Happy 2012. Today I am going to teach you how to conquer it (the entire year) using an underestimated practice called “motivational self-brainwashing via ante-meridiemal sound aesthetic,” or, more commonly, setting your alarm clock song right.
If you like being moody, or if sadness is how you stay productive, then this particular list is NOT for you. But the concept of it is, so pay attention. Your goal here is to get yourself awake and out of bed and into/onto your day ahead in exactly the mood you want or need. This moment, the wake-up moment, is a crucial moment – it’s the first tipping point in your day. It’s a make-it-or-break-it moment of which too often we’re still too groggy or unaware to really take hold. The easiest, best way to make sure you grab each day by the horns is by using a short bit of sound to coordinate a subconscious emotional/spiritual response from which you springboard, or, perhaps, catapult yourself off away into the next twelve-to-eighteen-hours of active consciousness. It’s musical motivation.
If you’re one of those aforementioned saddies, you’re going to have to tweak the logic here a little bit – maybe waking up right on time actually puts you in too good a mood, and you actually need to sleep in or get woken up early to attain the right level of momentum for your day. If that’s the case, you’re probably gonna want to reverse these suggestions. But if you’re like me, and you generally like being happier, then there’s a few things to keep in mind when choosing songs for a wake-up playlist. The goal here is twofold: to minimize or remove the negative risks of waking up (i.e. you want to not get angry, not get annoyed, and not fall back asleep) while simultaneously adding to and maximizing all the positive potential in it. The perfect wake-up song does more than just keep your day from being bad – it is actually the first step in making sure it’s good.
These songs have to be happy songs – things you want to go into, like a warm sunny room. Things that make you want to move a little bit, but not like, break into a sprint or a dance-fight or something. Just enough for your body to say, “Hello, Okay, Yes” and step confidently, excitedly, and calmly onto the rug or tile or hardwood floor below. I’ve found that major keys and some level of bounce and build to the intro (da dum DA dum dum) work best for me (about half of the songs below, you’ll find, start out this way), as do somewhat abrupt launches into perky rifts and vocals (the other half start like this). The words are important, too – the media is the message and all that – so make sure whoever’s the first person speaking (or singing) into your life that morning has something good to say.
These songs have to be things you WON’T get angry or annoyed about. Just think about how you feel when you get woken up by a leaf blower, or the garbage men, or a fire alarm, or some dog barking incessantly, or by someone pouring cold water on you and think: what will make me feel the OPPOSITE of that? The catch is, though, that if you’re too happy, you’ll ignore the song and keep on in your REM cycle, or just turn your alarm off in your sleep. It has to be a little annoying, but in a good way – the difference between offbeat and abrasive. It has to be just weird enough to make you wake up and take notice, but not so weird it throws you for a loop. Quirky, like, say, Zooey Deschanel was getting you out of bed. This is all personal, I get it, but you need to think about it. It’s your day you’re dealing with.
Favorites, or, Songs I Love So Much That Even 10 Seconds Of The Intro Will Get Me Up And Doing Anything Anytime
1. Rod Stewart — Maggie May
2. Paul Simon — Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard
3. Minus The Bear — Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse
4. Blues Traveler — Run Around
5. Coldplay —Lovers In Japan
6. Sixpence None The Richer — Kiss Me
Motivation Anthems, or, Fake It Til You Make It
7. Apollo Sunshine — Today Is The Day
8. OK GO — You’re So Damn Hot
9. Mika — Love Today
10. Journey — Any Way You Want It
11. Ray LaMontagne — You Are The Best Thing
12. Oasis — Roll With It
Middle-of-the-road Just Straight-up Good Songs, or, As Indie As It Gets Around Here
13. G. Love & Jack Johnson — Rainbow
14. Paolo Nutini — New Shoes
15. Jonsi — Go Do
16. Patty Griffin — No Bad News
17. Noah and the Whale — 2 Atoms In A Molecule
18. Lazlo Bane (from Scrubs!) — Superman
19. Snow Patrol — Chocolate
Cute/Duh (Morning Must-haves)
20. The Foundations — Build Me Up Buttercup
21. Bright Eyes — First Day Of My Life
22. Eels — Saturday Morning
23. Michael Crawford (from the Wall.E soundtrack!) — Put On Your Sunday Clothes
24. The Beatles — Good Day Sunshine
25. Ke$ha — Tik Tok
Click here for a YouTube playlist of alarm clock songs: Wake Up!
Melissa Gutierrez is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona. Visit her blog here: Mustard Seed