The best pop songs talk about experiences that are universal to us all – love, heartbreak, the occasional desire to have a good party. One experience that all human beings share is, of course, the need to sleep. Which means that the humble bed and songs about sleeping pop up in more classic pop songs than you’d probably think.
There are songs about struggling to get the sleep (Insomnia by Faithless, REM’s Daysleeper), songs about waking up (Waking Up by Elastica, Wake Me Up Before You Go Go by Wham), songs about retreating to the bedroom for a good sob (Tears On My Pillow by Kylie Minogue), songs about bedroom romance (Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi), metaphors for pain (Bed of Nails by Wild Beasts) and of course songs about a bit of rumpo (S-S-S-Single Bed by Fox, Pillow Talk by Silvia)
Here are a few of our favourite sleep-related songs:
Insomnia – Faithless
It’s a known fact that a large percentage of the population didn’t get much sleep in the nineties. Everybody was so busy raving that many probably forgot they even owned a bed. This breakthrough hit for Faithless shone light on the downsides of this plight via the medium of dance.
Asleep – The Smiths
When cheery old Morrissey appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2009, he chose as his ‘luxury item’ a bed, declaring that “Going to bed is the highlight of everybody’s day. It means we can just switch off our brains and forget about ourselves, hopefully.”
I Go To Sleep – The Pretenders
Originally written by Ray Davies, his ensemble The Kinks never got around to recording a proper version of it (there’s a demo on the reissued Kinda Kinks). Artists as diverse as jazz chanteuse Peggy Lee and vocoder enthusiast Cher all recorded versions of the song, but it wasn’t a hit until The Pretenders made the tune their own and took it into the top ten in 1981. Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde also had a child with Davies two years later – another (possible) victory for beds.
Mr Sandman – The Chordettes
Wisconsin-based female acapella quartet The Chordettes’ gentle request for a lovely Sandman to bring them a dream (ie: a man), was first a hit in 1954 and one of the few tunes in pop’s history to feature someone playing their knees as an instrument. It all sounded quite a lovely proposition until…
Enter Sandman – Metallica
One of Metallica’s more tuneful numbers and biggest hits, Enter Sandman put the fear of God into children everywhere, suggesting that they ‘sleep with one eye open’ (which is actually impossible). It was all typically loud and scary, and basically demonised the Sandman for a whole new generation.
Talking In Your Sleep – Crystal Gayle
Poor old Crystal. Troubled at being woken each night to hear her other half mutter on about some sweet lover, and understandably it seems to be doing her head in. “You’ve been talking in your sleep, sleeping in your dreams, with some sweet lover…” – certainly puts a bit of snoring into perspective! To add insult to injury, Gayle’s signature tune was also hijacked by Martine McCutcheon, who had a top ten hit with her version in 1999.