Clocks” was the third single from Coldplay’s second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. Regional singles were released for UK, Europe, Australia (a mini-EP), Japan (enhanced), Netherlands (3-disc EP), France, and the United States. Promos were released for British and American markets. In addition, a special Limited Edition 12″ single was available with 1,000 copies in the UK. This release contained special remixes by Röyksopp. Instrumentals have also shown up by The Twelve Girls Band and The String Quartet. Popularized by television commercials, it holds the record as being the highest selling song on Apple’s iTunes music store.
In late 2003, the song was used in advertisement for the movie “Peter Pan”. It has been noted by critics that “Speed of Sound”, the first single from Coldplay’s third album X&Y, bears some similarities with “Clocks”.[1]

The single cover, created by Sølve Sundsbø, depicts lead singer Chris Martin with his hands folded on a glass table. The drawing perspective is looking from below the table.

“Clocks” was arguably the most successful commercial hit from A Rush of Blood to the Head. Throughout 2003, it was featured in various commercials, movies and television programs; from WWE promos featuring the returning Kurt Angle to the film In America to the end of an episode of ER. The song was played in its entirety during the ending credits for the film Confidence with Dustin Hoffman and Rachel Weisz. It was also used on a trailer on the BBC advertising the “Freeview” service.

In 2004, “Clocks” won the coveted Record of the Year honour at the Grammy Awards, beating the likes of Eminem, OutKast and Beyoncé.


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Musical structure and composition

“Clocks” is in the key of E flat Mixolydian. Built around a repeating piano riff, it features a minimalist soundscape of drums and bass over an aura of synthesizers and strings. The piano riff and ethereal tone of the song are reminiscent of The Unforgettable Fire by U2. Chris Martin’s cryptic lyrics are thought to be about death and the transience of life. The song was recorded at Air Studios, London, at the very end of the sessions for A Rush of Blood to the Head. It was the last song to be recorded and arguably forms the turning-point of the whole album; it was something of a departure from Coldplay’s previous style. According to Martin, it was inspired by Muse.[2]

Track listings

  1. “In My Place” (video) – 3:48

Cover images

  • UK (promo)

The single cover, created by Sølve Sundsbø, depicts lead singer Chris Martin with his hands placed on his head. The drawing perspective is looking down from above.

Music video

A still from the “Clocks” music video showing drummer Will Champion drinking from a water bottle

The “Clocks” music video was directed by Dominic Leung, who previously worked with artists like Badly Drawn Boy. The video was shot at Docklands’ ExCeL Building in London. The video features the band performing the song in front of a staged audience, mostly local college students with a laser show. Stage effects and blue-red light transitions give the video a surreal feel, not to mention the stoic crowd that make up the audience.


Reworked version and remixes

In addition to the Royksopp remix there have been several other dance remixes of “Clocks”, including those by Clokx and Deep Dish plus a mashup from Gabriel and Dresden’s 2003 Essential Mix which appeared on various P2P networks. On 13 November 2006, the album Rhythms del Mundo by the Buena Vista Social Club was released, featuring a reworked version of “Clocks”. It follows a samba style, with a slightly altered piano riff. The track “Should I go” off of Brandy’s album Afrodisiac also samples the song. It was covered by the band Gregorian.

Song Facts

Like many Coldplay songs, Clocks is about love. The lyrics are about being in a conflicted, but very intense relationship as precious time slips away.

Lead singer Chris Martin came up with the lyrics and the piano riff shortly before Coldplay released the album. Since they didn’t have much time, they put it aside and planned to work on it for their next album. When Martin’s friend heard the demo, he convinced them to do whatever was necessary to record it for A Rush Of Blood To The Head, especially since the song deals with the importance of time.

Clocks won the Grammy for 2003 Record Of The Year, beating out “Hey Ya” by Outkast and “Crazy In Love” by Beyoncé. In accepting the award, lead singer Chris Martin dedicated it to the late Johnny Cash and to US presidential candidate John Kerry, “Who hopefully will be your president someday.”

Despite the modest chart position in the US, Clocks was very popular there, as it appeared in television themes, movies, promotional films, and other commercial outlets. (thanks, Bertrand – Paris, France)

This plays over the ending credits of the 2003 movie Confidence. (thanks, Nayef – Golden, CO)

The song’s pulsing, cyclical riff was inspired, according to Chris Martin, by the band Muse.

The Oracle on Clocks

10 March 2014 / submitted by Grace, Australia

Q. Hello Oracle!! So I was wondering if the crowd during the video of Clocks was edited in, they seem to be displaying no emotions and very little movement, plus I’m sure if someone threw water at me I’d start moving haha. Thank you (are).


No, the crowd was actually in attendance. They were students from the local college and I seem to recall recruiting them was quite last minute. The video’s director – Dominic Leung – will have told the audience what to do so maybe a few people found it hard to keep still, I can certainly spot a couple!

July 21, 2011 – submitted by Samantha, United States of America

Q. What is written on Chris Martin’s right hand in the Clocks video? There is an arrow pointing to something, but I can’t make it out in the video. (At about 3:20 into the song).

The Oracle replies:

If you pause the video at 3.23, you will see Chris has an arrow on his little finger pointing up to Make Trade written on his hand.

June 23, 2011 – submitted by Charles, United States of America

Q. Hi dear Oracle, iI want to know who is Dominic Leung and what he has to do with Coldplay?

Thank you.

The Oracle replies:Dominic Leung is a director (& editor). His link to Coldplay is that he directed the video for Clocks, that’s his only connection.

February 28, 2011 – submitted by Thomas, United Kingdom

Q. Hi dear Oracle, I got a question Coldplay related.

If the song Clocks was released in April of 2003 as a single and all of that

why did the song win the Grammy for the record of the year in 2004?


The Oracle replies:

The Grammy year of eligibility doesn’t run from January – December as a normal calendar so the release dates fall into different brackets rather than what you would think usual.

Hence Clocks’ release as a single was eligible for the Grammy nomination and win in 2004 despite the album it came from being a winner the previous year.

May 24, 2010 – submitted by Damaris, Puerto Rico

Q. Hello Oracle!! Is it true that Coldplay record the song Clocks with the band Rhythms del Mundo? Thank u and sorry for my bad English!!

The Oracle replies:

No that’s not true at all. Rhythms del Mundo did include their remixed version of Clocks on their album but that was done by using the original and its parts; there was no re-recording or collaboration between the two acts.

July 1, 2009 – submitted by Renate, Netherlands

Q. Dear Oracle!

I heard a version of Clocks on the radio which I have never heard before. It was a kind of samba sound with trumpets. It was very good and different, it was no live version but a studio one. Do you know which one I mean and please can you tell me where I can find it?


The Oracle replies:

That’ll be the Rhythms Del Mundo. It was performed by members of Cuba’s Buena Vista Social Club plus other Havana-based musicians.

June 2, 2009 – submitted by Bethandreea, United Kingdom

Q. What is the cover for the Clocks supposed to be?

Everything else connected to a A Rush Of Blood To The Head is a face. But Clocks however stands out.

The Oracle replies:

Two Clocks questions in one day! Anyway, if you look at the cover and imagine you are underneath looking up, you can certainly spot the nose and other features.

June 2, 2009 – submitted by Melanie, Canada

Q. When you say that the band Muse inspired the song Clocks… what do you mean by that ? In which way ?

The Oracle replies:

It was mostly Matt Bellamy’s piano style that inspired the track. You can almost hear it in the rhythm of Clocks’ pounding keys.

May 22, 2009 – submitted by Hector, United States of America

Q. Hey oracle! I was watching Politik on youtube from the Live 2003 DVD and I was skimming through the comments when I read that some users were saying Matt Bellamy from Muse wrote the piano part, is this true?! if it is I’d be so disappointed, I know Chris is capable of writing beautiful things, is this one of them?

The Oracle replies:

No, that’s not true. Muse inspired Clocks but have never been involved in any writing with or for Coldplay.

April 7, 2009 – submitted by Stefanie, Peru

Q. Ohhhhhh lovely Oracle! When was the video of Clocks made??

The Oracle replies:

Back in February 2003 students from local colleges were invited along to appear as extras in the Clocks video directed by Dominic Leung at London Dockland’s Excel Building.

February 3, 2009 – submitted by Derryn, South Africa

Q. Is it just me or does the piano work in the beginning of Coldplay’s Clocks sound awfully similiar to the beginning of Aqualung’s Left Behind? which came first..the chicken or the egg? or in this case…Coldplay or Aqualung.

The Oracle replies:

I remember seeing Matt Hales previous band the 45’s just before they were dropped and he became Aqualung, jolly good they were too. Anyway, as that was 2002 you can see that both were around at the same time but A Rush of Blood to the Head was released August 2002 and Aqualung’s Still Life (album on which Left Behind appears) was released October 2003 so you can see which came first.


Lights go out and I can’t be saved
Tides that I tried to swim against
Brought me down upon my knees
Oh I beg, I beg and plead, singin’
Come out if things aren’t said
Shoot an apple off my head, and a
trouble that can’t be named
Tigers waitin’ to be tamed, singin’
You… are…
You… are…

Confusion never stops
Closing walls and ticking clocks, gonna
come back and take you home,
I could not stop that you now know, singin’
Come out upon my seas
Curse missed opportunities, am I
a part of the cure, or
am I part of the disease?, singin’
You… are…
You… are…
You… are…
You… are…

Oh, nothing else compares
Oh, nothing else compares
And nothing else compares

(You… are…
You… are…)
Home, home,
where I wanted to go
Home, home,
where I wanted to go
Home, home, (You…)
where I wanted to go (are…)
Home, home, (You…)
where I wanted to go (are…)