocks". A riff similar to "Clocks" was also used for the 2009 song "Shining Down" by Chicagoan hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco and featuring Matthew Santos. An analogous riff can also be heard in the DJ Cahill Remix of the Agnes song I Need You Now. Rolling Stone ranked "Clocks" No. 490 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010.[1]

The song was featured in the TV show Third Watch,.[29] Throughout 2003, "Clocks" was featured in various commercials, movies and television programs: from the BBC using a sample to advertise Freeview TV, WWE promos featuring the return of American professional wrestler Kurt Angle, HBO, the 2002 Irish drama film In America, and an episode of the American medical drama television series ER. The song was played in its entirety during the ending credits for the 2003 film Confidence and was also featured in the TV shows The Sopranos, Third Watch,[30] Hindsight and Family Guy. In late 2003 the song was used in a trailer for the movie Peter Pan. It was also used in the 2006 Disney film The Wild. SportsCenter also used the song as the background track for its Images of the Decade montage in late 2009.

Reworked versions and remixes

A number of versions and remixes of "Clocks" exist.

Track listings

7", 12", CD
2."Crests of Waves"3:39
Official remixes

Charts and certifications


  1. "Rolling Stone's '500 Greatest Songs' List". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  2. "Chris talks us through Rush A Rush of Blood to the Head" (PDF). November 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2006. Retrieved 19 December 2006.
  3. Wiederhorn, Jon (2 February 2004). "Road to the Grammys: The Making Of Coldplay's 'Clocks'". MTV News. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  4. Webb, Robert (24 July 2008). "Story of the Song: 'Clocks,' Coldplay (2002)". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  5. Sheffield, Rob (26 August 2002). "Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 19 April 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  6. Beato, Rick. "What Makes This Song Great? EP.32 Coldplay". Youtube. Rick Beato. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  7. Sanneh, Kelefa (14 August 2002). "POP REVIEW; Vertigo From the Falsetto and 'Parachutes'". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  8. Pareles, Jon (5 June 2005). "The Case Against Coldplay". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  9. Wilson, MacKenzie. "Clocks: Song Review". Allmusic. Macrovision Company. Retrieved 14 July 2008.
  10. Coldplay "Clocks" Sheet Music in Ab Major
  11. "Mixolydian scale and "Clocks" by Coldplay — HCC Learning Web". Retrieved 27 April 2017.
  12. "Countdown for Clocks" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2005. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  13. Wiederhorn, Jon (15 October 2002). "Coldplay Singer Questions Whether He's The Devil". MTV News. Retrieved 15 July 2008.
  14. Cheal, David (12 October 2006). "Perfect Playlist: Coldplay". The Daily Telegraph: 030.
  15. "Coldplay Album Reviews - budgeting for new music". 11 September 2001. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  16. Leopold, Todd (9 February 2004). "Beyonce tops with five Grammys". Cable News Network. Retrieved 12 July 2008.
  17. Brandle, Lars (25 September 2003). "Coldplay Nabs Four Q Award Nominations". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  18. "The Top 100 Singles of 2000-04". Pitchfork Media. 31 January 2005. p. 4. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  19. "Staff Lists: The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 200-101". Pitchfork. 18 August 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  20. "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years". Nme.Com. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  21. "Coldplay make US singles history". British Broadcasting Corporation. 5 May 2005. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  22. Whitmire, Margo (28 April 2005). "Stefani Single Ousts 50 Cent From No. 1". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  23. "Hot Product: 'Rush' Hour". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 26 August 2002. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  24. Gaston, Peter (20 May 2005). "Coldplay Stock Rises in NYC". Spin. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  25. Cohen, Brian (14 March 2005). "Coldplay Unveils New Tunes in Los Angeles". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  26. "Coldplay: "Speed of Sound" Track Review". Pitchfork Media. 28 April 2005. Archived from the original on 24 December 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2006.
  27. Sanneh, Kelefa (26 November 2007). "New CDs: Jordin Sparks". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  28. "Hot Product: Cognac And Brandy". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 27 June 2004. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  29. Pepper, Tracey (3 December 2003). "Band of the Year: Coldplay". Spin. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  30. Pepper, Tracey (3 December 2003). "Band of the Year: Coldplay". Spin. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  31. "Coldplay Put The Clocks Back". XFM. 8 July 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  32. "Triple J Hottest 100 2003". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 February 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  33. "Triple J Hottest 100 2002". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 9 January 2004. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  34. Live 2003 (DVD). Capitol Records and Parlophone. 2003.
  35. Kreps, Daniel (1 May 2009). "Coldplay Reward Fans With Free Live LP "LeftRightLeftRightLeft"". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  36. "Rhythms Del Mundo". Living on Earth. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  37. "Rhythm del Mundo's Clocks track re-worked". Coldplay. 27 July 2010. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  38. " – Coldplay – Clocks". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  39. " – Coldplay – Clocks" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  40. " – Coldplay – Clocks" (in French). Ultratip.
  41. "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. 6 October 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  42. "Canada Top 20". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  43. "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 12 April 2003. p. 7. Retrieved 23 July 2019. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  44. " – Coldplay – Clocks" (in French). Les classement single.
  45. " – Coldplay – Clocks". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  46. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  47. " – Coldplay – Clocks". Top Digital Download.
  48. " – Coldplay – Clocks" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  49. " – Coldplay – Clocks". Top 40 Singles.
  50. "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  51. " – Coldplay – Clocks". Swiss Singles Chart.
  52. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  53. "Coldplay Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  54. "Coldplay Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  55. "Coldplay Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  56. "Coldplay Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  57. "Coldplay Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard.
  58. "Coldplay Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard.
  59. "Jaaroverzichten – Single 2003". Hung Medien. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  60. "End of Year Charts 2003". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  61. Pedro. "Longbored Surfer - 2003". Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  62. "The Official UK Singles Chart 2003" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  63. "Danish single certifications – Coldplay – Clocks". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved 24 April 2019. Scroll through the page-list below until year 2019 to obtain certification.
  64. "Italian single certifications – Coldplay – Clocks" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 28 August 2017. Select "2017" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Clocks" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  65. "British single certifications – Coldplay – Clocks". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 23 August 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Clocks in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  66. "American single certifications – Coldplay – Clocks". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 1 November 2014. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.