|Single by Coldplay|
|from the album A Rush of Blood to the Head|
|B-side||"Crests of Waves"
|Released||10 December 2002 (US)
24 March 2003 (UK)
|Format||7", 12", CD, DVD|
|Length||5:07 (Album Version)
4:10 (Radio Edit)
|Writer(s)||Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin|
|Producer||Ken Nelson, Coldplay|
|Coldplay singles chronology|
"Clocks" is a song by English alternative rock band Coldplay. It was written by all members of the band for their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Built around a repeating piano riff, the song features cryptic lyrics of contrast and urgency themes. Several remixes of the track exist and its riff has been widely sampled. "Clocks" won Record of the Year at the 2004 Grammy Awards, and, to date, is one of Coldplay's most successful songs.
"Clocks" debuted to critical and commercial success. Most critics complimented on the song's piano line. The song was released in the United Kingdom as the third single from A Rush of Blood to the Head, and reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart. It was released in the United States as the second single and reached number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Clocks" emerged in conception during the late stages into the production of Coldplay's second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Vocalist Chris Martin came in the studio late one night. A riff popped into Martin's mind and he wrote it on piano. According to Martin, "Clocks" was inspired by the English rock band Muse. Martin presented the riff to guitarist Jonny Buckland who then added guitar chords to the basic track: "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."
Before writing "Clocks", the band had already made 10 songs for the album. They thought it was too late for the song's inclusion in the album since it was near completion. So they recorded a demo version of the track and saved it with other unfinished tracks, labeling it "Songs for #3"; the band projected these tracks for their third album, X&Y.
By June 2002, Coldplay were ready to present the album to Parlophone, their record label. However, Martin felt it was "rubbish"; they were not completely satisfied of the album. So, the band and Parlophone concerted to delay the release. After a headlining tour, Coldplay went onto working "Songs for #3". Phil Harvey, a friend of Martin and the band's manager, heard of it and urged him to rework "Clocks" immediately. With lyrics that speak of urgency, Harvey pointed out that its meaning would contradict Martin's idea of stashing the track. Martin was persuaded by Harvey and then further developed "Clocks" while other band members supplemented their ideas based on the main piano track, adding a bass and drum figure. Coldplay recorded the song very quickly, since they were running after the postponed schedule of A Rush of Blood to the Head, which was released two months later.
"Clocks" is built around a repeating piano riff, and features a minimalist soundscape of drums and bass. Martin applied an ostinato and a descending scale on the piano chord progression, which switches from major to minor chords. The music of "Clocks" is also provided by synthesizers and a sparse string arrangement.
The song's lyrical themes include contrast, contradictions and urgency. Chris Martin sings of being in the state of "helplessness ... in a dysfunctional relationship he doesn't necessarily want to escape". The lyrics are cryptic; the ending lines of the second verse emphasize contradicting emotion: "Come out upon my seas/Cursed missed opportunities/Am I a part of the cure/Or am I part of the disease?". 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".
Coldplay released "Clocks" in Europe on 24 March 2003 as the album's third single. The single was pressed 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's and its other singles, is a portrayal of Martin. Across the US, 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.
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. 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, not to mention the stoic crowd that make up the audience.
Throughout 2003, "Clocks" was featured in various commercials, movies and television programs: from WWE promos featuring the return of American professional wrestler Kurt Angle, to 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 American television drama series The Sopranos and Third Watch. In late 2003, the song was used in a trailer for the movie Peter Pan. This song was also used in the movie The Wild.
Critics were positive towards the song. Rob Sheffield, in his review of the album for Rolling Stone magazine, said: that "[guitarist] Buckland shines in excellent psychedelic rockers such as ... 'Clocks'". 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". "Clocks" won the Record of the Year at the 2004 Grammy Awards. It was nominated for Best Single at the 2003 Q Awards. "Clocks" was ranked at number 68 on Pitchfork's Top 100 Singles of 2000-04.
The single was successful on the radio throughout in 2003, and has charted at several singles chart worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the song has peaked at number nine. In the United States, "Clocks" has peaked there at number 29. It has also reached number seven in Canada.
"Clocks" is regarded as one of the finest achievements of Coldplay; the song's piano progression remained the band's signature creation. According to The New York Times, the opening piano arpeggios of "Clocks" has been widely sampled. 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" to songs featured in X&Y, "several of which echo that track either in structure or feel". "Speed of Sound", the first single from Coldplay's third album, X&Y, bears some similarities with "Clocks", being that the two songs have the same descending chord progression. According to The New York Times, American singer Jordin Sparks' 2008 single "No Air" "breathes life into the overfamiliar piano line" from "Clocks". The song "Should I Go" by American singer Brandy, off her album Afrodisiac, samples the piano riff of "Clocks", as does Mexican singer Alejandro Fernandez's 2007 single "Te Voy A Perder". In 2009, French DJ David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland released the song "When Love Takes Over" that also features the piano introduction similar of "Clocks". A sampled riff similar to "Clocks" was also used for the 2009 song "Shining Down" by Chicagoan hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco and featuring Matthew Santos. A similar riff can also be heard in the DJ Cahill Remix of the Agnes song I Need You Now.
"Clocks" was remixed several times. Norwegian duo Röyksopp made a remixed version of the song, pressed on the 1000 limited edition 12" vinyl records; 100 of which were made available through the band's official website. The release features a remixed version of "God Put a Smile upon Your Face" by Def Inc featuring Mr Thing. The version placed at number five in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2003 (the original version of the song placed at number 69 the previous year). In addition, there have been several other dance remixes of "Clocks", including those by Clokx (Ron van den Beuken) and Deep Dish plus a mashup from Gabriel and Dresden's 2003 Essential Mix which appeared on various P2P networks. In 2004, Contemporary R&B-singer Brandy, together with producer Timbaland, created a song called "Should I Go" which uses "Clocks" as a sample. The song is featured as the last track on her fourth studio album Afrodisiac. A remixed cover of the song is included on the soundtrack of the video game Dance Dance Revolution: Hottest Party for the Wii console. The female, Chinese group Twelve Girls Band also covered the song, released on their album Eastern Energy. Another popular rework of the song exists on the Rhythms del Mundo album which was a non-profit album that included many other prominent UK, US and Irish artists. In 2003, the song was featured on Coldplay's live album Live 2003. Another live version appeared on the 2009 live album LeftRightLeftRightLeft.
DVD (released 24 March 2003)
Japan Enhanced EP
|Australia ARIA Singles Chart||28|
|Canadian Singles Chart||7|
|Dutch Top 40||2|
|France Singles Chart||65|
|Italy Singles Chart||25|
|Irish Singles Chart||15|
|New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart||13|
|UK Singles Chart||9|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||29|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play1||31|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks||9|