If popstars were… Clockwatchers

So, Cover Drive are number 1 in the UK with the jaunty Twilight. They’re hardly the first to sing a song about a specific time of day but what are these songs trying to tell us? Let’s spend 24 hours in the company of pop…

Maria Muldaur – Midnight at the Oasis (1974)

One day ends and another begins. But it’s still dark and you probably haven’t gone to sleep yet! This is the paradox of midnight. Salman Rushdie used it as a metaphor for rebirth and independence. Russell T Davies drew it as a world that was both staggeringly beautiful and inherently lethal. For Maria Muldaur it’s a chance to do a spot of belly dancing and shag a sultan’s son. It’s a time of mystery, romance and possibility! It’s a very nice song. And it’s a terrible fantasy set in a made-up ‘exotic Orient’. Because it’s all very well being specific about the time, but we could do with better directions to the oasis. There isn’t a desert in the world where you’ll find both a camel and a cactus. Still, if she’s getting off her tits on mescaline (‘Cactus is our friend! He’ll point out the way!’) she may as well wait until 12.51 which is when Julian Casablancas is ready for sex.

3 A.M. At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee (1976) / 3am Eternal (1991) / 3AM (2008) / 3 A.M. (2008) / 3 a.m. (2009) / 03.45: No Sleep (2003)

There are a LOT of songs set around 3. What’s everyone up to? In Berlin, Tangerine Dream are stoned. In London, the KLF feel like the party’s going to last forever. In Rättvik Marit Bergman waits up for Kleerup though she knows in her heart he’ll never call. In Detroit, Eminem has just got in and remembered he’s a blood-and-bathwater-drinking serial killer who’s left his victims’ bodies lying around (charming). Young Jeezy is out clubbing in Atlanta and about to have a fumble in the car park with whoever likes his jewellery the most, while in Jönköping the Cardigans are lying in bed having a very pretty existential crisis. It’s a terrible time of night to be awake, to be fair.

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT – 11:11 (2003)

And it’s all very different in the cold light of day, as Rufus Wainwright discovers on waking. He’s surrounded by crying, half-naked friends & lovers and New York’s in flames. The double elevensies of the title are carefully chosen to evoke 9/11 and the specific pinpointing of the time is a theme in itself, as Rufus reflects on mortality, loss, and the importance of living every moment. Beautiful.

Donna Summer – Sunset People (1980)

Is the whole of Donna’s Bad Girls a concept album about 24 hours in the life of the city? It starts with all that sexy big night out stuff, there’s that raft of dark-night-of-the-soul songs in the middle, then a burst of sunny, joyful tracks before the album ends up here, at sunset. Or on Sunset, as Donna sings. But it’s obviously not just a literal song about the famous Strip. People are holding on to the last breath of life, hiding their scars and pointing at stars, trying to make a moment of glamour last forever. At sunset we take stock of the shit, and look to the uncertainty of the night.

COVER DRIVE – Twilight (2011)

And if we don’t want to go gently into that good night, we sing ‘Twiiiilight!
I’m loving this twiiiilight! I’m loving this twi-lalalalaLALALALA TWIIILIGHT!’ to a perky beat.

Yet Cover Drive recognise that it’s an important time of transition, too. When it turns to night they’re gonna make it right! The liminal hours are when lives can change irrevocably, and baby they’ve been thinking about you and they’re gonna make you mine. Er, theirs. It’s a song about definition in an indefinite world. Potential in the petering light. Held in my heart for a day like today. Twilight.

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